Alberta Historic Places Designation Program

The Historical Resources Act empowers the Minister of Culture to designate any site as a Provincial Historic Resource, if its conservation is in the public interest. The Alberta Historic Places Designation program administers the processes of:


What is designation? (Provincial, Registered and Municipal Historic Resources)

How do you apply for Provincial Historic Resource designation?

What is the process for designating a Provincial Historic Resource?

What is the Alberta Register of Historic Places?

What is the Canadian Register of Historic Places?

What is designation? (Provincial, Registered and Municipal Historic Resources)

Designation helps to recognize the significance of historic resources and provide them with the protection necessary to ensure their conservation. It also makes site owners eligible for grants from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF) for conservation work.

Historic resources eligible for consideration by the Minister for designation include buildings, structures, archaeological sites, palaeontological resources and other works of humans or nature that are of value for their historic, cultural, natural, scientific or aesthetic interest.

Both provincial and municipal governments are empowered by the Act to designate historic places. Historic places designated by the Government of Alberta include Provincial Historic Areas, Provincial Historic Resources, and Registered Historic Resources. A number of Alberta's municipalities have also designated sites as Municipal Historic Resources.

Provincial Historic Resources

Section 20 of the Historical Resources Act (R.S.A. 2000) empowers the Minister of Culture to designate and protect Provincial Historic Resources. To qualify for this level of designation, historic places must normally:

  • Be associated with an important aspect of Alberta's natural or human history
  • Be of outstanding provincial significance
  • Be situated in their original location
  • Retain the physical site features necessary to convey their significance


Owners of Provincial Historic Resources are obligated under the Act to be good stewards of their heritage properties. No person can destroy, disturb, alter, restore, repair or remove any historic objects from a Provincial Historic Resource without approval in writing from the Minister of Culture. However, Provincial Historic Resources can be and often are altered for a number of valid reasons if such actions do not disturb or destroy the significant heritage fabric of the site. Owners of Provincial Historic Resources should discuss any proposed interventions to their site with Alberta Culture staff before submitting a formal request to the Minister.

In order to protect and promote Provincial Historic Resources, the owners of these sites are offered a number of incentives, including:

  • Eligibility for matching funds from the AHRF based on the size/scale of the historic resource and scope of the proposed conservation work

  • Access to the technical expertise of Heritage Conservation Advisors, who can ensure that conservation work is carried out in a manner that considers both owners' needs and resource sensitivity

  • Promotion of the site for tourist and/or educational purposes through placement on the Alberta Register of Historic Places and possible placement on the Canadian Register of Historic Places

  • Identification of the site as a Provincial Historic Resource through a plaque which communicates both the significance of the historic place and the owner's interest in the preservation of Alberta's heritage. The designation of Alberta's most significant historic places as Provincial Historic Resources ensures that these sites will be sensitively and responsibly administered and remain cultural treasures for future generations.

The designation of Alberta's most significant historic places as Provincial Historic Resources ensures that these sites will be sensitively and responsibly administered and remain cultural treasures for future generations.

Registered Historic Resources

Registered Historic Resources are generally considered to be of local or regional significance, and the owners of such resources are required only to notify the Minister of Culture 90 days in advance of effecting any change to the resource. Therefore, Registered Historic Resources are protected for only 90 days from the date the owner notifies us of his or her wish to make a change to the resource, including its demolition. Nearly 200 Registered Historic Resources have been designated in Alberta; however, the province no longer designates under this category.

Over the years, Alberta Culture has invested a sizeable amount of time and money on the management of Registered Historic Resources. While we believe that this investment had been warranted, we are also of the opinion that our resources cannot continue to be directed to sites which are not "protected" under the terms of the Historical Resources Act of Alberta. Therefore, effective January 1, 2005, the Government of Alberta discontinued the use of the Registered Historic Resource category as outlined in Section 19 of the Act. The AHRF grant program formerly available to owners of Registered Historic Resources has been discontinued.

As a result, Alberta Culture staff have been reviewing all Registered Historic Resources for possible upgrading to Provincial Historic Resources. If upgraded, resources would be protected under the Act and would be eligible for the more generous grant program associated with Provincial Historic Resources. All Registered Historic Resources that are not upgraded will maintain this level of designation and their owners will continue to be able to avail themselves indefinitely of the professional and technical services of Alberta Culture staff.

