Heritage planning

The Ontario Heritage Act enables municipalities to identify, list and protect cultural heritage resources, while the Planning Act enables municipalities to adopt Official Plan objectives, policies and procedures related to the conservation of cultural heritage resources. The Provincial Policy Statement also sets out important policies on cultural heritage and archaeology that enshrine provincial direction on conservation.

Find Notices of Intention to Designate on our News and Notices page.

Heritage conservation district study

The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has been completing a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study for the Town under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. The study area includes the historic core of the town and adjacent surrounding areas.

Regional and municipal policy and guidelines

Within the Official Plan of the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, the protection of cultural heritage resources is highlighted as a main municipal objective and community development principle. The Community of Stouffville Secondary Plan also lists maintaining heritage properties, heritage traditions, and the historic downtown as central pillars of the Community Vision. 

The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville contains a dedicated Heritage Area reflected in Schedule "F" of the Secondary Plan. The Heritage Area is a special character area containing clusters of historic building stock. As outlined within the Town's Site Plan Control By-law, proposed residential development within the Heritage Area may require a Residential (Heritage) Site Plan Approval Application. For fee information, see Schedule "G" of the Town's General Fees and Charges By-law

The Town also employs Urban Design Guidelines and Residential Intensification Urban Design Guidelines in the Community of Stouffville. Both documents provide direction on the protection of heritage character, the preservation of heritage buildings, the identification of cultural heritage landscapes, and guidance on the design of appropriate heritage infill. 

Local businesses and property owners in Stouffville's commercial core, including heritage property owners, are eligible for municipal financial incentives through Downtown Stouffville's Community Improvement Plan for facade and signage improvements.

On archaeological matters, the Regional Municipality of York provides guidance to municipalities and stakeholders on archaeological potential, archaeological assessments, and Indigenous consultation through the Regional Official Plan as well as its Archaeological Management Plan

Best practices in heritage conservation

Built heritage inventory

The Ontario Heritage Act, requires that every municipality in Ontario maintain a publicly-accessible register of properties of cultural heritage value or interest. The Town's Municipal Heritage Register, known as the Built Heritage Inventory (BHI), serves as the official record of all designated and non-designated heritage properties.

Non-designated heritage properties are often listed to: 

  • Promote knowledge of a community’s cultural heritage;
  • Provide easily accessible information for planners, property owners, developers, and the general public;
  • Provide interim protection from demolition;
  • Help identify future priorities for designations; and,
  • Document local history for posterity. 

The Built Heritage Inventory (BHI) was adopted by Town Council in 2002 and subsequently revised in 2005 and 2015. 

The BHI includes approximately 720 heritage properties of local significance across the municipality. Listings were originally nominated for their build dates: private buildings built pre-1925 and public buildings built pre-1940. Listings within the Community of Stouffville (approximately 350) contain substantial background research and a classification of evaluated value. Listings outside of the Community of Stouffville (approximately 370) contain limited background information. 

Under Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act, all non-designated heritage properties are afforded temporary protection from demolition through a 60-day notice period. Property owners looking to have their property removed from the Built Heritage Inventory through demolition are required to submit a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA), along with their written request for removal.

Planning staff have received Council direction to complete and comprehensively review the BHI, providing recommendations for amendments. For more information, please see Council Report No. DS-007-19. To find out if your property is listed on the BHI, please contact the Town's Heritage Planner.

Designated heritage properties

The Ontario Heritage Act enables municipalities to formally recognize and protect cultural heritage resources through property designation. There are two major parts of the Act that deal with designation:

  • Part IV, which enables a municipality to designate individual properties that are of cultural heritage value or interest; and,
  • Part V, which enables a municipality to designate an area or grouping of properties, including buildings and their contexts, as a Heritage Conservation District.

