Under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) external link Aurora has protected the Northeast Old Aurora as a heritage conservation district (HCD).
 
An HCD is an area that is protected by a municipal by-law passed under Part V of the OHA, by Aurora Town Council. HCDs are designated because the areas they protect are considered to be historically or culturally significant and require special care and attention in the planning process to ensure that they are conserved.
 
HCDs may contain multiple properties, landowners, resource types and cultural heritage values. They can be found in residential neighbourhoods, commercial areas, main streets, institutional and industrial campuses and natural areas. The organization of streets, blocks, properties, structures, landscape, streetscape, plantings, and other features of an HCD can contribute to the identified cultural heritage values of an area.
 
Every HCD is unique and will require special policies or guidelines to ensure its conservation and careful management. Each HCD Plan must ensure that an accepted and consistent standard of heritage conservation is met across the Town, and will direct how change and conservation should be managed.

How does an HCD Work?

HCDs ensure that the significance and character of areas with cultural heritage value are protected and conserved in the long term by managing change to the resources within it. Proposed changes to the district are subject to a permit process under the Ontario Heritage Act. Town staff will review permits in relation to the District Plan to ensure that alterations and new construction comply with the plan, fit in and support the character of the HCD.
 
The OHA empowers Aurora Town Council to designate a defined area of the Town as an HCD by municipal by-law. Property owners within an HCD who wish to alter their property or demolish a designated structure must obtain heritage permits. Once the designation by-law is in place, Aurora Town Council will issue or refuse heritage permits for alterations and demolitions under section 42 of the OHA. For appropriate alterations to properties within an HCD, Aurora Town Council has delegated certain authority for permit approvals to the Manager of Heritage Planning and Urban Design.
 
The appropriateness of proposed changes will be weighed against the HCD Plan, the Official Plan, the Provincial Policy Statement, and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Aurora Heritage Advisory Committee will also be consulted where appropriate.
 
Although it is primarily the attributes and features that are visible from the public realm that are of most concern in the majority of HCDs, it is important to remember that under the OHA the entire property, except for the interior, is designated. Policies and guidelines should address how alterations and additions can be accommodated on a variety of property types within a district so that its character and values are maintained over time. The conservation of a district’s cultural heritage values and character can be achieved only by carefully managing appropriate change at the individual property level, as well as on the district scale. 

Nominating a potential HCD

Nominating a potential HCD is the first step to seeking HCD designation for a neighbourhood or area. Often, HCDs are often nominated because the people who live and work in an area believe that the character and historic values of that area are unique or special and should be protected and conserved in the long term. The Town may also propose areas for study and designation as HCDs.
 
When a group or individual seeks to nominate an area as a potential HCD, the community should organize ahead of time to gather support, create interest and help property owners to understand what an HCD could mean for the community. An organized effort for a nomination is the best way to succeed in creating a new district. Manager of Heritage Planning & Urban Design can help a nominator understand what should be included in a nomination.
 
Nominating a neighbourhood or area is about being able to communicate what makes it special. Before a nomination is submitted a nominator should have a basic understanding of what might make their area a good candidate for an HCD designation.
 
A nominator will also propose the general boundaries of the district as part of the nomination package. Although the boundaries may change if the study and plan progress, it is important to have an idea of the geographic extent of the potential HCD at the nomination stage.
 
The Ontario Heritage Tool Kit “Heritage Conservation Districts, A Guide to Heritage Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act” external link should be consulted.
 
Nominations can be submitted to the following address:

Planning and Development Services
Program Manger, Heritage Planning
Aurora Town Hall
100 John West Way
Box 1000
Aurora, ON L4G 6J1

What types of approvals are required?

Owners of all properties in a heritage conservation district must obtain approval for exterior alterations to property, new construction or demolition. The Manager of Heritage Planning & Urban Design has been delegated authority, By-law 5365-11 PDF to approve minor alterations which comply with approved policies and guidelines.

Does designation affect property values?

The word is in on whether heritage designation has an impact on the value of your property.  The answer is if designation has any affect on real estate prices, it’s probably a good one. Find out more by reading:
 
Arrow Heritage Designation and Property Values: Is there an Effect? external link
Arrow Trends in Property Value of Designated Heritage Properties in Ontario external link


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