Key Public Policy Objectives
Better Financial Incentives
Over the last 30 years Canada has lost more than 20 percent of its pre-1920 historic buildings to demolition. Financial considerations play a pivotal role.
An unpredictable bottom line for heritage building rehabilitation projects deters lenders and developers; rising land values in Canada’s big cities encourage large new buildings; and smaller urban centres often see a lack of development activity.
Financial incentives – eg. tax breaks, grants, waivers of fees, density bonuses — can encourage private sector investment in the preservation of historic properties and help green-light rehabilitation projects that might not otherwise happen.
In the process, they support sustainable development; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and improve overall economic prosperity.
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Better Legal Protection
Canada is the only G-8 country without laws to protect historic places owned by its national government.
Since its creation in 1973, the National Trust has worked with all levels of government to encourage the adoption and improvement of legislation to protect heritage property. We have also helped spearhead campaigns to protect heritage property within the federal jurisdiction: the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act (1988) and the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (2008).
Significant gaps remain, particularly at the federal level.
There is a huge need for federal leadership, funding, incentives and tools to ensure that places of local and provincial significance, which make up Canada’s history and identity, are sustained.
A federal rehabilitation tax incentive is one proven way to keep thousands of places out of landfill, as part of the fight against climate change.
A Heritage First Policy would increase market demand for older buildings and create a powerful incentive for the property industry to rehabilitate rather than demolish.
Statutory Protection for Federal Heritage Resources is long overdue. In 2003, the Auditor General of Canada reported that federal built heritage “will be lost to future generations unless action to protect it is taken soon.” Further, the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (1953) provides the power to recognize historic places of importance as national historic sites, but does not protect them.