Heritage Designation and Property Values:
Is there an Effect?
University of Waterloo
The International Journal of Heritage Studies
Volume 6 Number 1, 2000
(approximately 6,000 words)
This paper describes research that was designed to examine the assertion that historic designation
of properties, under the heritage legislation in Canada’s largest province, has a negative impact on
the values of those properties. The actual selling price of subject properties was used to establish
their value history trends, which were then compared to ambient market trends within the same
communities. Almost 3,000 properties in 24 communities were investigated, in what is believed
to be the largest study of its kind ever undertaken in North America. It was found that heritage
designation could not be shown to have a negative impact. In fact there appears to be a distinct
and generally robust market in designated heritage properties. They generally perform well in the
market with 74% doing average or better than average. The rate of sale among designated
properties is as good or better than the ambient market trends and the values of heritage properties
tend to be resistant to down-turns in the general market.
By international standards the process for recognizing the significance of heritage buildings in
Ontario, Canada’s largest and most populous province, is not very rigorous. The basis of heritage
preservation is, of course, the same as in other jurisdictions; that each generation should attempt
to pass on cultural values through heritage sites that represent them (Stovel 1991). It is true that
in 1975 the Provincial Government proclaimed the Ontario Heritage Act. The guiding principles
behind the Act can be found in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization’s Venice Charter, to which Canada is a signatory (UNESCO, 1964). The Venice
Charter states in part that:
[it applies] not only to great works of art but also to more modest works of the
past which have acquired cultural significance with the passing of
time…[that] cultural property is the product and witness of the different
traditions and of the spiritual achievements of the past and thus is an essential
element in the personality of the peoples of the world…that it is indispensable
to preserve it as much as possible, according to its historical and artistic
importance, so that the significance and message of cultural property becomes
a part of the spirit of people who thereby may gain a consciousness of their
own dignity…and…that it is the duty of governments to ensure the protection
and the preservation of the cultural heritage … as much as to promote social
and economic development (Carter, 1990).
The Ontario Heritage Act gives responsibility for heritage to local governments. Individual
properties can be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and there is also a provision for the
designation of “heritage districts”. Entire neighbourhoods of historical significance can be
recognized in an attempt to preserve the character of the whole area. The criteria for designation
are quite general with guidelines require that structures be judged to have “historic or
architectural significance” (Ontario, 1986).
To accomplish this recognition of heritage the Ontario legislation encourages municipalities to
establish Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committees (LACACs). However, these
council-appointed volunteer committees can only recommend the designation of historically and
architecturally significant properties to their municipal councils. Once designated any planned
changes to a property (usually just the building exterior) must be reviewed by the local
architectural advisory committee, who can advise the local council which makes the final
decision. In the end, if the owner of a designated property decides to demolish the structure there
is only a waiting period of 108 days.
The fact that the province has delegated the responsibility of heritage designation to the
municipalities has had at least two outcomes. On one hand the local community can be said to be
best suited to determine its own heritage and sense of what is culturally significant. On the other
hand the application of the Act’s designation process has been uneven at best. Of the several
hundred municipalities in the province, less than half even have architectural conservation
advisory committees and only a handful of the largest cities have staff assigned to heritage
conservation. It is also rare for a building to be designated without the consent of the owner. In
the case of districts, once designated any individual owner within the area has the option to
exempt his or her property from the provisions of designation. This all means that designated
buildings are not necessarily representative of the type of buildings which might be most
important to preserve. A new and more comprehensive Heritage Act was drafted several years
ago in Ontario but has never been enacted. Other Canadian provinces, with the exception of
Quebec, are little better off than Ontario (Carter 1990).
Need for Research
The relative weakness of heritage conservation legislation in Canada has at least a couple of
causes. One is the all too common notion that little is old enough in such a young country to
warrant preservation. The second aspect that discourages architectural conservation is the
prevalent North American attitude toward to sanctity of private property. In general, people don’t
like property regulations. In this regard, one of the most frequently raised arguments against
recognizing the special significance of certain historic properties through heritage is that the value
of a designated property will be decreased. It is argued that designation restricts what the owner
can do with his or her property. This in turn, it is said, limits the number of buyers willing to
accept such restrictions, and therefore limits the demand with the result that the potential market
price for the properties is diminished.
