Building Identity - Heritage Designation

What is Heritage Designation?

It is the government’s process of protecting and preserving properties that are culturally and historically significant.


Peterborough did not always place importance on the preservation of properties. It was not until the 1970s that the city showed the initiative to designate built heritage. So what caused this desire for action? Many municipalities experienced an economic boom following the Second World War. With this increase in wealth, the city began demolishing built heritage properties in the name of progress. By the end of the 1970s, Peterborough gradually lost 150 years of architecture.

How does it work?  Let’s Get Designating

Designation happens on a provincial and local level. Provincially, the Ontario Heritage Act empowers municipalities to pass by-laws to designate properties of historical and cultural significance.  Designation is not limited to buildings. It can also include groups of buildings, cemeteries, natural features, and archaeological sites.

Provincial Level Criteria
In order for a property to be designated under the provincial level, it must meet certain criteria. The property must meet at least one of these three values: design, historical, and contextual.

Local Level Criteria
Peterborough has customized the designation process. The process works from the bottom-up. The owner must submit an application to the Peterborough Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (PACAC) in order to have the property considered. The property’s designation merit is judged based on five values: architectural merit, historical significance, integrity, environmental circumstances, and rarity. The property is rated using a lettering system and will only be designated based on a high rating.

It Pays to Designate

Let’s Keep it Positive
Historic preservation acts as a positive economic force. It can create jobs while simultaneously increasing property values. It revitalizes commercial, residential neighbourhoods, and downtowns with the added promotion of repurposing.

Heritage designation plays a crucial role in preserving and protecting the historic buildings and neighbourhoods of Peterborough. These heritage properties give communities a distinctive character, a sense of identity, and connect us to our past.

Meet the Avenues

Peterborough is currently in the process of designating their first Heritage Conservation District! The neighbourhood that is up for consideration is called the Avenues and Neighbourhood.

A Heritage Conservation District benefits the community by enhancing its heritage character. It creates an environment that encourages stability, environmental sustainability, and economic development.

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