Every local government across BC has the authority to set rules and regulations around their heritage buildings. These by-laws and regional standards regulate how homeowners and property owners can adapt existing heritage structures.
At their most basic…
Information around codes and laws are often written in complicated language and can be difficult to find. The resources below provide simplified explainers for the pieces that are relevant to homeowners
For questions regarding by-laws in your community, we urge you to contact your local government and find out what is currently being regulated.
» Quick Study: Heritage Laws in BC
» Table 126.96.36.199.(5) of the British Columbia Building Code : Alternate Compliance Methods for Heritage Buildings
Just because your local government doesn’t have by-laws in place, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have heritage buildings recognized. They could have a community heritage register, conservation areas or other ways to recognize local heritage resources. Contact your local planning department to learn more about their heritage program.
Generally, a municipality without a heritage program will see these effects:
In communities where this is the case, advocating for the development of a local heritage program can lead to the protection of heritage places in your community. Become a heritage advocate and contact your local government about the value of heritage conservation at a community level.
Although the province prefers to leave heritage designation and protection to local government, provincial and national registers recognize certain heritage buildings. These are done on a case-by-case basis, and the degree of protection conferred to the buildings is varied.
The BC Building Code sets out the minimum requirements for a safely built environment and is provincial regulation that governs new construction, building alterations, repairs, and demolitions. These requirements and regulations still hold when working on a heritage home, however there are alternate compliance methods detailed in Table 188.8.131.52.(5) of the BC Building Code.
Please note that the alternate compliance methods only apply to buildings that are “ legally protected or officially recognized as a heritage property by the Provincial government or a local government”. Buildings that are not recognized in this way are subject to regular BC building code compliance.
The resources on this page are a fantastic starting point when beginning to learn about the regulations and guidelines set in place regarding heritage properties. The BC Building Code is your next best place to access information specific to regulations around construction. Table 184.108.40.206.(5) within the Building Code offers alternate compliance methods for heritage properties as well.
The Standards and Guidelines for the Conversation of Historic Places in Canada was produced by Parks Canada and provides results oriented guidance on the conservation of historic places. Conservation standards can fall into three treatments:
Preservation: The action or process of protecting, maintaining and/or stabilizing the existing materials, form and integrity of an historic place or of an individual component, while protecting its heritage value.
Restoration: The action or process of accurately revealing, recovering or representing the state of a historic place or of an individual component, as it appeared at a particular period in its history, while protecting its heritage value.
Rehabilitation: The action or process of making possible a continuing or compatible contemporary use of an historic place or of an individual component, through repair, alterations, and/or additions, while protecting its heritage value.
The above conservation treatment definitions are taken from the Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada (2nd edition).