Heritage in the City

The City considers heritage as important connections to our past. The Official Community Plan sets out objectives to respect and maintain links to the natural and cultural past, recognize and celebrate the City’s heritage, and support programs and services to encourage understanding and appreciation of our history.

Heritage and Reconciliation

To date, the City’s heritage program has had a strong focus on conserving the architecture and landscapes of colonial and settler history. Moving forward, the City will evolve its heritage program to include and recognize the diverse social fabric and rich cultural histories of Indigenous Peoples as the First Peoples of the land. The City acknowledges that shared decision-making is critical to this work and will collaborate with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations on identifying, acknowledging, and supporting Indigenous cultural histories in the City’s heritage program.

Since 1987, the City has had an active heritage program with five main components:

  • Heritage Register – listing and maintenance of heritage inventory
  • Incentives – encouraging heritage conservation
  • Protection – regulations and legislation to protect heritage assets
  • Advocacy – public awareness and education
  • Monitoring – keeping program up-to-date
These components are described in detail below.

Heritage Register

cover of the Heritage Register documentA fundamental component of the heritage program is the Heritage Register – a list of heritage resources identified based on heritage value. Heritage value may be assessed by considering the significance of the property’s architecture, cultural meaning, historical associations, and the extent of exterior alterations over the years.

All properties listed on the Register are considered to have significant heritage merit. Buildings on the Register are assigned to one of two categories: ‘A’ or ‘B’, where ‘A’ is considered to have more merit. Heritage conservation is encouraged for buildings of both categories. In addition, any significant changes to category 'A' buildings would be flagged for further staff review and may be referred to City Council for consideration.

Properties listed on the Register are not necessarily protected from demolition unless steps have been taken to legally protect the property. City staff will work with applicants on proposals involving heritage properties to incorporate opportunities for conservation wherever possible.

>> Download the Heritage Register


Heritage conservation may be challenging and costly. Heritage buildings have a character and charm that results from a combination of historic materials and finishes, uniquely crafted design features and architectural elements of the period – all of which are difficult to replicate today. And, for these special attributes to survive, heritage buildings require regular maintenance.   

To encourage heritage conservation, incentives are provided through the following.

Heritage Awards

The Heritage Awards are presented biennially in recognition of excellence in heritage conservation work. Please visit the Heritage Awards page for more information on these awards and to download nomination forms.

Support for Heritage Conservation 

City staff are available to assist owners with questions about their heritage building, conservation and rehabilitation techniques, and development options for their property. North Shore Heritage is an excellent resource with many contacts in the trades specializing in heritage work. Various funding and grants may be available to help with this work. Please visit Heritage BC to see current funding opportunities.

Enhanced Redevelopment Potential

If you are considering redevelopment of a heritage property, we encourage you to contact City staff to discuss potential development incentives that may apply to your project. Please see Contact Info at bottom of this page.



Provincial legislation enables the City to legally protect heritage properties through any one of the following.

Heritage Designation Bylaw 

Heritage designation is a recognized method to identify, acknowledge, record, and provide long-term protection for local heritage that has a particular value to the community. Designation is a formal process that requires a public hearing and adoption of a bylaw by Council.  

Designated property is protected from alteration, damage and demolition.  The protection usually applies to the exterior of a property, but may also include interior features. Any changes to designated property requires a Heritage Alteration Permit (see below), unless otherwise stated in the designation bylaw.

Heritage Conservation Area (HCA)

An HCA is a distinct area with special heritage value and character identified for heritage conservation purposes in an Official Community Plan. HCAs recognize the significance of the collective structures, environment, landscape, streetscape, spatial elements, vistas and views, and the relationships of buildings to each other and their surroundings.  

Alterations, new construction, and land subdivision within an HCA require a Heritage Alteration Permit (see below).  

There is one HCA in the City, Ottawa Gardens. Download the Ottawa Gardens HCA Guidelines.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA)

An HRA is a powerful and flexible heritage conservation tool that supports retention and rehabilitation while also facilitating other community priority strategies, such as rental housing. The terms of an HRA, negotiated on a case-by-case basis, may vary City bylaws, including zoning regulations. To be eligible for an HRA, a property must have heritage value such as be on the Heritage Register.

