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Changes to the City's Heritage By-Laws: What You Need to Know

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.
With thanks to Rina Ricci, Heritage Planner, City of Winnipeg for her assistance.
The Waddell Fountain at 410 Cumberland Avenue was designated in 1988.
**Warning: This one is a bit dry. Sorry, I know, but the information is useful and addresses some of the questions we hear most often! Stick with me, I promise lots of pretty pictures will be included.

The Historical Resources By-Law No. 55-2014


The Old

The former Historical Buildings By-law No. 1474/77 was adopted by City Council in 1978 (the same year Heritage Winnipeg was established), and continued to mandate heritage conservation in Winnipeg for over 35 years.

The Transcona Municipal Office was designated in 1980 and now houses the Transcona Historical Museum.

The by-law included approximately 235 buildings on the "Conservation List" and over 130 on the "Inventory List". 
  • Buildings on the Conservation List were graded either a I, II, or II, according to their historical and architectural significance. 
  • Upon application for alterations to a building on the Conservation List, a Certificate of Suitability would be issued. 
However, as with other policies and regulations, by-laws must evolve to keep up with the changing needs of the community.

The Pantages Playhouse Theatre was designated in 1981.

The New

The Historical Resources By-law No. 55/2014 came into effect on June 1, 2014.

Some of the goals of the new by-law include:
  • to broaden the scope to celebrate landscapes and architecturally/historically significant buildings that are at least 40 years old (this would include Modernist buildings such as City Hall);
  • to create new options for recognition - listed as a Historical Resource or Commemorated;
  • to allow more input in recognizing heritage resources via a new nomination system, open to both building owners and the Director of Property Planning & Development
  • to bring more clarity, transparency, and fairness to owners through clear processes, set time frames for decisions, notifications, etc.
  • to bring clarity to designations by replacing the grading system with a listing of Character-Defining Elements (CDEs) of a resource that are protected under the by-law
  • to ensure congruence with The City of Winnipeg Charter and Our Winnipeg
St. Boniface Museum/Le Musee de St-Boniface is a former convent that was designated in 1995.

 Committee Changes

The Historical Buildings Committee (HBC) is now the Historical Buildings & Resources Committee (HBRC). It remains an advisory committee to Council, reporting through the Standing Policy Committee on Downtown Development, Heritage, and Riverbank Management.

The Dalnavert Museum, former home of Sir Hugh John Macdonald, was designated in 1998.

HBRC Membership continues to include:
  • 3 representatives from City Council, one of whom will chair
  • 2 representatives from the Province of Manitoba
  • 2 representatives from the Government of Canada
  • 2 representatives from the Manitoba Association of Architects
New Members include:
  • 1 representative from the Association of Landscape Architects
  • 1 representative from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba
  • 2 Members-at-Large
For a grand total of 13 committee members.

The Historical Buildings and Resources Committee will continue to hold monthly meetings which the public can observe (may go in camera), consult experts and advocates as required, continue to have technical seminars (closed) to discuss confidential/proprietary applications, have three year term limits and be able to be reappointed (except Members-at-Large, who may serve only one additional term), and have a 60% attendance requirement for regular meetings for non-Council members.

The former North West Travellers' Association Building at 291 Garry Street was designated in 2002.


Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, here are some quick definitions to make the information below a little easier:

A historical resource is a building or land, or an element of a building or land (that is likely deemed possibly worthy of protection).

The Conservation List was the list of designated buildings under the old by-law that included a grading system; the owner was informed and the building was legally protected, with a caveat on the title.

The Inventory List was a list of buildings under the old by-law that were protected from demolition but not alteration and the owner's consent was not obtained for their building to be included on this list.

Conservation work being done on Wesley Hall at the University of Winnipeg, designated in 2001.

List of Historical Resources

This list replaces the Conservation List from the old by-law, but operates similarly. Buildings on this list:
  • must be 40 years of age or older
  • are protected from demolition
  • have a caveat registered on the title alerting owners and potential buyers of the building's heritage status
  • require a Heritage Permit for alterations
  • may be eligible for financial assistance from the City or other funding agencies
  • list posted on the City of Winnipeg website here
  • all buildings that were formerly on the Inventory List were deemed nominated to the List of Historical Resources on June 1, 2014, when the new by-law came into effect. There are approximately 130 buildings that are currently nominated for heritage designation
For the more visual among us - what happens to the buildings from the Inventory List under the old by-law.
The grading system has been removed and replaced by a list of Character Defining Elements, that is, key elements of the building that must be protected. Examples might include a building's front facade, marble staircase, or elaborate fireplace. All structures currently listed without CDEs will be assigned them but protection is continuous throughout the process.

