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Conservation Districts

Kingston has two of Ontario’s oldest Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD) and one of the largest:

  • Barriefield Village (established in 1981, updated in 1992 to 2016)
  • Market Square (established in 1985, updated in 2013)
  • Old Sydenham (largest district established in 2015)

These three districts protect over 700 heritage properties, representing over 200 years of Kingston’s history. 

If you own a property within these districts and would like to make changes to the outside of the building, you may need a Heritage Permit.

Kingston offers grants for work that restores and conserves designated buildings. If a designated property has a heritage easement agreement registered on it, it may be eligible for the City of Kingston’s Heritage Property Tax Refund Program.

District plans for these three districts are available upon request. Please call at 613-546-0000 or Contact Us.


Historic two-story stone house.

The Barriefield Heritage Conservation District sits on a high embankment by the Cataraqui River, near Highway 2 and Highway 15. It is located across from Fort Henry, a National Historic Site of Canada, and Canadian Forces Base Kingston. 

Named after Commodore Sir Robert Barrie in 1820, the village emerged around 1814 to accommodate increased activity during the War of 1812 and Fort Henry's 1830s reconstruction. 

The village features a unique architectural style, with one-and-a-half-storey wood or stone homes, primarily single detached residences with a few semi-detached or row-type houses. While some buildings have changed over time and new ones have been added, Barriefield Village retains its 19th-century rural character. 

Market Square

The Market Square Heritage Conservation District is located in downtown Kingston. It showcases diverse commercial and institutional properties dating back to the 19th century, reflecting two centuries of city development. Kingston designated it as a Heritage Conservation District in 1985, based on a study by Dr. Harold Kalman and Lily Inglis. 

Kingston Market Square with umbrellas and tables on a sunny day

Market Square, established in 1801, and Kingston City Hall, built in 1843-1844, anchor the district. The square has a rich history, including wartime use and hosting significant political events. 

Today, this district remains vibrant, hosting markets, civic activities, businesses and residences for over two centuries.

Old Sydenham

Large historic brick house with a black roof and a front porch.

The Old Sydenham includes two national historic sites of Canada and a portion of the UNESCO world heritage site and it’s known its beautiful architecture and historic setting. It has around 550 properties and is bordered by Johnson Street, Barrie Street, King Street East and Lake Ontario. 

The district showcases some of Canada’s finest examples of 19th-century architecture and represents over 200 years of Kingston’s history. 

Heritage designation 

The Ontario Heritage Act has two municipal designation types: Part IV for individual heritage properties and Part V for Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs). 

A Part IV designation protects the heritage value of an individual property through the identification of heritage attributes, which are protected through a Bylaw. Properties located within an HCD may have both a Part IV and Part V designation.   

A Part V designation allows the Council to manage changes in a specific area by adopting a District Plan with policies and guidelines to preserve and enhance the district's unique character. 

A Heritage Conservation District, unlike individual property designations, considers a group of properties and their significance, including vistas, plazas, streetscapes and historical connections. It covers physical heritage structures and landscaping. 

  • Designation supports the historic character of the area and enhances it by managing change to the outside of properties. 
  • Designation celebrates what makes the district special, fostering neighbourhood pride and encouraging compatible improvements to public and private properties. 
  • Each district has a Conservation District Plan, which includes rules to guide change and protect its heritage character. 
  • Our staff manages requests for heritage permits using the policies of the district plans. Routine maintenance does not require a permit. Minor alterations, as defined in the plan, will be approved by staff under the terms of the Procedural Bylaw for Heritage. Larger projects will be reviewed by the Heritage Properties Committee and approved by Council. 
  • Designation does not require owners to restore or maintain buildings beyond what is expected of any property owner. 
  • Designation does not allow public access to private property. 
  • Designation establishes a fair, clear and efficient process for managing the heritage character of the district. 
  • District properties are eligible for certain municipal grants. 

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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