Parks Canada Responds to MRT on Cultural Heritage

Monday, April 19, 2021


UPDATE: The Minister for Environment and Climate Change responsible for Parks Canada has submitted his Report and Response to the 2020 Parks Canada Ministerial Round Table (MRT) on Cultural Heritage held last October. See below to link to the document.

Last June, Heritage Ottawa met with Parks Canada senior staff to discuss the three initiatives mentioned in the Minister's mandate letter pertaining to "Protecting our Cultural Heritage". In October, we participated in the MRT via Zoom, and submitted our recommendations via "LetsTalkParks, Canada!" the online tool made available to all Canadians interested in telling the MRT how and why the enjoyment, appreciation and protection of historic places is important.

In our submission, Heritage Ottawa strongly advocated for federal heritage legislation to protect federal heritage buildings and places. Canada is the only G7 country without legislation and effective regulatory protection for its nationally-significant sites. Astonishingly, national historic sites like Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall, the Central Experimental Farm, and Rideau Canal World Heritage Site have no meaningful protection. A National Historic Site designation has become purely symbolic, without real meaning.  

The Parks Canada Agency Act charges the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with responsibility for Canada's national historic sites, historic canals, heritage railway stations, heritage lighthouses, federal heritage buildings, archeology and historic places. The Agency Act stipulates that protecting these special places is in the national interest "in view of their special role in the lives of Canadians and the fabric of the nation." 

The federal government has created tools to support heritage designated places in the form of the Cost-Share Program, the Heritage Register, and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, but they have been underfunded, neglected, and unenforced. 

Heritage designation alone is only the first step. It has no real significance if it is not followed by real protection and conservation.

For Heritage Ottawa's full recommendations as submitted to Parks Canada, CLICK HERE.

Report and Response, April, 2021

The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, has released the department's response to the feedback received during the consultation process. 

The details on the action areas identified and what was heard during the consultation can be found in the 2020 Minister's Round Table on Parks Canada - Report and Response.