What is heritage designation?

    Designation is policy tool that recognizes and protects properties of cultural heritage value or interest. Designation publicly acknowledges the value or properties to a community and helps to ensure the conservation of important heritage features for present and future generations to enjoy. Designation by-laws can help to regulate change on these properties and can help prevent unwarranted demolition or unsympathetic alterations to important heritage elements. Designation can apply to both individual properties or districts.

    What is a Heritage Conservation District (HCD)?

    An HCD is a geographically defined area within a municipality that is noted for its distinct heritage character. An HCD may be defined by neighbourhoods or other locations with distinct features, styles, themes, or characteristics. HCDs can include buildings, trees, roads, landscapes and other elements that contribute to their unique character. Under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act, municipalities can protect districts by designating character-defining elements and their public realm, providing detailed guidance for redevelopment that occurs over time.

    Why designate?

    Planning for the future of a strong, vibrant community requires knowledge of the past and an understanding of what we value in the present. Existing buildings, structures and landscapes often define a community’s unique identity and give it character and a sense of place. To help guide change, it is important to identify and protect the places in the community that have cultural heritage value.

    Designation helps to recognize important properties and areas, to protect cultural heritage that is valued by the community, and to guide change. Designation allows for community input on what should be conserved, where, and what is not of value to the community. For more information on designation, please view the Ontario Heritage Trust website here: https://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/pages/tools/tools-for-conservation/benefits-of-heritage-designation-under-the-ontario-heritage-act

    Why is the City of Cambridge undertaking an HCD Study now?

    Council directed staff to begin the process of evaluating and initiating an HCD Study in Hespeler in 2020. Hespeler has experienced considerable growth and downtown Hespeler is noted for its unique cultural heritage elements. Other areas in Cambridge already have HCDs in place or are currently being studied for potential HCDs (such as Galt Core and East Galt). The City is studying whether or not a portion of Hespeler should be designated as an HCD to preserve the heritage attributes and guide future planning decisions. Community members have significant input on this project and, with all information in hand, Council will make the final decision on whether or not pursue a heritage district in Hespeler.

    How were the boundaries for the study determined?

    The boundaries for this study were determined based on historical mapping and areas of concentration of historic building stock. The study area also incorporates residential, commercial, and industrial portions of downtown Hespeler.

    The boundaries for this study are not static. They will be amended based on the research and evaluation of the consultant team as part of the project, before going to Council in May 2024.

    What are the benefits of living or owning property in an HCD?

    Several academic studies have shown that heritage designation is positively correlated with improvements in residential property values (see Robert Shipley, 2000; Paul Shaker, 2019; and Rebecca Correia et al., 2023).

    Heritage Conservation Districts help to guide the type of infill, urban design, beautification, alterations, and conservation that should occur in the District. Change is not regulated and guided through the Heritage Permit process, but not prohibited. A Heritage Conservation District in Hespeler will ensure that future developments and renovation in the boundary complement the District's character.  The HCD can also generate tourism and enhance Hespeler's identity, pride, and civic involvement. Finally, all property owners of designated properties within an HCD are eligible for the City's Designated Heritage Property Grant Program which enables the reimbursement of monies spent on property upkeep or restoration work up to a maximum of $5,000 per calendar year. The application form can be accessed online and is available here.