Heritage Tax Incentive Program

The City of Victoria is pleased to offer a Tax Incentive Program (TIP) to eligible owners of heritage designated commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

The TIP offsets seismic upgrading costs for the purposes of residential conversion of existing upper storeys or rehabilitation for uses other than residential.

Eligible property owners may apply under the TIP for design and construction of approved seismic upgrading work. Property owners may receive tax exemptions based on the annual property taxes for a period up to ten years to offset the cost of seismic upgrading. Specifics will be subject to negotiation and approval by the Victoria City Council.

Who Can Apply?

The City of Victoria's Tax Incentive Program is available to all private property owners of eligible commercial, industrial, and institutional heritage designated buildings city-wide.

Applications to the TIP may be made in conjunction with other available grant incentive programs; however, the TIP is not available for government-owned buildings.

What Work is Eligible?

Eligible seismic upgrading costs specific to the conversion of existing space to residential uses or for the rehabilitation of existing heritage designated buildings for uses other than residential, for example:

  • Professional design and engineering reports, drawings, cost estimates, and specifications as required for the project.
  • Seismic upgrading of building components, including Code upgrading, bracing of walls, floors, and roof systems, masonry reinforcement, affixing of cornices or other exterior architectural features to the building structure, etc.

Seismic upgrading should conform to the Standards and Guidelines for The Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. All proposed work must comply with:

Application Checklist

Submissions must include:

  • Cover letter indicating proposed seismic upgrading work, total seismic upgrading costs separate from the total project costs, amount and period of tax exemption requested.
  • Completed application form.
  • Minimum of two price quotes for each trade or portion of seismic work; relevant seismic upgrading costs must be clearly separated from other construction costs.
  • Professional architectural/engineering drawings, photographs, and/or reports, etc. as necessary to accurately communicate the proposed work.
  • Letter from professional structural engineer certifying seismic upgrading costs.
  • Tax Incentive Application Forms

Approvals & Tax Exemption Procedures

  1. Make Application. Applications are available by appointment from the Senior Heritage Planner for referral to appropriate approving authorities. To make an appointment email communityplanning@victoria.ca
  2. Victoria Civic Heritage Trust Review. The Victoria Civic Heritage Trust reviews applications at its monthly Architectural Conservation Committee (ACC) and Board of Director's meetings.
  3. Approval-in-Principle. Following the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust review, the application is forwarded to City Council's Committee of the Whole for approval-in-principle. A draft bylaw will then be prepared by the City Solicitor.
  4. Final Approval. The proposed Tax Exemption Bylaw requires a 2/3 majority vote by City Council for final approval. If the tax exemption is required for more than one year (maximum exemption period is ten years), a public notice must be published in at least two issues of the local newspaper 30 days prior to final adoption of the bylaw.

    Applicants are strongly advised to wait until final adoption of the Tax Exemption Bylaw before commencing work.
  5. Tax Exemptions. When work is finished, representatives of the City of Victoria and the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust will inspect the project to verify its completion. Property taxes, based on the cost of the seismic upgrading, or as agreed or approved, will be exempted by the B.C. Assessment Authority for the specified period of years.


  1. Residential accommodation created under this program must continue to be used for residential or live/work purposes for the duration of the tax exemption period.
  2. A covenant identifying the term of the tax exemption must be registered on the land title and future strata titles.
  3. Final costs of seismic upgrading will be verified by the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust.
  4. The term of the tax exemption will commence in the year following the year in which a final occupancy permit is issued for the residential portion of the building. (This is due to provincial legislation governing the B.C. Assessment Authority, the agency responsible for implementing the exemption).

The City of Victoria and the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust reserve the right to decline approval of applications not in keeping with program information.

The Victoria Civic Heritage Trust will assist with the review of applications. Applications with exterior alterations may require a Heritage Alteration Permit, which is a separate but coordinated approval procedure.

Term of Exemption

Projects eligible for the City of Victoria Tax Incentive Program will be subject to the following calculation:

Term of exemption

(# of years)

=Cost of seismic upgrading


current taxes

Following project completion, the project will be exempt from property taxes for the specified number of years. The actual value of the exemption will be determined by the revised assessment determined by the B. C. Assessment Authority and the current year's tax rate for each year.


A building being proposed for rehabilitation needs $200,000 worth of seismic upgrading. It currently pays $20,000 per year in property taxes. The maximum eligible term of exemption, which City Council may approve, is therefore:

Seismic Upgrade cost      $200,000


Current Annual Taxes       $20,000

=10 years

The B.C. Assessment Authority provides an estimate of the increased property assessment resulting from the rehabilitation which results in a potential increase in annual taxes to $42,000 per year.

The actual value of the exemption may amount to (estimate) $42,000 x 10 years = $420,000.