Toronto Properties of Historical Significance
Toronto is not a very old city when compared to cities in Europe such as Rome, London or Paris. Yet, we have some mighty fine heritage buildings, structures and sites that are considered to be of historical significance and are deemed to be listed or designated as “heritage”.
These properties are considered important for a variety of reasons. A property may have architectural value or it may relate to a significant person, an important event in the city’s history or a critical time in the development of a particular neighbourhood. The “heritage factor” may relate to a particular craft, style of characteristic of the community. A building doesn’t even have to be old to be considered an important heritage property. Take Roy Thomson Hall or the CN Tower for example. They’re both significant symbols of Toronto. A property can be a grand structure or a small cottage.
Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties
There are approximately 9000 (and counting) Heritage Properties as listed in the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties. Of these properties, approximately 4500 are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Designation Versus Listing…What’s the Difference?
Many people are confused regarding a building being listed or designated “heritage” and use these terms interchangeably yet they are actually quite different in status on the Heritage Property Inventory.
Listed as “Heritage”
A property owner may choose to voluntarily list their property on the Inventory, which would allow the Heritage Preservation Services body to review any future development and building applications affecting those properties. Owners of listed properties are required to give the City of Toronto at least 60 days notice of their intention to demolish the property. The fact that the property is on the “list” means it hasn’t quite fit the criteria for protection under any of the city’s heritage by-laws yet it allows the city to still consider the property “protectable”. It’s much like being on the city’s watchlist and if the city believed there were reasonable grounds to prevent any amendments to the property’s appearance or structure the City of Toronto’s heritage bodies could protest demolition or drastic change to the property by attending a public zoning application hearing.
Designated as “Heritage”
Unlike being “listed”, a designation confers a legal status on a property by a specific by-law under the Ontario Heritage Act giving Toronto City Council the legal authority to refuse any application that would adversely affect the property’s heritage attributes. There are two categories for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act: Part IV is for an individual property and Part V is for the Heritage Conservation District designation. The Ontario Heritage Trust, an Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture agency, is responsible for protecting any designated properties from drastic change or demolition.