In Burlington, properties are included on the Municipal Register and/or designated through a Council decision process. Council can add properties of interest to the Municipal Register to afford them 60 days protection from demolition, without officially designating them under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Heritage Designation
Designation is the formal recognition of a heritage site based on criteria set in the Ontario Heritage Act (the Act). The designation exists as a municipal by-law that is registered on the title of a property. Designation gives a property a formal legal status designed to protect the site and, specifically, its heritage attributes as identified in the designation by-law.
Designations can be granted under Part IV or Part V of the Act. Part IV is for individual property designations where the statement of significance and list of heritage attributes are specified in the by-law attached to the title of the heritage property. Part V of the Act is used to designate heritage districts.
Examples of designated properties are individual dwellings and structures, landscapes, cemeteries and monuments, bridges, archeological sites and ruins, trees and parks.
Currently, the City of Burlington has more than 60 designated heritage properties.
Criteria Required for Heritage Designation
The current method for evaluating cultural heritage resources is based on the Ontario Heritage Act, Ontario Regulation 9/06. The criteria consider cultural heritage value or interest of properties in terms of their architecture and design; and their historic, associative, and contextual elements. Some examples of properties that meet the criteria are those that represent a unique style, or a person who is important to the history of the community, or a defining element of historical character.
At least one criterion must be met for a property to be considered worthy of designation.
In 2005, the Act was amended to let municipalities include non-designated properties of interest on the municipal register. Following this amendment, council added to the municipal register all properties formerly rated as “A” and “B” under the previously used Kalman method.
Prior to Ontario Regulation 9/06, Heritage Burlington evaluated properties based on several criteria (using the Kalman evaluation model), some of which included history, architecture, environment, usability and integrity. The properties were given a numeric score and a corresponding letter rating from “A” to “D”, with “A” being the highest. Property owners were not always notified when their property was added to the Historic List of Heritage Properties (formerly Inventory of Heritage Properties) because there are no legal obligations associated with the list. City Council last endorsed the list in 2001. No properties have been added to the list since that time.
The Benefits and Limits of the Heritage Designation
A heritage designation promotes and preserves heritage by preventing properties from being demolished. Properties are listed in a searchable database called the< Municipal Register of Cultural Resources link to database search page>. There are no costs associated with an Ontario Heritage Act designation.
If a designated property is sold, the new owners have 30 days to inform the city clerk that ownership has changed.
To alter designated properties, the owner must apply for a Heritage Permit. This permit is used to ensure that the property’s heritage attributes are maintained. Minor alterations, such as painting, routine maintenance, or updates do not require a permit.
For heritage districts, any improvements to properties must follow the specifications in the design guidelines that are included in the district plan.
How Properties are Designated
Properties can only be designated by City Council in consultation with the Heritage Burlington Committee. The council must state their intention to designate the property according to the notice requirements that are defined in the Ontario Heritage Act. The notice, which is sent to the owner and published in the local newspaper, includes the following information:
- An adequate description of the property so that it easily recognized.
- A statement that explains the cultural heritage value or interest of the property and a description of the heritage attributes of the property.
- A statement declaring that a notice of objection to the designation may be served to the city clerk within the 30 days following the published notice.
If no objection is received, the council will pass a by-law that is registered on the title of the property, and it will notify the owners and the Ontario Heritage Trust of the new designation. If a notice of objection is received, the council will refer the matter to the Conservation Review Board. The review board will conduct a hearing and prepare a report for the council. After reviewing and considering the report, the City Council will make its final decision.