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Planning, Property & Development

Heritage Conservation Districts

On September 20, 2018, the Heritage Conservation Districts By-law came into force. The bylaw formalizes the process for the nomination, evaluation, and designation of heritage conservation districts (HCDs) in Winnipeg. It incorporates and reflects up-to-date best practices for heritage conservation, and ensures fairness, clarity, and certainty throughout the process of reviewing and listing of potential HCDs.

HCDs are a way to recognize and celebrate Winnipeg's past. An area is eligible to be designated as an HCD if it has elements of special architectural and historical significance, and substantial parts of it are over 40 years old.

Once an area is determined to be eligible, an HCD plan is developed. HCD plans are adopted by Council as part of an HCD By-law. This will ensure that the character and look of a neighbourhood can be preserved over the long term and that development is consistent with the local heritage values and policy directions.

In accordance with the HCD plan, any alterations to the character-defining elements of the district require a heritage permit. HCD plans also regulate demolitions and set design guidelines for new infill buildings, as well as alterations to character-defining elements including buildings and streetscapes. These plans do not regulate land use or density (e.g. converting a property to a duplex), as these aspects are addressed through regular zoning processes.

Designated heritage conservation districts
Armstrong's Point - nominated October 3, 2018; designated April 25, 2019

Nominated heritage conservation districts
Crescentwood - nominated June 6, 2019

Heritage permits in heritage conservation districts

Learn more about heritage conservation districts

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What is the purpose of a Heritage Conservation District (HCD)?

Heritage Conservation Districts:

  • Conserve an area's special architectural and historical significance;
  • Provide design direction for growth and change;
  • Enhance community identity, pride and involvement;
  • Convey a sense of place;
  • Leave a legacy for future generations.
How common are HCDs in other cities?
HCDs are common in other cities throughout Canada and around the world. Most major cities have been creating them for decades, including: Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton.
How do HCDs benefit a city?
HCDs mean special areas in a city are managed to conserve its heritage value, this is its architectural and historical significance. This is good for civic pride, city beautification, tourism, and industry.
How do heritage conservation districts fit within existing policy?
The development and implementation of HCDs aligns with Winnipeg's municipal development plan, OurWinnipeg, and direction strategy, Complete Communities, which call for the City to plan for the development of healthy neighbourhoods based on their particular historic identity and character.
What kinds of things do HCDs typically control?
HCDs typically include policies and guidelines to protect the character-defining elements (CDEs) of an area. The CDEs are the built and natural features that embody the area’s heritage values. This typically means policies and regulations on building alterations or demolitions, infill construction, and setbacks.
Is the intent to prevent anything from changing?
No, per OurWinnipeg, all neighbourhoods are subject to growth and change. Within a Heritage Conservation District, those changes will be reviewed and managed to conserve the character-defining elements that make the neighbourhood unique.
What about demolitions?
Within an HCD, demolitions are subject to heritage review. The demolition may not be approved if the building is a landmark in the community or a character-defining element that embodies the heritage values as identified in the HCD plan. In other cases, it may be approved if the building does not embody sufficient heritage values and the proposed redevelopment is compatible with the character of the community.
Will future HCDs in Winnipeg be similar to Armstrong’s Point?
Any subsequent HCD would be different, as each area will have different elements that property owners feel are character-defining and worth protecting, which would be included in the area’s HCD plan.
How does a Heritage Conservation District differ from a Historical Resources By-law listing?
The Historical Resources By-law protects individual properties that embody heritage values. For a resource to be demolished under the Historical Resources By-law, Council must first approve that the property be de-listed. An HCD on the other hand, protects multiple properties, each that embody similar heritage values, within a defined boundary. An HCD may also protect the relationships between buildings, the relationship between a building and its setback, and the elements of streets and sidewalks. Demolitions, alterations, and new developments within an HCD are reviewed by heritage staff on a case-by-case basis according to the HCD plan policies.
Do HCDs mean new rules will be put in place for Winnipeg property owners?
Each HCD in Winnipeg will have a HCD plan that is unique to that area. In collaboration with property owners, the HCD plan will outline the character-defining elements of the area – the things that give the area its unique look and feel. The HCD plan will also outline how those elements should be protected. Certain proposed alterations, demolitions, and new developments to character-defining elements and properties within an HCD will require approval under a Heritage Permit. So there will be some new rules, but these will be created in consultation with property owners.

