By Michael S. Polowin, Roberto Aburto

Over the past several years, many Ottawa property owners have received notice that their properties have been listed in the register of the city’s Heritage Inventory Project. This project, pursued under the Ontario Heritage Act (“OHA”), is intended to identify and better protect Ottawa’s historic buildings. In 2018, the City of Ottawa issued an unprecedented number of notices, totaling over 1,700 as of May, 2018, with the list yet to be finalized.

The speedy evaluation of individual neighbourhoods for buildings of purported heritage interest has shocked residents and owners alike. More than 10% of the properties in Old Ottawa East and South were added to the heritage register when the neighbourhoods were canvassed in 2016. This trend has only increased in subsequent years as more areas of the City have been canvassed. Many owners have been surprised that their buildings, some lacking any obvious historical value, have been added to the list. Although the listings appear random, there are standards to which the City must adhere. Any property listed must be of interest according to the Heritage Inventory Project’s design test and the neighbourhood heritage statement attributes.