Alberta has grown tremendously in its 117-year history. The two largest cities of Calgary and Edmonton both boast a million-plus residents and are full of contemporary buildings and modern infrastructure. Some historians lament that with the furious pace of growth, however, a number of the province’s historic buildings have been lost, such as the case of the beautiful limestone Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary that was knocked down to make way for the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre. But, just around the corner from there you can still find the Central Memorial Park Library, constructed in 1910, and a short walk away is the iconic Palliser Hotel, constructed in 1911.
From the Lougheed House in Calgary to the Gibson Block in Edmonton, remnants of the past remain all over Alberta. It’s important to try to preserve as many of these structures as possible, so if you think your home or business property may hold some historic value, ensure to reach out to both the provincial and municipal governments. The criteria for a historical designation varies, with age being just one of the factors taken into consideration when considering recommendations. Buildings designed by a significant Alberta architect, such as William Stanley Bates, who is known for the Macnab Wing of Calgary’s Holy Cross Centre, or Alfred Marigon Calderon, who created the Beaux-Arts LeMarchand Mansion in Edmonton, are also of interest to those in charge of designations.
Having your property designated a historic resource can take time, but is vital to ensure its protection, maintain its proper associated value, and for property insurance purposes.
How to designate your property
Properties can be designated as a historic resource through both the provincial and local municipal governments.
People can apply to designate a provincial historic resource through the Government of Alberta. The website says that to qualify, “historic places must normally be associated with a significant aspect of Alberta’s past and retain the physical site features necessary to convey this significance.”
Eligible historic resources include:
- archaeological sites
- palaeontological resources
- other immovable works of humans or nature that have historic, cultural, natural, scientific or aesthetic value
Applicants must complete the Application for Alberta Provincial Historic Resource Designation and obtain consent from the owner to have their property designated a historic resource, if necessary. The property will then be evaluated by the appropriate authorities, and if the application is successful, the local MLA will be notified of the designation. A Notice of Intention to Designate a Provincial Historic Resource will be provided to the owner.
In Calgary, historic property owners can request to designate their property as a Municipal Historic Resource through the City of Calgary. According to the website, “Properties suggested for inclusion on the Inventory are first researched and evaluated by Heritage Calgary, according to the Council-approved Calgary Historic Resource Evaluation System. The Inventory is maintained by Heritage Calgary, which also advises Council on heritage-related matters.” To find out more about the standards and evaluation process, go to Heritage Calgary inventory criteria. If successful, city council then votes to pass or reject the application.
To add a historic property to the City of Edmonton’s inventory list, a historical study must be submitted along with an Application to Amend the Inventory. The Heritage Planner then prepares a report for the Edmonton Historic Board’s Historic Resources Review Panel, and if approved, the Board makes a recommendation. The City then decides if the structure will be added to the inventory and contact the landowner.
Insuring a historic property
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) provides guidance on how to properly insure your historic property, helpful as insurers have many different approaches to coverage and some have much more expertise than others.
Tips for insuring your historic property include:
- Shopping around. An insurance broker such as us at Lane’s is the ideal ally in this situation, as we can check among our respected providers as to which may have the most background in insuring these types of properties and cross-compare features such as deductible amounts and overall cost.
- Reducing risk. Historic properties require special care and attention. Mitigate risk with comprehensive security systems, smoke, water, and carbon monoxide detectors, upgrade any old electrical wiring and update your roof. Install a sewer backflow valve and keep fireplaces and wood-burning stoves well maintained.
- Carefully document all historic features, such as hand-carved elements, antique chandeliers, plaster walls, and mouldings. Take several photographs from all angles so as to properly assess replacement cost.
- Purchase replacement cost insurance. A historic property designation often comes with stipulations about insurance coverage, and it is your responsibility to ensure those conditions are met.
Let the brokers at Lane’s do your insurance shopping for you
Calgary’s Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage that specializes in matching clients with the best possible insurance products on the market for their individual needs. If you need any sort of insurance advice, Lane’s can help. Contact us at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton, or greater Alberta offices.