Heritage Planning

What is Municipal Heritage Planning?

Municipal Heritage Planning is the preservation of properties that have a distinct social, cultural and/or historical value to the municipality.  Municipal Heritage Planning seeks to preserve and protect these sites that are valuable to the history of the City and the citizens alike by designating them as a valuable part of the City's culture that should be maintained and protected.  Such properties include, but are not limited to:  

  • Houses of significant meaning or style;
  • Commercial buildings which have unique architecture or significant meaning to the community;
  • Natural landscapes and the environemnt;
  • Cemeteries;
  • Infrastructure (such as bridges and walkways).

The planning process is a systematic procedure designed to designate and research properties using the advocacy of citizens and includes the identification of a property as a candidate for designation.  Designation of such sites for protection and maintenance is based on the following: 

  • A description of the property (what it is; ruins, structure, landscape etc);
  • A statement of cultural heritage (what it means to the municipality); and
  • A description of attributes (what is being protected; interior, type of building, natural landscape etc).

Heritage Port Colborne

Heritage Port Colborne is a Committee of Council that is responsible for advising the public and Council on matters dealing with the protection of historically and architecturally significant buildings and properties in the City of Port Colborne. Heritage Port Colborne is responsible for, but not limited to: 

  • Researching the history and architecture of a particular building or property to determine whether it is worthy of designation by being historically, culturally or architecturally significant;
  • Advising Council on the circumstances of a particular building, property or area;
  • Acting as a liaison between Councin and the owner of a building or property, which may include consulting on matters regarding the designation process;
  • Advising Council on all other heritage matters within the municipality; and
  • Acting as a liaison between the citizens of Port Colborne and citizens that wish to suggest new heritage sites for designation.

*For more information regarding Heritage Port Colborne, including Committee Members contact information, please click on the following link:



Reasons for Designation

The Ontario Heritage Act provides recognition of the significance of a property or district and provides a limited protection to it from demolition or unsympathetic alterations.  The criteria or "Reasons for Designation" are found under several sections of the Act and serve several purposes including: 

  • To inform the property owner and the public of the property's significance;
  • To provide a basis upon which any person can object to, question or support the appropriateness of designation;
  • To guide future changes which must be approved by Council in writing (including restoration, renovation, repairs or disturbing the property); and
  • To clearly identify the elements of the property cited in the "Reasons for Designation" which conservation and/or restoration will be directed, in order to be eligible for provinical and municipal funding assistance.

It should be noted that designation does not prohibit alteration to a property; it simply ensures that a process is followed with respect to the heritage values that exist.  A municipality cannot designate for contextual reasons alone.  The context that surrounds the Reasons for Designation may affect them and therefore must be considered when dealing with proposed alterations.

Why should we preserve?  Why should we designate?

The Ontario Heritage Act outlines the purpose of the designation process of historical properties as true to the following ideals in which the process:  

  • Recognizes the importance of a property to the local community;
  • Protects the property's cultural heritage value;
  • Encourages good stewardship and conservation; and
  • Promotes knowledge and understanding about the property.

Designation renders a certain status which can enhance the value and prestige of a property.  Owners may be eligible for grants or tax relief that can enable renovations and/or restoration.  Studies have shown that Heritage and Heritage Tourism are good for the community economically, socially and culturally.  Preservation and recognition will distinguish the City of Port Colborne as a community that is concerned and puts value in its past.  Such passion for the past suggests passion for the future.  The sustainability of our heritage will benefit our society as a whole.

Who can suggest a property for designation?

Any individual in the community may recommend a property for Historic Designation. The owner of the property, a tenant, unaffiliated citizen group or group of citizens may suggest that a site be designated for preservation and will be granted unregistered title in the municipal register.

The Designation Process

Heritage Port Colborne has established the following guidelines when considering designation: 

  • Date of Construction - A structure must be at least 100 years old, or have some outstanding historical or architectural merit.
  • Architectural Style - The structure must have significant features that distinguish the building.
  • Historical Significance - The structure must have been significant in the development of Port Colborne or related to the occurence of an important event or have had a significant occupant.
  • Condition/State of Repair - No major structural alterations have occurred over time thereby altering the structures value.
  • Owners Willingness - The owners should be in agreement of the designation.
  • Setting - The structure contributes to a specific streetscape, reminiscent of bygone days.

The process of designation includes providing the following:

Description of the Property  

  • Describes the property and identifies those aspects of the property which designation applies.
  • Address must be included along with an outline of what resource is sought to be designated (building, structure, landscapes, remains) and any boundaries.
  • Description should not be longer than 2-3 sentences.

Statements of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest

  • Should convey why the property should be designated.
  • Should provide explanations of cultural meanings, associations and connections the property holds for the community.
  • Should reflect one of more standard designation criteria prescribed by the Ontario Heritage Act.
  • Should be no longer than 2 to 3 paragraphs.

Description of Heritage Attributes 

  • Heritage attributes should be identified and described in relation to the heritage value they contribute to.
  • Only attributes that relate to the values described in the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value of Interest should be included.
  • Attributes include: Style, massing scale or composition; features of the property related to its function or design; features related to a property's historical associations; interior spatial configuration or exterior layout; materials and craftsmanship; and relationship between the property and its broader setting.

Incentives - Municipal and Regional Tax Relief

In the 2001 Ontario Budget, municipalities were given the ability to establish tax relief programs for owners with properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.  These programs were set up to encourage the restoration and preservation of heritage buildings.  The tax relief must be set between 10 and 40 percent of the taxes levied on the property. The City of Port Colborne passed bylaw 46/40/141/04 in 2004 being a by-law to provide for "Tax Refunds and Reductions in Respect of Eligible Heritage Property".  Eligible heritage properties have been participating in the program since its creation.


More Information

The Ontario Heritage Act

The Ontario Heritage Act came into force in 1975.  Its purpose is to give municipalities and the Provincial government powers to preserve heritage and offer incentives to owners to encourage preservation.  A complete version of the Act can be found at:


The Ontario Heritage Tool Kit

The Ontario Heritage Took Kit is a series of guides that explain different aspects of the Ontario Heritage Act, Planning Act, the Historic Places Initiative and related programs.  It is designed to help municipal council's, municipal staff, municipal heritage committees, land-use planners, heritage professionals, heritage organizations, property owners and others understand the heritage conservation process in Ontario.  An electronic version of the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit can be found at:


The Ontario Heritage Trust

The Ontario Heritage Trust is the Province's lead heritage agency.  They are dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's rich and varied heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.  For more information regarding the Ontario Heritage Trust please go to their website at:


Heritage Port Colborne Handbook

The Heritage Port Colborne Handbook was created to assist local property owners with the designation process and provides information on property designation and tax incentive programs.  The a pdf copy of the Handbook can be found at:

Heritage Port Colborne Handbook, March 2009



Contact Information

For more information regarding Heritage Planning in Port Colborne, or if you are interested in designating a property, please contact:

Shannon Larocque
Ph.  905-835-2900 ext. 202
Fax. 905-835-2939   
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