Modifying Your Heritage Building

Can I make changes to my heritage building?

Yes, provided these changes are approved by City Council. You should consult the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada to find out what changes are considered appropriate.

What's a Development Permit Area or a Heritage Conservation Area?

A Development Permit Area (or a Heritage Conservation Area) is an area of the city identified in the City's Official Community Plan for its unique or special character. In order to protect this character, the City is authorized by the Local Government Act to regulate new development and alterations to existing buildings within these districts. The city has currently identified 30 special areas as Development Permit Areas or Heritage Conservation Areas, including the Inner Harbour, Downtown, Songhees, and Fort Street. (Please consult the Planning & Development Department to determine whether your property is in one of these areas.) Most types of exterior changes to a heritage-register building located within a Development Permit Area or a Heritage Conservation Area require approval by City Council.

What are the approval procedures?

To apply to change a heritage building, contact the Planning & Development Department for application forms. The appropriate committees will review the application and make recommendations to Council based on the merits of the application.

The specific types of exterior work on all categories of heritage buildings subject to Heritage Advisory Committee review and comment are as follows:

  • additions, including fire escapes;
  • enclosure of any part of a building;
  • raising of a structure;
  • alterations to the original facade, and cladding;
  • changing door or window dimensions, placement or materials; and
  • removal or alteration of any brickwork, woodwork, or siding, including chimney or finials.

NOTE: Applicants are encouraged to make preliminary inquiries about zoning and building standards as early as possible. If a variance is required, the application may involve additional fees and processing time.

Specific exterior work not subject to Heritage Advisory Committee review includes:

  • repairs to gutters
  • maintenance of stairs
  • removal of finish applied over original exterior siding (e.g. stucco, asbestos)
  • repainting.