Together with heritage planning consultants, LHC Heritage Planning and Archaeology Inc. and TMHC Inc.  East Gwillimbury is completing a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study for the community of Sharon. The Town is looking for community feedback to determine if the historic Sharon Village area, specifically Leslie Street, has enough heritage attributes for consideration as a potential HCD.

Study Area

Study area map

 Related staff reports and memos

Why is the Town completing this review?

As outlined in the 2022 to 2026 Strategic Plan, Council is committed to taking a responsible and balanced approach to growth management. A key part of this is ensuring we preserve the Town’s cultural heritage and establish policies and guidelines outlining what is regarded as acceptable and desirable change.


What is an HCD?
A Heritage Conservation District (HCD) is a tool under Part V, Section 41 of the Ontario Heritage Act which allows a municipality to define an identified geographic area as an HCD protected under a local by-law to ensure conservation of its heritage character. The HCD designation by-law allows Council to manage and guide future changes within the district boundary by adopting a Heritage Conservation District Plan and place-based policies tailored to ensuring the conservation and enhancement of the neighbourhoods heritage character while allowing for contextually appropriate growth and change. 
What is an HCD Study?
A Heritage Conservation District Study is the background or research phase of establishing an HCD that is required to develop an understanding of the neighbourhood’s history and character in order to determine whether it meets the criteria for being designated as a Heritage Conservation District. We are currently in the final stages of the HCD Study phase for the Sharon HCD. The Towns Heritage Consultants have conducted preliminary research on all properties within the district study area in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the neighbourhoods character and to ensure that the criteria for establishing an HCD under Regulation 9/06 of the Ontario Heritage Act have been met prior to making a recommendation to Council as to whether or not to adopt an HCD by-law for the study area. 
What is an HCD Plan?
If Council endorses the Sharon HCD and passes a by-law to designate the district area, the next step would be to establish an HCD Plan which is a policy document to set out the objectives, policies, and guidelines for managing change within the district area. 
Have other Municipalities Adopted HCD Plans?

Yes, the following is a list of other Ontario municipalities that have adopted HCD Plans and links to those plans: 

What are the criteria for establishing an HCD?

The Ontario Heritage Act requires that a minimum of 25% of the properties within the HCD area meet at least two of the criteria outlined in Ontario Regulation 9/06 in order for the area to be eligible for designation as an HCD. The criteria are as follows:

i.  The properties have design value or physical value because they are rare, unique, representative or early examples of a style, type, expression, material or construction method.

ii.  The properties have design value or physical value because they display a high degree of craftsmanship or artistic merit.

iii.  The properties have design value or physical value because they demonstrate a high degree of technical or scientific achievement.

iv.  The properties have historical value or associative value because they have a direct association with a theme, event, belief, person, activity, organization or institution that is significant to a community.

v.  The properties have historical value or associative value because they yield, or have the potential to yield, information that contributes to an understanding of a community or culture.

vi.  The properties have historical value or associative value because they demonstrate or reflect the work or ideas of an architect, artist, builder, designer or theorist who is significant to a community.

vii.  The properties have contextual value because they define, maintain or support the character of the district.

viii.  The properties have contextual value because they are physically, functionally, visually or historically linked to each other.

ix.  The properties have contextual value because they are defined by, planned around or are themselves a landmark.

At this stage in the process, the Town’s heritage consultants (TMHC & LHC) have reviewed all properties within the study area and have determined that more than 25% of the properties in the study area meet two or more the above listed criteria and therefore the proposed HCD area is eligible for designation as an HCD.

What are the benefits of an HCD?

Heritage Conservation Districts are meant to promote awareness of local history and to protect and encourage public interest in the preservation of the Town’s cultural heritage resources. The HCD Plan develops place-based policies to encourage the celebration and protection of the Town’s built cultural heritage giving the area public recognition and encouraging a sense of place and community for the area.

Who makes the final decision regarding the proposed Sharon HCD?
 The Town’s heritage consultants have prepared a report outlining the eligibility of Sharon as an HCD in accordance with the requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act. This report will be presented to Municipal Council who will make the final decision on whether to designate the area as an HCD and what the boundaries of that HCD would be.

If Council proceeds to designate the Sharon HCD under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act, this decision can be appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal.  Any person who objects to the passing of the by-law may appeal to the Tribunal by giving the Clerk of the municipality notice in writing setting out the objection to the by-law and the reasons in support of the objection, accompanied by the fee charged by the Town and Ontario Land Tribunal within 30 days of the publication of the notice of passing of the by-law. 

What are the implications of an HCD on development within the area?

An HCD is not meant to prevent development but rather to set out policies to guide development and change to ensure that the heritage attributes of the HCD are maintained and that the proposed development will not negatively impact the character of the HCD area.

Any development within the boundaries of an HCD will require a heritage permit from Municipal Council (in some cases, this may be delegated to staff). A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), prepared by a qualified heritage professional, will be required to assess the impacts of the proposed development on the heritage attributes and character of the HCD. A Terms of Reference for an HIA will be adopted by the Municipality to outline what is required to be considered, addressed and included in an HIA. Any recommendations identified in an HIA may be imposed as conditions of development approval by the Town to ensure that the development is carried out in such a way that the heritage character of the district area is maintained.

How would HCD designation affect changes I want to make to my property?

The HCD Plan and Guidelines will provide direction on changes to properties designated in an HCD. Certain projects will require a heritage permit from Municipal Council. The HCD Plan will set out criteria for identifying what types of alterations require a permit. For example, general maintenance of a property in an HCD is generally not affected by designation and would not require a heritage permit. Similarly, interior renovations and alterations are exempt from requiring a heritage permit in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act. Demolition or erection of a new building or addition will require a heritage permit.

