Victoria Heritage Observatory

March 12, 2024

Media Release: Friends of Centennial Square

Canadian Architect Magazine headlines effort to save Centennial Square Fountain in Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria Centennial Fountain. Photo courtesy of Chris Gower.

For further information contact:

Martin Segger

[email protected]

Ken Johnson

[email protected]

March 14, 2023

Victoria RAIC Panel Sessions Posted on YouTube.

The past two years of VIS NetWork RAIC Panel Sessions recordings are just now posted on YouTube – see below – so please watch a selection at your convenience:

These have been cycling in broadcasts on the Shaw Spotlight Community TV Channel for the past few months, but now will live-on for public viewing – so please copy and do recommend viewing to those you know might be interested.  They include topics such as “Urban Conservation and Urban Design” and “Climate Change”.

These offer quite diverse and in-depth viewing for those interested in a variety of current architectural and urban planning topics – with excellent expert Panelists.

‘Housing and Homelessness’, ‘Climate Change’, ‘Urban Conservation and Urban Design’, and other topics are represented.

The two recent Panels on ‘Seismic Risks of South Vancouver Island’ have been particularly insightful.

Our next Panel session on ‘Indigenous Design in Architecture’ is planned for this April, to be followed by a third Panel focused on ‘Seismic Design in Architecture’ in late May.

Chris Gower 

Chair VIS Network RAIC

February 2, 2023


The UNESCO World Heritage Project supports the initiatives of the Maritime Museum of BC to re-establish itself as a major public institution telling Victoria’s story as a major port and trading hub on the Indo Pacific. To this end we also support its proposal to Government that it move into the Victoria harbour-front historic Steam Ship Terminal building.

Please read Board Chair Jamie Webb’s letter below requesting public support by way of signing the petition:

Since our announcement almost two weeks ago about our proposal to swap spaces with the Bateman Gallery so we can take over their current space in the Steamship Terminal Building, many of you have written in to local politicians to voice your support for this idea. Thank you to everyone who has done this so far! Your support goes a long ways to showing the community desire for the Maritime Museum of BC to have a water front location.

I wanted to draw your attention to an op-ed in today’s Times Colonist, written by Murray Farmer who chairs our Council of Navigators. If you haven’t read it already, you can find it through the link below.

Read Murray Farmer’s op-ed here.

I also wanted to share with you that we have started an online petition calling for the Provincial Government to allow MMBC to occupy the Steamship Building. It takes just a few minutes to sign it, and again, your name on this will show Government that the community cares.  Please share the link far and wide.

Sign our petition here.

As always, thank you for your support! Together we can achieve a new, water front home for the Maritime Museum of BC.

Jamie Webb
Board President

February 1, 2023


As we mark Canadian Black History Month we you may wish to reference our Situation Brief, “A Black History of Victoria” posted on this website.

November 14, 2022

WAITING FOR THE BIG ONE: Two online panel discussions on earthquake risk and Victoria’s built heritage

This week, on November 16, we mark 50 years since the signing of the World Heritage Convention that links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.

We invite you to join two online expert panel discussions: Waiting for the Big One: Victoria’s Seismic Challenges. The two events are being recorded for broadcast by Shaw Cable Island Spotlight channel.

These sessions have been organized by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada: Vancouver Island South Network.

There will be a charge for each panel session: $15.00 for the first panel; $25.00 for the second panel. To receive your log-in ticket and link go to the RAIC website:

For further details see below. 

Waiting for the Big One – Victoria Seismic Challenges

Two Zoom Panel discussions exploring the seismic risks to Victoria – particularly to the City’s historic and contemporary built environments.

Presented by: Royal Architectural Institute of Canada – Vancouver Island South Network

Topic Initiators, Supporters: Victoria Hallmark Society, UNESCO Victoria World Heritage City Project

Panel One: Victoria Seismic Urgencies

Zoom Panel 1 – Thursday November 17, 11:50am – 1:30 pm

Seismic concerns are a sleeping dragon under this City – with some general recognition of risks, but with only slow, gradually enacted precautions. Victoria’s existing housing and heritage building stock each have worrisome vulnerabilities. How can we alert and better motivate ourselves, and our community, on these pending threats?

