About cultural heritage landscapes

Cultural heritage landscapes are geographic areas with cultural heritage value or significance to a particular community or group. They often include multiple properties or larger landscapes, structures, natural features or land forms, that together tell a story about where we come from and who we are. Different from individual heritage buildings, in a cultural heritage landscape, the landscape features and built elements work together to form a special character and form that is distinctive from the individual parts.

Some examples of cultural heritage landscapes include: gardens, parks, main streets, neighbourhoods, cemeteries, farmsteads, trail ways and industrial complexes. The City of Waterloo has a Cultural Heritage Landscapes Inventory (PDF) you can view for more information.

Designated cultural heritage landscapes can have varying levels of impact on property owners, but none of those impacts come automatically from the designation. Policies and regulations can range from less to more intervention, and would be identified in future studies and plans, subject to council’s approval, and tailored to the specific features of the landscape, the community’s values, and the interests of impacted residents and others.

Infographic showing a spectrum of tools that could be used within a cultural heritage landscape. Ranging from low to more intervention, you can celebrate, incent, plan and guide, or conserve the landscape. Celebrate includes public education and interpretation, themed signs and streetscaping, place naming and commemoration. Incent includes improvement plans, heritage property grants or heritage property tax grants. Plan and guide involves official plan policies, zoning, site plan control, area design guidelines and demolition control. Conserve includes listing non-designated properties, heritage easement agreements, and heritage designations.

All these impacts have benefits and drawbacks for property owners. Benefits include:

  • a source of neighbourhood pride and identity;
  • conserving the heritage features valued by the community; and
  • the community can continue to change and develop, so long as heritage features are not removed or destroyed.

Drawbacks for property owners could include:

  • certain activities may require permission and/or additional time for approval; and
  • the vision for the designated neighbourhood may conflict with individual preferences.

In evaluating and identifying cultural heritage landscapes, planners take into account three factors: cultural heritage value/interest, historical integrity, and community value. The Region of Waterloo sets the criteria (PDF) to use in identifying significant cultural landscapes.

Cultural heritage landscape venn diagram with three circles, labelled cultural heritage value and interest, historical integrity, and community value all overlapping at a midpoint labelled Significant CHL.

For the Beechwood Park neighbourhood, there are unique considerations for each of these factors. Cultural heritage value and interest could include the fact that the neighbourhood is an early example of residential development/planning that is sensitive to natural environment, and its high degree of design or aesthetic appeal. Historical integrity could include built and natural elements and their relationship with each other having survived in their historic form (such as the lot fabrics, buildings, mature trees, road cross sections and configuration). The community value could include a community identity, pride and stewardship and a certain quality of life associated with this neighbourhood.

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