Old Town Design Guidelines

Victoria’s Old Town is one of the largest historic area in British Columbia.

The updated Old Town Design Guidelines (2019) [PDF - 3 MB] (click here for high res version [PDF - 30 MB]) support the City’s review of development permits and heritage alteration permits related to the form and character of buildings such as building scale, massing, height, orientation and detailing.  The design guidelines do not alter or affect existing zoning and development regulations such as building height, density, setbacks or off-street parking requirements.

Old Town includes three areas of distinct character: the old commercial district with its collection of commercial heritage buildings constructed in the late 1800s, Canada's oldest surviving Chinatown, and the old warehouse buildings and hotels along the waterfront area that remind us of Victoria's role as a commercial seaport during the Gold Rush era.

Maintaining the special character of Old Town for present and future generations requires the ongoing conservation and enhancement of its unique character. When new buildings are constructed or additions are made to existing buildings, it’s important that they are designed to complement and enhance the heritage character and historical significance of this special area of downtown Victoria.

Project Update

On March 28, 2019, Council approved the updated Old Town Design Guidelines (2019) and incorporated them into the Official Community Plan by amending Development Permit Area 1 (HC): Core Historic and Development Permit Area 9: Inner Harbour, replacing reference of the Old Town Design Guidelines (2006) with the new updated Old Town Design Guidelines (2019). Development Permit Area 1 (HC): Core Historic is also further amended by deleting reference to the Chinatown Guidelines for Buildings, Canopies, Landscaping, Colours & Signs (1983). 

Where is Old Town?

Old Town includes the area of downtown from Chatham Street (north border), to Douglas Street (east border), to Humboldt Street (south border), to Wharf and Store Streets and the Waterfront (west border).