Steps local citizens can take if a neighbourhood heritage  site is in danger:

  1. Confirm the historical significance of the building or site.
    • Ask the local heritage committee or councillor if the site is listed or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
    • Check if official city plans exist for the building or the area.
    • Read the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit, containing five useful publications:
      1. Heritage Property Evaluation
      2. Designating Heritage Properties
      3. Heritage Conservation Districts
      4. Your Community, Your Heritage, Your Committee
      5. Heritage Resources in the Land Use Planning Process (Available, with the new Ontario Heritage Act at
    • Read PPS 2005, Sec.2.6 (available at which requires that Planning Act decisions involving heritage “shall be consistent with” PPS 2005.
  2. If the property is not listed under the Ontario Heritage Act , start the following process:
    • Follow the steps in “Designating Heritage Properties” (in the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit).
    • Research the property, using the local historical society, library and archives.
    • Document the site with photographs.
    • Gather opinions and assessments from any available professional (scholar, architect, planner or historian) regarding the value of the site (historical, architectural, and/or contextual).
    • Contact the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) for information on how to contact the local chapter and access expert advice available through the PreservationWorks! Program (
  3. Organize
    • Organize a citizens’ group, including well-known local names, and activists in politics, law, planning and culture.
    • Obtain supporting letters from heritage organizations (local and provincial).
    • If a local preservation group does not exist, establish one.
    • Forward the dossier to the local heritage committee and/or councillor
    • Seek publicity, e.g. press coverage, by meeting the editor of the local newspaper and other media, write “Letters to the editor”, or hold a public demonstration
    • Learn about possible grants, from the local heritage committee or Ministry of Culture. (Grants are usually available only for designated buildings.)
    • Raise money!; many grants are on a matching basis.
    • Have a feasibility study conducted, which shows how the property can be restored and become useful and self-supporting.

Persevere. “There is no second chance for the past” (Ada Louise Huxtable).