Heritage Designation Process
New Heritage Designation Process
The City of Hamilton recently changed its heritage designation process because of provincial amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act and Planning Act. The City’s designation work plan has been reorganized into a new list of Candidates for Designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, which includes a High Priority list for review for designation by January 1, 2025.
The Ontario Heritage Act, 1975, enables local municipalities to protect and manage Ontario’s cultural heritage resources. Part IV of the Act, entitled Conservation of Property of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest, provides for municipal designation of individual properties identified as having cultural heritage value. Both public and privately-owned properties may be designated under the Act.
Properties are designated by a municipal by-law, which contains the location of the property and defines its cultural heritage value, or significance, through a list of heritage attributes. Heritage attributes are those features of the land, building(s), and/or structures that contribute to the property’s cultural heritage value or interest and must be retained to conserve that value.
On receipt of a designation request, staff will conduct a preliminary evaluation of the property using the criteria outlined in Ontario Regulation 9/06. If the property is determined to have sufficient heritage value or interest to warrant designation, staff will either add it to the list of Candidates for Designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, or proceed to conducting a comprehensive evaluation for designation as an immediate priority. Properties identified as candidates for designation are typically also listed on the City’s Municipal Heritage Register to provide interim protection from demolition (for up to 60 days), as allowed under the Ontario Heritage Act.
List of Candidates for Part IV Designation
The list of Candidates for Designation is a publicly accessible list of properties that have been requested or flagged for review for designation that are generally stable and have a lower risk of potential change or demolition. By being listed as a candidate for designation, staff may conduct further research and evaluation and bring forward a recommendation to designate the property, if: an owner requests designation; a building permit or development application is submitted for the demolition or substantial alteration of the property; or, as staff resources permit.
View an interactive map of Candidates for Part IV Designation
High Priority Properties
In addition to the list of designation candidates, 60 properties from the former staff designation work plan were given a high priority for review for designation by January 1, 2025 (see Appendix “B” of Report PED22211(a)). A property was considered a high priority if there was a perceived or immediate risk to the property with respect to demolition, removal or substantial alteration or if it was previously requested to be reviewed for designation.
Once Cultural Heritage Planning staff have undertaken research and evaluated a property using the provincial criteria for designation (Ontario Regulation 9/06), they will prepare a draft designating by-law and staff report for consideration by the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee (HMHC). These documents are then forwarded, with advice from staff and the HMHC, to the Planning Committee (PC) and Council for consideration and approval.
If a property owner objects to a prospective designation, the owner will have the opportunity to delegate publicly at HMHC and/or PC. The owner may wish to bring forward new information to present with their advice on the matter. If Council concurs that the property should be designated, a Notice of Intent to Designate is served on the owner and published in the local newspaper and on the City’s website, as required by the Act.
Intention to Designate
The City of Hamilton intends to designate these properties under Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act, as being a property of cultural heritage value.
You have 30 days after the publication of the Notice if you wish to object the proposed designation.
By-laws to Designate
The City of Hamilton has passed by-laws to designate these properties as being of cultural heritage value or interest under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act:
You have 30 days after the publication of the Notice of Passing of the By-law if you wish to object the proposed designation.
Heritage property designation serves to:
- Recognize the importance of a property to the community;
- Identify and protect the property’s cultural heritage value;
- Encourage good stewardship and conservation; and,
- Promote knowledge and understanding about the property and the development of the community.
The Act allows municipalities to manage physical changes that will affect, or are likely to affect, the identified heritage attributes of a designated property through the Heritage Permit process. The Act also enables the control of demolition of buildings or structures on designated property. The goal of these management provisions is to protect the designated heritage attributes of the property from:
- Displacement effects (those changes that result in the damage, loss, or removal of valued heritage features); or,
- Disruption effects (those actions that result in detrimental changes to the setting or character of the heritage feature).
Examples of heritage attributes include:
- Building style, massing, scale, or composition;
- Features of a property related to its function or design;
- Features related to a property’s historical associations;
- Materials and craftsmanship; and / or,
- The relationship between a property and its broader setting.
Once a property is designated, these attributes are listed in the “Reasons for Designation” (properties designated between 1975 and 2005) or the “Description of Heritage Attributes” (properties designated after 2005).
View more information on the Heritage Permit process.
Within the City of Hamilton, there are approximately 281 individual properties designated under Part IV of the Act (statistics from 2021).
The City also has 7 Heritage Conservation Districts, which include another 349 properties, designated under Part V of the Act.