The perception that designation has a negative impact has even reached the courts. In 1992, an
legal offer to purchase a home was not honoured and the subsequent civil trial featured the
supposed loss of value due to the designation of the property as a central issue. The case is still
being appealed. It is often real estate professionals, including agents, brokers and appraisers, who
advise people that designation will have this downward effect on the future selling price of
properties. This advice is offered on the basis of what might be called a “received wisdom,” or
something that is accepted without proof. When asked, the proponents of this view can point to
no research or systematic study that backs up their position. What they do sometimes have is
anecdotal knowledge of some particular example. In fairness it must be said that the proponents
of designation are often in the same position, that is, their assertions that designation is neutral or
positive, are supported by specific examples.
It is important to remember when considering this argument, that heritage is about cultural values
and not about economics. It should not be suggested that heritage designation is undertaken with
the expectation of enhancing the market value of a property. However, property owners are
justified in hoping that they will not be penalized financially for recognizing that their buildings
have a cultural value to the community as a whole. If heritage designation is not being pursued
because of misinformation about economics, then that notion should be addressed and a reasoned
discussion about the issue ought to be joined.
The Antecedents and Development of the Present Project
While research has been done in the United States (Listokin & Lahr 1997), Australia (Urban
Consulting Group 1995), Great Britain (Burman et al 1995) and previously in Ontario (Shipley
1992), there was clearly a need for further clarification of this issue. Reliable, systematically and
statistically defensible data was needed to replace anecdotal information which can be specific,
idiosyncratic and which can be selected to support either point of view.
The principal question dealt with in this study was initially addressed in the period of 1990-1992
by the present author as the subject of his report, Exploring the Value of Heritage Properties
(Shipley, 1992a). That initial study examined property values within the cities of London and
Kitchener; populations 300,000 and 125,000 respectively. The methodology used in the current
study has been adapted and refined from the approach used in the initial work. There are three
notable differences from the earlier work. First, the current study relied on the use of local
volunteers to gather the survey data. Second, the sample size and distribution was approximately
seven times larger than the original study. Finally, the analysis of the data gathered on properties
for this study focused only on sales that occurred after the time of designation whereas the
previous survey considered the whole price history trend of properties that were eventually
designated. The main reason for the latter point is that more time has passed since the
designation of many of the properties and it is therefore more reasonable to look just at the period
affected directly by the act of heritage recognition.
The results of the original study of London and Kitchener were that in 64.4% of the survey cases
in London, the individual designated properties performed better than average in the city’s real
estate market. Another 33.3% of the cases showed that the performance of the designated
properties was consistent with the performance of the market in London. Only 2.2% of the
properties exhibited performance below the average real estate market (Shipley, 1992 a & b).
These results were shown to be consistent with those for Kitchener as well, which had 60% of
properties above average, 40% at the average and no designated properties performing below
The information derived from the 1990-92 study proved to be of considerable interest to people in
the Canadian heritage community. It has been widely re-published in Ontario in heritage journals
such as the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s ACORN (Shipley 1997) and in popular and
trade magazines such as RE-NEW, (1993). As well it has received national exposure through the
journal of the Canadian Appraisal Institute (Shipley, 1992c) and in other provinces such as
Alberta (Shipley 1994b). The work has even been recognized internationally in the ICOMOS
Canada Bulletin, the magazine of the Canadian section of UNESCO’s International Committee
on Monuments and Sites (Shipley 1993). A recognition of the importance of the work can be
seen in the fact that the author is regularly asked to both speak and write on the subject (Shipley
1992b, 1994a). Copies of these articles have often circulated to the owners of prospective
designated properties and the work was frequently quoted at municipal council meetings. As
recently as July 1998, reference was made in the popular magazine Canadian Living to the
author’s 1992 study.
In 1996, an interest was expressed by the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Recreation and
Citizenship, as well as by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and individual LACACs in
expanding the research. It became evident that collecting data for a large number of communities
of varying sizes and geographical locations would strengthen the findings of the research. This
would also prove to be more useful for local communities, as there would be a greater likelihood
that the study would have included a community comparable to their own. The terms of
reference for the current project were set out in April of 1998.
Given the need to deal with the perception that exists in some quarters of the real estate industry,
a null hypothesis was used for the focus of the study. The statement of the null hypothesis was:
“if a given property is designated as having heritage significance, then the sale price trend of that
property after designation will track lower than the average market trend for the community.”
