The Local Government Act does not provide a concise definition of a heritage revitalization agreement (HRA), but several explanations have been developed to describe a relatively simple concept with a potentially complex application.
According to the Local Government Act, the basic components are:
This definition is provided by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (source):
Municipalities may offer legal, written [heritage revitalization] agreements negotiated between a property owner and a municipality to provide non-financial incentives to help owners to conserve a heritage property. This agreement is registered on the property title.
The City of New Westminster provides the following on its website (source):
A Heritage Revitalization Agreement, or HRA for short, is a formal, voluntary, written agreement that is negotiated between a property owner and a local government. It outlines the duties and obligations of, and the benefits to both parties of the agreement. The agreement allows local governments to supersede local zoning regulations and to provide non-financial incentives which would make it viable for owners to conserve property of heritage merit.
An HRA is a form of long-term, legal protection enabled with a bylaw that is registered on the title of the property. It is written to suit unique properties and situations. Therefore, each HRA is different from the next and does not create precedence.
The Heritage Conservation: A Community Guide, which was written in 1995 in response to the then new Local Government Act, provides the most extensive explanation (source):
A heritage revitalization agreement is a formal voluntary written agreement negotiated by a local government and an owner of heritage property. A heritage revitalization agreement outlines the duties, obligations, and benefits negotiated by both parties to the agreement. A heritage revitalization agreement may: