What Matters In Approving Heritage Districts in Ontario

Pass and Fail sign

In the Dan Schneider blog on the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) and its ins and outs, this post is worth a read for those who are studying or working on heritage district formation, and for those towns and villages like Bolton (in the Humber River Valley), for whom Caledon Council recently approved a Heritage Conservation District plan for the historic old village of Bolton.

“It was 10 years ago that Ontario got two new regulations on cultural heritage significance.” “Among the many changes to the OHA in 2005 was the introduction of significance criteria for designation — that is, criteria on cultural heritage value or interest that would have to be met for a property to be designated by municipal councils or the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.  The criteria themselves did not appear in the Act; instead the Act gave the Lieutenant Governor in Council, aka Cabinet, the power to make regulations prescribing the criteria.  Following consultations with stakeholders in mid-late 2005, the culture ministry drew up the regulations, which were approved by Cabinet in January 2006.”

“The purpose of the criteria was not to make designations harder.  Rather, there was a need, after three decades of diverse designation experience at the local level, to bring a more consistent approach to the designation of heritage property.  With new powers to prohibit demolition the consequences of designation were drastically different, so there was also more at stake.  Designations had to be well-supported, statements of cultural heritage value clear and thorough and descriptions of heritage attributes exhaustive. The goal was strong and defensible designation by-laws.”

 Gateway to the Albion Hills

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