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Heritage Register

About the Community Heritage Register

In 1994, the Province of BC passed legislation to allow local governments to better integrate heritage conservation activities into the mainstream of development and community planning. The legislation gave municipalities new tools and more powerful incentives to encourage conservation. One of the key planning tools was the “Community Heritage Register”. The idea behind the register was that if a community identified it's most significant heritage properties, it could better target its conservation efforts. In 2002, the City of Nanaimo created a Community Heritage Register. The Community Heritage Register is an official list of properties identified by the City of Nanaimo as having heritage value. Updates are made to the register periodically to add newly recognized buildings, structures and sites; and in some cases to remove buildings that have been destroyed through fire, neglect or demolition.  The purpose of the Community Heritage Register is to:

  • officially list heritage resources of Nanaimo;
  • give notice to property owners, and potential buyers) of heritage factors (e.g. architectural, cultural, aesthetic) which may affect development options for a listed property; and
  • enable monitoring of proposed changes to properties through the local government heritage alteration and building permit process.

Inclusion of a property on the Community Heritage Register does not itself constitute permanent heritage protection. The register may, however, be used to ‘flag' properties for possible future protection. Buildings on the register can take advantage of special “equivalency” provisions contained in the BC Building Code Heritage Building Supplement and can be used as a criterion for municipal grants (such as the Heritage Facade Grant and Heritage Home Grant programs), property tax exemptions, and non-monetary incentives (such as land use regulations relaxation and development bonuses).

Building Details
Name Commercial Hotel
Address: 121 Bastion Street
Architectural Style: Edwardian
Building Use: Commercial
Year of Construction: 1913
Builder or Architect: Bresemann and Durfee
Protected Heritage Property: Yes

Heritage Value Statement
The Commercial Hotel is a tangible reminder of the social and economic importance of hotels in Nanaimo history. Like most mining communities, early Nanaimo had a large population of single, often transient men. As affordable housing alternatives, hotels functioned as living quarters and, in the saloons and restaurants typically located on the ground floor, as social centres.

Associated with Nanaimo’s earliest commercial development, the Commercial Hotel has operated continuously in Nanaimo since 1875. The first Commercial Hotel was located on the adjacent corner. In 1913, this new structure was built as an addition and the original hotel was eventually torn down.

Designed by architects Breseman and Durfee, who also designed Victoria’s First Congregational Church and St. James Hotel, the Commercial Hotel is a very good example of the Edwardian Commercial style and features the simplicity and overall restrained appearance typical of this style. Despite some alterations, much of the building’s original character is intact, including the brick facing, projecting metal cornices and storefront piers.

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