The average market trend was used as the comparison in this study for three reasons:
• we looked not at the absolute price of the property, which may be above, below or the
same as the average dollar value of properties in the community, but rather at the trend or
trajectory of the values of designated properties - we compared trends
• because of the nature of designatable properties - they are by definition special in some
way - it is difficult to find similar properties for comparison purposes. In some cases
there are reasonable comparisons. An example of this is where one house in a row has
been designated as representative of the type. More often this is not the case and so the
average property value trend in a community is a better base line for testing the assertion
that designation is generally a negative force.
• the average property value trend has been used in other reputable studies such as
Donovan Rypkema’s “Preservation and Property Values in Indiana,” reported in the
American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Service Memo in June, 1998.
In addition to the main focus of the study, which is the property value trend of individually
designated properties in Ontario, we also considered a number of related questions. Among these
is the question of the price history trend of properties that are within designated districts.
Scope of the Research
The research described in this paper set out to examine the sales history trends of designated
properties in as many Ontario communities as possible. Attention was given to size, character
and geographical spread of the communities, in order to allow the findings to be applicable to all
regions of the province. Participation was sought from a wide variety of communities with
respect to the size and character in order to establish a sample which was broadly representative.
In the end 24 communities participated in the study ranging in size from the former City of York
(now part of Toronto) through medium sized cities such as London, Ottawa and Guelph, down to
smaller places such as Port Hope and St. Marys. The communities also represented a range from
the very urban, such a Kitchener, to the very rural, such as Mississippi Mills. The geographical
spread covers places from the far south-west at Windsor to the north in Sault Ste Marie. In some
cases there was not enough data available from communities to establish a market trend and allow
analysis, but that information too has its significance. In the final analysis, data was available
from 14 communities.
While the main focus was on individually designated properties data was also been gathered from
a number of designated districts. These included Meadowvale Village in Mississauga, the Doon
Heritage Conservation District in Kitchener, the Brant Avenue district in Brantford and the main
street of Bayfield, Ontario. The great majority of the properties examined were residential but
data was gathered on some commercial properties.
Limitations of the Research
As with all studies, several limitations must be recognized. The first limitation is the fact that this
study dealt with only one of many issues affecting property values. While undertaking this work,
the researcher visited Meadowvale Village in Mississauga. During that visit, several planes
passed noisily overhead on their final approach to Toronto’s International Airport. That
phenomenon could be seen as having a potentially negative effect on local property values. On
one side of the Village there is a Conservation Authority protected wetland area with a
watercourse, marshes, walkways and wildlife. That feature could be seen as having a positive
impact on local property
values. While it is virtually impossible to isolate one factor affecting property values, this study
has done its best, by gathering data on a consistent basis from communities across the province
and making the same comparisons in each, to draw some general conclusions about the single
matter of heritage designation.
The second limitation concerns the fact that the study was a comparison of trends in property
value using the average property value trend within communities. Sales history data about
populations of properties rather than individual examples of architecture were being examined
and the study does not purport to be a systematic set of property specific appraisals.
The final limitation concerns the small sample size within some of the individual communities.
While lists containing large numbers of designated properties were collected to begin the project -
a total of 2,707 - a great many of these were eliminated from consideration in the study because
they were not in private ownership and therefore not in the market place. The numbers were
further reduced because many of the properties had less that two recorded sales within the time
period under consideration and therefore had no measurable sales history. In the end 328
properties with sales histories were considered. This sample was again reduced to 208 for
analysis purposes because only properties with sales after their designation were included. The
small sample within some of the individual communities was compensated for by the inclusion of
many communities in the study. Whereas the results in a given community, such as Mississippi
Mills, with only eight examples, may be inconclusive because of a small sample size, replication
over a large number of communities serves to strengthen the findings of the study.
The Steps Followed
The first step in the research process was to obtain a list of all designated properties for a given
community. This list was obtained through the municipal clerk’s department. The list contained
the street addresses of the designated properties as well as the year that each property was
designated. The next step was to remove from the list all of the properties which were not in the
market. Examples of these types of properties include churches, cemeteries, and municipal
buildings. These properties were excluded since they are not available for sale on the free
It was left to the discretion of the individual researchers as to whether or not they wished to look
at both residential and commercial properties, or only to examine residential properties. The
decision was made largely on the basis of the total number of properties in a community and the
number of researchers available in that community.
