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Planning, Property & Development

Heritage Conservation Districts

On September 20, 2018, the Heritage Conservation Districts By-law came into force. The by-law formalizes the process for the nomination, evaluation, and designation of heritage conservation districts (HCDs) in Winnipeg. In addition, this by-law aligns with The City of Winnipeg Charter, OurWinnipeg and Complete Communities. 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.

These districts are a way to recognize and celebrate Winnipeg's past and are popular nationally and internationally. 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.

HCD plans are adopted by City 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 neighbourhood or development is consistent with the local heritage values and policy directions.

On April 25, 2019, City Council officially designated Armstrong's Point as Winnipeg's first HCD. For more information about the Armstrong's Point process, please visit the Armstrong's Point project page.

On June 6, 2019 the City of Winnipeg's Director of Planning, Property & Development Department nominated an area within Crescentwood to be designated as a Heritage Conservation District (HCD). The process to decide whether or not this area will receive HCD designation will now begin. Property owners in the nominated area will be mailed notice with more detailed information. Area residents and the general public will have chances to participate through public engagement activities.


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 and distinct heritage attributes;
  • 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 support architectural diversity and to showcase their history. 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 valuable elements of an area. This typically means policies 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 reinforce the characteristics that are historically and architecturally significant and 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 embodies a number of character defining elements listed in the HCD plan. In other cases, it may be approved where proposed redevelopment reinforces 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 valuable 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?
An HCD focuses on historical elements that represent a common theme involving multiple properties at a neighbourhood scale. The HCD also looks at the relationships between buildings and lots and the characteristics of streets and sidewalks. The Historical Resources By-law seeks to protect architectural elements of an individual property that are unique or are outstanding examples significant to the history of Winnipeg. For a resource to be demolished under the Historical Resources By-law, Council must first approve that the property be de-listed. Demolitions and changes in an HCD are examined by administration 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. The HCD plan will outline the elements of the area that property owners have indicated are valuable – the things that give the area its unique look and feel. The HCD plan will also outline how those elements should be protected. So there will be some new rules, but these will be created in consultation with property owners.
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 heritage review and a permit approval through the City permits office. 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 does not greatly restrict a property owner’s property or land use rights, although some alterations will require heritage permits, 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 applies to the alteration of character-defining elements of a Listed Historical Resource and of a Heritage Conservation District. Permit owners would need to be mindful of this when altering an element that an HCD plan has identified as valuable.
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 as:
  • age of the neighbourhood;
  • what things are unique;
  • how it is historically significant;
  • how clearly the neighbourhood area is defined; and
  • the level of interest and capacity for involvement by property owners.
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 (referred to as the designated employee [DE]), or by a property owner from within the proposed HCD. If initiated by a property owner, the DE 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 reading 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 DE along with letters from property owners.

HCD Plan: City staff will oversee preparation of the HCD plan and ensure it contains required information as per the by-law. 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 contain all information on objectives, guidelines, policies, and restrictions on development. After considering 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: Once an HCD is nominated, the applicant will undertake public consultations.

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 seek permission, 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: June 12, 2019