Panel Introduction: Professor Martin Segger

Panel Moderator: Gregor Craigie, CBC Commentator, and the author of

“On Borrowed Time, North America’s Next Big Quake”


  • Armin Bebamzadeh Ph.D., P.Eng. – Research Associate at UBC Earthquake Engineering Research Facility
  • Jason Ingham Ph.D., MBA, FengNZ – New Zealand Seismic Engineer
  • Graham Taylor Ph.D., P.Eng. – TBG Seismic Consultants, Victoria

Panel Two: Victoria Seismic Responses and Opportunities

Zoom Panel 2 – Thursday December 08 2022

Can seismic dangers open avenues for opportunities? Instead of paresis before an impending peril – how can our community rise to enact preparations – to seek creative, forward-looking initiatives?

Panel Moderator: Gregor Craigie, CBC Commentator, and the author of

“On Borrowed Time, North America’s Next Big Quake”


  • Kate Ulmer P Eng, Herold Engineering – will present a case study on the Seismic Improvement program for Victoria High School.
  • Leon Plett P Eng, Reid Jones Christopherson Engineering

Other Panelists: to be announced.

Links for ticket orders will be sent upon request.

September 30, 2022

The UNESCO Victoria World Heritage Project marks our National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.

One of the aims of the UNESCO World Victoria Heritage Project is to restore a long missing voice to the community narrative of Victoria’s heritage, that of the 10,000 year legacy of First Nations living in these lands. This effort has just begun with small steps by making inclusion a part of the Situation Brief studies and resulting recommendations.

The Project is marking the National Reconciliation Day with the publication on our website, The Victoria Heritage Observatory, of a new brief:

First Nations Land Uses and Knowledge Systems Underpinning the Development of the Victoria Landscape

Already posted briefs that  have also drawn on Indigenous knowledge include:

A Jewel in the Crown: The Gorge Waterway as Cultural Heritage

Metis Heritage in the Victoria Region

Historical Habitats of the Victoria Region

Victoria’s Public Arts Heritage

MARCH 9, 2022

World Monuments Fund Announces 25 Endangered Heritage and Cultural Sites for 2022

The World Monuments Fund has released its 2022 World Monuments Watch list, a selection of 25 sites from across the globe that hold great cultural and heritage significance but are being faced with economic, political or natural threats. This year’s selection highlights themes of global issues such as climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from crisis, urging for prompt preservation plans.

Launched in 1996, the World Monuments Watch announces a list every two years featuring sites nominated by global community-based organizations and individuals. Since the program’s inception, the organization has raised awareness about heritage places in need of protection, and has contributed more than $110 million towards projects with an additional $300 million from external sources. This year, the list included 24 countries with nearly 12,000 years of history, highlighting how global challenges take a heavy toll on heritage sites.


Victoria World Heritage Steering Group


February 25, 2022


The UNESCO Victoria World Heritage Steering Group is marking British Columbia Heritage Week with the launch of the Project website, “THE VICTORIA HERITAGE OBSERVATORY”.

The Group, a coalition of local volunteers, is investigating the feasibility of nominating Victoria for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the first “situation briefs” posted to the new site suggests declaring Chinatown a historic “Site of Conscience”.

“Chinatown, as a place of contested memory, could be registered with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. This global network of historic sites, museums and memory initiatives connects past struggles to today’s movements for human rights.

“As such, Chinatown’s presence in Victoria’s Old Town, and its interpretation, could promote reconciliation after deeply dividing events by “turning the page”. Erasing the past can prevent new generations from learning critical lessons. It can also compromise opportunities to build a peaceful future”

A major focus of the group is examining the exclusionary nature of Victoria’s standard heritage narrative. Only recently have we begun to seriously recognize the role of First Peoples in the founding and early development stories of the region.

Two other papers released on the site explore the significance of Victoria’s geological and natural habit histories.

Some thirty more Briefs are in preparation and planned for release shortly.

The intent of the Observatory itself is to the monitor the state of heritage conservation in Victoria, as well as track developments within the Project itself.

“An eventual objective might be provision of a forum for discussion on heritage topics of local critical interest” said Martin Segger, the acting coordinator of the group. 



Martin Segger, Co-ordinator pro tem, Victoria World Heritage Steering Group. Contact: [email protected]

We acknowledge and respect the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.