Individual designation involves the registration of a by-law on property title, protecting select heritage features of value from disturbance or removal. In Whitchurch-Stouffville, there are a total of nine (9) properties designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. These properties include:

In Whitchurch-Stouffville, designated properties are subject to special policies within the Town's Property Standards By-law, including minimum maintenance standards and restrictions related to vacancy, demolition, and repair/replacement of heritage attributes.

Possessing a property that has been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act means that you are contributing to the safeguarding of our community's unique history. Together, the conservation of both public and private heritage resources strengthens pride of place, adds to the richness of our streetscapes, and preserves local stories of significance.

For more information on designation or to formally request that the Town consider a property for designation, please contact the Town's Heritage Planner.

Heritage permits

Heritage Permits are required when changes are proposed to identified heritage features on a property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Designated properties are not "stuck in time"; instead their evolution over time is managed by the municipality through the permit process.  A property owner must obtain a Heritage Permit to make substantial changes to their property and/or disturb or remove heritage features. An application form for Heritage Permits are forthcoming and will soon be available online. For more information, please contact the Town's Heritage Planner.

Heritage studies and reports

During the planning or building process, Heritage Planning staff may require the submission of cultural heritage studies to assess impact, evaluate value, document existing conditions, or provide guidance on appropriate heritage-protective measures. The following studies may be required as part of a Planning Act application; a Heritage Permit application; or an Application Form to Remove, Demolish, or Add Non-Designated Properties on the Built Heritage Inventory:

  • Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA): evaluates proposed development or site alteration, proposes mitigation measures, and shows how a cultural heritage resource will be conserved.
  • Conservation Plan: identifies short, medium, and long-term protective measures for a cultural heritage resource.
  • An Archaeological Assessment: provides confirmation of areas of archaeological potential and documents the history of a site (Stage 1), assesses a property for archaeological material (Stages 2 & 3), and provides requirements for the mitigation of development impacts (Stage 4).
  • A Cultural Heritage Assessment (CHA)/Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report (CHER): comprehensively evaluates the cultural heritage value of a resource, site, or cultural heritage landscape. The report will provide historical documentation, identify heritage features, and compile a Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest (SCHVI).
  • A Documentation & Salvage Report: comprehensively documents the existing conditions of a cultural heritage resource and identifies features worthy of salvaging, including a plan for integration or donation.

Local history and archives

The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has a rich history of human settlement dating back centuries. During the Late Woodland Period, the area was extensively occupied by ancestral Huron-Wendat peoples. Numerous archaeological sites and earthworked villages from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries points to a unique congregation of coalescent pre-European peoples in Whitchurch-Stouffville. 

Following the 1787 Toronto Purchase by the British Crown, European settlement began at the end of the 18th century. In 1792, the Township of Whitchurch was created within the County of York. It was named in honour of the birthplace of Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant Governnor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. In 1802, the Township was surveyed by John Stegman. Many of the early settlers were Quakers, German Mennonites, French Royalists, and United Empire Loyalists leaving the United States after the American War of Inpendence. 

The Town of Whitchurch–Stouffville consists of several small communities, a large rural area, and a growing urban area in the community of Stouffville. Originally known as "Stoufferville" after its founder Abraham Stouffer, Stouffville was settled in the early 19th century as a mill site on Duffin's Creek. In 1876, Stouffville was incorporated as Village and by 1971 it was amalgamated within the larger Town of Whitchchurch-Stouffville.

To find out more about the history of Whitchurch-Stouffville or to research the history of your property, visit one of the two research archives in the municipality:

Commemoration and education

Heritage homes map tour

Town staff have produced an interactive self-guided map showcasing a selection of historically and architectural significant properties located in downtown Stouffville. 

Heritage walking tours

A series of educational Walking Tours were created by the the former Whitchurch-Stouffville Historical Society of several historic neighbourhoods in the community of Stouffville. The tours provide an interesting overview of the history of individual properties and broader sections of the former village. 

Accessible formats available upon request. Contact 905-640-1900 or customer.service@townofws.ca for assistance.
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