Sources of Information
Once the list for a community was established, it was necessary to seek out a source of sales
history information for each of the properties. It was determined that real estate appraisers1
would be the most convenient source for the information, since many of them keep sales records
listed by street address. This is in contrast to local land registry offices, which require a legal
description in order to search for the history of the property. Appraisers willing to provide access
to their records were located in each of the study communities. The information was recorded on
separate forms for each property. As the researcher examined the histories of each of the
properties, those properties with fewer than two sales transactions within the study period (1976
to 1997) were eliminated. This was due to the necessity to record at least two points in order to
observe a price trend.
The next step in the process was to establish a baseline property price for each of the
communities. This information was obtained from the local real estate boards.2 Year-end total
numbers of units sold and total sales value (in dollars) were recorded for each year of the period
being studied, where possible. The type of units included in the average corresponded to the type
of properties examined by the researcher (residential and commercial together or residential
only). This information was recorded for each of the municipalities. The total dollar value of
sales for the year was divided by the total number of units sold in that year, giving an average unit
price for the year. These average unit prices were used to create a baseline for the municipality
from which comparisons were made.
1 In Canada, appraisal is a regulated profession providing the service of evaluating property for a range of
clients. For example a bank may require that a property be appraised before a mortgage can be obtained
while insurance companies may ask that a home owner to have their property appraised establish its
2 Real Estate Boards in Canada are the trade associations of professionals who broker and sell property.
How the Information Was Used
For each designated property, a sales history was plotted for the time period between 1976 and
1997 or for whatever time period data was available. An average baseline price for the
municipality was also plotted on the graph (Figure 1). The year of designation was also plotted
on the graph. This allowed a comparison to be made between the market performance of a
property before designation and its performance after designation. Properties that had no
recorded sales after designation were left out of the analysis.
Where a given property had incurred only two sales, and therefore was represented by a straight
line on the graph, a conclusion as to whether that property was performing above, at, or below the
performance of the general market was made visually (Figure 2). In instances where this
conclusion was made more ambiguous by recorded fluctuations in the price history and in the
baseline, regression analysis was used to produce trend lines on the graph (Figure 3). The slope
of the trend lines was compared visually and a conclusion as to the performance of the property
relative to the market was drawn. Properties performing above, at, and below the average (Figure
4, Figure 5, and Figure 6) were totaled for the municipality. The results for each municipality
were then compared with one another and conclusions were drawn based on the resulting trends.
While differences in the price trends of one property measured against an average may not be
statistically significant by itself, when multiple properties in a wide distribution of communities
exhibit similar trends, a stronger conclusion can be drawn.
How the data was gathered
It was decided that an effective way to gather the required information for the study was to
engage the services of volunteers. Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committees
(LACACs) and branches of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, a non profit citizens’
group, were approached in a wide variety of communities across Ontario. The research proposal
was presented to these committees and volunteers were sought. A list of communities that were
willing to participate was formed and the volunteers were contacted individually and sent further
information about the project. Training workshops were organized in St. Marys, Stoney Creek,
Almonte and Port Hope with the intention that one of the workshop locations would be
convenient for each of
the participating communities. These workshops were three hours in length and provided a step-
by-step set of instructions for the volunteers to follow. They also provided an opportunity for
volunteers to question the research methodology in order to ensure that they were fully
comfortable with the work being requested of them. A second goal of the workshops was to
allow face-to-face communication amongst architectural conservationists from across the
At the workshops, volunteers were given instructions on how to fill out the required forms for
each of the properties on their list. Many were provided with contact information for appraisers
who had agreed to participate in the study. Appraisers were recruited in each of the participating
communities in order to provide a source of sales history information for the volunteers. A past
president of the Accredited Appraiser Canadian Institute, was able to arrange for the participation
of most of the appraisers who contributed to this study.
Price History Performance of Individually Designated Properties
It was found that across the province the majority of individually designated properties,
approximately 59%, performed better than average in their value history trend when compared to
the average property value trend in their communities. Another 15% performed in a way that was
judged to be comparable to the average performance. About 26% of the designated properties
were evaluated as performing below the community average price trend (Table 1 and Figure 6).
When we look at individual communities we find that the combined above average and average
figure generally ranges from about 62% in Windsor to as high as 87% in London and Mississippi
Mills, 88% in Oakville and 92% in the Region of Haldimand-Norfolk. There was, however, one
exception to this general trend. Among the nine properties surveyed in Prince Edward County,
only two, or 29%, performed above average while seven properties, representing 71%, performed
The way in which this comparison was made is outlined above in the section entitled How the
Information Was Used. Given a graphed line that indicates the trend or history of the average
real estate value in a community, we can assume that there would be around it a random
distribution of lines representing the value history of individual properties. Some of these would
define tracks running above, the same as, or below the trajectory of the line representing the
average. The assertion that heritage designation has a negative effect on property values would
imply that lines representing the value histories of those properties would more often show a
trajectory below the average. This latter assertion is clearly not the case.
