Heritage Designation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which properties qualify?

Individually designated properties must meet the criteria provided under Ontario Regulation 9/06 for determining cultural heritage value or interest.

All aspects of our built heritage may be considered. To date, more than 100 sites have been designated locally. Designated properties include a courthouse, tavern, mansion, park, church and numerous houses and commercial buildings. Others that could qualify include cottages, banks or bridges.

Is there a list of Heritage Properties?

See our Windsor Municipal Heritage Register online for a listing of some 1100 properties in Windsor of cultural heritage value or interest.

Who designates a property?

The Ontario Heritage Act empowers municipal councils to designate properties through a by-law registered on the title of the property.

Who initiates designation?

Individual citizens may recommend designation, in which case Council refers the matter to the Windsor Heritage Committee for review. The Windsor Heritage Committee, appointed by council under the Ontario Heritage Act identifies studies and advises on properties suitable for designation.

What is the Windsor Heritage Committee?

How does a property become designated?

In Windsor, there are several steps to designation. The process may take up to six months to complete. The typical process is as follows:

  • Usually, written consent for designation is required in order for the process to begin. The Windsor Heritage Committee will then consult with the owners of properties proposed for designation and will begin to investigate the potential heritage significance.
  • A statement with "Reasons for Designation" is prepared by the Heritage Planner. The owner is encouraged to participate in this important step by providing as much information as possible. Some help is available from the Municipal Archives, museum and the registry office. Reasons for Designation include reference to specific exterior features which should be conserved or restored (i.e. trim, masonry, windows, roofs, porches and hardware), and will also outline the historical significance of the property.
  • The Heritage Planner reports to the Windsor Heritage Committee which makes recommendations to Council for its decision. A notice of Council's intention to designate is publicized in the newspaper to determine if there are objections. The Legal Services Unit conducts a title search. Council then passes a by-law and informs the Ontario Heritage Trust.

What legal considerations apply?

Designation is a legal status registered on the title to the property. There is no fee to have a heritage property designated.

Does designation restrict changes to a property?

Before designation occurs, "Reasons for Designation" are discussed with the owner to ensure full understanding. Architectural features mentioned in the "Reasons for Designation" may not be altered without consultation with The Windsor Heritage Committee. While restoration of the building to original appearance is not required, it is encouraged; existing non-original additions may remain; addition of undocumented details is to be avoided. Any plan to alter the exterior of a property must be discussed with the Heritage Planner well in advance of obtaining building permits and making contractual commitments. The Windsor Heritage Committee recommendations will be directed to Council for decision. The owner may appeal to the Conservation Review Board if Council's decision is not satisfactory. Designation applies to the entire site, not just the main building.

Does designation affect sale of property?

Heritage designation does not prevent the sale of the property, although the by-law protecting the property remains. It does not affect the use to which the property may be put or its assessed value. A Province-wide study has shown that heritage designation tends to have a positive effect on real estate prices (Shipley, 1998). Some financial assistance to offset the price of maintaining a designated structure or help with restoration may be available. See the Heritage Funds page for requirements.

May a designated building be demolished?

The Ontario Heritage Act requires City Council to consider a request for a demolition permit within 90 days of application. Council has the power to approve or deny an application for a demolition permit. Council may also consent to the application subject to "such terms and conditions as may be specified." The owner may appeal Council's decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

How is a designated site marked?

Subject to available funds, the Windsor Heritage Committee provides a small plaque bearing the date of the property's original construction. The plaque will be issued only if the owner agrees to have it displayed on the front of the property for public recognition. The media are usually advised of new designations.

Are non-designated heritage properties given recognition?

The Windsor Heritage Committee presents "Built Heritage Awards" annually to owners of heritage buildings that are on Windsor's Heritage Register but not designated. These sites may be worthy of designation, or may simply contribute to the character of the street through their surviving heritage features. Heritage Awards are honorific and have no legal status.

For general information, call 311. For detailed inquiries, contact us at:

Planning & Building Services Department
Planning Division
Suite 320, 350 City Hall Square West
Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9A 6S1
Phone: (519) 255-6543
Fax: (519) 255-6544