Our inheritance of architecture, cultural landscapes, and material culture is irreplaceable.

While all levels of government have a responsibilities in heritage conservation, municipalities have a significant role in conserving historically significant properties.

The Ontario Heritage Act provides tools that municipalities can use to ensure the conservation of properties of cultural heritage value or interest.

Financial incentives

To provide benefit and enjoyment to the community, heritage properties need to be properly maintained and conserved. Providing financial and other support can make a real difference in helping owners care for their properties.

Learn about the different strategies municipalities have implemented to encourage investment in heritage properties.

Heritage property tax relief

Section 365.2 of the Municipal Act, 2001 gives municipalities the option to establish a program to provide property tax relief (between 10 to 40%) to owners of eligible heritage properties. Councils must pass a bylaw to establish a local program.

We’ve developed a guide for municipalities with step-by-step information on how to develop a local heritage property tax relief program in their community.

To date, more than 40 municipalities have adopted this program, including Chatham-Kent, Thunder Bay, Peterborough, Kingston and Mississippi Mills.

Grants and loans

Under Sections 39 and 45 of the Ontario Heritage Act, councils can pass bylaws providing grants or loans to owners of property that has been designated under Part IV (individual property designation) or Part V (heritage conservation districts) to help them cover the costs of repair and restoration.

Councils can attach their own terms and conditions to funding. Learn more about municipal tax grants for heritage properties.

Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Petrolia and Sault Ste. Marie are among the municipalities that have established such programs.

Community improvement plans

Section 28 of the Planning Act allows councils to pass bylaws to identify community improvement project areas and develop plans to revitalize them. These areas can be targeted for a variety of municipal improvements, including:

  • municipal property acquisition
  • land assembly and sale of lands
  • construction and rehabilitation of municipal facilities or infrastructure and signage
  • streetscape and landscaping improvements

Municipalities can also use community improvement plans to establish a wide range of financial incentive programs such as façade improvement grants and loans, fee rebates, design study grants and tax assistance.

Community improvement plans are an opportunity to identify any heritage resources in the project area and plan for their conservation. Some municipalities have established incentives that directly target heritage property conservation or rehabilitation, or that provide additional financial assistance for heritage properties. For example, the Town of Halton Hills’ Community Improvement Plan includes a Façade Improvement Grant that offers an increased grant for properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act or listed on the municipal heritage register.

Other resources