Designation Policy: Does Your Municipality Have One?

Many municipalities will designate a Municipal Historic Resource without first developing a designation policy. The Historical Resources Act does not specify how municipalities must evaluate places for Municipal Historic Resource designation. Municipal Historic Resource designation bylaws are passed in a slightly different way than a bylaw is normally considered, but otherwise each municipality is allowed to define how it will protect its historic resources. (To learn more about designating Municipal Historic Resources read Managing Historic Places: Designation Guide, which can be downloaded from the publications section of the MHPP website).

How should your municipality respond to a request from a member of the public to protect a historic resource? By developing a policy that describes how the municipality will use its power to designate Municipal Historic Resources. A place should not be designated unless it is in the public interest to do so, and a good designation policy will help determine when that is the case. A good designation policy will explain:

  • What the purpose of the Municipal Historic Resource designation program is, specifically explaining what types of places the municipality is willing to protect and why.
  • Who is allowed to nominate places for designation.
  • What information a nominator needs to provide.
  • How the municipality will evaluate a proposed designation, including who is responsible for evacuating the proposal (like a Heritage Advisory Board) and what information council needs to make a decision.

A written policy that answers these questions will help protect significant sites while reducing the time and effort needed to evaluate designation proposals. A good policy lets nominators know what types of sites the council is willing to evaluate, what they are willing to protect and what information they need to provide. A good policy will make for a transparent and fair nomination process.

For more information on creating a designation policy or other heritage management planning activities, please consult the publications section of the MHPP website, or contact Municipal Heritage Services staff.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

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