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Historic Resource permit review process

All applications relating to sites listed on the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources (Inventory) are reviewed by Heritage Planning. We assess the potential impacts to the significant heritage features of the site. Permit reviews are performed regardless of a site’s designation (legal protection) status. Development, Building and Land Use applications, and Pre-Application Enquiries and Subdivisions are reviewed. Wherever possible, Heritage Planning works with applicants and other City departments to avoid or mitigate potentially adverse effects of proposed activities on a historic resource. If applicable policies and incentives for heritage conservation may be negotiated through a permit review process.

In some cases, applications are circulated to Heritage Calgary (a Civic Partner of The City) for advisory feedback.

If a site listed on the Inventory is also designated as a Municipal Historic Resource, there may be additional requirements to ensure alignment with the designation bylaw. The designation bylaw outlines what elements of the site are protected and cannot be altered.

To avoid potential delays on applications related to sites on the Inventory, it is strongly advised that applicants contact cityheritage@calgary.ca to discuss proposals prior to applying for any permits.

Demolition of Inventory sites

Although The City does not have legal authority to withhold demolition permits on any property for heritage-specific reasons, we encourage heritage conservation where possible. Heritage conservation can benefit economic development, environmental sustainability and quality of life for Calgarians. Only if a site has been designated (legally protected) as a Municipal Historic Resource can a demolition permit be withheld.

Heritage Planning reviews all demolition permit applications, including sites listed on the Inventory. This review allows for dialogue with property owners to explore alternative options to demolition. Where possible, it also provide an opportunity to document the site through photographs and arrange an appropriate commemoration feature.

Heritage Demolition FAQs

Why isn’t a site on the Heritage Inventory?

Sites are considered for inclusion on the Heritage Inventory by Heritage Calgary – a civic partner.  The council-approved evaluation system considers a variety of heritage values and overall integrity as part of the research process. Heritage Calgary accepts and receives suggested sites for evaluation and conducts research as their workplan and budget permits.

Why isn't a site protected from demolition?

Being on the Heritage Inventory does not provide any legal protection. To prevent demolition a site must be legally protected as a Municipal Historic Resource. The legal process to designate a site is governed by the Alberta Historical Resources Act, and requires Council to pass a designation bylaw.

Why would a site be demolished?

The property owner has submitted a request for the demolition of a site. If a site is not legally protected as a Municipal or Provincial Historic Resource, it is not protected from demolition and the permit cannot be refused due to the history or historic relevance of the site. 

What is done to salvage heritage elements when a site is demolished?

When Planning & Development is aware that a site on the Heritage Inventory may be demolished, photographic documentation and commemoration of the structure/site is negotiated through the Development Permit process.  Owners are encouraged to retain and or repurpose heritage materials in the new development, thereby also diverting waste from local landfills.

How can I learn more about heritage conservation in Calgary?

There are many ways you can learn about heritage conservation in Calgary.

Municipal policies related to heritage resources

In addition to site-specific application reviews, Heritage subject matter experts are engaged on relevant policies and plans that impact heritage resources. This includes, but is not limited to, the Municipal Development Plan and its associated Guidebooks,  applicable Local Area Plans, and strategic plans.

Historical Resources Act Approvals

The Historical Resources Act applies to development activity on both Crown and freehold lands throughout Alberta. The Minister of Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women (formerly known as Alberta Culture) has delegated the management of Municipal Historic Resources onto the Municipality. However, some of these resources still require Provincial review if they have also been designated as a Provincial Historic Resource and when other heritage resource types (archaeological, paleontological, etc.) are involved.

Development activities must consider historic resources during planning and many require Provincial approval prior to any ground disturbance activity. An application to the Province should be made and will be reviewed by Provincial regulators. The Minister of Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women may order a Historic Resource Impact Assessment when they are of the opinion that proposed development activity may alter, damage, or destroy a historic resource. In some cases, additional mitigation studies may be required depending on results of the assessment. Once the Minister issues Historical Resources Act requirements, the owner must complete the assessments to the Province’s satisfaction prior to ground disturbance activities taking place.

Sometimes activities that disturb the ground can unearth heritage resources. This includes artifacts (arrowhead, a stone tool, historic bottle, etc.) or features, such as a stone circle of historic foundation/structure. Finds of this nature are covered by Section 31 of the Act. The find must be reported to the Province.

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This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​