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Cultural Heritage Act

Adopted on October 19, the Cultural Heritage Act came into effect on October 19, 2012. It replaces the Cultural Property Act which had been in force since 1972. This change required the adoption of transitional measures to align the concepts conveyed by the Cultural Property Act with those of the Cultural Heritage Act.

Transitional measures1

Only those transitional measures that have an impact on the broker’s work are discussed in this guide.

Cultural property classified and recognized prior to October 19, 2012 under the defunct Cultural Property Act became classified heritage property under the Cultural Heritage Act.2

Protected areas established prior to October 19, 2012 became protection areas for classified heritage immovables under the Cultural Heritage Act.3

Heritage sites established before 19 October 2012 remain heritage sites under the new Act.

In cases where a classification or declaration process was initiated under the Cultural Property Act, it continues under the Cultural Heritage Act.5

Immovables, protected areas, heritage sites and historic or natural districts that existed before October 19, 2012 under the Cultural Property Act continue to exist under the Cultural Heritage Act, with the necessary changes in the new legislation.6

Definitions7

Protection area: an area surrounding a classified heritage immovable, defined by the Minister to protect the immovable.

Heritage property: a heritage document, ensemble, immovable, object or site.

Heritage immovable: an immovable property that has archaeological, architectural, artistic, emblematic, ethnological, historical, landscape, scientific, social, urbanistic or technological value, in particular a building, a structure, vestiges or land.

Heritage cultural landscape: a land area recognized by a community for its remarkable landscape features, which are the result of the interaction of natural and human factors and are worth conserving and, if applicable, enhancing because of their historical or emblematic interest, or their value as a source of identity.

Heritage site: a place, a group of immovables or, in the case of a heritage site referred to in section 58, a land area that is of interest for its archaeological, architectural, artistic, emblematic, ethnological, historical, identity, landscape, scientific, social, urbanistic or technological value.

DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE BROKER

Duty to inform and advise

If a broker represents a client who wishes to sell, purchase or alter an immovable that falls within one of these definitions, he must inform the client that certain authorizations are required, depending on whether the property is recognized, classified or located in a protection area.

1 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 241-265.
2 CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 242.
3 CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 244.
4 CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 246.
5 CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 248.
6 CQLR, c. P-9.002, s2.

Classification of heritage property

Where to find the information?

  • Certificate of location
    • Note that the certificate of location must be up to date, as the designation or classification can happen at any time.
  • Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec7
    • This is the register that contains the complete list of protected heritage properties under the Cultural Heritage Act, including immovable cultural heritage (immovables, sites, places and landscapes) accessible via the website of the Conseil du patrimoine culturel at www.cpcq.gouv.qc.ca.
  • Letter from the Ministère sent to the owner.
  • Online Québec Land Register
    • with the lot number of the immovable concerned to determine if it is classified as a heritage property, is part of a protection area, a heritage cultural landscape or a heritage site.
  • Clerk or secretary-treasurer of the city where the immovable is located.

7 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 5.

Alterations

When a buyer is interested in purchasing an ancestral property that has been designated as a recognized cultural property and is planning to make certain alterations to the interior of the building or to expand it, the buyer should be aware that under section 48 of the Cultural Heritage Act:

“No person may, without the Minister’s authorization, alter, restore, repair, change in any way or demolish all or part of a classified heritage property or, in the case of an immovable, move it or use it as a backing for a construction.”

The Minister may obtain an order of the Superior Court for the cessation of an act or operation undertaken or continued without authorization. The Minister may also obtain an order from the Superior Court to:8

  1. have the necessary work carried out to bring the property into conformity with the conditions of an authorization;
  2. return the property to its former condition;
  3. demolish a construction.

The work is carried out at the expense of the owner.9

Minister’s right of pre-emption in case of sale

For the sale of a classified heritage immovable or an immovable situated on a classified heritage site, section 54 of the Act10 specifies:

“No person may, without giving the Minister at least 60 days’ prior written notice, sell:

  1. […]
  2. a classified heritage immovable or an immovable situated on a classified heritage site.

The prior written notice must contain the description of the property, state the name and domicile of its owner and the name of the person interested in acquiring it. The notice must also contain the price the person interested in acquiring it is willing to pay and the owner is willing to accept.”

“The Minister may acquire classified heritage property referred to in the first paragraph of section 54 by preference over any other purchaser at the price the purchaser is willing to pay. To exercise this right of pre-emption, the Minister must, within the period of 60 days provided for in section 54, notify in writing the intention to acquire the heritage property to the person offering to sell it.”11

At the expiry of this period, the classified heritage immovable or the immovable situated on a heritage site may be sold to the person interested in acquiring it, but it must be at the price submitted to the Minister if the Minister has not notified his intention of acquiring the property.12

8 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 195(1).
9 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 195(3).
10 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002.
11 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 56.
12 Cultural Heritage Act, CQLR, c. P-9.002, s. 57.

DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE BROKER

When taking up the brokerage contract

The “yes” box must be checked under clause D2.6 b) of the form Declarations by the seller of the immovable, and details entered under clause D14 to the effect that the immovable is subject to the Cultural Heritage Act.

For a promise to purchase

Since the Minister has a right of pre-emption, the promise to purchase or the counter-proposal must be made conditional to the Minister not exercising that right.

Once the transaction proposal is accepted, the seller must send a written notice of 60 days or more to the Minister; this notice must contain the cadastral designation of the immovable, the names and addresses of the seller and of the prospective buyer, and the purchase price offered.

In the event that the Minister does not exercise his right of pre-emption within the allotted period, the seller can consider the condition fulfilled and send a notice to this effect to the buyer.

Last updated on: May 18, 2022
Reference number: 208977