Old Town Design Guidelines

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

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 and Opportunity for Consultation

On February 7, 2019 Council approved in principle the Old Town Design Guidelines (2019) and directed staff to prepare an Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw to amend Development Permit Area 1 (HC): Core Historic and Development Permit Area 9: Inner Harbour by 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).  These proposed amendments are required to allow staff, Council and the public to begin using the updated Old Town Design Guidelines (2019).  

The City is now seeking feedback on the proposed OCP Amendment Bylaw prior to advancing the bylaw to Council for first and second reading prior to a public hearing.

You are invited to review the proposed OCP Amendment Bylaw and direct any comments or questions no later than March 8, 2019 directly to:

            Robert Batallas, Senior Planner
           (250) 361-0286

Draft Old Town Design Guidelines

The City of Victoria’s Current Old Town Design Guidelines (2006) are being updated to provide clearer guidance to designers, architects and property owners to ensure that new developments are designed to fit with the character of Old Town and not detract or diminish the area's historic and human scale context. The guidelines are also an important evaluation tool for City staff and Council when reviewing development proposals.  

Community stakeholders representing Victoria’s heritage, design, development and business community have worked with staff to provide feedback, technical input and direction for the updated guidelines. The group has helped to develop desired approaches for conserving the heritage character and cultural significance of Old Town, while still allowing for creativity and flexibility in new construction.

The updated guidelines will 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.

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).