Heritage - Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about heritage buildings in Saanich? Do you own one, or are you thinking about buying one? Curious about designation and the processes involved? We’ve put together this handy guide to get you started.
If you don’t see your question here, send it our way! Contact the Saanich Heritage Foundation at Shirley.Leggett@saanich.ca.
We’re happy to be a resource for heritage in Saanich.
How old does a house have to be to be considered “heritage”?
Age is only one factor in determining heritage. The history, use, architect, owners, architectural features and uniqueness are also considered.
What is the difference between “heritage designated” and “heritage registered”?
“Heritage designated” carries a higher level of protection and recognition, and is approved by Saanich Council through a Heritage Designation Bylaw. Designation generally applies to the exterior only, though interior or landscape features can be included.
“Heritage registered” means that a house has documented historical value, but has not been designated and protected by bylaw.
To receive a House Grant for any restoration to your home, it must be designated not registered.
The Saanich Heritage Register book includes both types of recognition, and hundreds of properties. There are heritage registered and designated properties in all of the Local Areas in Saanich!
What is the process to have my house designated or registered?
To explore adding your property to the Heritage Registry, please contact the Saanich Planning Department.
To have it designated, start by filling out the Saanich Heritage Application for Heritage Designation. Return the form, along with the required supporting documentation, to the Saanich Planning Department (firstname.lastname@example.org). For assistance with historical information, contact Saanich Archives (email@example.com) or the Saanich Heritage Foundation (Shirley.Leggett@saanich.ca).
You are strongly encouraged to hire and work with a Heritage Consultant to prepare a Statement of Significance. This will speed up the process and provide clear documentation of character defining elements.
What is a Statement of Significance (SOS)?
A SOS is a succinct way of expressing heritage value for the property.
There are three parts of an SOS:
- Description of the historic place
- Identification of the key heritage values assigned to the historic place
- List of its principal character-defining elements
I own a heritage house. Is there any financial support available?
Yes! The Saanich Heritage Foundation administers a house grant program for restoration and upkeep work. Owners of Designated Heritage properties are eligible to apply.
Grants are based on up to 35% of project costs on approved work, to a maximum of $10,000 per year per house. Applications are due by December 31 each year. For more information and to apply view the House Grants Program web page.
Please refer to our Restoration guideline for House Grants.
Can I renovate my heritage house? Are there any restrictions to what I am allowed to do?
Designation generally applies to the exterior of the house, so interior renovations don’t require permission (unless the interior is also designated). We encourage homeowners to retain original features, though!
Owners may not alter the exterior of a building, make a structural change, or construct an addition to a building, without a Heritage Alteration Permit similar to a Building Permit.
The first step is to apply for a Building Permit.
Similarly, demolition also requires an application for de-designation and/or removal from the Heritage Register, as well as required supporting documentation.
In both cases, the application will come to the Saanich Heritage Foundation for comment and recommendations, which will be forwarded to Saanich Council and considered as part of the decision-making process. We encourage you to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the start, or even before, the process to start a dialogue.
How do I have my heritage house de-registered or de-designated?
We urge you to consider keeping your house on the register or designated list — it’s an important part of our local history. If you would like to know more about its history, please contact the Saanich Heritage Foundation or Saanich Archives.
When your house was designated, a by-law regarding that designation was put into place. It was designated as a Municipal Heritage Site under Sections 967, 968 and 969 of the B.C. Local Government Act.
If you would like to de-register or de-designate your home you will have to prepare your case to be reviewed by Council. You may want to include a building condition assessment and hire a Heritage Consultant to prepare a heritage assessment, to organize your case for de-designation. We also encourage you to contact Saanich Planning staff to explore options for retaining your heritage building, including potentially as part of a larger development.
The application will come to the Saanich Heritage Foundation for comment and recommendations, which will be forwarded to Saanich Council and considered as part of the decision-making process. We encourage you to contact us at the start, or even before, the process to start a dialogue.