MHC Programs and Evaluations
As per their mandate, the Municipal Heritage Committee works continuously to promote the heritage of the City of North Bay. They do this primarily through two separate programs. The first is an evaluation of heritage buildings through out the city which are then prioritized according to historical and architectural significance. Those designated a priority one (the highest possible priority) become part of the Glass Plaque program. The second program is known as the Heritage Site Plaque Program, wherein historically significant sites that are no longer around or that have altered significantly are recognized through an informational plaque placed on public land.
For more information on these programs, and the process that the Committee uses for its building evaluations, you will find the information below.
- Property Evaluation System
- The Evaluation Process for the Glass Plaque Program
- Heritage Site Plaque Program Information
Properties are evaluated according to their architecture, history, environment, sustainability, and integrity. The evaluation procedure system used by the North Bay Heritage Committee is modeled upon the system used by Parks Canada in the evaluation of national historic sites and buildings. The following characteristics are sought in the appraisal of heritage buildings or sites:
A property with architectural significance has exceptional quality in its design, style, structural systems, materials, and craftsmanship, and also has a particular compatibility with its setting. Overall, the structure and/or site should be an outstanding component of this City’s best character and image.
This value may be influenced by the architectural style or classical period that its design is derived from.
Consistent with the Parks Canada system, evaluation of each site or building is weighted on its architectural merit and value, whereby it represents a significant example of the best elements of our natural and built environment.
A property with historical significance is evaluated in terms of the person, group or event that may be associated with the building on its origin or during its lifetime. This measure is also based upon the usefulness of the structure itself for teaching cultural or social history at a local, regional or national level. Aging of the structure, in terms of its lasting capability over the years since its construction, is of great importance.
A property with environmental significance is a structure or site which contributes to the community in the character of the street, neighbourhood, or area in which it is located. This may arise from the importance of the property as a focal point of its locale, and/or from its recognition as a welcome sibling of the family of buildings to which it belongs. Furthermore, notable worthiness can arise from the successful marriage of structure and natural setting such that they complement each other and form a bond that is mutually supportive.
A property is considered meritorious in sustainability when there has been continuity of use for the purpose originally intended or potential for the property to be modified for other commendable purposes. Both are dependent upon the availability of public utilities and services for continuing use and the implementation of a program of usage that is economically viable. The cost to preserve, restore and maintain the structure must be reasonable in comparative terms.
Significance is gained in this context by fellowship of usage and character with its neighbourhood and/or its capability of retrofit to meet the demands of new requirements.
Compatibility of the structure with the site, the street and the neighbourhood is important in assessing the integrity of any property. Another consideration is the possible adaptability for retrofitting without modification to the original architectural elements that establish its merit.
A policy of wisdom in maintaining heritage value should be implemented whereby external restoration, where necessary, is carried out with consistent integrity in the reconstitution of the original design without compromise. Alterations and/or additions should be complementary to the original design.
Internal renovation may be necessary in order to achieve functional capability, but not at the expense of external integrity.
This system is designed to assist evaluators in determining which properties are sufficiently significant to warrant conservation and preservation, and most important, to develop the criteria on which this can be established.
It is intended that architectural value judgments may be made rationally, objectively and confidently.
The Site Evaluation Program seeks to recognize properties that have architectural and/or historical characteristics. The program is sometimes referred to as the Glass Plaque Program, as certain properties with exceptional qualities are commemorated with a glass plaque.
The Municipal Heritage Committee develops a list of properties that might merit consideration from the Committee. This list forms the basis of Committee’s work plan, enabling members to prioritize which properties to evaluate. Members of the public, City staff and City Council are encouraged to suggest properties that should be considered. This list is regularly reviewed and revised.
The Committee obtains the property owner’s permission before conducting any form of evaluation. Once the owner’s consent is achieved, all available Committee members attend the property in question to conduct a site visit. Photographs are taken, notable features are documented and Committee members ask questions of the owner to gain an understanding of the property’s history and characteristics.
The Committee has always benefited by having an architect as a member of the Committee, which enables the Committee to gain a detailed understanding of the history of the building’s construction, features and the property’s significance to the community’s built form.
Following the site evaluation, the Committee reviews third party information to get a more fulsome understanding of the property’s history. Sources of information include (but is not limited to) the North Bay Public Library, Discovery Centre museum and a title search at the Land Registry’s Office.
The next step is for the Committee to complete the scoring evaluation sheet. The scoring system is a numerical system that grades the subject property to a maximum of 100 points on characteristics such as architecture and historical significance, as outlined above (see “Property Evaluation System”). This score establishes the property’s heritage priority level, as per below:
Priority-One Heritage Sites:
Properties that score 90-100 are recognized as being some of North Bay’s most historic properties and are deemed to be a Priority-One Heritage Site. Properties earn this distinction through outstanding preservation of historically and/or architecturally significant properties. Priority-One Heritage Sites are presented with a commemorative glass plaque, to be affixed on an exterior wall. With the concurrence of the owner, the Municipal Heritage Committee typically organizes a press event to unveil the plaque and publicly acknowledge the property.
Priority-Two Heritage Sites:
Properties that score 80-89 are recognized as having visible architectural and/or historical attributes and are deemed to be a Priority-Two heritage Site. Priority-Two Heritage Sites are recognized for their important contributions to North Bay’s history by way of a certificate.
Priority-Three Heritage Sites:
Properties that score 70-79 have some architectural and/or historical attributes and should be recognized. These properties receive a letter commending the heritage attributes of the property.
Information gathered from the Site Evaluation, research and the scoring chart is then compiled into a Site Evaluation Report. The Site Evaluation Report is intended to be a comprehensive summary of all historical aspects of the property. It will touch upon subjects such as historical events, architecture, persons of interest affiliated with the property (famous owners, architect, etc.).
The Site Evaluation Report varies in length and in depth of information, depending on the amount of research material available to the Committee. Reports are typically written by a solitary author, with all other Committee members sharing in the responsibility of editing. The exception to this structure is the section pertaining to architecture. This portion is typically written by the Committee’s architect.
The Site Evaluation Report is the core of the Municipal Heritage Committee’s functions, documenting properties in an interesting and educative fashion for future generations. The information and text prepared for the Site Evaluation Report is utilized in other information materials, such as this Illustrative Guide and online content.
The Municipal Heritage Committee, in cooperation with the City of North Bay’s Parks and Recreation Department, established the Heritage Site Plaque Program in 2009. This program has resulted in a series of plaques being placed throughout the community on sites that have heritage characteristics but have undergone significant changes. This might mean a building that once was present but has since been removed, or a natural feature that previously utilized in a different manner.
The goal of this initiative is to share the community’s history by featuring an interesting story. By placing the plaque on site, the readers can ostensibly look around and see how the property was once used.
Similar to the aforementioned Glass Plaque Program, the Municipal Heritage Committee receives the property owner’s approval prior to commencing work.