Resistance to Market Downturns
It was found that individual designated properties tend to resist down-turns in the ambient market.
This finding was arrived at by looking at data that related to sales trends in periods of market
fluctuation. Where there were sales of designated properties that occurred at both high points and
low points in the general market trend, comparisons to that general market were drawn. This
analysis was undertaken for approximately half of the total number of sales records. In 21% of
the cases, the designated properties fell in value at a greater rate than the average. In 32% of the
cases they performed the same as the average. In 47% of cases, the designated properties went
against the downward trend and did better than average (Figure 7, Figure 8, and Figure 9).
Rate of Sales of Designated Properties
It was found that the rate of sales among designated properties was equal to or greater than the
general rate of sales of properties within their communities. This was done by compiling the
numbers of designated properties in each community and comparing that first to the number of
recorded sales of designated properties and then to the total numbers of individual residential
properties as listed in Canadian Markets (1992, 1993) and the total number of sales as provided
by the real estate boards (Table 2). These figures were averaged for the period covered. The
number of individual residential properties was used as the overall number of properties in a
community for comparison purposes on the understanding that the residential heritage designated
properties being considered were generally in that same category.
In the relatively small community of Goderich, the general rate of sale was 3.5% while among the
designated properties the rate of sale was 6.3%. In Port Hope the comparison was 8.2% among
designated properties and 4% among the rest. Similarly, in larger places such as Kitchener and
Brantford the rate of sale among individually designated properties was twice that of the general
population. In other cities, such as London, Oakville and Windsor the rate of sales among
designated properties was closer to the general trend but still above it. Only in the fast growing
community of Whitby was the rate of sales among designated properties significantly less than
the rate of sale of all properties.
It was found that the rate of sales among designated properties did not appear to be affected by
how many properties in a given community were designated. In ten of the eleven communities
for which data is available on the ratio of sales among designated properties, that rate is between
5% and 13.3%. At the same time, the ratio expressing the number of designated properties
compared to the total for the community varied from as low as 0.04% and 0.03% in Kitchener
and Windsor respectively, to as high as high as 0.25% in Whitby, 0.46% in Fergus and 0.86% in
Goderich. Even in Port Hope, where it appears that an amazing 5.34% of all properties are
designated, the rate of sales among those properties was 8.2%.
Market Performance of Properties Within Designated Districts
Data was collected for district designations in a total of five communities. Complete data was
gathered for specific districts in Kitchener (Upper Doon Village), Mississauga (Meadowvale
Village), Brantford (Brant Avenue) and Bayfield (main street). A random sampling of 10% of
the properties in various designated districts was collected in Ottawa. The Kitchener and
Mississauga examples are entirely residential. The Bayfield district is largely commercial. The
Brantford case is a district in transition from residential to commercial in which only the
residential properties were included in the survey. The Ottawa districts were varied but only
residential properties were included.
In the Kitchener case, the value history trends of properties in the subject district were 60% above
the community average and 40% consistent with the average or 100% average or above. In both
the Ottawa and Brantford cases, the price history trends of residential properties within districts
were approximately 50% at or above average.
It was found that in Mississauga and Bayfield the properties within the designated districts were
in very long term ownership situations with too few sales during the time period covered by the
study to establish any value history trend. Of over sixty properties in Meadowvale Village there
were only two sales listed in the conventional real estate records in a ten year period. This does
not mean that no properties changed hands through inheritance, private sale or some other means
but only that transaction data was not readily available. It might also be noted that the rate of sale
of properties in Kitchener’s Doon Village was considerably lower at 0.7% than either the average
rate of sale within the city (4.0%) or the rate of sale among individually designated properties
(8.1%) (Table 2).
An interview with Mississauge’s Heritage Planner, explored the possible reasons for the situation
in Meadowvale Village. He is in fairly frequent contact with residents of the neighbourhood and
it is his opinion that people are happy with their homes and generally not interested in selling. He
has never heard of a instance in the district where someone wanted to sell and was in any way
discouraged from doing so by any real of perceived effect of the district designation on the
potential selling price of homes.
