Heritage planning initiatives

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We value, respect and celebrate built, cultural and natural heritage as a major contributor to our community's identity, character and sense of place.

The 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 the Heritage Procedures Bylaw No. 11185 set out our heritage management policies and regulations for development.

Heritage Conservation Areas

The Abbott Street and Marshall Street Heritage Conservation Areas are unique heritage neighbourhoods in Kelowna's core with specific guidelines for development. The objectives of the Heritage Conservation Areas are to:

  • Maintain the residential and historical character
  • Encourage new development, additions and renovations to be compatible with the form and character of the existing content
  • Ensure that changes to buildings and streetscapes happen in ways that offer continuity of 'sense-of-place' for neighbours and the broader community
  • Provide historical interest for visitors through context sensitive development
What is a heritage conservation area?

A heritage conservation area is a distinct area with special heritage value and character, designated for long-term protection and heritage conservation purposes in an Official Community Plan. Section 614 of the Local Government Act allows local governments to establish heritage conservation areas.

Why establish them?

Kelowna's older residential neighbourhoods are under redevelopment pressure, and the citizens of Kelowna expressed a desire to preserve the character and quality of these areas. The Abbott Street and Marshall Street neighbourhoods were identified as two areas worthy of preservation due to the significant amount of heritage resources still found in these areas.

The intent of establishing the Heritage Conservation Areas is to manage natural change, not to prevent it. The retention of existing residences in their historical context and character, along with the compatible redevelopment of single or two family residences, allows residents and visitors to continue to appreciate the role and history of the Abbott Street and Marshall Street areas in relation to the settlement and development of Kelowna.

Where are Kelowna's Heritage Conservation Areas?

The Abbott Street area generally consists of the properties bounded by Mill Creek to the north, Pandosy Street to the east, Kelowna General Hospital to the south, and Okanagan Lake to the west. The Marshall Street area generally consists of those properties located along Marshall Street and immediately east along Buckland Avenue and Rowcliffe Avenue.

How does development happen in these areas?

Property owners must apply for and be issued a Heritage Alteration Permit before subdividing a property, constructing a new building, building an addition, altering an existing building or land, or demolishing a building. Heritage Alteration Permits are considered based on the Heritage Conservation Area Guidelines and the Abbott Street & Marshall Street Areas Development Guidelines. You can find more details about developing in the Heritage Conservation Areas under heritage development.

Protected heritage properties

A heritage property can be protected through approval of a Heritage Designation Bylaw, a Heritage Revitalization Agreement or a Heritage Conservation Covenant. To see the properties that currently have some form of heritage protection, check out our list of protected heritage properties.

To be eligible for heritage protection, a property must first be listed on the Kelowna Heritage Register or within a Heritage Conservation Area. To find out more about applying, review the heritage development page and complete the relevant application package.

Kelowna Heritage Register

The Kelowna Heritage Register is an official listing of properties within the community that are identified as having heritage value. The Heritage Register replaces the 1983 Kelowna Heritage Resources Inventory. In 1994 the Local Government Act, along with the community's growth and public interest in the conservation and revitalization of heritage buildings and sites, allowed for the creation of the Heritage Register.

How many buildings are listed in the Heritage Register?

In total, more than 200 properties are currently listed in the Kelowna Heritage Register. For each listed building, a Statement of Significance has been written, indicating why the building merits inclusion. A Statement of Significance provides a description of and identifies the heritage value and character-defining elements of a historic place. You can search the properties on the Heritage Register on our main heritage page.

Why establish the Heritage Register?

The Heritage Register identifies properties of heritage value in Kelowna and allows the City to review and monitor proposed changes that would have an impact on listed heritage properties. Properties listed in the Kelowna Heritage Register have special status and may be eligible to benefit from the following incentives:

  • Heritage Revitalization Agreements to vary the City’s Zoning and Subdivision, Development and Servicing Bylaws. This allows the City to consider, on a case-by-case basis, providing property owners with incentives and bonuses such as increasing density, relaxing height and setback restrictions, relaxing parking restrictions, and allowing appropriate adaptive re-uses. In return for these incentives, the property owners would agree to retain and protect the listed properties.
  • Special treatment under the BC Building Code, which permits equivalencies to current building code provisions. The equivalencies allow property owners to upgrade older buildings without requiring strict code compliance, while not compromising safety standards.
  • Grants from the Kelowna Heritage Grants Program to help cover exterior restoration costs of listed buildings. Grants may be up to 50% of the cost of restoration work done, to a maximum of $7,500.
Can listed buildings be altered or demolished?

Buildings listed in the Kelowna Heritage Register can be altered and may even be demolished. However, City Council may temporarily delay the issuance of a Permit to alter or demolish a listed heritage building in order to allow time for other development options to be fully explored with the property owner, City staff and the Heritage Advisory Committee.

Inclusion of a property in a Heritage Register does not constitute Heritage Designation or any other form of heritage protection. Furthermore, having a building included in the Heritage Register does not restrict the existing development potential of a property. The property owner is entitled to redevelop the property in accordance with the permitted uses and density of the existing zone of that property.

How are buildings removed from or added to the Heritage Register?

Requests from property owners to add buildings to or remove buildings from the Kelowna Heritage Register are reviewed by City staff. The City’s Policy & Planning Department will compile background information on the subject building(s) and an evaluation of the building’s architectural and cultural history, context and integrity will be conducted in open meeting with the Heritage Advisory Committee. This process follows the Kelowna Heritage Register Evaluation Criteria. Following the evaluation, the Policy & Planning Department will forward a recommendation to City Council regarding the proposed addition or removal of the building(s) to the Register. The property owners will be advised of Council’s decision.

Heritage Grants Program

The Heritage Grants Program (HGP) promotes the conservation of all types of heritage buildings by helping owners of properties listed on the Kelowna Heritage Register with grants for a portion of the costs incurred in exterior conservation work. Approximately $35,000 is available for distribution annually, with buildings with a Heritage Designation eligible for a maximum of $12,500 per 3 year period and buildings listed on the Kelowna Heritage Register eligible for a maximum of $7,500 per 3 year period.

The HGP is currently administered by the Central Okanagan Heritage Society (COHS). Contact Lorri Dauncey at 250-861-7188 or ldauncey.cohs@telus.net for more information.

Heritage Building Tax Incentive Program

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.