Nelson’s downtown heritage is a community treasure

Nelson’s downtown heritage is a community treasure

City eases off on heritage design rules

Nelson has embraced its heritage roots through its architecture and design approach,

Nelson has embraced its heritage roots through its architecture and design approach, but developers with sights set on Baker Street won’t be bound by the past as they design for the future.

“I would say there is significant change in that right now you can’t have a contemporary building,” said Dave Wahn, manager of development services and sustainability for the City of Nelson.

“What historically was you couldn’t have a contemporary building, now you can.”

Wahn said the city has seen other communities where contemporary design was incorporated into the heritage theme.

“It’s kind of difficult for people to understand the difference,” he said.

“It can be subtle but I also think it can be significant because somebody could put up a very modern building right next to a heritage building and it can work, and in other communities it’s showed that it can work. So we’re going to review those proposals in that context.”

Developers looking to build off of Baker Street on Vernon Street or Lake Street for example will not have to design with the heritage esthetic in mind.

“If you are off of Baker Street it will only be in context of the bulking and it will not be reviewed in the context of heritage buildings,” said Wahn. “If you’re on Vernon Street or on Lake Street you’re not going to have to worry about heritage design you’re just going to have to look at where the building sits on the property and what kind of pedestrian front it has or streetscape that it has as opposed to heritage specifically.”

On Baker Street, development for heritage building will have to adhere to specific guidelines.

“Existing buildings that are in place, heritage buildings that are identified in our heritage register would be subject to heritage design guidelines, but new buildings on vacant properties would be reviewed on the context of how the new building would relate to the heritage buildings in the vicinity. For example, a contemporary building could go up on a vacant piece of land in so far as it doesn’t take away from the heritage value of the buildings around it,” said Wahn.