What is the purpose of a Heritage Plan?

    A Heritage Plan will assist in managing, maintaining, and protecting heritage resources and will set goals and objectives to achieve over the next 10 years. It will set a vision that will align with the Envision St. John’s Municipal Plan, the City of St. John’s Strategic Plan and other City documents, while establishing achievable action items over the next decade.

    Why is built heritage important?

    The remains of our early heritage are evident in the patterns of streets and buildings and their orientation to the harbour established in the early European settlement of St. John’s. Historic institutional buildings such as the churches and the court house, and the blocks of row housing defined by narrow streets, laneways and parks are unique to the city’s downtown. This historic fabric, particularly in the downtown, has resulted in interesting streetscapes that have a high social, cultural, and economic value.

    Heritage Areas enhance our perspective, understanding, and awareness of the past, and contribute to our sense of identity and pride. Preservation of Heritage Areas and Buildings provides tremendous economic benefits, stimulating commercial activity through increased tourism activity and spending.

    Balancing the desire to retain our built heritage with opportunities for new development in Heritage Areas has been, and will continue to be, a challenge. Ultimately, heritage resources are a fragile gift from past generations, and are not a renewable resource, therefore we must preserve them for their unique value and the qualities that make St. John’s significant for past, present and future generations.

    How many Heritage Buildings does St. John's have?

    St. John's currently has 157 buildings designated by Council as Heritage Buildings. You can view the list or the map of Heritage Buildings. 

    In addition to municipal designations, some buildings or areas may be provincially and federally designated. The City does not have jurisdiction over provincial or federal designations.

    What is a cultural landscape?

    From Canada's Historic Places: "No fixed universal definition of cultural landscapes exists.  In general, though, the application of this concept consists of two elements: the geographical location (landscape), a real, tangible place; and the impressions, beliefs, and rituals (cultural) associated with that place."

    What is intangible cultural heritage?

    From Heritage NL: "Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) or what some call “Living Heritage” encompasses many traditions, practices and customs. These include the stories we tell, the family events we celebrate, our community gatherings, the languages we speak, the songs we sing, knowledge of our natural spaces, our healing traditions, the foods we eat, our holidays, beliefs and cultural practices."

    What does Envision St. John's say about heritage?

    Envision St. John's sets the framework for the new Heritage By-Law. This includes:

    1.  Identify and designate Heritage Buildings and Heritage Areas that have historic value through the administration of the City's Heritage By-Law, this Municipal Plan and its Development Regulations.
    2. Ensure the preservation of the city's built heritage by encouraging appropriate renovations and adaptive reuse of Heritage Buildings and those buildings located in the City's Heritage Areas in keeping with the provisions of the City's Heritage By-Law, this Plan and its Development Regulations. 
    3. In keeping with the provisions of the City’s Heritage By-Law, consult with and seek the advice of the Built Heritage Experts Panel on built heritage matters related to the designation of Heritage Buildings; the expansion, contraction and creation of Heritage Areas; and, the recognition of Heritage Districts as well as Commemorative Buildings and Sites.
    4. Maintain a list of Heritage Buildings, Heritage Areas, Heritage Districts as well as Ceremonial Buildings and Sites that have historic and/or architectural significance, including those that are unique, rare, or exceptional, as well as those that represent examples of common or ordinary buildings of historic, cultural or social significance. 
    5. Identify and consider appropriate heritage uses for designated Heritage Buildings as a means of encouraging their preservation. 
    6. Ensure that exterior renovations or alterations to designated Heritage Buildings retain the building's character-defining elements and their significant architectural or historical physical features in accordance with the City's Heritage By-Law. 
    7. Encourage the use of alternative standards of the National Building Code of Canada and other related codes and regulations to permit the maximum conservation of a Heritage Building while still ensuring the health and safety of the occupants and the public. 
    8.  Ensure that new developments within the City’s Heritage Areas are compatible and in keeping with the streetscape in accordance with the City’s Heritage By-Law.
    9. Develop detailed urban design guidelines to help facilitate new development proposals through the City’s Heritage By-Law review process. 
    10. Designate new Heritage Areas through the City’s Heritage By-Law to ensure that development proposals are compatible and in keeping with the area’s built heritage and their historic spatial relationships. Areas worthy of special recognition as Areas include, but are not limited to: 
      • The Battery Development Area 
      • Quidi Vidi Village 
      • Fort Amherst 
      • George Street Entertainment Area 
      • Churchill Park (the post-war northern suburb) 
    11. Continue to recognize special places within Heritage Areas by identifying them as Historic Districts through the City’s Heritage By-Law. Areas worthy of special recognition as Heritage Districts, include the following National Historic Sites of Canada: 
      • Rennie’s Mill Road Historic District;
      • Water Street Historic District;
      • St. John’s Ecclesiastical District;
      • Cape Spear Lighthouse; and
      • Signal Hill 
    12. Encourage local utility companies to place equipment and devices in locations that do not detract from the visual character or integrity of heritage resources in the Heritage Areas. 

    What other stakeholders will be contacted?

    In addition to the public sessions, the City will consult owners of designated Heritage Buildings, heritage organizations, development organizations, community groups and City advisory committees.

    What programs does the City offer to protect built heritage?

    The City designates buildings as Heritage Buildings to protect them for future generations. We offer the Heritage Financial Incentives Program to anyone who owns a designated Heritage Building or a building in a Heritage Area.  This program defrays some of the costs associated with renovating the exterior of a heritage property.