Much of Victoria's lasting charm and character stem from its unique collection of well-preserved historic buildings, many of which date back to the earliest days of settlement in British Columbia.
Community Heritage Planning
Victoria recognizes the significance of built heritage at the citywide and neighbourhood level in community planning. The Official Community Plan and neighbourhood plans have identified historic resources as a community issue in policies for heritage conservation areas, building types and uses, landmarks and features. There are 13 heritage conservation areas (HCA) in Victoria's Official Community Plan.
Old Town, the largest heritage conservation area in the city, has guidelines for changes to heritage properties, non-heritage additions, and signs and awnings.
- Old Town Design Guidelines (adopted by City Council Dec. 14, 2006) [PDF - 638 KB]
- Sign and Awning Guidelines [PDF - 776 KB]
Victoria's Heritage Register
Victoria's Heritage Register dates to 1982. To view the list of properties on the Heritage Register and explanations of heritage designation and heritage registration status, please click on the individual links. A downloadable form to apply for designation is here.
Heritage Register Status
A heritage register property is officially listed on the Heritage Register because it may have sufficient heritage value to warrant conservation actions by the City in the future. Heritage register status does not give any formal protection to a site and is not the same as heritage designation. The register provides a system to review and monitor proposed changes to properties of heritage value.
A proposal to demolish or alter a heritage register building is referred to City Council and the Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) to determine whether a designation bylaw may be required to protect the property. The Local Government Act (Part 27 - authorizes municipalities to temporarily withhold a demolition or building permit and to give temporary protection for up to 60 days in order to make such a decision. Building permit applications for heritage register buildings are reviewed by the HAC for "comment to the applicant," - to provide advice on the appropriateness of the planned renovations. The owner of a heritage register building is not obligated to follow this advice, unless otherwise regulated in a Heritage Conservation Area.
A heritage designation property is protected by a municipal heritage designation bylaw and may not be altered or demolished without approval of City Council.
The City of Victoria has grant programs for improvements to designated heritage houses and designated commercial, industrial, and institutional properties. The latter building types in the downtown are also eligible for the Tax Incentive Program for seismic upgrades and façade rehabilitation in residential conversions and commercial property improvements. Complete details on incentives are viewable below.
Downloadable forms to apply for the Tax Incentive Program are available here.
- Grants Available For Heritage Buildings
- Program Description: Tax Incentive Program for Residential and Non-residential Uses
- Tax Incentive Program: Case Studies
Heritage Applications and Processes
- Modifying Your Heritage Building
- Heritage Advisory Committee
- Heritage Alteration Permit Application
- Heritage Designation Application
- Heritage Tax Incentive Program Application - Non Residential Uses
- Tax Incentive Program Application - Residential Conversions
- Minor Amendments to Development Permits & Heritage Alteration Permits
- Heritage Strategic Plan For The City of Victoria - Report [PDF - 636 KB]
Victoria has adopted the National Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada in the Official Community Plan. This policy document is used as the basis for staff advice to property owners, developers and Council on applications that involve changes to protected heritage property. As defined in the Local Government Act, protected heritage property includes designated properties, existing property in a heritage conservation area, and property on a Community Heritage Register that may or may not be designated or in a heritage conservation area.
- Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada - (Government of Canada, 2003)