Described in the Local Government Act (LGA), heritage designation is a legal protection tool for properties of particular value to a community. Unlike a Community Heritage Register, which can include a wide range of properties exhibiting various heritage values, heritage designation is typically reserved for properties that have outstanding merit and are highly representative of a community’s history and heritage.
It is for this reason the LGA provides the legal framework for long-term protection of heritage properties. This is done through a bylaw, which will refer to the property’s significance and will include any ongoing requirements that are needed to maintain the property to a specified standard. Bylaws are registered with the Province of BC through the Heritage Branch.
Designation can protect a heritage building or landscape from unsympathetic alteration and subsequent loss of character. These constraints, which are described in the bylaw, are almost always concentrated on the exterior of the property, but it is possible to include interior features in the designation.
The features of a designated property described in the bylaw typically cannot be altered, damaged, or destroyed without a heritage alteration permit, but of course, some alterations may be required for the ongoing use and proper maintenance of the property.
The LGA extends some authorities to the local government, such as examination and research of the property. While a local government can consider designation without an owner’s consent, it is more likely the designation will be formed through an agreement between the property owner and the local government, taking into account incentives that may be available to the owner. This approach is sometimes referred to as a ‘friendly’ or ‘negotiated’ designation.
‘Involuntary’ heritage designation, which might occur for very significant heritage properties, can occur without the consent of the owner, although this does not appear to be a common practice.
Ongoing, a local government heritage program should recognize that some changes to protected heritage property are inevitable. Heritage buildings must be useful and safe like any other. It is then advisable for the local government to work with the property owner to implement reasonable and necessary changes, while at the same time protecting the building’s essential heritage qualities.
Community Heritage Register versus Heritage Designation
A property may be listed on a heritage register, or have heritage designation, or both. (source)
|Heritage Designation||Community Heritage Register|
|Provides permanent legal protection for a historic place.||Identifies a historic place that the community deems to have heritage value|
|Changes require a Heritage Alteration Permit.||Does not provide permanent legal protection.|
|Is enacted by bylaw.||Is enacted by local government through a resolution|
A comparison of designation and Community Heritage Register comes from Heritage Conservation: A Technical Manual for Local Governments.
|Public Hearing Before?||Yes||No|
|Affects Land Title?||Yes||No|
|Building Code Provisions?||Yes||Yes|