With 206 identified heritage sites, the city of Nelson has the highest number of heritage structures of any BC community outside of Vancouver and Victoria. Nelson was one of the first communities in the pilot project for the Main Street Canada Program, with 70 heritage buildings in the downtown core restored between 1980 and 1985. Nelson’s heritage sites include buildings, places, amenity areas, boat houses, etc. There are four levels of heritage designation – Canadian Register of Historic Places, Municipal Heritage Designation, Federal Heritage Designation and Community Heritage Register - under which these properties have been identified and protected:
- 69 sites on the Canadian Register of Historic Places - these sites have a Statement of Significance that identifies the important heritage elements of the site
- of the 69 sites, 12 also are municipally designated, meaning that they also have a bylaw that protects them
- of the 12 municipally designated sites, one of them, the CP station, is also a federally designated heritage site
- there are also 137 sites on the Community Heritage Register, which means that they are considered to have heritage value for the city
The City’s heritage sites can also be viewed on the Nelson Heritage sites map.
Canadian Register of Historic Places
The Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP) is a federal, provincial and territorial collaboration designed to conserve historic places in Canada and to foster a culture of collaboration designed to conserve historic places in Canada and to foster a culture of conservation across the country. A key element in the required documentation for listing on the CRHP is a Statement of Significance (SOS). An historic place can be a building, an engineering structure, a landscape, an archaeological site or any place that combines some or all of the elements.
The City of Nelson has 69 properties that have been identified as historic places and have Statements of Significance that were approved by a resolution of Council.
For properties that are on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and that are located within the City’s Development Permit Area #2 (Downtown and Waterfront), any alterations or development will require a development permit to ensure compliance with the heritage design guidelines as well as the character-defining elements identified in the site’s Statement of Significance.
Municipal Heritage Designation
In addition to being on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, The City of Nelson also has 12 properties with Municipal Heritage Designation. These properties have a Statement of Significance, as well as a heritage bylaw approved by Council. No alterations to these buildings can be undertaken without an approved heritage alteration permit, as per LGA Section 611.
Federal Heritage Designation
The CP Rail Station at 90 Baker Street is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, as well as having both a Municipal and Federal Heritage Designation. Any alterations to this building must comply with the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, Parks Canada.
Community Heritage Register
The City of Nelson also has 137 properties on the Community Heritage Register. A Heritage Register is a planning tool which allows a local government to monitor and manage change in its historic places. Heritage Register status does not give any formal protection to a site and is not the same as heritage designation. Inclusion of property on the Heritage Register provides Council with the ability to temporarily withhold a building permit, temporarily withhold a demolition permit for up to 60 days, and/or to require a heritage impact assessment if deemed necessary.
Protection of Heritage Properties
As per Section 604 of the LGA, a local government, bybylaw, can withhold issuance of any approval for an action that, in the opinion of the person responsible for issuing the approval, would alter or cause an alteration to any of the following:
- protected heritage property
- property subject to temporary heritage protection
- property on a community heritage register
The matter must be referred to the local government at its next regular meeting after the approval is withheld.