The Ontario Heritage Act
, first enacted on March 5, 1975, allows municipalities
A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...
and the provincial
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...
government to designate individual properties and districts in the Province of Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
, as being of cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...
value or interest.
Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act
Once a property has been designated under Part IV of the Act
, a property owner must apply to the local municipality for a permit to undertake alterations to any of the identified heritage elements of the property or to demolish
Demolition is the tearing-down of buildings and other structures, the opposite of construction. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for re-use....
any buildings or structures on the property.
Part V of the Act
allows for the designation of "heritage conservation districts."
Amendments to the legislation
Until 2005, a designation of a property under the Act
allowed a municipality to delay, but not ultimately prevent, the demolition of a heritage property. Heritage advocates were highly critical of the 180-day "cooling off" period provided for under the legislation, which was intended to allow time for municipalities and landowners to negotiate an appropriate level of heritage preservation, but often simply resulted in the landowner "waiting out the clock" and demolishing the heritage building once the protection of the Ontario Heritage Act
In 2005, the provincial government enacted changes to strengthen the Act. Under the amended legislation, a landowner who is refused a demolition permit under the Act
no longer has an automatic right to demolish a designated building once the cooling off period has expired. Instead, the landowner has the option to appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....
the permit refusal to the Ontario Municipal Board
The Ontario Municipal Board is an independent administrative board, operated as an adjudicative tribunal, in the province of Ontario, Canada...
and the OMB will make the final decision on whether or not a demolition permit should issue. Where the OMB refuses to issue a permit, the landowner would have no choice but to preserve the heritage building.
The amended legislation also contains provisions which enable municipalities to enact by-laws to require owners of designated buildings to maintain the structures and their heritage elements. Such by-laws are intended to prevent "demolition by neglect", although the collapse of Walnut Hall
Walnut Hall was a row of four Georgian-style terraced homes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Constructed in 1856, it was recognized by both the Government of Canada and the City of Toronto as being of historic significance, but portions of it collapsed and it had to be demolished in 2007 due to neglect...
in Toronto demonstrates that such buildings are still at risk.
- Ontario Heritage Trust
The Ontario Heritage Trust is a non-profit agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture, responsible for protecting, preserving and promoting the built, natural and cultural heritage of Canada's most populous province. It was initially known as the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board...
formerly the Ontario Heritage Foundation
- List of designated heritage properties in Ottawa