The Ontario Heritage Act R.S.O. 1990 c.O.18 (Act) provides a framework for helping municipalities conserve properties of significant heritage value or interest. It also enables and encourages citizen participation in heritage conservation locally.  Through the Act, Municipal Councils are authorized to establish a Municipal Heritage Committee (MHC).

The function of the MHC is to:

  • advise Council on local heritage matters; and
  • to assist Council in carrying out its heritage conservation program. 

Cultural heritage resources can be:

  • Buildings and structures;
  • Cemeteries;
  • Natural heritage;
  • Cultural heritage landscapes;
  • Archaeological sites, including marine archaeology;
  • Spiritual sites;
  • Cultural heritage resource collections; and
  • Intangible heritage.

The amendments to the Act provide stronger protection for our cultural heritage, and a more important role for MHC's.

Council is empowered under the Act to:

  • Designate individual property and designate districts or areas;
  • Issue or refuse permits to alter or demolish a designated property;
  • Repeal designation by-laws;
  • Purchase or lease individually designated property;
  • Expropriate designated property;
  • Provide grants and loans to designated property owners; and
  • Enter into easements and covenants.

These statutory powers give rise to the following responsibilities of a Municipal Council:

  • Setting the municipal budget to be used for heritage conservation;
  • Carrying out heritage conservation policies in the Official Plan and its amendments; and
  • Receiving recommendations and consulting with the MHC, where one is established, and having due regard for the Committee's advice on designation, alterations to designated property, demolition, repeal of designation by-laws, and other matters relating to heritage conservation in the municipality. 

Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Properties

The Municipal Register is the official list or record of cultural heritage properties that have been identified as being important to the community.  Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act requires the Clerk of every local municipality to keep a current, publicly accessible "Municipal Register" of properties of cultural heritage value or interest situated in the municipality.

The "Municipal Register" must include all properties in the municipality that are designated under Part IV (individual designation) and Part V (district designation) of the Ontario Heritage Act.  As of 2005, the Ontario Heritage Act also allows municipalities to include on the Municipal Register properties of cultural heritage value that have not been designated.  This is commonly known as "Listing".

"Listing" is a means to formally identify properties that have cultural heritage value or interest to the community.  It is an important tool in planning for their conservation and now provides a measure of interim protection.

The "Municipal Register" includes both designated and listed properties and has the following benefits:

  • The Register recognizes properties of cultural heritage value in the community.
  • The Register promotes knowledge and enhances an understanding of the community's cultural heritage.
  • The Register is a planning document that should be consulted by municipal decision makers when reviewing development proposals or permit applications.  The Register provides easily accessible information about cultural heritage properties for land-use planners, property owners, developers, the tourism industry, educators and the general public.
  • The Register provides interim protection for listed property.

Owners of "Listed" properties must give the Council of the municipality at least 60 days notice of their intention to demolish or remove a building or structure on the property.  This allows time for the municipality to decide whether to begin the designation process to give long term protection to the property.

Municipal Council's approval is required to add cultural heritage properties that have not been designated to the Register.  Requests to list a property on the Municipal Register may come from property owners, municipal Heritage Committees, municipal heritage or planning staff, local historical societies or residents' associations.

For further information on designation of a property, please contact the Clerk's Office.

Heritage Committee Terms of Reference

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