Heritage

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.

Our superb examples of turn-of-the-century architecture create a sense of pride among their owners and throughout the community. These heritage buildings are symbols of permanence and stability in an ever-changing world. The City of Victoria is committed to the preservation of its heritage and this package describes the policies and facets of that commitment.

Community Heritage Planning

HeritageVictoria 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 that possess value for present and future generations and include policies for heritage conservation areas, building types and uses, landmarks, and features.

Heritage conservation areas are distinct districts with special heritage value and character. There are 13 heritage conservation areas (HCA) listed 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.

Victoria's Heritage Register

The City of Victoria’s Register of Heritage Properties (Heritage Register) is a listing of properties that have heritage value related to its architectural, historical, or cultural characteristics that merit recognition. Since its initiation in 1982, the Heritage Register has been a valuable component to the City’s Heritage Program. The Heritage Register is a tool to manage the community’s heritage assets and provides a system to review and monitor proposed changes to properties of heritage value.

View the list of properties on the Heritage Register [PDF - 718 KB].

Heritage Register Status

 By itself, listing a property on the Heritage Register does not restrict any future actions proposed by an owner. Property listed on the Heritage Register does not have any formal protection and does not require the approval of City Council for alterations unless it is subject to a heritage designation bylaw or is within a heritage conservation area. City staff are available to provide advice about proposed alterations to properties listed on the Heritage Register that may assist with conservation or enhancement of heritage features. 

Property listed on the Heritage Register that is located within a heritage conservation area may require a heritage alteration permit when changes are proposed, depending on the scope of the alterations.  For more information about heritage alteration permit applications, see the Heritage Applications and Processes section below.

A proposal to demolish a building listed on the Heritage Register will not be granted until all approvals for redevelopment are in place. The Local Government Act authorizes municipalities to temporarily withhold a demolition and to give temporary protection for up to 60 days in order to make such a decision.

Heritage Designation

A heritage designation property is protected by a municipal heritage designation bylaw and may not be altered or demolished without approval of City Council. Apply for designation here.

Incentives

The City of Victoria has grant programs for improvements to designated heritage houses and designated commercial, industrial, and institutional properties anywhere in the City. The latter building types 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.

Heritage Applications and Processes

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.