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Heritage properties within Oak Bay are listed on an inventory called the Community Heritage Register. There are three main types:

Heritage Designated

Property is legally protected through a bylaw under the authority of the Local Government Act of BC usually through a request from the owner to protect the heritage features.

Designation is generally limited to the building exterior but can include interior features as agreed between the municipality and the owner.

Alterations to significant features require approval through a Heritage Alteration Permit

Heritage –Registered

Property is not legally protected but is recognized as having heritage value.

In the event of a redevelopment or demolition application, Oak Bay will make best efforts to encourage the owner to conserve the structure or feature.

Owner does not require a Heritage Alteration Permit to make alterations unless the property is located in a Heritage Conservation Area.

Heritage Conservation Area

Property does not need to be heritage registered or heritage designated to be included.

Alterations to all properties in Heritage Conservation Areas require approval through a Heritage Alteration Permit.

Designation is listed on the Land Title which also details any designated interior features.

The Oak Bay Register lists all Registered and Designated buildings.

Routine maintenance and repairs on Heritage Designated buildings or buildings within a Heritage Conservation Area can be carried out at the owner’s discretion.

No- most heritage buildings’ interiors are not specially protected and do not require a Heritage Alteration Permit unless interior changes affect the outside.

Traditional wood windows can be repaired and if maintained have a lifespan of 200 years.

Historic windows are often an important character defining element identified in the property’s Statement of Significance and in such cases, their replacement should be a last resort.

If replacement of any part of the window is deemed necessary a Heritage Alteration Permit might be required from the Oak Bay Building and Planning department depending on its significance.

Most insurers provide coverage for heritage properties. Contact a qualified professional insurer to find out rates and coverage.

Heritage properties add value to the community, based on the Heritage Values in the Oak Bay Heritage Plan, and recognized in the Oak Bay Official Community Plan: Heritage Streetscapes and Neighbourhoods, Historic Buildings and Structures, Cultural and Landscape Features, Natural Landscape Features and Oak Bay’s Unique History. For more details on heritage features see Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada

Age is only one criterion determining whether a building has heritage value.

A historic property’s architectural features and ownership history identifies the heritage value and explains the context and relevance.

If a building is not listed on the Heritage Register, this does not necessarily mean that it does not have heritage value.

Designation is almost always at the request of the homeowner; Application form

Designation involves research on the social history and architectural features of the house, which will be done by Heritage Oak Bay volunteers, a site visit and Oak Bay Council approval.

The BC Local Government Act empowers municipal councils to designate properties through a bylaw registered on the Land Title held with the BC Land Titles office. See Local Government Act section 661(1)(a)(b) Heritage designation protection

Heritage buildings have a character and charm derived from a combination of design features and architectural elements of the period, which are difficult to replicate.

Registered and Designated properties are eligible for Oak Bay heritage grants for maintenance projects.

The owner will receive a bronze plaque to place on the Designated house.

Retention is the sustainable choice over demolition and replacement as the greenest building is the one already built. It is now very difficult to build new houses to the original standard/workmanship/quality of materials.

“Demolition wastes resources, clogs the landfills, diminishes the streetscape and reverses all the loving care many owners have invested in the property. Heritage is simply what we agree is worth keeping for the future” (Victoria Heritage Foundation)

It takes at least 30 years before energy savings are realized by building a new house rather than rehabilitating an old one.

‘Heritage’ includes traditions, values and features of life passed from one generation to another. It is not about houses of ‘the rich and famous’ but about preserving the history of all walks of life, all human activities, all peoples. (from Victoria Heritage Foundation). “We all have connections to the house we grew up in, where we went on our first date, the theatres, restaurants-through these our children can learn about their history and develop a strong personal sense of being” (Hallmark society brochure)

“Continuity is expressed through a decision to honour and preserve a home and its legacy-and then entrust it, someday, to its next family. You pass through a house but the house remains-you’re just part of the history of the house, a small part”. (Times Colonist October 12, 2019)” Remodel embraces history of timber baron’s 1904 home”

The Foundation was established in 1992 as an arms-length municipally funded not for profit society under the B.C. Societies Act to promote heritage to the public and to administer the grant program for heritage registered and designated properties.

Grants may be awarded for re-roofing, exterior painting, chimneys, door and windows, gutters, porch repair and other maintenance activities.

In general, both the colours and their placement are relevant to a funding decision

Designated homes are eligible for up to $10,000 (25% of the cost of the restoration work to a maximum of $10,000 over a ten -year period) and registered homes are eligible for up to $1,000 (10% of the cost of the restoration work to a maximum of $3,000 over a ten- year period). Priority is given to grant applications received by March 31 but applications are accepted throughout the year as funding allows. Grants will not be given for work undertaken prior to a grant application.

Applicants are restricted to one application per calendar year and to maximum amounts, as defined above, over a ten-year period.

Applications are available online here.

For more information contact us at