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Centretown Heritage Study

Project Status: 


Centretown is a mostly residential neighbourhood developed mainly between 1890 and 1914. The neighbourhood was built to provide housing within walking distance of Parliament Hill and nearby government offices for the expanding civil service. Centretown is one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in Ottawa and has strong historical ties to Ottawa’s role as the national capital.

Today, Centretown’s built form continues to be mainly low-density residential but uses vary. There is a rich fabric of historic buildings throughout the neighbourhood both within the existing Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD) and beyond. Over the past 20 years, Centretown has experienced significant redevelopment as the neighbourhood is desirable for its central location, amenities and character.

Centretown includes two existing Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD): the Centretown HCD (designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1997) and the Minto Park HCD (designated in 1988). 

Study area

​​The study area [PDF 376 KB] includes the core of Centretown’s historic residential neighbourhood, which is bounded by Gloucester Street in the north, Catherine Street in the south, the Rideau Canal in the east and Bronson Street in the west. The study area includes the existing Centretown and Minto Park HCDs. 

Study overview

Why is the City undertaking the Centretown Heritage Study?

Council directed the Centretown Heritage Study through the Centretown Community Design Plan and Secondary Plan, which it approved in 2013. Section 3.7 of the Centretown Secondary Plan contains the following directions:

The City shall undertake the development of a Heritage District Plan according to the requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act. The updated study shall consider:

  • The diversity of buildings within the existing CHCD [Centretown Heritage Conservation District] and the objective of this Plan to accommodate population growth and new, contemporary buildings within the CHCD and shall develop appropriate infill guidelines;
  • More comprehensive descriptions and guidelines for individual buildings and streetscapes; [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
  • Architectural guidelines for new buildings, and additions to existing buildings;
  • Modifications to the current boundaries of the CHCD as deemed appropriate by the study findings.  

The City shall pursue appropriate designations of undesignated heritage buildings and areas within Centretown that currently are outside the Centretown Heritage Conservation District. 

In addition to the direction provided in the Centretown Secondary Plan, the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department has been working to update all existing HCDs to meet the current requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act

In 2005, the Ontario Heritage Act was revised to require a Heritage Conservation District Plan for all new HCDs. In addition, the Act allows municipalities to adopt HCD Plans for districts designated prior to 2005. The City of Ottawa has been working to adopt HCD Plans for all districts designated before 2005. The Centretown Heritage Study will fulfill this priority for two of the City’s pre-2005 HCDs.

What are the goals of the project?

The goals of the Centretown Heritage Study are to:

  • Undertake a comprehensive heritage inventory of all properties in the study area
  • Determine if additional areas or individual properties merit listing on the Heritage Register or designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.
  • Update the existing Centretown and Minto Park Heritage Conservation Districts plans

Phase 1

The Centretown Heritage Inventory was the first phase of the City of Ottawa’s Centretown Heritage Study. The City retained ERA Architects Inc. to document and provide recommendations for approximately 3,000 properties located within the Centretown Heritage Study area.

The consultant’s report, known as the Centretown Heritage Inventory, was delivered to Heritage Planning staff in spring 2020. The Centretown Heritage Inventory makes a series of recommendations, including that properties classified as Significant Resources should be considered candidates for designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, Character-Defining Resources should be listed on Ottawa's Heritage Register and select Character-Supporting Resources may merit listing on Ottawa’s Heritage Register following additional review by City staff.

The Centretown Heritage Inventory report and recommendations were shared with property owners and community stakeholders through an online consultation held from June 15, 2020 to July 31, 2020. Comments were collected through an online feedback form, by email and through a dedicated phone line. A summary of the responses is included in the As We Heard It Report.

Throughout August and September 2020, Heritage Planning staff reviewed the Centretown Heritage Inventory report recommendations alongside feedback received during the online consultation.

Phase I is complete.

The Centretown Heritage Inventory achieves the first goal of the study: To undertake a comprehensive heritage inventory of all properties in the study area.

Reports to Council

In fall 2020, Heritage Planning staff presented two reports to Council:

  1. Additions to the Heritage Register – Centretown Heritage Study (ACS2020-PIE-RHU-0021)
  2. Additions to the Heritage Register – Centretown Heritage Study (ACS2020-PIE-RHU-0023)

After consultation with the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Council supported listing 751 Centretown properties on the Heritage Register as a result of these reports.

These reports are the first in a series of reports stemming from the Centretown Heritage Study.

Next steps

Heritage Planning staff are actively reviewing the remaining Centretown Heritage Inventory recommendations.

  • New Heritage Conservation District Plans for the existing Centretown and Minto Park HCDs are priority work plan items for 2021.
  • Dundonald Park and surrounding properties have been identified as a potential Heritage Conservation District. Further study is required, anticipated to begin in 2021.
  • New individual Part IV Designations are an ongoing initiative.

Dundonald Park HCD Study Area. Revision 2020/05/03. The study area is roughly bounded by Kent Street, James Street, Bay Street and Cooper Street.

  • For more information, please contact:

Heritage Planning

As We Heard It Report - April 23 and 27, 2019

153 participants attended the public engagement sessions on April 23 and 27 to hear about the Centretown Heritage Inventory and Study and to discuss and provide feedback about Centretown’s heritage characteristics, landmarks and special places.

The meeting was hosted by the Heritage Services Section of the City’s Planning Infrastructure and Economic Development Department with the Councillor. The As We Heard It Report [PDF 501 KB] outlines discussion feedback provided during the meeting and all written comments.

As We Heart It Report – June 15 to July 31, 2020

The City collected feedback on the Centretown Heritage Study Phase 1 recommendations through an online feedback form, by email and through a dedicated phone line. All together, staff received 77 responses during the consultation period. A summary of the responses is included in the As We Heard It Report.