Heritage Revitalization Agreements (HRA)

A Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) is a a legally binding agreement negotiated by the City and an owner of heritage property.

HRAs are powerful and flexible tools specifically written to suit unique properties and situations. The terms of the agreement supercede land use regulations and may vary use, density and siting regulations. The terms of the agreement describe the duties, obligations and benefits for both parties.

A Heritage Revitalization Agreement may:

  • Vary or supplement the provisions of:
    • The Zoning Bylaw
    • The Subdivision Bylaw
    • The Heritage Conservation Bylaw
    • The Development Cost Levies Bylaw
    • A development permit
    • A heritage alteration permit
  • Establish the timing of agreement terms
  • Include other terms or conditions agreed to by both parties

Why would I enter into a Heritage Revitalization Agreement?

A Heritage Revitalization Agreement between you and the City is mutually beneficial.

You agree to restore, preserve and protect the building and/or specified heritage features. In exchange, the City will vary use, density and siting regulations. This allows you more freedom than you would have had otherwise to adapt or modernize the property to reflect your needs and tastes.

Examples of Heritage Revitalization Agreements

The following examples will show how a property owner can benefit from such an agreement.

Example 1

A family owns a heritage house situated on a large lot in a single family neighbourhood. The owner wishes to subdivide their property into two legal-sized lots, which would require the relocation or destruction of the house.

To preserve the heritage building in its present landscaped setting, the owner and the City enter into a HRA with terms that allow for both the subdivision of the property and the retention of the house in its present location. The agreement varies the Subdivision Bylaw to allow subdivision into two lots, creating one lot narrower than permitted.

In return, the owner agrees to restore and continually protect and conserve the heritage house. Any future development of the narrow lot is subject to siting requirements. The proposal is in line with the permitted use and density, so a public hearing would not normally be required. However, the heritage designation also proposed for the heritage building means that a public hearing must be held.

Example 2

In order to conserve an historic hotel and to construct a new building beside it, a significant investment in restoration work is required and certain variances are requested.

The property owner and City staff negotiate an HRA that describes the form of development, varies siting requirements, permits non-conforming uses and increases the allowable density on the site.

In return, the owner agrees to restore, maintain and protect the exterior of the building and the interior lobby, grand staircase and ballroom and allow public access for one day per year.

A Public Hearing is required because of the use and density variances requested.

What are the steps to negotiating an agreement?

  1. The City of Vancouver or a property owner indicates that a Heritage Revitalization Agreement could be used in a particular situation.
  2. The City Planning Department and the owner negotiate the proposed form of development and terms of the agreement.
  3. The owner submits a development application and /or subdivision application and financial analysis which are reviewed by staff and if supported, approval is subject to Council enacting the HRA Bylaw.
  4. The City Law Department drafts the heritage revitalization agreement and corresponding bylaw.
    If the proposed use or density is beyond what is permitted by the zoning, Council must hold a public hearing.
  5. Council approves, then enacts the bylaw.
  6. Within 30 days of the bylaw being enacted, the City registers a notice on the property title in the Land Title Office, and notifies the minister responsible for the Heritage Conservation Act.