The Cultural Heritage Act came into effect on October 19, 2012 and was amended on April 1st, 2021.


The adoption of the Act in 2012 marked a milestone in the history of cultural heritage protection by the government, namely:

  • As it broadened the notion of “heritage” over time to gradually encompass heritage cultural landscapes, intangible heritage and historical figures, events and sites;
  • As it entrusted more power to municipalities, thereby increasing their role in the preservation and development of cultural heritage.


The recent amendments to the Act aim to increase protection and raise awareness of, and to enhance and pass on our real estate heritage, as well as to correct certain shortcomings identified since its 2012 enactment.

Some of the main objectives of these changes, which essentially address the built heritage, aim to:

  • Improve services to citizens and owners of heritage properties;
  • Increase the transparency and equity of the decision-making process and its predictability for citizens;
  • Streamline the Ministry’s status attribution process and management of work authorizations;
  • Grant certain powers to RCMs;
  • Introduce certain obligations on the part of municipalities with respect to cultural heritage;
  • Increase the social acceptance of projects and the participation of stakeholders.

And among these amendments, the following are particularly noteworthy:

  • Dissemination of the Ministry’s method of evaluating heritage interest;
  • Inclusion in the Act of the elements examined by the Ministry in the course of analyzing work authorization requests;
  • Introduction of processing delays with respect to requests for work authorization filed by heritage property owners to ensure that decisions are rendered in a timely manner;
  • Introduction of the opportunity to apply for review of a decision by the Ministry regarding work authorizations;
  • The obligation for RCMs to establish an inventory of real estate properties presenting a heritage interest on their territory;
  • The obligation for municipalities to issue public notices, hold consultations and inform the Minister prior to delivering a demolition permit;
  • The obligation for municipalities to adopt regulations governing the demolition as well as the occupancy and maintenance of buildings.
  • It is also important to note that:
  • The Minister may, in certain particular cases and under certain conditions, authorize an activity after it has been commenced or terminated, including an activity which should have been authorized under the previous Cultural Property Act;
  • Any interested party may propose that a heritage property be afforded protection under the Act;
  • Going forward, authorization is no longer required with respect to the division, subdivision or parcelling of an immovable on the vertical cadastral plan.

Some of the provisions became effective immediately upon assent of the Act on April 1st, 2021, whereas others will come into force 18 months later.

By Jean Proulx