Heritage Conservation Areas

Heritage Conservation Areas (HCAs) are a planning tool available to municipalities under section 614 of the Local Government Act (LGA) for the purpose of protecting, preserving or enhancing the heritage value or heritage character of a group of related properties that have collective historical significance. 

Heritage value is defined in the LGA as the historical, cultural, aesthetic, scientific or educational worth or usefulness of property or an area.  Heritage character is the overall effect produced by traits or features which give property or an area a distinctive quality or appearance.  HCAs are designated through a bylaw within the OCP.  Included in the designation is a heritage rationale, conservation objectives, and guidelines for achieving the conservation objectives.

When an owner proposes to start construction of a building, alter a building, structure or land or alter a feature that is protected under the bylaw, the work will require a heritage alteration permit.  The City is also able to specify exemptions from the permit requirements.

Like a bylaw designating an individual property, a bylaw designating an area as an HCA must contain a description of the features that justify the establishment of a Heritage Conservation Area.  This would take the form of a Statement of Significance with an accompanying list of character-defining elements that determine the conservation priorities for the area.

The LGA requires that the City hold a public hearing prior to the adoption of the bylaw and that affected owners be notified at least 10 days in advance.

The City of Victoria currently has 13 heritage conservation areas, including Old Town, which contains 195 individually significant heritage properties.

How does the City of Victoria identify new Heritage Conservation Areas?

On January 24, 2019, City Council adopted a new standardized process for the identification and evaluation of new HCAs in the City of Victoria called the Citizen-led Heritage Conservation Area policy. Under the policy, the City will rely primarily on citizen nominations to identify new HCAs, independent of neighbourhood planning or other planning initiatives. If you are interested in nominating the area you live in for study as a potential heritage conservation area, please review the Heritage Conservation Area Nomination Form  and contact staff with any questions at communityplanning@victoria.ca  

Robert Street Heritage Conservation Area

The City of Victoria is seeking input on the proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment designating Robert Street as a Heritage Conservation Area (enclosed). We are also seeking your input on the draft Robert Street Heritage Conservation Area Guidelines (enclosed) and a series of possible revisions to the OCP amendment bylaw, which are listed below.

The City is considering amending the OCP to designate a portion of Robert Street and Seaforth Street as a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA). An HCA designation would establish objectives for the area and a heritage alteration permit process for land subdivision, new construction and alterations to heritage properties. Heritage alteration permits would be reviewed against the Robert Street Heritage Conservation Area Guidelines. Permit requirements and guidelines differ for “heritage” and “non-heritage” houses (see attached map). Alterations to the exterior of non-heritage houses would not require any special approvals from the city, whereas altering the exterior of heritage houses would require approval through a delegated heritage alteration permit, which is an expedited type of permit that is free of charge. Construction of a new house or other building on a non-heritage property would require a delegated heritage alteration permit and would be subject to the HCA guidelines to ensure that it was a “good fit” with the character of the street. Existing zoning permissions would not be altered.

The following are further changes to the designation that are also being considered. They will result in revisions to the draft OCP Amendment bylaw:

  • The OCP Amendment Bylaw will be revised to classify Robert Street as a new stand-alone HCA called “HCA 2: Robert Street Heritage Conservation Area” instead of including it under the existing HCA 1: Traditional Residential Area in the OCP
  • The OCP Amendment Bylaw will be revised to provide the following specific list of special features, characteristics and special conditions that justify the designation of a portion of Robert Street and a portion of Seaforth Street as a Heritage Conservation Area:
    • residential buildings reflecting a range of income levels, including large Late Victorian and Edwardian era homes built between 1888 and 1911 and modest wartime homes in the minimal traditional style built between 1939 and 1911, which together reflect the social evolution of Victoria West from a wealthy, exclusive neighbourhood to one with a diverse mix of working-class residents
    • consistent pattern of pitched roofs including cross-gabled, hipped and pitched roofs, typically with at least one front-facing gable;
    • horizontal massing of buildings on the street;
    • high degree of livability achieved through generous side yard setbacks and cottage-like buildings;
    • regular pattern of rectangular lots with frontages of approximately 15 metres;
    • relatively consistent front yard setbacks; and
    • the King apple tree located in the rear yard of 223 Robert Street.
  • The OCP Amendment Bylaw will be revised to clarify that the substantial reconstruction of a non-heritage house would be subject to a heritage alteration permit

Please share comments on these revisions as well.

Please provide your questions and feedback on this proposal by end of day, Wednesday, January 22, 2022 to:

John O’Reilly, Senior Heritage Planner

P:  250.361.0484

E: joreilly@victoria.ca

All input received will be shared with City Council for their consideration prior to the introduction of the proposed Bylaw Amendments. Once a date for the public hearing has been set, notice will be posted on the property and at www.victoria.ca/publicnotices.

Draft Robert Street HCA Guidelines

Draft Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw