Frequently Asked Questions
Content Credit: Much of the information on this page is from the heritage section on the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport website.
When do I need to get a Heritage Permit?
Any work undertaken that alters or changes the appearance of the real property and the buildings and structures on the real property requires a Heritage Permit, including:
- All additions and alterations to structures on the property
- Demolition of structures on the property
- All new construction
- Landscaping and/or alteration of the real property (NOT traditional gardening)
Examples of work that requires a Heritage Permit include:
- Addition or alteration to an existing structure on the property
- Replacement of windows or doors
- Change in window or door openings
- Removal and/or installation of porches, verandahs, canopies, cladding and chimneys
- Change in trim, cladding and painting of building exterior
- Removal and/or installation of a deck, fence, gate, trellis, arbours and/or gazebos
Visit the About Heritage Permits web page for more information including the most recent guide, forms and deadlines.
What can happen to me if I do not get a permit?
Section 69 of the Act allows for imposition of a fine of up to $1 million for any person found illegally demolishing a property in a Heritage Conservation District. This amount recognizes that illegal demolition of designated heritage properties is one of the most serious offences under the Act. Provision is also made for municipalities to recover the costs of restoring illegally altered buildings or structures designated under Part IV or Part V.
What exactly is designation?
Designation is a by-law enacted by council that protects the heritage attributes of a property of cultural heritage value or interest. This follows a process of identifying, evaluating and defining a property as per criteria set out in the Ontario Heritage Act.
Who decides what is of heritage value or interest?
Properties of cultural heritage value or interest are usually identified by municipal heritage committees, or through a local community process such as an inventory of cultural resources, a municipal cultural planning process, or a community planning study.
Where do these powers and responsibilities come from?
Guiding legislation in matters of heritage comes from the Ontario Heritage Act and is supplemented by other pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act. It also comes from the Provincial Policy Statement. In addition, there are nationally recognized standards and guidelines as established by Parks Canad. Find out more by clicking on the links below.
Heritage is a key element in downtown revitalization, tourism development and sustainable communities and is a great return on investment.
Won't heritage designation or protection make the buildings or areas unusable for modern purposes or under modern demands? For example, what if we need to make a place wheelchair accessible?
Heritage designation does not freeze a building in time, but rather ensures that future changes are done in a sympathetic manner.
Can a property be altered once it is designated?
The designation provides a process for ensuring that changes to a heritage property are appropriately managed and that these changes respect the property's heritage value. If the owner of a designated property wishes to make alterations to the property that affect the property's heritage attributes, the owner must obtain written consent from council. This is a cooperative process, where a property owner submits an application for the proposed work, and receives advice and guidance from the municipal heritage staff.
Does designation affect the interior of a property?
Designation will only affect those interiors that are considered to be of heritage value and would be described as a heritage attribute. When it does, they are usually publicly accessible spaces, such as the significant interior of a church or a head office entrance hall.
Do property owners need permission for general maintenance?
General maintenance work, such as repainting of exterior trim, replacement or repairs to an existing asphalt roof, or alteration and repairs to property features that are not covered by the designation by-law, do not usually require heritage approvals. However, you may still need a building permit. For more information about the Town's building permit information, visit the Building Services web section.
Does designation alter the right to sell the property?
Designation will not interfere with your right to sell the property. However, should a designated property be sold, the new owner is required to advise the town clerk of that change in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act.
What is a heritage conservation district?
A subsection in Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act enables the council of a municipality to designate any defined area or areas of the municipality as a heritage conservation district. District designation enables the council of a municipality to manage and guide future change in the district, through adoption of a district plan with policies and guidelines for conservation, protection and enhancement of the area's special character.
Will heritage designation make property insurance premiums go up?
Your premiums should not go up as a result of a heritage designation. A variety of other reasons cause insurance companies to increase premiums for older buildings if there is a higher level of risk, such as services (out-dated wiring, old heating systems, etc.). Some companies do not insure buildings over a certain age. Designation itself does not place additional requirements on the insurer and should not affect your premiums. The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s brochure on Insuring Your Heritage Home can be accessed here.
More information on insurance and heritage properties can be found on the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport website.
What is the effect of heritage protection on property values?
Several recent studies suggest property values are affected positively by heritage protection. The Historic Places Initiative has created a briefing note with helpful case studies that illustrates this point. Dr. Robert Shipley at the University of Waterloo has conducted some case studies exploring that same theme. Read one of his papers.
I still have questions. Who can I contact at the Town?
Please visit the Contact Us page to find out who you can speak to about your heritage questions.