Heritage Property Maintenance Standards

The Township of Langley has a long and demonstrated commitment to heritage resource protection through municipal designation going back nearly fifty years. On October 1, 2018, following a public consultation process, Township Council adopted a Heritage Property Maintenance Standards bylaw to support the long-term preservation of designated heritage sites and areas in the Township. 

As a companion bylaw to heritage designation, minimum maintenance standards supplement general community standards already in place and regulate how designated heritage properties and areas are to be maintained. Their purpose is to communicate the minimum expectations regarding the maintenance of legally protected heritage property, and ensure that designated heritage sites do not deteriorate through neglect. Provisions of the bylaw focus on slowing a building’s deterioration and addressing the life and safety risks associated with misuse, through keeping buildings weatherproofed, protecting them from infestation, maintaining their structural integrity, and managing drainage, vegetation and extended periods of disuse. 

Owners of heritage properties should be aware that financial support is available for the repair and maintenance of protected heritage buildings through the Township’s Heritage Building Incentive Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Heritage designation is a form of land use regulation that provides long-term legal protection for a property, a portion of a property, several properties, or a distinct area having special heritage value or heritage character defined within an official community plan. Heritage property is designated on a voluntary basis through agreement between an owner and the municipality, or on the initiative of Council. Currently, there are many individually designated properties throughout the Township, as well as two designated heritage conservation areas in Fort Langley and Murrayville. (Maps showing the boundaries of these heritage conservation areas are available in the Fort Langley and Murrayville Community Plans.)

The act of designating a heritage resource by bylaw does not in itself ensure protection for that resource, as it contains no mechanism to manage it in a manner that contributes to its long-term preservation. Given that all heritage resources are susceptible to change, the absence of minimum requirements for their maintenance leaves them at risk of deterioration, vacancy and neglect.

Proper maintenance is recognized as the most cost effective method of extending the life of a building. The most minimal maintenance can aid in protecting all the components of a building against deterioration by keeping a building dry, reducing the impact of weather, and preventing damage by insects and vermin. The effort and costs expended on simple maintenance not only leads to a higher degree of preservation, but over time potentially saves large amounts of money that can be otherwise used for later upgrades.

Minimum maintenance standards as outlined in the bylaw focus on five key areas:

  • Keeping water out of a building
  • Reducing the impact of weather
  • Preventing infestation
  • Maintaining structural integrity
  • Managing a property that is not in use

Typically, buildings and structures deteriorate quickly when these matters remain unaddressed, presenting major challenges for long-term conservation.

Only those properties defined as “protected heritage property” are subject to all of the provisions of the proposed bylaw. For the purposes of the bylaw, “protected heritage property,” means property that is:

  • subject to a heritage designation bylaw
  • scheduled as protected under a heritage conservation area
  • subject to a heritage designation bylaw, heritage revitalization agreement, or heritage conservation covenant and located within a heritage conservation area
  • recognized on the Township’s Community Heritage Register or Heritage Inventory and located within a heritage conservation area.

Non-heritage buildings located within a heritage conservation area remain subject to existing community standards instruments, such as the Abandoned Properties Bylaw, the Graffiti Bylaw and the Untidy and Unsightly Premises Bylaw, with one exception. Should a property owner choose to cover windows within a heritage conservation area for a prolonged period, as one of several options available for securing a vacant property under these community standards instruments, the bylaw requires that clear board be used in place of other materials. Beyond this minor provision, the bylaw does not affect properties that are not “protected heritage property” within the Township’s heritage conservation areas.

No, the bylaw cannot compel an owner to improve a property beyond the minimum standards outlined in the bylaw.

Further Questions? Please contact the Community Development Division at 604-533-6152.

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