Heritage Conservation District

Many local residents first fell in love with our fishing village feel; standing on the lift bridge watching boats of all kinds come and go, taking a relaxing stroll from store to store and seeing the unique offerings, their first experience at Mackie's, main beach and walking along the harbour.  Everywhere they looked, the properties looked different but yet the same.  It was uniquely Port.  I am sure your experience and that of those you know are very similar. 
One of the PSVA Directors sat on the CE 2020 Heritage Conservation District steering committee to offer insights and listen to its direction, ensuring it would benefit the entire Port Stanley community.  

The term Heritage Conservation District or HCD has been tossed around the past decade. The question you have to ask yourself, do you really understand what it is about?  As an individual who thought he understood it, the director that sat on the steering committee was surprised at how little he really knew.  

Ideally HCDs should work in collaboration with the Official Plan and other planning documents to ensure the whole community develops in a way that is representative of the local character and how the community wants to be seen.  

An HCD is an area of the community that is legally protected by a municipal by-law passed under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA).

HCDs do not automatically make the properties within the HCD, "Heritage." A Heritage designation on any and all properties must be applied for and approved separately.  An HCD is about an area that has an overall look or character that the community wants to protect, not about one specific property. These areas are considered to be historically or culturally significant to the community they are in.  

The HCD helps ensure special care and attention in the planning process happens.

HCDs can be found in residential neighbourhoods, commercial areas, main streets, institutional properties and natural areas. The organization of streets, blocks, properties, structures, landscape, streetscape, plantings, and other features of an HCD can contribute to the identified cultural heritage values of an area.

Every HCD is unique and will require special policies (mandatory requirements) or guidelines (best-practice suggestions) to ensure its conservation and careful management. That applies an accepted and consistent standard of heritage conservation while managing character development to existing properties and those new to the area in the long term.

HCDs are also important because they reflect what a community values about an area. The local community should help to define what is important about a neighbourhood or area and provide input for the analysis of its cultural heritage values, character and conservation objectives. Public meetings, input to the steering committee and local discussions are a must to ensure the HCD reflects what attracted residents to the community in the first place and give the area its unique character. This approach fosters a sense of time and place that results in local community pride. The collaborative nature of creating an HCD has proven to create stronger historic neighbourhoods and communities.  And this can lead to more attractive communities for both residents and businesses.  

Although it is primarily the outside attributes and features that are of the most concern in the majority of HCDs, guidelines should address how alterations and additions can be accommodated on a variety of property types within a district so that its character and values are maintained over time while allowing the area to continue to develop.

Being a property owner in an HCD comes with both benefits and responsibilities. By fully understanding the process, requirements and impact, the community can be actively involved to ensure the HCD is a tool that Council and the area has, along with other by-laws, to manage what the community feels is important.

You can find out more information here: Heritage Conservation District Study | Let’s Talk Central Elgin

Find below the PSVA submission to Council on March 8 2021 urging Council to take a coordinated approach to planning issues, to discourage large scale development out of character with the village. We urged council to consider all available planning tools including revisions to the Official Plan and the Harbour Secondary plan and the introduction of a specially targeted Heritage Conservation District under the Heritage Act.

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