The Town of Ladysmith has identified the retention and revitalization of heritage properties as a community heritage and sustainability value. This is especially important in the heritage downtown.

One of the key ways to maintain the character of our heritage buildings is to keep the current use of the building so that “change of use” requirements are not triggered by the BC Building Code.  Another way is to avoid triggering requirements for the substantial renovation of a building.  However, if the heritage building is changing use or does require renovations that require a building permit, the following information may assist you in preserving character defining elements of the building.

The Building Code provides minimum provisions respecting the safety of buildings with reference to public health, fire protection and structural sufficiency.  It is not intended to be a textbook on building design, advice on which should come from a design professional.  It is generally recognized that the Building Code was written primarily for new construction and provides for a performance level that is significantly higher than what exists with many older buildings. To apply these provisions to older buildings is, in many cases, impractical and with heritage buildings may compromise historic appearance or authenticity. 

The Building Code recognizes heritage buildings in a limited way by providing options for buildings that are on the Town’s Community Heritage Register.  For these buildings, the Building Code provides a set of alternate compliance methods (Table A- and the ability to apply alternate solutions that have been developed by a Fire Protection Engineer and approved by the Building Inspector.

The ‘Table of Alternative Compliance Methods for Heritage Buildings’ represents some of the ways that restoration and rehabilitation of heritage buildings can be facilitated without compromising the public safety objectives of the Building Code.   The use of sprinklers is advocated as one of the primary methods in assuring this performance level for heritage buildings.  Sprinkler systems not only control the fire, which aids evacuation, but also provides the added benefit of protecting the building from possible destruction by fire. 

The use of the Alternate Compliance Methods for Heritage Buildings is not mandatory and is limited by the Building Code to buildings on the Community Heritage Register.  An owner may also choose to retain professionals including Architects, Structural Engineers and Fire Protection Engineers to provide other prescriptive solutions as provided for in the Building Code or other Building Code Alternative Solutions.

The Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada is also a useful resource for the renovation or rehabilitation of heritage buildings. 

Useful links:
BC Building Code 
Heritage BC 
Homeowner Protection Office
Ladysmith Heritage Walk II: Buildings Walking Tour Brochure