A heritage-designated property is protected by a municipal heritage designation bylaw. These properties may not be altered or demolished without the approval of City Council.
The general criteria for assessing the heritage value of a particular building include:
Effect of Heritage Designation
The appearance and materials of a designated building may not be altered without the formal approval of City Council. This ensures that the distinguishing features of heritage buildings are conserved. Heritage-designated buildings are subject to the following guidelines:
- a designated building can be bought or sold without special approval
- owners retain all rights to the individual enjoyment of their property
- activities in the building or on the property are not affected by designation
- normal maintenance and repairs can be carried out at the owner's sole discretion as long as there are no visual changes to the appearance and materials of the house
- alterations or additions that need a building permit and affect the designated portions of the building need the consent of City Council
- a designated building cannot be demolished without the consent of City Council
Owners should consult with staff in Heritage Planning to determine what changes are acceptable and the appropriate design.
The City of Victoria has grant programs for improvements to heritage-designated houses. Grants are also available for designated commercial, industrial and institutional properties anywhere in the city. These building types are eligible for the Tax Incentive Program for seismic upgrades and façade rehabilitation in residential conversions and commercial property improvement. Complete details are below:
The Heritage Register lists properties in the City of Victoria that have heritage value. This value can be due to architectural, historical or cultural significance.
The Heritage Register can be viewed as a spreadsheet or a PDF:
By itself, listing a property on the Heritage Register does not restrict any future actions proposed by an owner. Alterations to properties on the register only need Council approval if they are protected by a heritage designation bylaw or are within a heritage conservation area. Properties on the Heritage Register that are in a heritage conservation area may require a heritage alteration permit for changes, depending on the scope of work. City staff can provide advice about alterations to heritage properties to help conserve and enhance heritage features.
A proposal to demolish a building on the Heritage Register will not be granted until all approvals for redevelopment are in place. The Local Government Act allows municipalities to withhold a demolition permit and give temporary protection for 60 days to evaluate the significance and condition of a heritage register property.
You may apply to add your property to the Heritage Register:
Modifying Your Heritage Building
Heritage buildings can be modified so long as modifications comply with best practices and are approved through a permit process. Regular maintenance work does not require approval so long as there are no changes to materials, design or appearance. Please contact heritage planning staff for more information.
Heritage Conservation Areas
The Official Community Plan (OCP) identifies and includes policies for heritage conservation areas. Heritage conservation areas (HCAs) are distinct districts with special heritage value and character. The designation enables the City to manage change within the area and ensure new construction is appropriate and preserves valued aspects of the area.
The City of Victoria has 15 HCAs. The largest is Old Town, which contains 195 individually significant heritage properties. Old Town has a specific set of Design Guidelines [PDF/3.3MB]. Other Heritage Conservation Area design guidelines include:
Within most HCAs, the following work needs a heritage alteration permit:
- new construction
- land subdivision
- major alterations to existing buildings
- alterations to a building, structure or feature that is protected by a heritage designation bylaw or on the heritage register
HCAs do not prohibit the demolition or construction of non-heritage buildings. The heritage alteration permit process is not intended to discourage homeowners from improving their properties. Please check with the Heritage Planner to confirm if proposed work requires a heritage alteration permit.
The Citizen-led Heritage Conservation Area Policy is currently paused until the 10-year review of the Official Community Plan is completed and the citizen nomination policy has been reviewed.
Currently, the City is seeking input on the proposed designation of part of Lewis Street as an HCA. If you have any questions or would like to provide written comments, please email the Heritage Planner at email@example.com.