Heritage Register FAQs

What is the Heritage Registry and how does it fit into City policy?
Awareness and celebration of the community's built heritage is one of the goals of the City of North Vancouver's Official Community Plan. This is implemented through the City's Heritage Program which aims to identify, protect and raise awareness of buildings, monuments, structures and landscapes that are representative of our community values and architecture from the past. A fundamental component of the Heritage Program is the Heritage Registry - a list of heritage resources identified for inclusion based on heritage value. In the case of buildings, heritage value is assessed by considering a building's architecture, cultural meaning, historical associations and the extent to which its exterior has been altered over the years. Other components of the Heritage Program include heritage awareness through community events such as Heritage Awards and North Shore Heritage Weekend, a Heritage Plaque Program and Heritage Incentives.

What are the implications of having my property listed on the Heritage Registry?
A building that is listed on the Heritage Registry has been selected because it has been identified as having special architectural, historical and/or cultural value within the community. It may be representative of a particular architectural style or form of building that was common at the time it was built. Usually it means that the exterior materials and design features of the building are relatively original and intact. To have a building listed on the Registry does not mean it is legally protected from demolition unless steps have been taken to formally protect the building. This usually occurs through a separate designation bylaw or covenant process. However, all buildings listed on the Registry are flagged on our permit system at City Hall. This means that when the City receives an application that will affect the exterior of the building, heritage staff reviews the proposal and collaborates with the owners. This review applies to the exterior of heritage buildings only. City staff does not monitor changes to the interiors of heritage buildings for compliance with heritage conservation principles. The City's Heritage Advisory Commission also provides advice to Council on heritage issues and may review development applications affecting buildings on the Heritage Registry.

Why are there two categories in the new Heritage Registry?
All buildings listed in the Heritage Registry are considered to have significant heritage merit. The previous two Heritage Registries ranked this heritage significance into four separate categories (Primary, Secondary, Supplemental and Post-1939). Having so many categories resulted in confusion about which ones were considered important. The new Registry will have only two categories: 'A' and 'B'. Buildings that had previously been ranked as Primary, Secondary, Post 1939 or those Supplemental ranked buildings in defined Heritage Character Areas are now listed as Category 'A'. The remaining buildings are listed as Category 'B'. Having only two categories will be simpler to understand and align with the City's policies related to heritage protection.

What does it mean if my building is proposed for inclusion as an 'A' or 'B' Category?
Category 'A' and 'B' buildings all have considerable heritage merit. Category 'A' buildings are considered to have more merit. This may be a result of their architectural, historical and/or cultural significance. Buildings in both categories will be considered part of the City's Heritage Program and will be eligible for incentives that might be made available by the City. All buildings are monitored by the City through the Building Permit process. Owners are encouraged to retain or restore distinctive exterior features of the buildings. For Category 'B' buildings this is only encouragement. For category 'A' buildings, significant changes to a building would be referred to City Council for consideration. This is explained in more detail in one of the next FAQ's.

Does this limit the extent of alterations I may wish to make to the building in the future?
Changes to heritage buildings are inevitable. Maintenance and repair are essential as buildings age. Sometimes buildings are enlarged to accommodate new needs. For example, a growing family may need to put an addition on a 1910 heritage home. Or a rotting porch may need to be repaired. There are ways to maintain and adapt heritage buildings that respect their original form and materials. Heritage staff will work with you to find solutions that suit your building and meet your needs. For dramatic exterior changes or demolition of Category 'A' buildings, City Council would be informed by staff that the loss of a heritage building may be imminent. Council would then have the option of pursuing the legal protection of the building.

What is the difference between a listed Heritage Registry property and a Heritage Designated property?
The inclusion of a property on the Heritage Registry signifies that the property has been identified as having heritage significance. It does not mean that it is designated (legally protected). A building is only legally protected from demolition/alteration if the property has been formally designated by bylaw or has had a legal agreement such as a covenant executed and placed on the title. Approximately 30 of the 250 buildings listed on the existing 1994 Heritage Registry are protected. Usually protection occurs as a result of negotiated agreements between the City and the owner and this most often occurs as a result of a related development application. Legal protection may also occur on a voluntary or involuntary basis. Council has the authority through the Local Government Act to designate a building without the support of an owner. This would only occur in extreme cases where a negotiated designation has failed. Such an involuntary designation has never occurred in the City of North Vancouver. A list of the properties that are protected (or designated) can be viewed here. For more information on the designation process or the implications of having a building listed on the Heritage Registry, please contact City staff.

Why is my property being identified now and was not included in previous Heritage Inventories?
There are several factors that could result in a heritage property being added to the 2007 Heritage Registry. One of the primary reasons is simply the passage of time. It has been 13 years since the last heritage Registry evaluation process was undertaken. In that time, the building stock has aged resulting in more buildings being eligible for consideration. In other cases, the exterior of some buildings has been repaired or previous inappropriate alterations have been rectified and the exterior has been restored to their original appearance. Another factor is the changing appreciation of what constitutes "heritage". Age is only one criterion that determines whether a building has heritage value. Other criteria include whether the building is representative of a particular architectural style or period, its association with important historical people or historical/cultural events and its role within the community. For these reasons, more post-WW2 buildings built within the last 50 years are now being identified as having heritage value.

What are the advantages of owning a heritage property? Is there any financial assistance for owners of heritage properties?
There is a lot of satisfaction in owning a heritage property. As the owner of a heritage building, you no doubt already know that 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. In order for these special attributes to survive, heritage buildings require regular maintenance. The City of North Vancouver at this time does not have a grant program to assist owners with maintenance and repair. However, the City offers development incentives whenever possible to assist owners that wish to retain and upgrade their buildings as part of a development proposal. Heritage staff are also available to assist owners with any questions they might have about their building, conservation and rehabilitation techniques and development options for their property.


Where may I obtain more information about my heritage property as well as resources to help with appropriate ways to maintain, repair or make changes to my building?
There is a lot of excellent information available on the care and maintenance and conservation of heritage buildings. Staff would be pleased to assist you with any questions you may have and refer you to relevant literature, websites and expertise. Informative sources and web references are below.

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