Nominated Resources

All buildings that have been nominated to be added to the List of Historical Resources are:
  • protected from demolition but have no restrictions on alterations
  • The HBRC must make a recommendation regarding nomination for heritage listing within 36 months of the resource being nominated
Kelly House, designated as a heritage building in 1982.

Commemorative List

This list is solely intended to celebrate Winnipeg's heritage for the interest of the public.
  • a photo and basic information will be posted on the City's website but no information about the owner is included
  • does not restrict the owner from altering or demolishing the resource
  • not eligible for heritage financial assistance
  • only the Director of Property Planning & Development has the authority to add or remove resources from this list, however, the HBRC may make recommendation that a resource be added
  • resources can remain on the list even if it is demolished

Listing/Designating a New Building  

Click on the photo to see a larger version.

There are two ways that a new building can be designated - the first through Nomination by the Director of Property Planning & Development, who also indicates the elements to be protected; the second is through an Application by the owner of the building in question.

The Owner Application will provide basic information and indicate elements to be protected by the designation (subject to a processing fee). Following the submission of the application, an internal triage will determine if the building will be nominated for the List of Historical Resources. If the building is not nominated to this list, it is still possible for it to be added to the Commemorative List mentioned above.

Regardless of the source of the nomination (Owner or Director), the building is then brought before the HBRC for evaluation and recommendation (Owner option for expedited review for $2500 fee). They can recommend not to list/designate the property or recommend it to the List of Historical Resources, along with the elements that are to be protected.

Interior of the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre at 119 Sutherland Avenue, designated in 2004.
The process then continues with the Standing Policy Committee on Downtown Development Heritage and Riverbank Management (SPC DDHRM), who make their own recommendations, and set out in the listing the Character Defining Elements in reference to the recommendations of the HBRC. Delegations such as Heritage Winnipeg, residence associations, or building owners can speak at these meetings and they are open to the public.

If the determination of the SPC DDHRM is identical to the HBRC's recommendation and there is no opposition from the owner, the decision is final. If there is owner opposition or the determination of the SPC DDHRM is inconsistent with that of the HBRC's recommendation, then a final decision regarding listing is made by City Council.

De-listing/Removing (or Modifying) Designation

Click the photo to view a larger version.
A resource may be removed from the List of Historical Resources or a listing may be modified. In order to do so, there are two possibilities. One is through owner application (subject to a processing fee) and the other is through Director application. The Director may apply to remove a resource from the list if it were severely damaged or destroyed, or if the resource posed a health and safety hazard. The Director's decision to apply for de-listing is not subject to appeal.

The HBRC will evalute applications received within 90 days and must make a recommendation to the SPC DDHRM regarding the application to remove or modify the listing.

The former Birks Building at 276 Portage Avenue was designated in 1999.
After considering the HBRC's recommendations, the SPC on DDHRM must determine whether or not the resource's listing should be modified or removed. Again, if their determinations are identical, their decision is final. If there are any inconsistencies, the final decision goes to City Council.

The meetings of the SPC DDHRM are open to the public, and owners or organizations such as Heritage Winnipeg or residence associations, may appear in delegation at these meetings. Building owners may also provide a written submission for consideration.

Heritage Permits

The previous "Certificate of Suitability" is now the "Heritage Permit". As before, the Heritage Planner will refer permit applications to the HBRC for consideration and rely on their advice and/or apply established guidelines when considering a permit application. Decisions are required within 90 days. The heritage permit may only allow alterations that are consistent with conservation of the heritage values embodied by the Character Defining Elements identified in the listing and in compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

The Firefighters Museum of Winnipeg, housed in the former Fire Hall No. 3, designated in 1991.


Contraventions are subject to a fine of no less than $1000 and no more than $1 million for each contravention, or each day for which a contravention is ongoing.

The Director and delegated employees may administer and enforce the by-law, conduct inspections, issue orders prohibiting work, and remedy a contravention in accordance with the Charter.

The New By-Law Does Not Affect

  • the Heritage Management Plan
  • the Conservation Tax Credit Program or the Gail Parvin Hammerquist Fund
  • the Charter Rights (Heritage Districts, Historic Property Notices on the title, etc.)
  • the provisions of the Vacant Buildings By-Law
The Ukrainian Labour Temple at 591 Pritchard, designated in 1997.
 In the three years after the implementation of the by-law, the City and the Historical Buildings and Resources Committee are working towards meeting the targets set out in the Historical Resources By-Law: evaluating the 130 Nominated Buildings from the former Inventory List at a rate of 4 buildings per month, starting with the buildings in the Exchange District, a national historic site.

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  1. Thanks for sharing a great information..

    Keep up sharing..

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