Federal boost for heritage and cultural sites

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Liberal government announced it will increase spending in heritage and culture in its federal budget released Tuesday.

An estimated $1.9 billion over five years for arts and culture organizations will help facilitate repairs to existing cultural institutions, as well as for the construction of new facilities. In addition, substantial funding for infrastructure—$120 billion over ten years—could also mitigate heritage concerns.

The National Trust for Canada hopes some of these infrastructure funds partly allocated for renovations, retrofits and affordable housing, will be directed towards historic assets.

“With climate change one of the pressing issues of our era, we look forward to working with Government to ensure that a robust strategy for renewing existing and historic places helps make optimal use of infrastructure funding,” said Natalie Bull, executive director for the National Trust.

Budget 2016 also proposes to immediately invest $168.2 million over two years for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The money will aid the renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities, including not-for-profit arts and heritage organizations, cities, local governments and Indigenous peoples’ institutions.

The National Trust notes that this program has previously benefited historic places including Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre in Toronto and Spencerville Mill near Ottawa.

The budget also includes an investment of $20 million over two years to Parks Canada National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing program, which has previously saved  Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine NHS in East Coulee, Alberta and the Dominion Exhibition Display Building NHS in Brandon, Manitoba, previously listed on Heritage Canada’s top ten most threatened list. Funds will also be directed to historic lighthouses and railway stations.

“Historic places are an excellent investment in stimulating the economy,” added Bull. “Investment in rehabilitating older buildings and sites creates green jobs and promotes environmental sustainability, with the added benefit of renewing a legacy of places that celebrate our history and our future on the eve of an important anniversary.”

Approaching the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, Budget 2016 commits $150 to community projects to renovate, expand and improve existing community and cultural infrastructure in all regions of the country.


Photo: Dominion Exhibition Display Building NHS in Brandon, Manitoba, constructed in 1913 for agricultural display at the annual Dominion Exhibition and previously listed on Heritage Canada’s top ten most threatened list.

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