Issues Concerning Heritage Preservation

Frank Atkins, Research Papers

It is widely believed that historical preservation results in a positive outcome for the economy. However, there are issues involved in historical preservation that require further analysis. This paper identifies three basic issues that should be addressed when considering historical preservation in Canada. First, it is extremely difficult to actually put a dollar value on the effects on the value of a property that has been designated as historical. This is important due to regulatory takings, which occur when government regulation limits the uses of private property, effectively depriving property owners of economically reasonable use or value of their property. Theoretically, an individual should be no worse off when historical preservation may have lowered the value of their property. However, this leads to the second issue of the lack of constitutionally entrenched property rights in Canada. This is a potential problem in the sense that if an individual is subject to regulatory takings, compensation may have to be decided by the courts.

Unfortunately, in order to enshrine property rights in the Constitution, the federal government would have to convene another round of constitutional negotiations, which would be subject to the usual contentious amending formula. It is possible that another manner may have to be found in which to guarantee individuals proper compensation in the situation of regulatory takings.

The final issue, which is typical of Canadian politics, is intergovernmental and interdepartmental politics. It is not clear whether there is a way to implement a rational solution to this problem.

Atkins – Issues Concerning Heritage Preservation.pdf