As a central gathering place for more than 10,000 years, an early pioneer settlement, BC’s oldest incorporated city (1859), and the first capital of British Columbia, the land of New Westminster and the buildings on it tell a long story. Historic buildings, sites and landscapes reflect the forces that shape a community and are the tangible elements of the past that help make this community unique.


There are social, financial and environmental benefits to retaining heritage buildings in a community.  First, heritage sites are a connection to the past and provide a sense of history and continuity. Heritage sites also tell the stories of who we are what we have experienced as a community, in addition to functioning as landmarks and having significant aesthetic value.  Second, heritage buildings often retain their value with more resiliency as property markets shift through time and support tourism.  Third, the retention of a heritage building is the more sustainable choice over demolition and replacement when the costs of the embodied energy in the building, accumulation of material in the landfill and the cost of new construction is balanced against potential energy savings.  Heritage conservation just make sense.


Heritage conservation is the management of change. It is a comprehensive and continuous activity that has its foundation in legislation and in community participation and support.

The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, a comprehensive guide to best historic conservation practices, defines heritage value as the aesthetic, historic, scientific, cultural, social or spiritual importance or significance for past, present or future generations.

Generally, any structure older than 50 years may have heritage value.  Each building and structure is unique and it will have its own distinct set of character-defining elements.  Character-defining elements can range from the tangible features (e.g., massing, materials, construction, decorative details, how and where it sits on the site, and its relation to its surroundings) to the intangible features (e.g., memories, stories, cultural practices, associated people or events, and its sense of time and place). 


Planning Division
Phone: 604-527-4532