Where a heritage permit is required, it must be obtained before issuance of a building permit. Property owners are encouraged to consult with the Town’s Building and Planning Staff early in the planning process when planning a project in an HCD to determine what is required to reduce the chance of delays.

How would HCD designation affect the use of my property?

Permitted uses are regulated by the Town’s Zoning By-law and Official Plan. HCD designation would not affect the use or any change in use of a property within the district area.

Will being part of an HCD affect my property taxes and property insurance?

Some municipalities have adopted tax incentive programs for designated heritage properties. The Town of East Gwillimbury has not adopted such a program to date. As such, the HCD designation will not impact your property taxes. 

With respect to property insurance, the age of a building rather than the designation status is typically considered in the calculation of insurance premiums. Please refer to the Government of Ontario’s webpage on heritage properties and home insurance: Heritage properties and insurance |

My property is within the recommended HCD area but is not a heritage property, what does HCD designation mean for me?
Some properties that are newer construction, or do not meet the criteria for designation under Ontario Regulation 9/06 but which are located in the HCD area may be included in the HCD as “non-contributing” properties. The HCD Plan will set out policies and guidance for making changes to non-contributing properties to ensure that any changes and alterations do not negatively impact the heritage character of the HCD. Significant alterations to non-contributing properties may still require a heritage permit although the considerations in reviewing those permits will be different then for a significant heritage property. 
If the HCD is adopted, will I be required to restore my property to its historic or original appearance?

No, an HCD does not require property owners to restore their property to its original or historic appearance. The HCD Plan will recognize the need to incorporate modern materials in renovations of historic homes for the purposes of energy efficiency, cost savings, updates to engineering, building, and accessibility standards, and availability of older materials. The HCD plan will set out guidelines for carrying out renovations to historic buildings to ensure that the overall character and heritage attributes are maintained.
In cases where a building is entirely or partially destroyed by natural causes (i.e. fire), the HCD plan will not require a replacement building to replicate the original or to replace lost heritage attributes. A replacement building can be different than the original building, however the HCD Plan will set out guidelines around new development that will apply to the reconstruction of the building to ensure that it maintains the heritage character of the district area.


In June 2022, the Town retained LHC Heritage Planning & Archaeology Inc (LHC) and TMHC Inc to undertake a study to determine whether a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) is an appropriate heritage conservation tool to be implemented in the Sharon Community along Leslie Street.

Project History

The Town had been exploring the possibility of establishing a HCD in Sharon since the adoption of the Town of East Gwillimbury’s 2010 Official Plan. Section 6.3 of the Official Plan (OP) states that the Town intends to define areas that will be studied for future designation as possible HCDs in the Village Core areas of Mount Albert, Holland Landing and Sharon.

In 2013, Council directed Staff to retain a heritage consultant (included in the 2013 operational budget) to assist with a community meeting to gather feedback on the possibility of establishing a Heritage Conservation district in Sharon. This meeting was never held.

In 2017, as part of the Civic Precinct Plan Background Study (prepared by consultants MHBC), a preliminary heritage review was conducted of all properties within and adjacent to the Civic Precinct boundary in Sharon. This review identified 23 significant heritage properties within the Plan boundary. At this time, the Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) recommended that this work be used as the starting point for an HCD Study in Sharon.

In 2018, Council directed Staff to bring forward a capital project to address the issue of neglect for listed heritage properties to establish a mechanism to designate those properties deemed worthy of protection. Council further reiterated the importance of establishing an HCD in Sharon. In response to this Council resolution, Staff and the HAC recommended that the appropriate first step in addressing the issues raised by Council was to complete a comprehensive review of the Towns Heritage Register and then look to establish one or more HCDs in areas with high concentrations of valuable heritage properties.

In 2020, the Town retained consultants (Archaeological Services Inc.) to conduct a review of the Town’s Register of Cultural Heritage Properties and provide recommendations on amendments to the register and future heritage work. The consultants final report identified the Village of Mount Albert as a priority area for a future Heritage Conservation District Study.

As part of their 2021 work plan, the Town’s Heritage Advisory Committee has prioritized establishing one or more heritage conservation district study areas in East Gwillimbury. The HAC has identified the village core areas of Sharon and Mount Albert as the top candidates for the study area.

On September 23rd, 2021, the Town’s Heritage Advisory Committee met to discuss the next steps with respect to establishing an HCD in East Gwillimbury. The HAC recommends that Sharon be prioritized as the first HCD Study in East Gwillimbury, and that a second HCD Study be conducted in Mount Albert following the completion of the Sharon HCD. Sharon was identified as the top priority to establish and HCD given the real potential for significant changes and development in the community in the near future and the need to balance development pressures with Council’s objective of preserving heritage resources.

The Study is the first step in understanding the historical significance of the area. The process involves research, photographic documentation, and public engagement, which will be the basis for deciding whether the project moves to the next phase.

If the Sharon HCD is adopted, the second phase includes drafting an HCD Plan with policies and urban design guidelines to manage growth, while maintaining and respecting the heritage and character of the community.

How can I participate or get involved?

Past Public Information Sessions
Public Information Sessions were held on Tuesday March 28, 2023 and Thursday, February 15, 2024:

If you have questions, you’d like to ask the project team, please contact Victoria Moore, Manager of Planning by email or call 905-478-4282 ext. 1265. 


For more information on the Heritage Conservation District Study, please contact the Planning Branch. 

Other relevant information: 

View our Heritage webpage.    

For more information, also see: 

Ontario Heritage Act   Ontario Regulation 9/06   Ontario Heritage Trust 

Government of Ontario Information on Heritage Properties and Insurance 

Ontario Heritage Trust Information on Heritage Conservation Districts