Recognizing the need to protect more historic buildings in the Old City Quarter, the city of Nanaimo recently expanded its Heritage Conservation Area from the railway line to the waterfront, encompassing a total of 53 recognized heritage buildings. Owners who wish to carry out any work on buildings in the conservation area must adhere to the city’s Heritage Building Design Guidelines. The expansion of the conservation area was an ideal time for a significant update to the guidelines.

As part of this renewed focus on downtown heritage buildings, we were retained by the city as conservation consultants to update the Heritage Building Design Guidelines. The existing guideline documents were written in the 1980s, and since then, many changes have occurred to both the buildings and to heritage conservation policies in Canada. Our team surveyed the existing conditions of the heritage buildings in the expanded conservation area. Our knowledge and expertise working with historic buildings was crucial in determining the appropriate treatment of materials in the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of the existing heritage buildings and possible new additions.

The new guidelines include a profile of each building plus an analysis of the potential revitalization treatments for each one. Key concerns regarding materials and practical construction considerations are also included. Each building was photographed so the analysis also acts as documentation of the conservation area in its present form.

The result is a comprehensive, updated set of guidelines that city planners and building owners alike will find easy to reference. The new Heritage Design Guidelines are a record of the unique historic fabric of Nanaimo and will act as guidance for future sensitive intervention.


April 17, 2020


City of Nanaimo

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