McGuinty government acts to save Ontario's heritage

Archived Release

McGuinty government acts to save Ontario's heritage

Proposed legislation helps build strong communities TORONTO, April 21 - The McGuinty government is introducing significant changes to the Ontario Heritage Act that would ensure the preservation of Ontario's irreplaceable heritage for present and future generations, Minister of Culture Madeleine Meilleur announced today. "Each year in Ontario, unique heritage buildings and sites fall victim to the bulldozer or wrecker's ball and we pay the price in lost economic potential and the erosion of the cultural identity that defines and enriches the quality of life in our province," said Meilleur. "Without strong and expanded heritage protection laws, valuable heritage resources - and the opportunities they represent - will continue to be lost." For the first time since the Ontario Heritage Act was introduced in 1975, the government is proposing comprehensive amendments to bring Ontario's heritage legislation in line with leading jurisdictions in Canada and around the world. If passed, the proposed amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act would: - Give the province and municipalities new powers not only to delay but to stop demolition of heritage sites. Enhanced demolition controls would be balanced with an appeals process to respect the rights of property owners. - Further expand the province's ability to identify and designate sites of provincial heritage significance. - Provide clear standards and guidelines for the preservation of provincial heritage properties. - Enhance protection of heritage conservation districts, marine heritage sites and archaeological resources. "This is a great day for heritage in Ontario," said the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, chair of the Ontario Heritage Foundation. "Strengthening the Ontario Heritage Act has been long overdue, and I commend this government for following through on its promise to protect and preserve Ontario's heritage now and for the future." "Our proposed revisions to the Ontario Heritage Act would significantly change the way Ontario views and protects its heritage," said Meilleur. "We look forward to working with municipalities, First Nations and other heritage partners to safeguard our heritage and the contribution it makes to strong communities and a better quality of life for all Ontarians." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- PROTECTING ONTARIO'S HERITAGE The McGuinty government is proposing comprehensive amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act to strengthen and improve heritage protection in Ontario. In Ontario communities, heritage is reflected in landmark buildings, small town main streets, historic neighbourhoods, scenic landscapes, archaeological sites, special cultural places, including Aboriginal sites, and such unique structures as lighthouses, mills and barns. These heritage resources are irreplaceable. To ensure the preservation of Ontario's heritage for present and future generations, the McGuinty government is introducing positive changes in eight key areas. If passed, proposed amendments would: New municipal powers to prevent demolition of heritage sites - Enable municipalities to prevent demolition of heritage sites - Provide property owners who have been refused consent to demolish a designated heritage property with right of appeal. New provincial powers to identify, designate and prevent demolition of heritage sites - Enable Minister of Culture to designate and prohibit demolition of heritage property of provincial significance, in consultation with the Ontario Heritage Foundation Clear standards and guidelines for provincially owned heritage property - Enable Ministry of Culture, in consultation with ministries and agencies affected, to develop mandatory standards and guidelines for identifying and protecting heritage property owned or controlled by the Province Improvements to municipal designation process - Standardize designation criteria - Enable municipalities to recognize and list non-designated heritage sites - Allow municipal councils to delegate approvals for alterations to designated heritage properties, set minimum maintenance standards for designated sites and easily update designation by-laws - Shorten newspaper notice requirements for designations - Require public notice of all de-designations Strengthened protection for heritage conservation districts - Require that districts have a plan and guidelines - Extend district controls to cover heritage property features as well as buildings; allow minor alterations to be exempted from approvals; enable interim controls for up to a year for districts being considered for designation - Require district designation by-laws be registered on title Increased provincial protection for significant marine heritage sites - Enable the Province to protect the most significant marine heritage sites by prescribing these sites in regulation and prohibiting access without a site-specific licence Enhanced provisions to conserve archaeological resources - Enhance provincial powers to ensure conservation of archaeological resources by increasing fines to a maximum of $1 million for illegal alteration of sites - Enable the Province to inspect archaeological fieldwork and sites and provide public access to certain archaeology information collected under the proposed legislation Streamlined provisions for provincial heritage agencies - Change the name of the Ontario Heritage Foundation to "Ontario Heritage Trust," and update reference to the agency's natural heritage role, to better reflect its current mandate - Increase Conservation Review Board administrative powers in line with amendments to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and require that the board be composed of at least five members Disponible en fran├žais www.culture.gov.on.caFor further information: Guy Lepage, Minister's Office, (416) 325-1689; Gary Wheeler, Communications Branch, (416) 325-8391