This study involved a relatively small sample size and used as a standard of comparison the
somewhat less than ideal measure of community average sales history. Both of these conditions
result from the special nature of recognized heritage properties and are reasonable limitations for
a province wide study of this nature. Only individual appraisal of properties might overcome
these factors but appraisal also has its limitations. Appraisal is not an exact science. Depending
upon whether an appraisal is done for a bank, which needs to know the minimum price it might
expect for selling a property quickly, or a vendor, who wants to know the maximum that the
market might bear for a property, appraised value can vary by as much as 30%. Furthermore, this
entire study is aimed at exploring in a systematic way, the opinion that some appraisers already
hold, without any evidence, that designation might be a negative factor in price.
In spite of these factors, it is nevertheless possible to draw a strong and clear conclusion from the
data gathered in this study. Historic designation of properties under the Ontario Heritage Act
does not in itself have any demonstrable negative effect on the value of those properties. In
assessing the sales history trends of properties where a random distribution of patterns across the
spectrum can be expected, the performance of designated properties is conclusively at or above
average in all but one of the communities studied. This does not result from the designated
properties being consistently above the average property sales figure for a community in absolute
dollar value. There is a reasonable distribution of designated properties that are both above and
below that value.
Far from showing any consistent negative effect there is in fact a positive correlation between
designation, and an enhancement in the rate of increase in property values when measured against
the average trend in property values within a given community. It is not suggested that this
enhancement of value increase is a result of heritage designation. It is far more likely that it
results from a reasonable investment in property maintenance and even upgrading. It is probable
that the same concern and placing of cultural value on a building that leads an owner to seek or
accept heritage designation also motivates them to suitably care for the property. These
observations are speculative but what is clear from the data gathered is that when people
recognize and, we suppose, properly care for a property, they seem generally to be rewarded in
the market place.
It can also be concluded that there is a distinct and generally robust market for designated
heritage properties. This robust market is demonstrated by three factors. In the first place, as
shown above, designated properties generally perform well in their sales histories. Second, the
rate of sale among individually designated properties is generally as good or better than the
ambient market sales rate, regardless of how many designated properties there are in the
community. Finally, the values of heritage properties are resistant to down-turns in the general
market in almost 50% of the cases studied and no worse than the general market in about another
30% of the cases. The market in heritage houses is not the same as the general market but it is
clear that there are an ample number of willing buyers who are prepared to pay a premium for this
type of property.
One further observation from the present study might be made about the performance of heritage
properties in the marketplace. These property values are probably affected greatly by other
planning considerations such as the zoning of the properties themselves and the permitted
adjacent land uses. In the cases of the Brant Avenue heritage district in Brantford and probably
some of the districts represented in Ottawa, the change from residential to commercial zoning
may be playing a significant role. When a building that was intended for residential use, and
historically designated on that basis, is subsequently zoned in a manner that causes the value of
the land for other potential uses to increase beyond the value of the historic building, then the
historic designation is clearly compromised. Similarly, in the case of some of the subject
properties in Prince Edward County, adjacent land uses such as large-scale hog rearing barns
were permitted. Once again that condition compromises the original intent of the heritage
designation bylaw. In these cases zoning considerations consistent with the principles of heritage
conservation, special consideration under the minimum separation regulations and other planning
instruments provided for in the Ontario Planning Act, should undoubtedly be considered.
As important as the recognition of cultural significance through heritage designation is, it is
investment in maintenance that ultimately ensures the survival of buildings. The question of
return on investment in the case of historic properties is therefore a key topic of future research.
Such research would be more involved than the work reported on in this paper since it would
involve recruiting property owners who would be willing to share, with proper screens for
confidentiality, personal financial information.
Although it is a difficult and complex task to identify properties that are genuinely comparable to
designated buildings, this kind of comparison would result in valuable information in the
discussion of the economic implications of heritage recognition. If this type of research were to
involve the assistance of volunteers, as has the present project, much more involved training
would be required. A broader and more detailed investigation of the effects of district
designations would shed additional light on the impacts of defining heritage conservation areas.
The present study discovered that information concerning the time it takes to sell properties is not
maintained with any uniformity or consistency in different communities. Information on time to
sale for designated properties was gathered in one community but it was not possible to easily
establish a baseline against which to measure the performance of the historic properties. A more
involved and complex method for gathering this data will have to be developed in order to
adequately analyze the issue of time to sale.
