Note: Effective July 1, 2021, the amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) as part of Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, came into force. These amendments change the jurisdiction of the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) to process appeals of municipal decisions regarding the designation, amendment, repeal and alteration of heritage properties. The information on this page reflects the OHA as it read prior to July 1, 2021. For information regarding the amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act and their impact to the OLT’s appeal process, please visit our “Heritage Process” page.
For more information, please review our Appeal Guide.
Many of these Frequently Asked Questions relate to municipal and provincial designation of an individual property. For questions about other sections of the Ontario Heritage Act, contact the Ontario Land Tribunal.
What is the Ontario Land Tribunal?
The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) is an administrative and regulatory tribunal which hears and decides matters related to land use planning, environmental and natural features and heritage protection, land valuation, land compensation, municipal finance, and related matters.
The OLT hears disputes on matters relating to the protection of properties considered to hold cultural heritage value or interest to a municipality or to the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, as defined by the Ontario Heritage Act.
The OLT, as an independent and quasi-judicial body, mediates and conducts a formal hearing process around issues such as objections to heritage designation, alterations to heritage properties, designation bylaw amendments and repeal, and archaeological licensing. The OLT makes recommendations to the municipal council or the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries based on a transparent and unbiased formal process.
When a municipality or the Minister publicly issues a Notice of Intention to Designate a property, there is a 30-day period where they can receive letters of objection from members of the public. If one or more such objections are received by the municipal clerk or Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, whichever is applicable, they will “refer” the objection to the OLT to be heard as an “appeal”. The OLT process then begins.
Any member of the public, residing in Ontario, can object to a proposed property designation within the 30-day appeal period.
All objections must be received by the municipality within 30 days of the public notice. If a case is referred to the OLT with an objection dated past the 30-day appeal period, the OLT will deny the objection.
The OLT may direct the parties to a proceeding to participate in a case management conference (CMC) prior to a hearing, for the following purposes:
- To identify additional parties to the proceeding.
- To identify, define or narrow the issues raised in the proceeding.
- To identify facts or evidence that may be agreed on by the parties.
- To provide directions for disclosure of information.
- To discuss opportunities for resolving one or more issues in the proceeding, including the possible use of mediation or other dispute resolution processes.
- To establish dates by which any steps in the proceeding are to be taken or begun.
- To determine the length and schedule of a hearing, if any, and the manner of conducting it.
- To determine the order of presentation of submissions.
- To deal with any other matter that may assist in the fair, just and expeditious resolution of the issues.
The CMC involves the OLT and the parties or their representatives, and will generally be open to the public, except where settlement discussions take place.
A settlement conference is different from a case management conference as it will be closed to the public and is conducted “without prejudice.” This means that if a party makes a statement in the spirit of settlement, but a settlement is not reached, no statements or comments can be used against them in the event of a formal hearing. If a full settlement is reached, each objector and the property owner (if applicable) must submit a letter of Withdrawal of Objection, or the municipality must submit a letter of Withdrawal of the Notice of Intention to Designate, and the case is closed. If a settlement is not reached, the matter proceeds to a hearing.
For information about your hearing, please see our active cases. Information shown includes hearing dates, locations, and their status. If you require further information or have questions, please contact the OLT.
Although recommended, you are not required to have legal counsel. If you intend to represent yourself, it is important to become knowledgeable of the Ontario Heritage Act, the Ontario Land Tribunal Act, and the OLT’s Rules of Practice and Procedure all found on our “Legislation, Rules & Policies” page.
Your representative will have to provide a written confirmation of authorization to act for you,, if you are appointing a specific person to represent you in any proceeding before the OLT. This requires the contact information for your representative, including name, address, phone number, and email address (if available), as well as an explanation of the extent to which your representative can make decisions on your behalf. In the case of a corporation, the objection must come from someone with authority to bind that entity. More information can be found in Rule 4.1 on Representation in the OLT’s Rules of Practice and Procedure.
The original objector must submit to the OLT a letter of Withdrawal of Objection, thereby removing them from any further involvement with proceedings on the matter. If there are multiple objectors, all objectors need to withdraw their objections or else the case continues. For more information, please see our Appeal Guide..