An HRA may require a Heritage Alteration Permit (see below) for any alterations or new construction to the protected property.

To apply for an HRA, visit the Land Use Approvals page and follow the ‘Application Process’ (i.e. an HRA is considered a Planning Application). All HRAs are subject to Council consideration and approval, and must be authorized by bylaw, with opportunities provided for community input where use or density is varied.

Heritage Conservation Covenant

A Heritage Conservation Covenant is an agreement between a property owner and the City, outlining responsibilities of the covenant owner with respect to the conservation of a heritage property.  These covenants are registered on title to property and binding on current and future owners. Conservation covenants can apply to natural or man-made heritage resources, and may require a Heritage Alteration Permit (see below) for any alterations or new construction to the heritage property.

The above protections are registered or noted on the property title, and generally require property owner consent. Council may consider legal protection for heritage buildings or features without owner consent, but this is not common practice and would involve compensation in accordance with the Local Government Act.  

Protected properties generally prohibit demolition of heritage resources, may restrict changes to buildings and landscape, and may require a Heritage Alteration Permit (see below) before the start of any alteration or construction work.  

Heritage Alteration Permit (HAP)

Heritage Standards and Guidelines document coverProperties under a Heritage Designation Bylaw or HCA always require an HAP for any alteration work. An HAP may also be required if specified under an HRA or Heritage Conservation Covenant.

Where an HAP is required, the proposed work must meet the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada and any other applicable requirements set out in the protection agreement. HAPs are subject to approval by the Director of Planning and Development.

To apply for an HAP:

  1. Download and complete the HAP application form
  2. Follow submission instructions on the Land Use Approvals page
  3. Present to the Heritage Advisory Commission, if needed


Heritage is an integral part of the cultural, social and even economic fabric of our communities.  Advocacy helps to build awareness and understanding around heritage and how to better conserve our heritage for generations to come.

Some of the City’s heritage advocacy efforts include:

Heritage Awards

The Heritage Awards are presented biennially in recognition of excellence in heritage conservation work. Please visit the Heritage Awards page for more information on these awards and to download nomination forms.

Heritage Advisory Commission

The City's Heritage Advisory Commission (HAC) provides advice to Council on heritage issues, including implementation of public education and awareness activities. HAC may also review development proposals involving heritage matters to ensure conservation opportunities are thoroughly considered.

Heritage Plaque Program

The City provides metal plaques upon request from heritage property owners. The plaques include heritage property details and a photograph, and have a distinct design identifying them as heritage plaques within the City. Properties must be on the Heritage Register to be eligible for the program. Please contact City staff if you would like to request a heritage plaque for your property.

Events and Partnerships

The City takes part in the North Shore Heritage Week and other heritage-related events, often partnering with other North Shore municipalities and North Shore Heritage (NSH). NSH is a non-profit society representing heritage homeowners and supporters on the North Shore, with a mandate to advocate for the conservation of heritage resources.


The Museum of North Vancouver Museum (MONOVA) explores the interactions between people and place that have shaped North Vancouver's history, created its present, and will define its future. The Museum itself is in the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood within the City. MONOVA also oversees the Archives Collection, a publicly-accessible archives containing thousands of photographs, maps, and archival documents, located in the District of North Vancouver at 3203 Institute Road.


Ongoing review of the heritage program and conservation process is necessary to identify updates for improvement. The Heritage Register becomes outdated with the passage of time. As the City’s building stock ages, more buildings become eligible for consideration. In other cases, buildings may have increased in heritage value through restoration.

Most importantly, is the changing appreciation of what constitutes "heritage". Traditionally, age is a key criterion that determines heritage value, along with other criteria such as whether a particular architectural style is representative of a period, or a building’s association with historical people or events and its role within the community. In general, these criteria and the greater heritage field has its roots in the Western, colonial systems of knowledge and practice, which have been imposed upon other cultures and peoples. Today, there is a movement to acknowledge with humility the harm that this has caused and to acknowledge the need for redress.

The City’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation will involve accountability and changes to the heritage program through a range of actions to identify, acknowledge, and support Indigenous cultural histories.


Contact Info

Planning Division
Tel: 604-982-WORK (9675)
Email: gateway@cnv.org

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