Final report on proposed Almonte Heritage Conservation District now available

Green line indicates proposed Heritage District boundary
Dark green line indicates proposed Heritage District boundary. Area in light green within that line would be contained within the proposed Heritage District

The final report on the proposed downtown Almonte Heritage Conservation District has been published and is available on the town website.  The website includes a Q and A on the impact of a designation. Through the study process, the proposed boundary of the HCD was reduced to provide specific focus on the commercial core and the river. The revised boundary, illustrated includes the area and most of the features depicted by participants in the mental mapping exercise that was carried out during the public consultation in August 2014, and in postcard submissions received in the early part of the study phase. These exercises revealed that the community’s perception of the area is centred on the Mississippi River, the historic mills and Mill Street.

What does Designation mean for Property Owners?

District designation is a tool for managing future change. It is not intended to impose new work on property owners, nor to freeze the area in time by preventing future change from happening. HCDs help to protect property values by stimulating investment in properties, in a way that adds character and value. In this way, they may contribute to economic development, especially in commercial areas.

While property owners are required to obtain a Heritage Permit for certain classes of alterations or new work, district designation also provides access to:
• Conservation advice from planning staff and the Municipal Heritage Committee; and
• Financial incentives to assist in the cost of conservation and repair work.

Designation does not require:
• That buildings and properties be maintained beyond what is required by the existing Property Standards By-law;
• That a property owner restore their building to a former (historic) appearance; or
• That a property owner obtain a permit for minor alterations or routine maintenance.

The Difference between Part IV and Part V Designations

A Part V designation recognizes the cultural heritage value and character of a defined area within a municipality.
A Part IV designation addresses the value and character of an individually-significant property or resource. It is also established through the adoption of a municipal by-law. There are currently 10 (ten) properties within the proposed Downtown Almonte HCD that have been previously designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. Properties designated under Part V do not become Part IV designations through the adoption of the HCD, and are not subject to the detailed review of alterations planning that is required under Part IV. In addition to the obligations of their individual designation, this HCD Plan applies to all designated Part IV properties located in the District, including for exterior alterations, additions, and demolition.

Statement of Objectives
Heritage designation is about recognizing the cultural heritage value of a place and managing future change in a way that is compatible with the character of that place, while maintaining its vitality. The goal of this District is to ensure the retention, protection and enhancement of heritage resources in a manner that maintains a healthy and sustainable relationship between the urban geography of downtown Almonte and the diversity of communities operating within it. District designation enables
development and change to unfold, while protecting and enhancing cultural heritage value. Specifically, this Plan aims to:

Conserve existing heritage resources 

  • Ensure the retention and protection of existing heritage resources, including buildings and structures, monuments,
    streetscapes, landscapes, public open spaces and natural features that contribute to the cultural heritage value of the
    District;
  • Preserve the significant viewscapes that contribute to and define the cultural landscapes of the Mississippi River and downtown Almonte;
  • Preserve and protect the natural, aesthetic and historic features of the Mississippi River, its distinct topography and industrial installations that are essential to understanding the significance of the Mississippi River cultural landscape.
    Manage and guide future change;
  • Preserve and enhance downtown Almonte as an example of an historic mill town through the ongoing preservation and
    enhancement of buildings, infrastructure and landscapes of cultural heritage value that express this history and identity;
    Maintain and enhance downtown Almonte’s small town atmosphere as a friendly place to live and work by conserving
    the human scale of the public realm, the pedestrian friendly spaces and its picturesque appearance;
  • Preserve and enhance Mill Street’s role as an historic, cultural and commercial focal point in Almonte; and
  • Preserve and enhance Bridge Street as the focus of ceremony,
    remembrance and commemoration in Almonte.

Encourage awareness and understanding

  • Encourage new construction and development in a contemporary style that complements and enhances the
    character of the District;
  • Promote an understanding of and appreciation for the cultural heritage value of the District among residents, property owners, business operators and visitors.

When is a Heritage Permit Not Required?

The following are considered minor alterations not requiring a Heritage Permit under the Heritage Act:

  • Interior alterations that do not affect the exterior building elements;
  • Repainting / paint colour selection;
  • Regular on-going building maintenance such as replacement or repair of eaves troughs;
  • Minor repairs to exterior elements that match the existing in kind, using the same materials, in the same style, size, and detailing. This includes minor repairs or regular maintenance of roofs, exterior cladding, cornices, brackets, columns,  balustrades, porches and steps, entrances, windows, and decorative wood, metal, stone or brick work;
    Minor alterations to the rear of buildings, where these are not visible from the river;
    Removal of non-contributing and non-character defining elements; and
    Gardening and alterations to soft landscaping on private property, except where these are adjacent to the river.

When is a Heritage Permit Required

Only the exterior of properties designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act are regulated and protected. A permit is legally required for alterations to the exterior of properties located within the District, and is issued under Part V of the Act. Generally, the requirement for Heritage Permits only applies to work on the parts of buildings or properties that can be seen from the street (including side streets and side laneways, but not rear lanes), and/or that can be seen from the river.
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Heritage Permit (Major)

The following list identifies the types of proposals that may require a Major Heritage Permit:
Major alterations, including:

  • New or replacement of historic cladding materials for both walls and roofs
  • New or replacement of historic windows and doors
  • Alterations to or removal of heritage attributes including architectural decoration, and other exterior character defining elements such as porches, balconies, parapets, cornices, chimneys and historic storefronts
  • Relocating a building or structure
  • Demolition, in whole or in part, of a building or
    structure
  • New construction or replacement of existing porches, chimneys, roofs, walls, or other character-defining elements
  • Replacement or major alteration to a storefront
  • New commercial signage
  • New awning installation
  • Additions that will be visible from the street or the river
  • New building construction (i.e. infill building)
  • Any development within or adjacent to the Mississippi River, and
  • Projects that do not conform with the Guidelines outlined in the Plan.

Heritage Permit (Minor)

The following list identifies the types of proposals that may require a Minor Heritage Permit

  • Minor repair, restoration or replacement in-kind of heritage attributes including architectural decoration, or other exterior character defining elements (such as porches, chimneys, cornices, balconies)
  • Replacement in-kind or alterations to existing commercial signage
  • Masonry cleaning, masonry re-pointing, foundation repairs, chimney repairs
  • Alterations to ‘Non-contributing’ resources
  • New or extended fences
  • New or extended parking areas
  • Permanent exterior lighting installations
  • Installation of television or mechanical equipment that may be visible from the street or river
  • Planting or removal of trees in the public right-of-way or adjacent to the river
  • New or alterations to existing hard landscaping such as retaining walls, garden walls, decorative fencing and surfaced
    pathways visible from the street or the river.