Local Government Heritage Planning

Heritage conservation cares for a community's past for present and future generations. Heritage planning helps communities decide how to manage that inheritance. In most cases, local governments manage heritage initiatives through their planning departments.

Here are some of the benefits to communities that take a strong interest in heritage planning and conservation:

  • Green building and heritage building preservation build skills and create new job opportunities
  • Heritage tourism brings dollars to rural and remote communities
  • Relationships with First Nations are strengthened as cultural and historic places are recognized
  • Heritage festivities and celebrations are a fun way for communities to connect
  • Communities can lower their carbon footprint by preserving historic buildings

Contact us for more ideas on how to link community planning and development with heritage activities so that your community can benefit.


Heritage funding is available from a variety of sources, including heritage societies. Provincial and federal dollars are available to support strategic heritage preservation in communities across the province through various funds and grant programs.

The Heritage Legacy Fund of British Columbia, for example, is an initiative of the Province and Heritage BC that supports many local heritage projects around B.C. It provides financial assistance and guidance to help protect, care for and showcase British Columbia's rich cultural heritage.

When seeking funding, consider searching beyond the traditional boundaries of ‘heritage’ funding to access opportunities available through initiatives fostering climate action, community health and economic diversification, for instance.

Contact Heritage BC to find out what kind of funding you can get when you include heritage activities in your community planning.

Heritage Conservation Options for Local Governments

Under the Local Government Act and Vancouver Charter, local governments have several tools for heritage conservation:

Community heritage register (CHR) - officially lists properties that the local government identifies as having heritage value or character;

Heritage designation (HD) – legal protection by municipal bylaw; changes may require a heritage alteration permit;

Heritage revitalization agreement (HRA) – legal protection by agreement between local government and property owner; may vary bylaws or land use permits;

Designation of a heritage conservation area (HCA) in an Official Community Plan – legal protection in Official Community Plan; changes may require a heritage alteration permit.

Within 30 days of using these heritage conservation tools, local governments are required to notify the Minister responsible for the Heritage Conservation Act so that the new sites can be added to the BC Register of Historic Places (BCRHP). Notification can be done through the BC Register Office of the BC Heritage Branch.

A Statement of Significance is required for notices of new CHR listings and is highly recommended for notices of heritage designations, HRAs and HCAs. Sites from the BC Register that are fully documented with a Statement of Significance will also be added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places, a searchable database of historic places across Canada.

Local governments can use the links below to learn how to submit information about historic places within their jurisdiction:

Recognizing Historic Places on Crown Land

Local governments may formally recognize historic places on Crown land through the provisions of the Local Government Act (LGA). These historic places may also be identified on provincial reference maps through a Notation of Interest (NoI) and considered during the review of Land Act applications.

Local governments can request a NoI by submitting an application form with the legal description of the land; a map of the application area showing the boundaries of the historic place; and survey information for any surveyed land. There is no fee to apply for a Notation of Interest. Visit the Natural Resources Online Services for more information.

Local Government Heritage Capacity Survey

Each year local governments across British Columbia participate in a provincial Heritage Capacity Survey. Information from this survey helps the Heritage Branch assess heritage conservation capacity across the province and contributes to branch policy planning.

This report summarizes information gathered from local governments (municipalities and regional districts) to assess the current capacity of B.C. communities to conserve and use their heritage resources. It provides an overview of heritage conservation activity from 2009 to 2019, as reported to the Heritage Branch by local government staff through the Building Capacity for Heritage Conservation (BCHC) survey.

It's important to note that this report provides baseline information only and is not intended to show trends spanning years.