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The National Trust for Canada believes the federal government must lead by example and introduce legislation that provides statutory protection and maintenance standards for federally owned and regulated historic places.

There is no binding legislation to protect the over 1,300 heritage buildings owned by the federal government. Canada is the only G-8 country without laws to protect historic places owned by its national government. Federal legislation exists only to protect two types of heritage property: railway stations and lighthouses.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Act (1953) provides the federal Environment Minister with the power to recognize historic places of importance as national historic sites, but it is solely commemorative and does not have any protection mechanisms.

The existing Federal Heritage Building Policy (FHBRO) of 1982 is not binding on federal departments and is not enforced. As a result, no fewer than 54 designated federal heritage buildings have been demolished since the policy came into effect. Because there is no accountable agency monitoring whether the policy is applied or followed, it is impossible to measure its effectiveness. In 2003, the Auditor General of Canada assessed heritage protection practices within several departments and reported that federal built heritage “will be lost to future generations unless action to protect it is taken soon.”

Other federal issues:

  • no scrutiny of federal actions that may threaten other historic places in Canadian communities;
  • no mechanism to ensure federal investments respect local historic places;
  • government leasing standards do not encourage the sustainable reuse of historic buildings; and
  • no citizen input into the federal heritage building process. 


Federal Heritage Legislation


Federal Heritage Building Policy