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FAQ

Heritage Welland

 

 

A) The City of Welland Heritage Advisory Committee is a subcommittee of volunteers appointed by City Council to advise them about properties within the City that have Cultural Heritage value or significance. When the Committee advises City Council that a property has heritage value, Council then passes a Bylaw “designating” the property that restricts the changes that can be made to certain listed heritage features of the property. Heritage features can be buildings, portions of buildings, plantings, landscapes or other structures; for instance the Main Street Bridge in Welland is designated because of its importance as an engineering accomplishment and as a symbol of the City.

A) Heritage Welland first identifies, then researches a property to find out if it has cultural heritage value (cultural, historic and/or architectural significance). A report is completed and forwarded with a recommendation to City Council to designate it under the Ontario Heritage Act. A “Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest” (Reasons for Designation) is written with a list of Heritage Attributes - the parts of the property to be protected under the Bylaw. A newspaper advertisement “Notice of Intention to Designate” is then placed and a waiting period left to allow members of the community to comment or object if they wish to the proposed designation. Finally, Council passes the Designation Bylaw. All designated properties are entered into a municipal register and a provincial register.

A) Many owners of heritage properties recognize that properties such as theirs are part of our local and Canadian heritage that is being lost at an alarming rate. They take pride in the historic features of their property and want to see it protected for the future. Designation does not cost any money for the property owner neither does it bring in money for the owner. Some municipalities give owners of designated properties a rebate on their property taxes. Studies have shown that designation does not affect property values negatively. In fact, the prestige associated with a designated property often improves its resale value.

A) Owners of designated buildings must consult with the City of Welland Heritage Advisory Committee (Heritage Welland) before making changes to their designated property. The Committee will compare the plans to the Heritage Attributes listed the Bylaw under “Reasons for Designation” or “Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest” and make a recommendation to the City. City Council may allow or disallow the changes depending on how they affect the heritage features of the building.
A template for this type of request can be found here.

A) Designation should not affect home insurance rates. Property insurance will be affected by the condition of the property and factors such as poor maintenance. Some insurance companies will not insure properties of a certain age, whether or not they are designated.

A) Owners can apply to de-designate. The application would be reviewed by the City of Welland Heritage Advisory Committee (Heritage Welland) who then make a recommendation to Council. If Council decides to de-designate, the proposal must be advertised for public comment. The final decision rests, as always, with City Council.

A) The federal government offers grants for the restoration of commercial heritage properties and there are financial incentives available under the City’s Downtown and Health and Wellness Cluster Community Improvement Plan. Currently there are no granting programmes for residential properties.

A) The Ontario government has passed legislation allowing municipalities to give property tax rebates to owners of designated properties. Individual cities and towns must opt in to this programme, however. Locally, Port Colborne offers tax incentives to owners of designated properties but Welland does not.

A) The City of Welland Heritage Advisory Committee (Heritage Welland) was initiated by City Council 36 years ago as the Welland Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (L.A.C.A.C.). It is a committee of volunteers appointed by Welland City Council to advise them about properties in the city with heritage value that should be protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre was founded in 1976 to assist various ethnic groups in the city and over the years has evolved into a multi service organization that supports multicultural events, assists immigrants and offers classes in English as a second language among other services.

A) While some people automatically assume that designation under the Ontario Heritage Act will affect the ability to sell a designated property or negatively affect its value on the market, that is not the case. Even though some people may be deterred from investing in a heritage property, there are an equal or greater number of potential buyers who are attracted to these properties because of their uniqueness, character, history and prestige factor.
Your real estate agent should be familiar with the content of the specific Designation Bylaw for the property that determines what is subject to alteration and demolition controls. This is available by consulting the Statements of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest available on the City of Welland Heritage Advisory Committee website: www.welland.ca/Heritage/designations.asp and by requesting a copy of the Designation Bylaw for the property at the office of the City Clerk.

A) Yes, designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act includes all “real property and includes all buildings and structures thereon” unless some portions of the property are specifically excluded in the Bylaw. A copy of the Designation Bylaw for each designated property is available at the office of the City Clerk.

A) The Ontario Heritage Act only requires a property owner to seek City Council’s consent for proposed alterations if the alteration is likely to affect the heritage attributes of the property as described in the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest or (for properties designated before 2005) in the Reasons for Designation ( both are contained within the Designation Bylaw usually as an attached Schedule).
However, before undertaking any construction or alteration to the property, the property owner should send a request briefly describing the proposed changes to the City in order that the City’s Heritage Advisory Committee may determine if the proposed work will affect the designated attributes on the property. (template for this type of request) Naturally, owners must also abide by the City’s property standards and requirements with regard to building permits, etc.as well.

A) Under the Ontario Heritage Act there are no additional requirements with regard to insurance coverage. Some uninformed insurance companies may believe that the Act requires that heritage attributes of a property need to be replicated in the event that they are destroyed. This is not the case, as the heritage value in the property lies in the fact that the features are original. Should the property owner wish to include a provision that heritage attributes be replicated if lost, they should discuss this with their insurance company.
All insurance is based on the replacement cost of the building with materials of like kind and quality, whether the building is new or a century old, regardless of whether the building is designated or not. Therefore the idea that replacement cost can be reduced if the designation is removed is wrong. This is backed up by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. For more information please see the Ontario Ministry of Culture’s info sheet “Insurance and Heritage Properties”: www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/publications/Heritage_Insurance.pdf

A) In a recent study by Robert Shipley of the University of Waterloo, in what is believed to be the largest study of its kind ever undertaken in North America, almost 3,000 properties in twenty four communities were investigated to determine the impact of designation on property values. Shipley found that heritage designation showed no negative impact, with the rate of sale as good or better than the ambient market trends; also that the values of heritage properties tend to be resistant to downturns in the general market. To read the entire study please go to: www.researchgate.net/publication/233101803_Heritage_Designation_and_Property_Values_Is_there_an_Effect