Officially started in 1977 as the Port Hope Business Improvement Area, it formally became recognized as the Heritage BIA in February 1990. At present, over 270 properties in the municipality have been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act because of either architectural or historical significance.
In August 1998 the Ontario Municipal Board approved the Walton Street Heritage Conservation District which includes the north and south sides of Port Hope’s main street between Mill Street & Pine Street. In June 2008, the JOQS Heritage District was approved which includes portions of John, Ontario and Queen Street. There are no immediate plans to expand the Heritage Districts within the HBIA.