Since November 2021, we have been working with area stakeholders to create Heritage Guidelines for areas in the North Hill Communities that have concentrated groupings of heritage assets, sometimes known as character homes. Heritage assets are privately owned structures, typically constructed prior to 1945, that significantly retain their original form, scale, massing, window/door pattern and architectural details or materials.

The Guidelines will contribute to the historic character of these specific areas by ensuring that new development respects existing heritage assets. The Guidelines will be included in the North Hill Communities Local Area Plan (LAP), a long-range planning policy document that guides growth and change within these communities.

These will be the first areas in Calgary to benefit from Heritage Guidelines. The Heritage Guidelines created as part of this work will inform subsequent Heritage Guideline Areas for other local area plans.


Communities in Calgary have sought area-based heritage conservation tools for a long time. In July 2020, Council approved a series of conservation tools and incentives to offer that area-based approach. The North Hill Communities LAP identifies a total of eight Heritage Guideline Areas, the first in the city. The Heritage Guidelines created as part of this work will inform subsequent Heritage Guideline Areas for other local area plans.

For more information about heritage property tools and incentives, click here.

  • Privately-owned building, typically constructed before 1945
  • Retains most of its original style, design, details and construction materials (determined through a visual assessment)
  • Sometimes referred to as character homes

Heritage Guideline Areas are identified through the Local Area Planning process. Their boundaries consider the vision and policies of the local area plan and the 2019-2020 Heritage Asset Windshield Survey.

Heritage Guideline Areas are areas that have concentrated groupings of heritage assets. Typically, they are areas where these assets make up greater than 25% of a block face. The local area plan will include specific design guidelines to ensure that new development is compatible and fits with the historic character of the area.

The Guidelines will help ensure new development respects the historic character of existing homes and positively contributes to the ongoing historic nature of these areas. When the Guidelines are in place, any plans to build or renovate homes within the boundaries must meet the Heritage Guidelines.

Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw can make certain uses discretionary in specific areas of the city. New development in the identified Heritage Guideline Areas will be made discretionary to allow the Heritage Guidelines to be applied to planning applications proposing new development and significant exterior renovations. The Heritage Guidelines for North Hill Communities will only apply within the defined Heritage Guideline Areas, which are being crafted with input from the Working Group and community engagement.

The Calgary's Land Use Bylaw lists what types of use and developments are allowed for new developments in a location.

Some uses and development types are automatically allowed for a property, and these are called permitted uses. If the proposal meets all of the Land Use Bylaw rules, development permits for permitted uses have guaranteed approval by The City.

The Land Use Bylaw also lists discretionary uses for a property. Even though there are restrictions on the type of use and development allowed, development permits for things in the discretionary uses list might be approved by The City at its discretion. The discretion is often based on guidelines or other special conditions.

Once they are finalized, the Heritage Guidelines will be implemented through the North Hill Communities Local Area Plan (LAP) process and sent to Council for review and approval. When the Guidelines are in place, any plans to build or renovate homes within the boundaries must meet the Heritage Guidelines. Development plans will be approved at the discretion of The City to ensure the Heritage Guidelines have been adhered to. The current development permit approvals process doesn't require the same level of scrutiny and approval.

The Guidelines will not be in effect until they have been approved by Council.

Alongside existing heritage tools and incentives, a set of three new related tools are being developed to maintain the character of heritage-rich areas in Calgary. The Heritage Incentive Area, Heritage Guideline Area and Direct Control Heritage Area tools are intended to build upon each other to make it more desirable to retain identified heritage assets in areas where these buildings are more concentrated.

Working group members have been working with City Administration to create Heritage Guidelines that balance the needs, goals and objectives of area residents, local communities, heritage partners, the development industry and City policies such as the Land Use Bylaw, Calgary Heritage Strategy, North Hill Communities Local Area Plan (LAP), and Municipal Development Plan.

The working group is comprised of residents and homeowners in areas the Guidelines will apply to in Capitol Hill, Crescent Heights, Mount Pleasant, Renfrew, Rosedale, and Tuxedo, as well as local community associations, representatives of the home building industry, and heritage advocacy groups. Meet the working group members here.


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Heritage Guidelines Summary

The draft Heritage Guidelines are intended to apply to new development and significant renovations in the Heritage Guideline Areas. They ensure that new development responds to and enhances the historic character in these areas, the Guidelines address four overarching building elements. These include:

  • front facades
  • windows, materials and details
  • roofs and massing
  • site and landscape design

Overall, the Guidelines encourage new development to draw design reference from nearby heritage assets in ways that complement the unique and historic qualities of the Heritage Guideline Areas while allowing for modern interpretations.

Click here to read the full draft Guidelines.

Front Facades

The draft Guidelines encourage the fronts of new buildings to include a projection such as a porch, patio, veranda or sunroom. Front façades should also consider the vertical and horizontal rhythm of the historic streetscape and heritage assets on it.

Windows, Materials and Details

Generally, large horizontally oriented widows are discouraged unless they are divided into smaller vertically oriented windows. Windows are encouraged to have wide window casings or frames.

The Guidelines encourage natural or natural looking materials with heavier materials being located at the base of buildings. For larger buildings, changes in materials and/or colour should be used to differentiate individual units.

Roofs and Massing

The draft Guidelines discourage flat roofs and require that roofs facing the street be pitched. Design strategies should be used to reduce the visual impact of upper stores such as by using compound roofs or reducing the massing on upper storeys. When located adjacent to a heritage asset, new buildings should shift the massing away from smaller-scale buildings. Multi-dwelling buildings should have distinct rooflines that accentuate individual units.

Site and Landscape Design

Front setbacks for new development should be informed by heritage assets on the block. The draft Guidelines encourage primarily soft landscaping in these setbacks that is layered and frames the site and building.