Heritage buildings or sites
Filming often takes place in the historic districts of Gastown and Chinatown, and sometimes involves protected heritage buildings elsewhere in the City.
A development permit is required for any alterations to protected heritage properties, even if those changes are temporary.
To confirm the heritage status of a building, you can call Heritage Conservation Program staff at 604-873-7141, or look up the address on the Heritage Register.
Permit application process
Step 1 - Document the building before work begins
Take multiple, close-up colour photos of the building. The photos should provide enough detail that staff can determine if the heritage fabric has been damaged after installations, or if other changes have been removed. If exterior painting is proposed, the photos must provide good colour accuracy.
Create a photo board (a collage mounted on hardboard) from those photos.
Step 2 - Document the proposed changes
Describe and/or illustrate the proposed changes and temporary alterations on transparent overlays to the photo-boards. The changes can be described on the overlays either as written notes or a legend, with the overlay indicating where each code applies.
If you plan to fasten anything to a heritage building, you must provide detailed descriptions and drawings.
If you plan to paint exterior surfaces that are already painted, you must specify the colour and type of paint.
A sample of photo board with overlay can be viewed at the Film and Special Events office (604-257-8840) or the Heritage Conservation Program office (604-873-7056).
In most cases, you are expected to return heritage buildings to their pre-filming appearance. Occasionally, however, you might require some changes to a building that would restore some heritage fabric to a building that had been previously lost. In those cases, the City would not object to those changes remaining after the filming. You must document all such changes.
Step 3 - Arrange for a Letter of Assurance (if applicable)
You will need to arrange for a Letter of Assurance from a Certified Professional (Registered Architect or Engineer) will be required if fasteners are being attached to the building or if original building materials (such as windows), are temporarily removed.
The letter must confirm that the proposed interventions to the heritage fabric are all reversible. The Certified Professional must inspect the site before and after the film shoot.
Step 4 - Arrange for a Letter of Credit
A development permit is necessary to make the proposed changes to the heritage site.
Before the City will issue that permit, you must provide a letter of credit from your bank as security in the unlikely event that the heritage building is not returned the to its pre-filming condition.
The amount of security depends on the nature and scope of work proposed, and is set by the City’s Film and Special Events Office in consultation with Heritage staff. It is generally an amount sufficient to hire someone to do the work plus 25% for management.
When you have the Letter of Credit, send it to the Film and Special Events Office.
Step 5 - Apply for a development permit
You can apply for a development permit at the Development and Building Services Centre, 515 West 10th Avenue.
Along with your completed application form, you must submit the following documents:
- Three complete colour sets of documentation material (from steps 1 and 2)
- A letter of assurance, if applicable (see Step 3).
- A letter of credit
- The fee (payable by credit card, cash or cheque made out to the “City of Vancouver”)
Download a development permit application form
Step 6 - Arrange for a final inspection
After the filming and “restoration” work are complete, the Certified Professional must inspect the site. Based on those findings, the Certified Professional must then submit a letter or report confirming if all changes to the heritage fabric have been restored to the pre-filming state.
If the heritage building is returned to a satisfactory condition, Heritage staff will arrange for the release the Letter of Credit.
Allow at least one week for the City to process your application. Complex projects may require more processing time.