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Heritage property tax relief and sample agreements

Municipalities can give tax relief to owners of eligible heritage properties by passing a by-law creating a heritage property tax relief program under the Municipal Act, 2001.

The province gives municipalities the flexibility they need to adapt their program to local circumstances. For instance, municipalities can set the amount of tax relief they wish to offer (between 10 per cent and 40 per cent) and develop eligibility criteria in addition to those prescribed in the legislation.

The province shares in the cost of the program by funding the education portion of the property tax relief.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport has prepared a guide for municipalities to help them learn more about the tax relief measure and develop a local program in a community.

Cover of the Heritage Property Tax Relief guideGetting the Guide

You can get hard copies of the guide from ServiceOntario Publications:

  • Order on-line
  • Telephone 1-800-668-9938
  • At a ServiceOntario Centre

The guide provides step-by-step information on how municipalities can develop a heritage property tax relief program. The guide provides two kinds of information:

For clarity, the guide divides the process of developing a heritage property tax relief program into 10 steps.
This guide is for information purposes only and is not intended to be authoritative.

Heritage Conservation Agreement

To be eligible for the tax relief, a property must be a building, structure or a portion of a building or structure that is:

  • designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act or part of a heritage conservation district designated under Part V of the a ct;
  • subject to a heritage conservation agreement for the property.

A heritage conservation agreement is a voluntary legal agreement between the municipality (or the Ontario Heritage Trust) and an owner to protect the heritage attributes of a property and to encourage good stewardship of the property. The agreement is voluntary and recognizes the intention of both parties to protect the cultural heritage value of the property.

The Municipal Act, 2001 gives three options for heritage conservation agreements:

  1. an easement agreement between the property owner and the municipality under section 37 of the Ontario Heritage Act; or
  2. an easement agreement (often referred to as a “conservation easement”) between the property owner and the Ontario Heritage Trust under section 22 of the Ontario Heritage Act; or
  3. an agreement between the property owner and the municipality to ensure that the property is conserved.

The Ontario Heritage Trust, a provincial Crown agency, is authorized under Part II of the Ontario Heritage Act to enter into heritage conservation easement agreements with owners of heritage properties. For more information about the Trust’s heritage conservation easement program, visit its Web site at

If your municipality needs assistance in designing an effective conservation agreement as part of your heritage property tax relief program, contact the Trust at (416) 325-5000.

The guide gives a further explanation of these agreements and examples from municipalities are also available for downloading. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport would like to acknowledge those municipalities who have kindly agreed to share their examples on our web site.

Disclaimer: online sample heritage conservation agreements

These sample agreements are for information purposes only, as examples of how some municipalities use heritage conservation easements and agreements. The examples may not suit your municipality's heritage conservation program objectives and resources. You should develop and customize any municipal heritage conservation easement or agreement to meet the objectives of your municipality's heritage conservation program in consultation with legal counsel.