The OLT has developed Rules of Practice and Procedure that govern how it conducts proceedings, including case management conferences and hearings. The OLT is also subject to the provisions of the Ontario Land Tribunal Act.
The hearing may be held either in person or virtually via videoconference. If in person, the hearing will be held in the municipality in which the property is located. The notice of hearing will show the specific location of your hearing. For information about your hearing, please see our active cases, or contact the OLT.
At a hearing, the OLT will consider all evidence from the official parties (objectors, municipality or Minister, owners), submitted in accordance with the OLT’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, and other applicable legislation. The OLT generally discourages the presentation of duplicate evidence may limit duplicate evidence pursuant to s.18(3) of the OLT. In some cases, objectors with similar views may select to combine their cases and use witnesses that can present evidence on behalf of the group. The OLT should be informed in advance of the hearing, if this is to take place.
All evidence materials intended for the hearing must be submitted to the OLT as electronic and hard copies at the beginning of the hearing event or by an earlier date if that is required by the terms of a procedural order or otherwise directed by the OLT.
In certain circumstances, the OLT will issue an adjournment of a case management conference or a Hearing. Any request for an adjournment must be in writing, give valid reasons, and be submitted well in advance of the start of the event, except in extraordinary circumstances. Please contact the OLT immediately if you are considering a request to reschedule. More information can be found in Rule 17 of the OLT’s Rules of Practice and Procedure.
Once a matter is before the OLT, an interested person who did not file an objection within the 30-day appeal period can submit an official request to the OLT to be added as a party to the proceedings by filing a Party Status Request Form.
Non-parties may not fully take part in the proceedings and may only provide written submissions to the OLT pursuant to s.17 of the Ontario Land Tribunal Act. Persons seeking participant status should file a Participant Status Request Form and Participant Statement Form.
Generally, the OLT will release its report with recommendations to the municipal council or the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries whichever is applicable, within 30 days following the hearing. A later release of the report does not invalidate the hearing. The report will be posted on this website, following its release to the parties to the hearing.
All members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor for terms up to five years. For more information on appointments, please visit the Public Appointments Secretariat website.
Under the Ontario Heritage Act, it is the real property, not the buildings, structures, or other cultural heritage features that are designated. The proposed municipal bylaw or Minister’s Order must contain a statement of cultural heritage value or interest for the property, and a list of the heritage attributes (features) of the property that support that value or interest. Each heritage attribute should be described in sufficient detail to identify if all or only certain aspects of the heritage attribute are necessary to maintaining the cultural heritage value or interest of the property. Although the entire property is designated, only the integrity of the heritage attribute and its aspects, as described in the bylaw or Order, will be of concern when there is a proposal to alter the property.
For example, a house may be identified as the only heritage attribute of the property that holds cultural heritage value or interest, and it may only be the brickwork of the house that is significant. If there is a proposal to make an alteration to the property, the bylaw or Order will guide the municipal council or Minister when deciding if the alteration being proposed will have a negative impact on the house and its brickwork, and therefore on the cultural heritage value or interest of the property.
Further information about the implications of designation is available from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries or your local municipal office.
The Ontario Heritage Act automatically recognizes a legal owner of a property as a party to the hearing proceedings. If a change of ownership occurs while the matter is still before the OLT, the former owner has the option to withdraw their objection or proceed. The new owner has the option to agree with the proposed designation or submit a letter to the OLT giving reasons for their objection. The case cannot be closed until all objections are withdrawn or the municipality or Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries withdraws the Notice of Intention to Designate.
Once a Notice of Intention to Designate is issued by a municipality or the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, the property is governed by all of the appropriate provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act. The enforcement of these provisions is the responsibility of the municipality or the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, whichever is applicable. The OLT has no role in the protection of a cultural heritage property, outside of its mandate as an adjudicator in disputes over decisions made under the Act. As it is an independent regulatory tribunal tasked with assessing the merits of designation without any apprehension of bias, the OLT’s sole role is to conduct a formal hearing process.