Municipal Citation of Historic Sites

Matthew Farfan

Image removed.In Canada, heritage sites may be designated nationally, provincially and municipally. The level of designation depends on the level of significance of the site. National Historic Sites must be judged to be of national significance; provincial, of provincial significance, and so on.

In Quebec, the Loi sur les biens culturels empowers local municipalities to cite both buildings and properties (including cemeteries) as municipal heritage sites. Increasingly municipalities are making use of this power to protect sites of interest within their boundaries. Municipal citation confers a number of powers that a municipality would not otherwise possess:

--A municipality may refuse to allow the demolition of a designated heritage site.

--A municipality may impose certain conditions on the landowner regarding the conservation of a designated site. These include ensuring that the integrity of the site is respected, that the site is kept in good repair; and that the site is not altered without prior authorization.

--A municipality may impose fines on a landowner that does not fulfill these conditions.

--Citation permits (but does not oblige) a municipality to provide technical and/or financial assistance to the proprietor of a heritage site to aid in the conservation, maintenance, restoration and promotion of the site.

--Citation renders a site eligible for funding from the Fonds du patrimoine culturel québécois, and places it in the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec.

A number of historic sites in Quebec have received municipal citation. Thus, there seems to be a growing awareness not only that these sites are worthy of preservation but that citation represents an important tool to ensure their protection.
There are several steps that a municipality must follow in the process of citation. They are not complicated but they do include the adoption of a by-law, documentation of the property in question and justification of why it is being cited.

For the complete text (in French, on-line) of La Loi sur les Biens culturels : Guide pratique destine au municipalités, visit:

For the Repertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec (on-line), visit: