Centre Wellington Launches New Heritage Grant Program to Incentivize Property Owners
Centre Wellington, a township in Ontario, is introducing a new grant program aimed at encouraging heritage property owners to designate their properties. The program, approved following a presentation by Mariana Iglesias, the manager of planning services, will provide up to $10,000 to fund 50% of one conservation project per year. The initiative aims to promote the additional designation and conservation of heritage properties throughout the township.
Currently, Centre Wellington lacks any established heritage incentive programs targeted specifically at supporting owners of heritage properties. However, with the introduction of this grant program, the township hopes to change that. Iglesias, speaking during a council meeting, expressed her belief in the importance of designation and stated, “Hopefully, a program like this will incentivize people to come forward and seek designation if they know funding is available.”
The launch of this program follows changes to the Ontario Heritage Act through Bill 23 last year. Under the new legislation, all properties on a township’s heritage registry must be designated within a two-year time limit. Failure to meet this deadline results in ineligibility for five years. As a result, the heritage committee will be examining properties deemed most worthy of designation throughout the year.
The report highlights that historic buildings and structures often require more costly maintenance and upkeep compared to contemporary structures. However, investment in heritage properties benefits the township by maintaining aesthetic appeal and ensuring the long-term conservation of these physical assets.
Centre Wellington is home to approximately 115 designated heritage properties, providing protection against demolition or unsympathetic alteration. However, there are an additional 1,100 non-designated properties that are considered to have potential cultural heritage value or interest. Although these properties will not be eligible for protection in the short term, the township plans to keep their data on an informal holding list.
Over the years, Centre Wellington has explored various heritage-specific incentive programs, including a heritage tax rebate program. With allocated funding of three percent of OLG funds during the 2023 budget process, the township has finally been able to establish the heritage grant program.
By offering financial support, Centre Wellington aims to motivate property owners to designate their heritage properties, ensuring their long-term preservation and contributing to the township’s cultural heritage..