A Winnipeg city committee has given its approval to designate the St. Boniface Cathedral a special heritage site.

City hall's heritage committee has agreed to give the cathedral a grade one heritage designation.

That means the building is protected and can never be demolished or changed.

"You cannot alter the interior space so there comes obligations but very few buildings - probably maybe a couple dozen in the city (have the designation) - so you're looking at a landmark building,” said Cindy Tugwell from Heritage Winnipeg.

The city designation puts the cathedral, its ruins and cemetery on Winnipeg's buildings conservation list.

It also allows the parish to apply for grants to help it look after the site.

"What it does is it opens up opportunities for the officials here at the cathedral to access support in order to help support maintaining the ruins,” said Philippe Mailhot, director of the St. Boniface Museum.

The cathedral is currently undergoing $6 million in upgrades. The original structure dated back to 1908, but burned in a massive blaze in 1968.

The current church was built inside the ruins, following the fire.

The complex is also a provincial heritage site and is considered a major architectural and artistic symbol.