City of St. John’s

Newfoundland and Labrador

2007 Prince of Wales Prize

As the oldest community in Newfoundland and one of the earliest European settlements in North America, the City of St. John’s has developed and employed an impressive array of bylaws, incentives and programs to protect and enhance its heritage fabric. With over 6,000 properties in its designated heritage area and 126 municipally designated buildings, St. John’s has recognized that its heritage structures and historic areas are important cultural and economic assets. In 1977, city council passed the St. John’s Heritage Bylaw, which created one of the first and largest designated heritage areas in Canada – an area which continues to expand today. A municipal Heritage Advisory Committee was established along with building design controls and the introduction of financial incentives. In the 1980s, St. John’s commitment to preservation was further enhanced by its participation in Heritage Canada’s Main Street program to improve the downtown core, notably George and Water streets. A renewed focus to heritage conservation emerged in 2001 when city council adopted a Downtown Strategy resulting in the creation of property-tax incentives for commercial and institutional heritage buildings, the sponsorship of a Downtown Summit with the St. John’s Board of Trade and the St. John’s Port Authority, and the introduction of a plaque program for designated heritage buildings. The city also commissioned a study that set out alternative methods for meeting building code requirements while maintaining the interior heritage character of historic structures.

Today, the city is working to expand its heritage area to encompass the Battery/Signal Hill neighbourhood and Quidi Vidi Village, and to revise its heritage designation process to include cultural landscapes and modern heritage architecture.

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