“Heritage,” in the urban sense, usually refers to the buildings and physical sites which help define a city’s early history and character. Heritage is about the buildings – and these buildings help shape every interesting city’s unique sense of place. For example, the preserved Laurel Packing House is a wonderful example of a uniquely designed building which reminds us of our early history, economy and local building materials.
Kelowna has a Heritage Register of 207 historical properties.
We are fortunate In Kelowna to have a number of groups and city policies working to preserve, conserve and promote the “built heritage” of our city. Since there is often some confusion about the different groups and policies, below is an attempt to clarify the different roles they all play.
Heritage value refers to the aesthetic, historic, scientific, cultural, social, or spiritual importance or significance for past, present or future generations. The heritage value of a historic place is embodied in its character-defining materials, forms, location, spatial configurations, uses, and cultural associations or meanings.
Character Neighbourhood Design Guidelines
Kelowna’s recently updated Official Community Plan now requires a DP-Development Permit using Design Guidelines for new construction in many of our older neighbouhoods.
Community Heritage Commission
The Community Heritage Commission is a Statutory Committee of City Council made up of local heritage group representatives and at-large members who deliberate on heritage issues and make non-binding recommendations to City Council. They meet monthly in Council Chambers, usually the first Thursday at noon. While often sparsely attended, these meetings are open to the public, and both KSAN and FRAHCAS regularly attend and comment on heritage alteration applications. CHC Info and Meeting Schedule
Central Okanagan Heritage Society
The COHS was formed 25 years ago to take on the preservation of the historic Benvoulin Church and Heritage Park. Since then they have also undertaken the preservation of Guisachan Heritage Park and are beginning work on the Brent’s Mill site. They are a charitable society with a Board of Directors, perform some heritage advocacy work, and recognize individuals in the community annually with the COHS Heritage Awards. Visit the COHS Website
Okanagan Historical Society (Kelowna Branch)
The local branch is part of a larger Okanagan-wide historical society consisting of seven semi-autonomous branches. The society was established in 1925 and has been documenting Okanagan life ever since. The OHS publishes a very popular annual report in book form which includes numerous stories and photos which illuminate the history of the valley. Visit the OHS Website.
While historical societies are mostly concerned with written history, the OHS (Kelowna Branch) also manages and maintains the Father Pandosy Mission site on Benvoulin Road. You can view a PDF of the Father Pandosy Mission brochure.
Kelowna Heritage Grants Program
The Kelowna Heritage Grants Program is a city-funded committee which awards grants to financially assist with the preservation of heritage buildings. If you own a Heritage Register property, there may be funding available. Kelowna Heritage Grants Program Info and Application.
Kelowna Heritage Register
The Kelowna Heritage Register contains a list of about 200 heritage buildings which have been evaluated and considered to have significant value to the community. They range from small houses to large sites within the city, and all can be viewed here. Special arrangements known as Heritage Revitalization Agreements are possible with these buildings, and a number have been allowed to house low intensity businesses in non-commercial zones as a means of helping to preserve them.
Abbott and Marshall Street Heritage Conservation Areas
These two neighbourhoods bordering the south edge of downtown Kelowna were both designated in our Official Community Plan in 1998 as Heritage Conservation Areas. This goal became policy after a lengthy neighbourhood consultation process and Public Hearing, and is upheld through the use of established “design guidelines” for new development. The intent throughout is to maintain the unique character of these older neighbourhoods while still allowing for change, sensitive densification and new development. Properties in these areas receive an extra layer of scrutiny through a public process for any major changes. A Heritage Alteration Permit (HAP) and posted signage giving two weeks’ notice of consideration by the CHC is required for most structural changes in these neighbourhoods. View a PFD of the Abbott Street and Marshall Street Heritage Conservation Areas.
The Friends and Residents of the Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area Society are an active group who monitor new development and promote the goals of the Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area. While they have a large membership they are considered by the City as a “special interest group” rather than a neighbourhood association, and their area is within KSAN’s boundaries. KSAN and FRAHCAS always try to support each other and as such have a long history of working together to promote conservation in this area.
Historic Places Initiative
This federal heritage recognition program is a web-accessible database of all recognized heritage buildings and sites across Canada. While still in progress, eventually the entire Kelowna Heritage Register will be posted. Visit the Historic Places website.
Lastly but not leastly, KSAN has been involved in many heritage preservation initiatives over our 20 year history. Our Constitution and Bylaws strongly support this work. We have received awards from the COHS for the preservation of the Pettigrew House and Knowles House, and many homes and neighbourhoods in our area have also received preservation awards.