The questions of how heritage motivated planning interventions such as bonusing and special site
plan agreements affect the values of non-designated properties should be examined in order to
develop a more complete understanding of the effect of heritage designation on property values.
Applicability to Other Jurisdictions
While this study was intentionally specific to the Canadian province of Ontario, it may have
broader implications for the issue of heritage recognition and property economics. The approach
could certainly be applied elsewhere. The findings and conclusions are in line with studies in
Australia and the United States and may help to reinforce those findings. The involvement of
volunteers has a significance beyond the expediency of having the work of data gathering done
by unpaid labour. Since in Ontario, and to some extent in other jurisdictions, the decision making
around heritage issues is local, it is important that local community activists have a sense of
ownership of pertinent data. They can better discuss and counter economic misinformation once
they have participated in research such as the work that went in to this study.
APA. “Historic Preservation and Property Values in Indiana.” Planning Advisory Service Memo:
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Figure 7 – Property resisting market downturn
Figure 8 – Property following market trends
Figure 9 – Property performing worse than average in a depressed market
Guelph Property #12
Bas eline Pric e
Year of Designation
London Property #29
Aver age Unit Price
Year of Designation
Oakville/Halton Property #6
Aver age Unit Price
Year of Designation
Figure 1 – Sample Graph
Figure 2 – Graph with two sales points
Figure 3 – Regression Analysis
Haldimand-Norfolk Property #7
Sale Pric e
Year of Designation
Brantford Heritage District
Aver age Unit Price
Year of Designation
Port Hope Property #11
Average Unit Price
Linear (Sale Price)
Linear (A verage Unit
Pric e )
Year of Designation
Figure 4 – Performing above average
Figure 5 – Performing at the average
Figure 6 – Performing below average
London Property #45
Av erage Unit Price
Year of Designation
London Property #55
Aver age Unit Price
Year of Designation
London Property #56
Av erage Unit Price
Year of Designation
Table 1: Comparison of Designated Property
Performance Against the Average Property
Performance Within a Community
Average Average Below Average Above Average
Brantford (Part IV) 33% 25% 42% 58%
Avenue, Part V) 41% 9% 50% 50%
Guelph 56% 22% 22% 78%
Haldimand-Norfolk 75% 17% 8% 92%
Kitchener (Part IV) 64% 21% 14% 85%
Kitchener Part V
(Upper Doon) 60% 40% 0% 100%
London 74% 13% 13% 87%
(Meadovale Village) *
Mississippi Mills 62% 25% 12% 87%
Niagara Falls *
Oakville 88% 0% 12% 88%
Ottawa (Part V) 53% 0% 47% 53%
County 29% 0% 71% 29%
Port Hope 76% 5% 19% 81%
Sault Ste. Marie *
St. Marys *
Whitby 67% 17% 17% 84%
Windsor 54% 8% 38% 62%
City of York3 *
Average 59% 14% 26% 74%
3 Now part of Toronto
* Insufficient data
Table 2: Comparisons of Number of Properties in
Communities to Sales and Designations
Community Average Ratio of Total
Number of Properties
to Number of
Average Ratio of
Total Number of
Average Ratio of Total
Number of Designated
Properties to Sales of
Part IV Part V Part IV Part V
Brantford 0.14% 0.22% 5.2% 12.2 % 20.6%
* 5.5% 6.9% *
Goderich 0.86% * 3.5% 6.3% *
Guelph 0.12% * 8.0% 8.9% *
Kitchener 0.04% 0.06%4 4.0% 8.1% 0.7%
London 0.17% * 6.4% 9.8% *
Mississippi Mills N/A * N/A 13.3% *
Niagara Falls **
Oakville 0.45% * 13.7% 19.7% *
Ottawa (Part V) N/A 0.79%5 ** 4.6%2
Prince Edward County **
Port Hope 5.34% * 4.0% 8.2% *
Sault Ste. Marie **
St. Marys **
Whitby 0.25% * 35% 5.0%
Windsor 0.03% * 6.6% 7.1% *
City of York6 0.01% *
Average 0.28%7 0.36% 9.2% 9.6% 8.6%
** Insufficient data available
* No data available
4 Refers to the Upper Doon Heritage Conservation District, one of two districts in Kitchener.
5 Estimate. All properties are designated under Part V of the Heritage Act and are drawn from a variety of
6 Now part of Toronto
7 Does not include Port Hope 18