Cultural Heritage Planning

Welcome!  Our Municipality celebrates and is defined by our extensive cultural heritage. In order to conserve our cultural heritage we have a Heritage Permit system in place to ensure proposed alterations to designated heritage properties enhance and conserve the cultural heritage value of the property. This webpage contains information for current and future owners of heritage properties and for anyone with a general interest in heritage matters.

Municipal Register

Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act requires municipalities to maintain a Municipal Register of properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The Register can also include non-designated properties of Cultural Heritage value or interest. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake Municipal Register contains both Part IV and V designated properties as well as listed, non-designated properties; Municipal Register of Properties of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest

Part IV Designation

Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act applies to those properties that are individually designated. Properties designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act may have both interior and exterior elements listed as protected heritage attributes. Alterations to properties designated under Part IV of the OHA that are likely to impact the protected heritage attributes require the consent of Council and a Heritage Permit. These properties have an associated Designating By-law that notes the heritage significance of the property and protected heritage attributes.

Prior to making alterations to a Part IV designated property please contact Community and Development Services to ensure the alterations will not impact the designated features. Designating By-laws for these properties are registered on title but you may also request a copy of a Designating By-law from the Community and Development Services Department. A list of Part IV designated properties is available on the Town’s Municipal Register.

Part V Designation - Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District Plan

Properties designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act are those properties that are part of a Heritage Conservation District. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has one Heritage Conservation District, the Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District, which was approved in 1986. In general, any alterations to these properties or the exterior of structures on the property require the consent of Council and a heritage permit. However, a property can be designated under both Part IV and V and therefore may also have interior designated features. Alterations in the Heritage Conservation District are guided by the Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District Plan (District Plan). The District Plan sets out the goals of the Heritage Conservation District as well as policies for alterations.

The map below shows the extent of the Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District shaded in gray. If a property falls within the shaded area it is designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act and Heritage Permits are required for alterations other than minor repairs. Please consult the Heritage Conservation District Plan when considering alterations to a property in the Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District:

Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District Plan

A list of works that do not require a Heritage Permit in Queen-Picton Heritage Conservation District unless a Designation By-law specifies otherwise can be found in By-law 4362-10 "A By-law to Adopt The Queen-Picton Streets Heritage Conservation District Plan, 1986". If you are unsure whether a heritage permit is required please contact Community and Development Services Department to confirm prior to undertaking alterations.

The Municipal Register of Heritage Properties  (Properties not designated under Part IV or V)

All non-designated properties included on the Register are adopted by Town Council with the input of the Municipal Heritage Committee. These properties have been identified as containing cultural heritage value or interest but have not been designated under Part IV or V. The principal implication for these properties is as follows: “the owner of the property shall not demolish or remove a building or structure on the property or permit the demolition or removal of the building or structure unless the owner gives the council of the municipality at least 60 days notice in writing of the owner’s intention to demolish or remove the building or structure or to permit the demolition or removal of the building or structure.”

Please review the Municipal Register or contact Community and Development Services staff to confirm whether your property is listed on the Register before planning to undertake alterations to a property that may be considered a heritage resource.


Heritage Permit

Alterations (including new construction, re-construction, restoration, additions, demolition, etc) to heritage properties designated under Part IV and Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act generally requires a Heritage Permit. The Heritage Permit application is reviewed by heritage staff and the Municipal Heritage Committee with final approval by Council.  Note that applications are reviewed on a monthly basis.  The following schedule details Committee meeting dates and application deadlines.

2021 Heritage Committee Meeting Schedule

Heritage Permit Application

If an alteration includes painting please consult the list of heritage approved paint colours.

Heritage Approved Paint Colors

Heritage Restoration and Improvement Grant Program

Properties designated under Part IV or Part V (‘A’ and ‘B’ buildings only) of the Ontario Heritage Act are eligible for a heritage grant to maintain and restore the cultural heritage attributes of the property. The grant program covers 50% of the costs of a conservation project up to a maximum of $10,000 for a residentially zoned property or $15,000 for a commercial or industrial zoned property. 

Applications for heritage grants closed on March 26, 2021, and are not being accepted at this time.  If funding remains after the first intake of applications there will be subsequent deadlines for heritage grant applications later in the year. Please be advised that a pre-consultation meeting with Heritage Staff is required prior to the deadline and submission of an application. Due to restricted public access to the administrative building at this time, please contact Denise Horne at denise.horne@notl.com for more information regarding application submission.

Detailed information on the grant program is available in the Grant Program Information Package.

Heritage Grant Program Application

Heritage Grant Agreement

Heritage Grant By-law 3989-05 (2005) and 3989-16 (2016)

Interested in designating your Property?

Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act ensures the continued conservation of our built cultural heritage, a fragile and non-renewable resource.

Requests for designation are reviewed by heritage staff and the Municipal Heritage Committee and approved by Council. Staff and the Committee collect as much documentation on the property as possible. The Committee makes a site visit to the property to determine and document features that contribute to its cultural heritage value.     

If you are interested in designating your property under the Ontario Heritage Act please contact Community and Development Services staff for further information.

Niagara-on-the-Lake: A National Historic District

With the concerted efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers, Niagara-on-the-Lake became a designated National Historic District, the first in Ontario, in 2003. This honorary designation focuses on the collection of buildings that range in date from 1812-1850.

More information on this designation can be found at the Historic Places of Canada website:


The Municipal Heritage Committee

The Committee consists of 9 volunteers in the Community with expertise in heritage related fields. Committee members review heritage applications and provide advice to Council to ensure that development of property is compatible and sympathetic with the heritage goals and polices of the District Plan and best practices in heritage conservation.  Committee members are appointed by Council for a term of 4 years.  Details regarding the Committee, its members and Terms of Reference can be found on the following page of the Town's web-site; Committees and Boards 2018-2022.

Looking for Historical Information on a property?

Niagara Historical Society & Museum

Established in 1895, the Niagara Historical Society is dedicated to understanding the history of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The most important aspect of the work of the Society is the maintenance of the Museum collection which began in 1896 and is one of Ontario's most important collections. The Niagara Historical Society & Museum contains a large amount of documentation and research on local properties. You can visit their website here: http://www.niagarahistorical.museum/

Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library

On November 17, 1977, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library gained formal recognition as the first circulating library to be established in Upper Canada. You can access a large number of early photographs and historical documentation from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library’s Heritage Portal at the following link: https://notlpubliclibrary.org/

Heritage Conservation: Want to Get Educated?

Niagara-on-the-Lake would not be the unique place it is today without our excellent heritage property stewards. If you are interested in educating yourself on conservation and current matters in the heritage field please see the below links.

Architectural Styles : http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/Styles.html

Best practices in Conservation

The federal guidelines on best practices in Conservation is set out by Parks Canada: http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/pages/standards-normes.aspx

The Ontario Heritage Tool Kit is a series of guides for municipal councils, municipal staff, Municipal Heritage Committees, land use planners, heritage professionals, heritage organizations, property owners and others. It was designed to help them understand the heritage conservation process in Ontario.

Ontario Heritage Toolkit http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/heritage/heritage_toolkit.shtml

The Ontario Heritage Trust produced “Well-Preserved, the Ontario Heritage Foundation's Manual of Principles and Practice for Architectural Conservation” by Mark Fram

Heritage Specialists

The Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals provides a list of various heritage specialists across Canada and may be consulted at the following link : https://cahp-acecp.ca/professionals/