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Heritage and Development in Downtown Cumberland

This page was last reviewed on November 30, 2023.

Cumberland’s unique heritage downtown provides the backbone commercial district for the village and stands as one of few surviving early mining town commercial areas on Vancouver Island. The historic streetscapes, architecture and public spaces create a form and scale that is integral to the appearance and ambiance of the downtown and greatly contribute to Cumberland’s character, attracting residents, businesses, and visitors alike.

In 2008, Cumberland designated its downtown – the “Historic Village Commercial Core (HVCC) – as a Heritage Conservation Area, a distinct area identified for heritage conservation purposes in an official community plan. The objective of this designation is to ensure that revitalization or new development in the downtown area is compatible with the existing downtown heritage character. The Heritage Conservation Area provides protection to the area along Dunsmuir Avenue between First Street and Fifth Street, and is detailed further in the Cumberland Official Community Plan (link to pg. 157 of the OCP).

As opposed to just being listed on Cumberland’s Community Heritage Register, being located in a Heritage Conservation Area affords buildings some level of protection.

If located within the downtown Heritage Conservation Area, property owners require a Heritage Alteration Permit for:

  • subdivision,
  • additions,
  • new construction,
  • alteration of a building, structure, land, or feature, or
  • demolition of a building.

The guidelines are similar to Development Permit requirements in other commercial areas of the Village but with a greater focus on how the building fits into the downtown core and how it supports the Village’s heritage character.

For more information on Heritage Alteration Permits, including application guides and forms, click here .

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