These old houses: City's heritage inventory now in the books

Building on Old Montreal Road in village of Cumberland, one of 502 properties recently added heritage register. (Google)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

CBC NEWS, By Kate Porter

The City of Ottawa has wrapped up a massive inventory of buildings that have heritage value, a study that took several years to complete.

After reviewing more than 30,000 buildings since the project began in 2015, city staff have updated its heritage register to include 7,595 properties in its database, which will eventually be available online.

"It was a big gap in the toolset that our planners had," said Coun. Glen Gower, who chairs the built heritage subcomittee.

The updated list captures all properties in the city for the first time since amalgamation two decades ago.

"Without a list, it means these things can be rushed. It means we can see buildings demolished that maybe shouldn't have been."

Municipalities are required to keep a register under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Of the properties in Ottawa's database, 3,635 are "designated" buildings whose owners face certain restrictions, while 3,960 are merely "listed" as being of heritage interest.

The homes, churches and other buildings have been going to committee for approval in batches in recent years. The final 502 mostly rural properties were added to the list by the built heritage subcommittee at its meeting Tuesday.

Each time, the prospect of even being on the list drew homeowners to city hall to argue their properties shouldn't be included. They worried being on the list would make their homes harder to sell in the future.

Staff have explained that owners of those listed properties are free to renovate, and nothing related to heritage is attached to their property's title documents.

The only caveat is that they give 60 days notice before applying for demolition so the city can take a second look.

Gower noted owners of a dozen buildings on the register have had demolitions approved in recent years, because they didn't meet all the requirements for an official designation.