In addition, a Historic Property Notice (caveat) will be filed on the title of the building with the Winnipeg Land Titles Office of the Property Registry, pursuant to Section 157.1(3) of the City of Winnipeg Charter, to notify owners and potential purchasers that the property is within an HCD, and must comply with the Heritage Conservation Districts By-law No. 87/2018.
Would an HCD designation impact how owners maintain and improve their property?
The HCD plan for each HCD would stipulate these kinds of specifics, but it is reasonable to expect that general maintenance (such as repainting) and interior changes would not be subject to heritage review. More prominent exterior elements facing the street, including replacement of doors, windows, façade materials, fencing, etc. may require a heritage permit. In every circumstance, the area’s HCD plan would provide more details about all of the work for which a heritage permit is not required.

Generally, the creation of a heritage conservation district will require heritage permits for certain alterations, and proposed demolitions will be subject to an enhanced review process. Property taxes do not typically increase, buildings can be freely bought and sold, and owners will enjoy the certainty established by development parameters.
What is a Heritage Permit?
A Heritage Permit is a legal document that permits the alteration of character-defining elements in a Heritage Conservation District. Before undergoing work to a property in an HCD, property owners may contact heritage staff or review our website for information on whether or not a heritage permit is required.
Is a Heritage Permit required in addition to other permits?
Yes, a Heritage Permit is separate from, and required alongside, any other permits that may be required (e.g., development, demolition, building permits, etc.).
How would an HCD plan affect current zoning?
The HCD plan for an area would not impact the Zoning. Applications related to intensification (e.g. number of dwelling units) or how a building is used would be subject to separate processes.
Could I get my neighbourhood designated?
The HCD By-law lays out a designation process. However, the City expects to undertake only one HCD designation process at any one time. Potential neighbourhoods will be screened using such criteria pertaining to the heritage values of the area:
  • Its importance in illustrating or interpreting the history of the city or a neighbourhood;
  • Its association with important individuals, groups, or events;
  • Its illustration of the architectural or design history of the city;
  • Its embodiment of distinct or unusual spatial organizations, circulation systems, land use and patterns, ecological or vegetative features, architectural or design characteristics, or particular styles or methods of construction;
  • Its location in an area of historical or architectural interest; and
  • Its historical or architectural integrity.
What is the process to officially designate a heritage conservation district?

Nomination: To become an HCD, a district must first be nominated. Nomination can be initiated by the Director of Planning, Property & Development, or by a property owner from within the proposed HCD. If initiated by a property owner, the Director will make a decision within 90 days as to whether the nomination is rejected or accepted. The applicant will be informed in writing of this decision. If a nomination is rejected, the decision may be appealed by the applicant, subject to a fee.

HCD Study: If a proposed HCD is successfully nominated, the applicant, in consultation with City staff, must prepare and submit an HCD study to demonstrate how the proposed district meets the eligibility criteria and warrants designation. Once prepared, the HCD study will be reviewed by the City's Historical Buildings and Resources Committee (HBRC) within 180 days. After reviewing the study, the HBRC will provide recommendations to the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development (SPC-PDHDD) regarding whether or not an HCD plan should be prepared. When making its decision, the SPC-PDHDD will consider recommendations from the HBRC and the Director along with letters from property owners.

HCD Plan: City staff will oversee preparation of the HCD plan. Each plan may vary and address different items as identified by property owners through consultation on the proposed HCD. The plan will help manage the HCD and will contain information required by the HCD By-law, including the objectives of designation, design guidelines, policies, and restrictions on development. After reviewing the plan, the HBRC will provide recommendations to SPC-PDHDD, Executive Policy Committee (EPC), and City Council. City Council will make the final decision about whether or not to officially designate the area as an HCD. If designated, the HCD plan will be adopted by City Council as part of an HCD by-law.

At each of the stages of the decision making process (nomination, HCD study, HCD plan), property owners in the proposed area will be notified before SPC-PDHDD meetings

How can property owners and members of the community get involved?
Property owners and members of the community can get involved in the following ways:

Submitting letters of support or opposition: All property owners in the affected area will be notified at three stages of the decision making process - after a district is nominated, after the HCD study is prepared, and after the HCD plan is prepared. At each of these stages, property owners will be notified and be able to submit letters of support or opposition by mail or email.

Participate in public consultations and online participation opportunities: Once an HCD is nominated, the applicant will undertake public consultations. Property owners will be invited to these meetings and will be notified of online participation opportunities. If an area is designated, a project website will be created where property owners and other Winnipeg residents can access area-specific information and sign up to receive email updates. Attend public meetings in delegation: A delegation is someone who wishes to address SPC-PD, EPC and City Council with respect to the matter on the agenda for that meeting. If you wish to appear in delegation, you must contact the City Clerk's Department by 4:30 p.m. the day before the meeting. To make a request, please contact City Clerk's by email , or contact 311.

Who do I contact for more information?
For more information, please visit, or email .
Last update: August 5, 2020

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