Kelowna’s heritage is a history tied to the land, natural environment and the people who have long understood the richness of this area. Kelowna's heritage is reflected in the buildings, neighbourhoods and landscapes from these earlier eras. These are the homes, work spaces, and community gathering places created by the people who shaped and developed the city of Kelowna.
We value, respect and celebrate built, cultural and natural heritage as a major contributor to our community's identity, character and sense of place.
Our 2007 Heritage Strategy assesses the current situation, renews the community's vision for heritage and sets an action plan to identify, maintain and protect the community's heritage resources. The Official Community Plan and Development Application and Heritage Procedures Bylaw No. 12310 set out our heritage management policies and regulations for development.
Restoring, rehabilitating and maintaining heritage buildings can be costly, and sometimes cost prohibitive. Our heritage building tax incentive program encourages the restoration of agricultural, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings listed on the Kelowna Heritage Register by providing tax breaks for restored revenue generating heritage buildings. Full program details are available in Council Policy No. 318.
Kelowna heritage societies
- The Central Okanagan Heritage Society (COHS)
- The Okanagan Historical Society (OHS)
- The Kelowna Museums Society (KMS)
Expanding Kelowna’s oral history
Do you know of a Kelowna resident whose oral history should be collected? The City of Kelowna and the Kelowna Museums Society are interested in expanding their current collection of Kelowna oral history. Contact Tara Hurley, Archivist, to add a name to the list: 250-763-2417 ext. 25; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heritage Grants Program
The Heritage Grants Program, administered by the Central Okanagan Heritage Society, is designed to promote conservation of residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural heritage buildings by assisting owners with grants for a portion of the costs incurred in conservation work. Eligible work may include reroofing, window and door conservation, siding and porch conservation, work on foundation and repainting.
Any owner with a property listed on the Kelowna Heritage Register is eligible to apply for this program. Interested applicants should visit the Central Okanagan Heritage Society's website for more information.
Immerse yourself in Kelowna's heritage by taking our self-guided heritage driving tour or the historic Bernard-Lawrence neighbourhood walking tour.
Sit back and enjoy Kelowna's expansive heritage resources with our self-guided heritage driving tour.
The route includes 19 stops through Kelowna's agricultural, commercial, industrial and cultural heritage sites as well as historic residential neighbourhoods, such as the Abbott Street and Marshall Street conservation areas.
Funds for printing the tour brochures was generously provided by the Heritage Legacy Fund.
In the Bernard-Lawrence neighbourhood, just east of downtown, there remains a concentrated inventory of heritage buildings in a variety of architectural styles favoured over the past 100 years.
The historic Bernard-Lawrence neighbourhood walking tour includes 32 buildings, 29 of which are recognized in the Kelowna Heritage Register as having significant historic value to the community.
The neighbourhood walking tour brochure was thoughtfully designed and printed by the Kelowna South-Central Association of Neighbourhoods. The walking tour is available for pick up at City Hall, Kelowna Museums, the Father Pandosy Site and Tourism Kelowna.
Cameron House & Surtees Heritage Property
The Cameron House and Surtees Heritage Property are two heritage properties in Kelowna that have a rich history. Steps have been taken to upgrade these properties for the benefit of the community.
Built in 1928, the Cameron House is a 1.5-storey, log construction home located on the Guisachan property in Kelowna’s South Pandosy neighbourhood.
Once the home of a prominent local family, the Cameron House holds special significance to the community. Valued for its unusual architectural style, landscaped park setting and role in community life now and throughout its history, the revitalization of this heritage building has the potential to contribute to the vibrancy of the neighbourhood.
The Cameron House is a Kelowna heritage asset listed on our heritage register. The building has housed several tenants over the years, with a children’s daycare being the most recent. The building is currently unoccupied and in need of extensive upgrades before being suitable for occupancy.
For more information on this building, visit the Cameron House page on our heritage register.
An idea fair was held on May 12, 2016 to gather input from the community and identify activities and uses that are compatible with the heritage building, Cameron Park and the surrounding neighbourhood. It’s our intention to use the community feedback to seek a private or not-for-profit partner to assist in financing capital improvements for the building and adjoining site.
View the idea fair display panels below:
Surtees Heritage Property
The Surtees Property is a four-acre site located at 4629 Lakeshore Road that was originally acquired in 2002 to facilitate the construction of a future trail head for the Bellevue Creek Greenway. The property is intended to act as a key link in a future public recreation trail from Okanagan Lake to the city limits at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. As such, future park components of the property are anticipated to include a public parking lot and staging area for park users, with the trail heading east to the City limits at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, and west toward Cascia Linear Park and Okanagan Lake.
Acquisition of the Surtees Property included two buildings of significant historical value, both of which visually represent Kelowna in the early part of the 1900’s and are identified as such on the our heritage register:
- Surtees Barn: The building, originally constructed as a dairy barn circa 1927, is said to be one of the most up-to-date barns in the area for its time
- Surtees Homestead (also known as the Ritz Cafe): Constructed circa 1912, it’s linked to the building of the Kettle Valley Railway
In 2015, the Surtees Barn and Surtees Homestead buildings were included in our work plan for heritage asset restoration to explore potential restoration programs for the property and our other heritage assets of significance (notably the Cameron House and the Brent’s Mill Heritage Park buildings).
Adaptive re-use is the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than what it was built or designed for.
The goal of adaptive re-use of the Surtees Property would be rehabilitation of the existing buildings and protection of the character of the site in a fashion that showcases - and celebrates - its heritage value. The other goal would be to transform the site in a way that blends the adaptive re-use of the buildings with the surrounding park and strengthens the public connection to the Bellevue Creek linear trail through strong visual wayfinding elements and a public trail network nestled amongst the historic buildings and mature trees.
Given competing community priorities and limited taxation funding to continue to preserve the failing buildings, the Surtees Property was identified as a priority for adaptive re-use in 2009. Based on the information received, a request for expressions of interest was issued in 2012 to look for financially viable proposals to preserve and maintain the site in a self-sustaining manner. We received four responses, but it was determined that none of them met our criteria or expectations.
In December 2016, a partnership opportunity with Worman Commercial was approved by Council. The goal of the partnership is to work towards restoration of the Surtees property by rehabilitating the existing buildings and protecting the character of the site in a fashion that showcases its heritage and park value.
The partnership with Worman Commercial is a unique opportunity to meet a number of municipal needs, including promoting parks and preserving heritage in a fiscally prudent manner. Key benefits associated with the partnership include:
- Rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of two buildings that hold significant historical value to the community with no taxation impact
- Annual operating and maintenance of heritage and commercial buildings as well as public areas with no taxation impact
- Strengthening of the economic viability of the existing commercial node at Collett and Lakeshore roads
- Development of a trailhead for Bellevue Creek with an appropriately integrated commercial amenity for park users
- Installation of a roundabout to promote traffic calming and efficiency at the Collett and Lakeshore Road intersection