Ottawa, ON February 27, 2009 The Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF) expressed measured satisfaction that the federal Budget tabled this afternoon by the Minister of Finance includes some recognition of the need to invest in historic preservation.
The budget contained $75 million for the long-dormant National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program which will make bricks-and-mortar matching funds available for Canada’s approximately 900 National Historic Sites (NHS). There is also $323 million over two years for the restoration of federally-owned heritage buildings and $2 million to plan the future of Quebec City’s historic drill hall, the Manege Militaire, a NHS damaged by fire last year.
The budget contains a number of measures which while not specifically targeting heritage buildings, can be used to encourage much needed investment in them.
$60 million over two years for cultural infrastructure which will benefit local theatres, libraries, and small museums, many of which are housed in historic buildings.
A temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit to a maximum of $1,350 for repair and renovations of residences. These new credits can be stacked with grants of up to $5,000 from the existing ecoENERGY Retrofit grant program, beefed up with an additional $300 million over two years.
$2 billion in low-cost loans from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for neighbourhood regeneration projects that communities can tap into.
“These amounts will help keep traditional skills alive and prolong the life of iconic places which shape our identity, create jobs, and attract tourist dollars,” said HCF executive director Natalie Bull from Parliament Hill. “But HCF is disappointed that a broad federal incentive for the rehabilitation of historic properties is absent from this budget.”
In the United States, a strong preservation industry exists because 30 years ago, the U.S. established a 20 percent federal tax credit for rehabilitation of heritage buildings and a 10 percent tax credit for the rehabilitation of non-heritage, non-residential buildings built before 1936. The program has leveraged over $36 billion in private investment in historic buildings with a 5 to 1 ratio of private investment to federal tax credits. An average of 45 new jobs are created by each project.
The Heritage Canada Foundation is a national, membership-based, non-governmental organization created in 1973 as Canada’s National Trust to encourage the conservation.
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