Frequently Asked Questions

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 Review Board.

What is the Conservation Review Board?

The Conservation Review Board (CRB) is a regulatory tribunal that 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 Culture, as defined by the Ontario Heritage Act.

The Review Board, 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 Review Board makes recommendations to the municipal council or the Minister of Culture based on a transparent and unbiased formal process.

How do I object or apply to the CRB?

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 Culture, whichever is applicable, they will “refer” the objection to the Review Board to be heard as an “appeal”. The Review Board process then begins. The Review Board hears matters under the Ontario Heritage Act. Please refer to the Act for information. If you have further questions, contact the Review Board.

Who can object to a proposed property designation?

Any member of the public, residing in Ontario, can object to a proposed property designation within the 30-day appeal period. Reasons for the objection must be clearly stated and valid. The Review Board can refuse an objection if it considers the reasons to be outside the jurisdiction of the Ontario Heritage Act, and therefore the Review Board, or of a “frivolous or vexatious” nature.

Different rules apply to who can appeal under other sections of the Act. For further information, contact the Review Board.

What happens if I do not submit my objection to the municipality before the 30-day period expires?

All objections must be received by the municipality within 30 days of the public notice. If a case is referred to the Review Board with an objection dated past the 30-day appeal period, the Review Board can deny the objection.

What is a pre-hearing conference?

A pre-hearing conference (“PHC”) is convened under section 67.1 of the Ontario Heritage Act. It is held to discuss issues, share information, and have open dialogue, all with the intention of either reaching a mediated settlement of the matter, or best preparing the parties for a formal hearing where settlement could not be reached.

The PHC involves the Review Board and the parties or their representatives, and will generally be open to the public except where settlement discussions take place. Pre-hearing settlement conferences under Rule 19 will be closed to the public.

Given the mediation and settlement component, all PHCs are 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 to the Review Board, 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 PHC proceeds to the phase of preparing all parties for the formal hearing. More information about PHCs can be found in the CRB Process Overview section.

What is a pre-hearing settlement conference?

A Pre-hearing Settlement Conference (PHSC) is an event held pursuant to section 67.1 of the Ontario Heritage Act to consider the settlement and simplification of an issue or issues, as well as procedural or other relevant matters that the parties consent to dealing with in advance of a hearing. The Review Board may encourage or request that the parties take part in a PHSC because early discussion of issues may produce a resolution.

PHSCs can save hearing time and shorten the time to dispute resolution.

The PHSC is only open to official parties, thus members of the public are not permitted to attend.

When is my hearing?

You can view information on this website about active cases. Information shown includes hearing dates, locations, and their status. If you require further information or have questions, please contact the Review Board.

Do I need to be represented by legal counsel?

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 Statutory Powers Procedure Act, and the Review Board’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, all found on the jurisdiction page of this site.

How do I appoint someone to represent me?

You need to complete and submit the Review Board’s Representative of a Party Form (insert link), at the request of the Review Board, if you are appointing a specific person to represent you in any proceeding before the Review Board. 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 9 on Representation in the Review Board’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (PDF).

How do I withdraw my objection?

The original objector must submit to the Review Board 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.

What are the Rules of Practice and Procedure for a hearing?

The Review Board has developed Rules of Practice and Procedure that govern how it conducts proceedings before the Review Board, including pre-hearing conferences, hearings, and other matters. View the Rules of Practice and Procedure (PDF). The Review Board is also subject to certain provisions of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.

How long is the hearing?

Generally hearings are one to three days in length. The notice of hearing will show the scheduled dates. For information about your hearing, please see our active cases, or contact the Review Board.

Where will the hearing be located?

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 Review Board.

Can the evidence of two or more Objectors be combined?

At a hearing, the Review Board will consider all evidence from the official parties (objectors, municipality or Minister, owners), submitted in accordance with the Review Board’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, and other applicable legislation. The Review Board generally discourages the presentation of duplicate evidence. 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 Review Board should be informed in advance of the hearing, if this is to take place.

When must evidence materials be submitted for a hearing?

All evidence materials intended for the hearing must be submitted to the Review Board (two copies) and provided to the other parties before 14 days to the scheduled hearing start date.

What if I need to reschedule?

In certain circumstances, the Review Board will issue an adjournment of a Pre-Hearing 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. Please contact the Review Board immediately if you are considering a request to reschedule. More information can be found in the Review Board’s Rules of Practice and Procedure under Rules 26 and 27.

Can I be added as a Party? How can I be heard?

Once a matter is before the Review Board, an interested person who did not file an objection within the 30-day appeal period can submit an official request to the Review Board to be added as a party to the proceedings. The Review Board will consult with the other parties and make the final decision on the matter. If the request for official party status is denied, this person can still participate by either asking another party to include them as a witness, if their evidence is relevant, or can attend the hearing and make a statement as a member of the public.

Can a member of the public participate in a hearing?

At the start of a hearing, the Review Board will invite members of the public to state whether they want to make a statement. During the hearing process, those members of the public who indicated an interest are sworn/affirmed as a witness, make their statement, and may be questioned by the official parties and the Review Board. Statements by members of the public are permitted at the discretion of the Review Board.

When does the Review Board release its report following a hearing?

Generally, the Review Board will release its report with recommendations to the municipal council or the Minister of Culture, 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.

How can I become a member of the Review Board?

All members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor for terms up to 5 years. For more information on appointments, please visit the Public Appointments Secretariat website.

Is it the real property or the buildings that are designated?

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.

If there is an application to demolish or remove a structure from a designated property, all features, not just those identified as heritage attributes, are governed by the Act. Further information about the implications of designation is available from the Ministry of Culture or your local municipal office.

What happens when a property is sold during a CRB process?

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 Review Board, 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 Review Board giving reasons for their objection. The case cannot be closed until all objections are withdrawn or the municipality or Minister of Culture withdraws the Notice of Intention to Designate.

Does the Review Board protect a cultural heritage property?

Once a Notice of Intention to Designate is issued by a municipality or the Minister of Culture, 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 Culture, whichever is applicable. The Review Board 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 Review Board’s sole role is to conduct a formal hearing process.