The town's cultural heritage is a major part of what makes Bradford West Gwillimbury unique. These resources can take many different forms including buildings and structures, streetscapes, landscapes, cemeteries and archaeological sites. Our heritage resources tell us who we are, where we have come from and what we have accomplished.
Council works with its Heritage Committee, property owners and community planning staff to ensure that our best examples of cultural heritage are preserved for the benefit of current and future generations. The following provides information on the heritage planning program in BWGy.
Ontario Heritage Act
The Ontario Heritage Act provides municipal governments with a framework for identifying, assessing, and preserving properties with cultural heritage value and interest. The Act also sets out requirements for consulting with property owners and the general public.
One of the communication tools required by the Ontario Heritage Act is the publishing of a Municipal Registry of Heritage Properties. The registry is the official record of cultural heritage properties that have been identified as being important to the community. There are over 400 properties currently included on the town's registry.
Listing of a Heritage Building or Property
There are two types of properties identified on the Municipal Registry of Heritage Properties – those that are designated for protection under the Heritage Act (discussed below), and those that are simply "listed".
Listing is a means of formally identifying properties that may have cultural heritage value or interest. It is an important tool in planning for their conservation and provides a limited measure of interim protection.
Listing a property does not affect the owner's use, enjoyment or right to alter their property. However, if a property owner wishes to demolish any buildings on a listed property, the town must first be provided with 60-days' notice. This time provides the Heritage Committee and Council with an opportunity to determine whether the heritage value of the property warrants additional protection.
Any member of the public, Heritage Committee or Council can propose that a property be listed on the registry. The Heritage Committee reviews the candidate properties utilizing criteria to determine the need for listing, and then makes a recommendation to Council for a final decision. Evaluation criteria for listing a property are determined by municipalities.
Designation of a Heritage Building or Property
Designating a property for protection under the Heritage Act involves a far more formal process than that of listing a property on the heritage register. It should be noted that listing is not a prerequisite to being designated; nor do all listed properties warrant designation.
Any member of the public, Heritage Committee or Council can propose that a property be designated for protection under the Heritage Act, which sets out six key steps to designating an individual property:
Identifying the property as a candidate for designation;
Researching and evaluating the property;
Serving "Notice of Intention to Designate" with an opportunity for objection;
Passing and registering the designation by-law;
Listing the property on the municipal registry; and
Listing the property on the provincial registry.
Unlike the "listing" process, the Heritage Act sets very specific criteria that must be considered when determining whether a property should be designated. Such a property would need to comply with at least one of the following criteria:
The property features high design value because it offers a rare architectural style, material, construction method, and/or craftsmanship;
The property features high historical value because of direct associations with an event, person or organization that is significant to the community, or it reflects the work of an architect, artist, designer, etc. who is significant to the community; and,
The property has contextual value because it is important in defining the character of an area, is historically linked to its surroundings, or is a landmark.
If deemed worthy, Council will pass a designation by-law that contains information about the property and lists its heritage attributes. This formal step recognizes the importance of the property, protects its heritage value, encourages conservation and promotes knowledge for all such designated properties in BWG. Designated status provides council with the legal authority to refuse an application for demolition or a request that will adversely change and/or affect the heritage value of a building or property.
To date, there are six designated properties on the town's heritage registry.
If your property has been listed and you have questions, please contact Community Planning staff at 905-775-5369. For more information, go to the Ontario Heritage Trust website: