Learn how you can protect your heritage property.

There are numerous social, cultural, and economic benefits of heritage conservation. The preservation and restoration of our built, natural, and cultural heritage resources:

  • enhances community character;
  • fosters a strong sense of place and identity;
  • stimulates cultural tourism and other economic opportunities; and
  • contributes to the creation of complete, sustainable communities.

A property owner may enter into agreements with the City to protect their heritage property through the following tools.

  • A Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) is a bylaw in the form of an agreement between the City and the owner of a heritage property. An HRA has the flexibility to vary requirements found in other by-laws and City regulations, either by being more restrictive or providing relaxations to bylaw requirements.

    An HRA is most useful where creative solutions, including incentives, are needed to retain a heritage building, structure or feature in the context of  redevelopment. This could apply to a rezoning, subdivision or a development permit application. Examples of variances include lot size, setbacks, building height, use or density, parking, landscaping, park or open space requirements, or development cost charges. If an HRA varies use or density, Council must hold a Public Hearing. An HRA may be amended, but only with the consent of both the property owner and the City.
  • A Heritage Conservation Covenant is an agreement that protects part or all of a heritage property. It is negotiated with the owner of a heritage property and registered on title of the land. A conservation covenant can apply to either a natural or built feature. The owner signs the covenant with either the City or another interested party such as a heritage society. However, unlike an HRA, a conservation covenant cannot vary other City bylaws and regulations such as zoning. It is most useful where no changes to a property or building are proposed to take place, and the owner wishes to enter into a covenant with the City to ensure long-term protection.
  • A Heritage Designation Bylaw is adopted by Council, with or without the owner's consent, to protect a building, structure or other heritage feature. A heritage designation by-law may also protect specific interior features or a heritage landscape features. The bylaw can prohibit exterior alterations including structural changes, the moving of a structure, excavation or other actions that would damage the protected features. Alterations to a designated building, structure or feature cannot be made without special approval from the City.
  • Heritage Conservation Areas are included as part of the Official Community Plan. These provide protection to larger areas of heritage significance. The type of protection can be customized to fit the circumstances of selected properties. Not all properties included within the heritage conservation area need to be protected. Those with little or no heritage value can be excluded, or have fewer conditions placed on them. There are presently no heritage conservation areas in Surrey, although several areas are under consideration.
  • Heritage Alteration Permits allow changes to be authorized for protected heritage property (subject to designation bylaws, conservation covenants, heritage revitalization agreements, or within a heritage conservation area). Heritage alteration permits may not vary use or density, but may vary other provisions within City by-laws and regulations.

Guidelines apply for the conservation, maintenance, and alteration of protected heritage properties. Not all protected properties have the same guidelines or requirements. A notice goes on title for protected properties and owners of protected heritage properties are eligible to apply for financial and other incentives available from the City.

For more information about heritage protection, see the Protecting Heritage Sites in Surrey publication.

Incentives for Heritage Protection

Properties subject to heritage revitalization agreements, designation bylaws, or conservation covenants may be eligible for tax exemption, matching grants for restoration work, relaxation of City regulations, and special consideration under the BC Building Code.

Financial support for privately owned protected heritage properties is available in the form of property tax exemption and grants for approved restoration work.

Property Tax Exemption

The City of Surrey has adopted a policy to provide property tax exemption to owners of protected heritage properties. Application forms for property tax exemption are available from Legislative Services. Applications must be submitted on an annual basis and Council must adopt a bylaw to allow such tax relief to continue each year.

Heritage Restoration Grants

The Building Preservation Program provides grants to owners of protected heritage properties for stabilization, maintenance, and restoration of heritage buildings. The City will contribute 50% of the cost of the work or materials up to $5,000 in a calendar year. An owner may also claim any unclaimed amounts from the previous 2 years to a maximum of $15,000. Detailed requirements with respect to the Program are set out in City of Surrey Heritage Sites Financial Assistance Bylaw, 2003, No. 15099.

In order to receive this grant, an owner must bring forward an application for financial assistance to the Heritage Advisory Commission for its review and approval. Obtain more information about the Building Preservation Program from the Community Planning Division of the Planning and Development Department at heritage@surrey.ca.

Examples of approved projects:

  • 2010: The Christ Church Anglican Church received financial assistance to repaint the exterior of the historic Christ Church.

  • 2012: The Ocean Park Community Association received financial assistance to replace aging gutters and downspouts and to repaint the exterior of the Ocean Park Community Hall.

  • 2012: The owners of the John Horner House received financial assistance to install a more historically appropriate front door and window on their heritage home in Ocean Park.

  • 2012: The owners of the Seventh Day Adventist Church received financial assistance to relocate the building from one side of the property to the other in preparation for its full restoration.

  • 2013: The owners of the Rothwell House received financial assistance to repaint the exterior of their heritage home in Crescent Beach.

Other Support Tools

Protected heritage properties may also be eligible for non-financial support including:

  • specific building code equivalencies;

  • regulatory adjustments such as variances and relaxations to zoning requirements to allow a heritage building to be retained;

  • technical assistance from City staff; and

  • commemoration with plaques or other information guides.

These support tools are developed through negotiation with the owner and are tailored to the circumstances of each heritage site.

See the financial and non-financial assistance for owners of protected heritage sites fact sheet for more information on supporting your heritage property project.

For more information on heritage in Surrey, see our Heritage Plans and Strategies page.