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Heritage Conservation Districts

Heritage Conservation Districts

Heritage Conservation District Designation under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act

Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) allows municipalities to recognize and protect neighbourhoods, rural landscapes, main streets or other areas of special cultural heritage value that have a cohesive sense of time and place. Designated heritage districts often enjoy a renewed cultural and economic vitality not only because district designation highlights their special values but also because they are protected from decay and the intrusion of incompatible structures.

Although each district is different, many share common characteristics. Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs) may have:

  • A concentration of heritage buildings, sites, structures and cultural landscapes
  • Visual coherence through the use of building scale, mass, height, material, proportion, colour that convey a sense if time and place
  • A distinctive character that allows them to be distinguished from neighbouring areas

How Districts are Designated

Community associations, the Built Heritage Sub-Committee (BHS-C), historical societies or any individual may request that an area be considered for designation as a heritage conservation district.

As HCDs are more complex than individual designations, requests to study an area for potential designation as an HCD should be discussed with staff in the Heritage Section prior to the submission of a request. Heritage staff can provide information on the implications of designation, the timelines and the amount of work involved in designating a heritage conservation district.

The process to designate a heritage conservation district under Part V of the OHA is outlined in detail below.

1. Pre-consultation and Background Research

  • Interested parties should contact the Heritage Section to discuss the proposed designation. Background research will indicate if the area merits consideration as a heritage conservation district.

2. Heritage Conservation District Study

  • The Heritage Conservation District Study phase includes the research and evaluation of properties and streetscapes within the proposed district and research of the history of the area. The study helps to inform the Heritage Conservation District Plan.

3. Heritage Conservation District Plan

  • The Ontario Heritage Act requires that a Heritage Conservation District Plan must be drafted prior to the designation of a new district. The plan must include a statement of heritage value and attributes as well as policies and guidelines for the management of the District.
  • A public meeting is held to present the draft plan and receive comments.
  • A report is prepared for the consideration of BHS-C, Planning Committee (PC) and City Council.

Process to designate a property under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act

  • Council votes to establish a Heritage Conservation District Study area as recommended by Staff and BHSC
  • Heritage Staff undertakes a study of the established area.
  • The Heritage Conservation District Study must include:
    • An examination of buildings and other landscape features to determine if the area should be preserved as a heritage conservation district.
    • Recommendations regarding geographic boundaries of the study area
    • Make recommendations regarding the objectives and content of the heritage conservation district plan
    • Make recommendations regarding any required changes to the Official Plan or Zoning Bylaw.
  • Staff consults with the local community and the public regarding the proposed geographic boundaries and the design guidelines in the Study and Plan. Staff revises the Study and Plan as necessary after public consultation.
  • Staff prepares a report and documents for BHSC, PC and City Council review
  • Staff consults with BHSC who makes a recommendation to Council regarding the designation
  • PC makes a recommendation to City Council regarding the designation.
  • City Council votes to designate or refuse the Heritage Conservation District. If approved the Heritage Conservation District Plan is adopted.
  • City Clerk provides Notice of Bylaw to the Owners, Ontario Heritage Trust and published in the newspaper.
  • 30 Day Appeal Period
  • If no appeals are received the by-law comes into effect following the last day of the appeal period and the bylaw is registered on title for the affected properties.
  • If appeals are received, the matter is referred to the Ontario Municipal Board.
  • The OMB holds a hearing and renders a final decision. The OMB may:

1. Repeal the By-law
2. Amend the By-law
3. Dismiss the Appeal


Property owners are required to seek approval from the City of Ottawa under the Ontario Heritage Act prior to undertaking the alteration or demolition of a designated heritage property. Complete information about how to apply can be found online.

If Council refuses an application or imposes conditions on its approval, the owner of the property may appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board within 30 days of a decision. Only the property owner may appeal a decision of City Council.

Heritage Conservation Districts

There are 20 HCDs in Ottawa. All of these districts are found within the urban area of the city:

Maps and Descriptions (Launch Map)


For more information please contact:

Heritage Planning