A property may be designated under Part IV, Section 29 of the Act if it meets two or more criteria defined by the Province in Ontario Regulation 9/06, which determines whether the property is of cultural heritage value or interest.
The criteria are:
- The property has design value or physical value because it:
- is a rare, unique, representative, or early example of a style, type, expression, material, or construction method;
- displays a high degree of craftsmanship or artistic merit; or,
- demonstrates a high degree of technical or scientific achievement.
- The property has historical value or associative value because it:
- has direct associations with a theme, event, belief, person, activity, organization, or institution that is significant to a community;
- yields, or has the potential to yield, information that contributes to an understanding of a community or culture; or,
- demonstrates or reflects the work or ideas of an architect, artist, builder, designer, or theorist who is significant to a community.
- The property has contextual value because it:
- is important in defining, maintaining, or supporting the character of an area;
- is physically, functionally, visually, or historically linked to its surroundings; or,
- is a landmark.
The published Notice of Intention to Designate (NOID) includes a description of the property and a Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest. The owner, or a third party, then has 30 days after the date of publication to serve a notice of objection to the municipality.
The municipality, on receipt of an objection, must decide whether to withdraw the NOID or to pass a by-law to designate. Objectors then have the opportunity to appeal the designation by-law to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) by serving their objection on the Tribunal and the municipality. The OLT does not hear matters on costs of physical maintenance, repairs, or any proposed work related to the actual condition of the property (or structure), as these are outside the scope of the evaluation of cultural heritage value or interest.
The City offers a variety of incentives to help facilitate the conservation and redevelopment of designated heritage properties, including three targeted heritage funding programs and development charge exemption for the adaptive reuse of heritage properties.
The City’s grant and loan programs are available to assist with the conservation, rehabilitation, and / or restoration of the heritage attributes of properties designated under the Act. Examples of projects that may be eligible for funding include: structural repairs; restoration of original materials; the repair or reconstruction of original elements, such as doors, windows and decorative trim; and, masonry repairs.
Each program has specific terms that guide the type of work that is eligible for funding on a designated property.
These funding programs are available for designated properties:
- Hamilton Community Heritage Fund: an interest-free loan for up to $50,000 and repayable over 10 years for eligible conservation work on designated properties.
- Hamilton Heritage Property Grant Program: a grant program for designated properties located in Community Improvement Project Areas that pays for 25% of total cost of an eligible conservation project up to a maximum of $150,000 or an eligible study of up to $20,000. (e.g. structural assessments, adaptive reuse study).
- Hamilton Heritage Conservation Grant Program: a matching grant program to assist with the on-going conservation of designated heritage properties not covered by the Hamilton Heritage Property Grant Program, covering between $1,000 to $5,000.
Designation requires a property owner to seek approval to make any alterations or changes that may impact the designated heritage attributes or the Reasons for Designation.
Designation requires the property owner to seek the permission of Council to demolish a designated structure.
In the event of change of ownership, the new owner of a designated property must give notice of the change of ownership to the Clerk within 30 days after becoming owner of the property.
Owners of designated properties shall maintain the heritage property and its heritage features in a safe and secure condition.
If you are interested in a heritage plaque for your designated property, visit Heritage Plaques and Markers
- Designation does not legally restrict the use of a property.
- Designation does not prohibit alterations or additions. Rather, designation ensures changes are appropriately managed through the Heritage Permit process to ensure the long-term protection of significant cultural heritage resources.
- Although designation is registered on title, it does not restrict the sale of property.
- Designation should not impact your insurance rates or coverage.
- Studies have shown that designation does not negatively impact price and may actually be correlated with increases in property values. (see Report PED20030 and the 2023 McMaster Study, Investigating the Impact of Heritage Property Designation on Real Estate Value)”
- Designation does not require property owners to open their property to the public.
- Designation is not arbitrary or frivolous. Designation criteria are specific; the principle requirements are that a property possess design/physical, historical/associative and/or contextual value.
The changes to the Ontario Heritage Act through Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, proclaimed on January 1, 2023, affected the City’s previous heritage designation process and changed to how municipalities can use the Municipal Heritage Register as a tool for heritage conservation.
To address the Bill 23 changes to the Ontario Heritage Act, the City has:
- Rescinded the previous Council-adopted heritage designation process and work plan;
- Implemented a new publicly accessible list of Candidates for Part IV Designation based off of the previous designation work plan list; and,
- Prioritized 60 of the previous work plan properties for review for Part IV designation by January 1, 2025.
For more information, refer to Report PED22211(a), Response to Bill 23, Schedule 6, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, and its Changes to the Ontario Heritage Act and its Regulations.