Municipal Historic Resources

Section 26 of the Act (R.S.A. 2000) empowers municipalities in Alberta to designate and protect Municipal Historic Resources. Contact your municipality if you are interested in having your property considered for Municipal Historic Resource designation. Municipalities interested in learning about how to designate and create a future for their historic places should explore opportunities provided by the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program. The program provides municipalities with to access funding, expertise and resources to help them establish or maintain an ongoing municipal heritage conservation program.

For further information, please contact Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation Program.

How to apply for Provincial Historic Resource designation?

Through the Alberta Historic Places Designation Program, owners of historic resources and/or other interested parties may submit an application to have a site evaluated for possible historic resource designation. The information provided by the applicant is evaluated by program staff to determine if the site meets the department's criteria, in which case a recommendation to proceed with designation is made to the Minister of Culture. When a structure is designated, the property on which it rests is generally afforded the same measure of legal protection. Provincial Historic Resources are eligible to be considered for financial assistance from the AHRF for work towards their conservation.

Application for Provincial Historic Resource Designation (PDF | 119 KB)

For further information on applying for designation, please contact Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation Program.

Process for Designating a Provincial Historic Resource

1. Completion of an Application for Historic Resource Designation

  • An individual or group contacts the Manager of Alberta's Historic Places Research and Designation Program regarding the possible designation of a site as a Provincial Historic Resource

  • Program staff responds with an information package that includes an application form, a summary of the evaluation process, and a guide to conducting local history

  • The applicant completes the application and returns it to the Manager of the Historic Places Research and Designation Program.

2. Evaluation to determine if the site merits designation as a Provincial Historic Resource

  • Based upon the information provided in the application form and an inspection of the resource by branch staff, the significance and physical integrity of the site are evaluated to determine if it meets the criteria for Provincial Historic Resource designation.

  • The results of the evaluation are referred to the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Heritage Division for consideration.

3. Confirmation of support for designation as a Provincial Historic Resource

  • If the Assistant Deputy Minister agrees with the recommendation to designate the site as a Provincial Historic Resource, letters are sent to both the site owner and the area MLA to confirm that they support the proposed designation.

4. Notice of Intention to Designate a Provincial Historic Resource

  • Once owner and MLA support for designation has been confirmed, a Notice of Intention to Designate is served to the owner and published in the Alberta Gazette.

  • The Notice of Intention contains a clear explanation of the legal implications of designating the site as a Provincial Historic Resource.  For 30 days following the delivery of the Notice to the site owner and its publication in the Alberta Gazette, anyone wishing to make a representation regarding the designation may so advise the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation by writing to the Foundation's Executive Director. At the conclusion of the 30-day period, the Foundation will fix a date for the hearing of all representations and will notify all who have indicated their intention to make representations.

  • If no representations are made, then after the expiry of 60 days from the date that the Notice is served to the site owner and published in the Alberta Gazette, a formal Designation Order is prepared for consideration by the Minister of Culture.

5. Order Designating a Provincial Historic Resource

  • If the Minister agrees with the recommendation to designate the resource, the Order Designating a Provincial Historic Resource is signed.

  • A copy of the Order is immediately served to the owner.

  • An original or certified copy of the Order is also registered on the Certificate of Title with the appropriate Alberta Land Titles office.

  • The Order is published in the Alberta Gazette.

  • A Provincial Historic Resource plaque is sent to the owner.


6. Listing on the Alberta and Canadian Registers of Historic Places

  • The resource is listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.  If the resource is eligible, it will be submitted for listing on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

For further information on applying for designation, please contact Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation Program.

Alberta Register of Historic Places

All sites designated under the provisions of the Historical Resources Act are listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. In other words, those sites which have been designated as Provincial Historic Areas or as Provincial, Registered, or Municipal Historic Resources collectively form the Alberta Register of Historic Places. 

The Historic Places Research and Designation Program is responsible for listing all provincially-designated sites on the Register and works with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program to shepherd municipalities through the process of nominating Municipal Historic Resources for inclusion on the Register.

The Alberta Register of Historic Places is part of the Heritage Resources Management Information System (HeRMIS). HeRMIS provides a central gateway for virtual visitation of Alberta Culture's heritage and cultural collections, including historic, natural sciences and archival resources.

For further information, please contact Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation Program.

Canadian Register of Historic Places

The Canadian Register of Historic Places is an online, searchable database containing records of historic places from across Canada; it represents the official catalogue of formally recognized historic places of national, provincial and local significance. Most of the sites that are included on the Alberta Register of Historic Places are eligible for listing on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

 

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Last reviewed/revised: August 1, 2014

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