Questions?

Answers for Frequently asked Questions

What is a Heritage Conservation District?

The Ontario Heritage Act enables a municipality to designate the whole or any part of an area as a heritage conservation district. This allows City Council to administer guidelines designed to protect and enhance the special character of groups of properties in an area as redevelopment proceeds. The character is established by the overall heritage quality of buildings, streets and open spaces as seen together. Existing Heritage Conservation Districts include Rosedale, Cabbagetown, Harbord Village and the Union Station area.

How is a Heritage Conservation District designated?

Council may identify an area within the municipality as an area to be examined for designation as a Heritage Conservation District, often in response to local neighbourhood initiatives.

The Ontario Heritage Act requires a study of the area, which provides background to the historical, architectural and character-defining features that make the area special. Design guidelines are also developed for the proposed area. Extensive consultation takes place with the community. After the study is completed and consultation with the Toronto Preservation Board has occurred, City Council may pass a by-law that establishes the Heritage Conservation District and implements the District Plan.

Does listing or designation put restrictions on what I do with my property?

Heritage Preservation Services encourages the preservation of a property’s heritage character and acknowledges the need to keep the building efficient and viable. Routine maintenance, minor alterations which do not affect the building’s heritage character or changes that fall within the Heritage Conservation District guidelines are routinely approved. Proposals that have a major impact on the building’s heritage attributes, that do not follow the guidelines for a Heritage Conservation District or involve demolition, require approval by City Council.

Does a heritage listing or designation alter my right to sell my property?

Listing or designation will not interfere with the rights to buy or sell property. If a property is designated or located within a Heritage Conservation District, that information will be registered on title to the property.

Does listing or designation affect the way I use my property?

Building use must comply with applicable zoning. Although Heritage Preservation Services does not comment on use, approval might be required if physical changes are proposed to the building to adapt it to a new use.

Based on experiences of existing heritage districts in Toronto, property values are enhanced, because owners take pride in their property and generally do sustain the visual appeal of their building through regular maintenance.

What is Heritage Preservation Services?

Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) is part of the City Planning Division. It is the professional focal point for the community and property owners on the conservation of the City’s historic resources.

Does the City of Toronto value its heritage?

The City of Toronto deems heritage conservation to be a priority in the development of the City. The City of Toronto Official Plan expresses City Council’s policy of protecting and enhancing heritage properties and districts within its jurisdiction.

What makes a property important?

A building, structure or site may be considered important for a variety of reasons. It may have architectural value or it may relate to a significant person, an important event in the history of the city or a critical time in the development of one of its neighbourhoods. A building may be well crafted or represent a characteristic of the community. A building does not have to be “old” to be an important heritage property. Many modern buildings and structures such as Roy Thomson Hall and the CN Tower are significant parts of our heritage and are symbols of our city. Nor does a property have to be a grand public building – small cottages, warehouses, industrial structures and bridges are also valuable legacies of the past and deserve to be protected and preserved.

What is the Inventory of Heritage Properties?

Heritage properties are recorded in the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, which indicates that Heritage Preservation Services will be involved when applications for municipal permits or approvals are made. Heritage Preservation Services recommends to City Council the properties that should be included on the Inventory. The recommendations are based on provincial criteria that relate to a property’s cultural heritage value.

How does designation differ from listing?

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are different. “Listing” a property on the Inventory of Heritage Properties allows Heritage Preservation Services to review development and building applications affecting those properties. “Designation” confers a legal status on a property by a specific city by-law under the Ontario Heritage Act and gives City Council the legal authority to refuse an application that will adversely affect the property’s heritage attributes.

Does listing or designation affect the interior of my property?

Listing or designation will only affect those features, interior or exterior, that are considered to be of special heritage interest. When interiors are listed or designated, they are usually publicly accessible spaces such as the significant interior of a church or a head office entrance hall.


Source: City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services

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