Garden District HCD Study: Background

The Garden District is a predominately residential area, with some commercial areas on arterial roads, located in Downtown Toronto. Also known as Downtown East, the Garden District is found roughly between Allen Gardens and Moss Park. The Garden District HCD study is a part of the larger Downtown East Revitalization Initiative.

Garden District

HCD Study Authorization Report

HCD Prioritization Report

Community Consultation #1 Presentation

Feedback Form

Garden District History and Character

  • The  Garden District area was subdivided in the 1840s and 1850s from the William Jarvis, Thomas Ridot and William Allan park lots, on which the Jarvis and Sherburne Street residential corridors were built.
  • In 1880 the area was recognized as one of Toronto’s most fashionable neighbourhoods. However, by 1890 this popularity had begun to decline as Victorian architectural styles became less popular.
  • This led to a number of properties being either sold to institutions, or demolished and replaced by Classical Revival or Edwardian town houses and 3-4 storey apartment buildings.
  • In 1955 the City of Toronto Parks Department recommended that the subject study area be demolished to create a sweeping “Central Park” for Toronto. This recommendation was not approved and today the area, which still contains a mix of housing, is dominated by a variety of grand Victorian, Edwardian and Second Empire style residential houses.

1858 Bolton Map

Garden District HCD Study Timeline

November, 2011 City Council directed staff to prepare a report to authorize the area for study.
April, 2012 “HCDs in Toronto: Procedures, Policies and Terms of Reference” adopted by Council.
October, 2012 The Garden District is authorized for study and identified as a high priority study area.
May, 2012 MHBC Planning Ltd. was retained by the City to complete the HCD Study.
June, 2013 Preliminary public consultation to introduce community to the HCD Study.
September, 2013 A second public consultation was held at St. Lukes United Church.

Garden District Proposed Study Boundary

  • The HCD Study boundary was determined by Heritage Preservation Services staff, a site visit and preliminary survey of the area in Spring, 2013.
  • The majority of Jarvis Street, Seaton House, the Ontario Youth Court building at 311 Jarvis, which backs onto George Street, as well as several residential and commercial structures that do not appear to be consistent with the overall character of the area have been excluded from the Study Boundary.
  • The Ontario Youth Court building is provincially owned, and as such cannot be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act at this time.
  • Sherbourne Street is to be included in the study area, as the majority of both sides of the street appear to share a historic quality and character consistent with the Garden District study area and appear to have a high level of heritage integrity.
  • The final boundary of the HCD has yet to be determined. The consulting team are analyzing properties just outside of the boundary and community feedback to determine the final HCD boundary.

Heritage Consultant Profile

Work on a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study for the Garden District area has begun. MHBC Planning is the consultant doing this work for the City, along with Heritage Preservation Services staff. MHBC is a Planning, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture firm, located in Kitchener, ON. The MHBC Cultural Heritage team will be preparing the HCD study, with their multi-disciplinary team of Planners , Landscape Architects and Heritage Specialists. The study team has worked on many Heritage Conservation Districts in other municipalities, including recent work in Oakville, Guelph and Oil Springs Ontario.


An introductory public meeting was held on September 24th at Saint Luke’s United Church, located at 353 Sherbourne Street. You can download the presentation and feedback form for more information.


MHBC has been collecting background research and doing fieldwork in the area. You may have seen them out in the study area working on the property inventory. Work will continue on the study through the remainder of 2013 and into 2014. In early 2014, MHBC will release a Draft Study Report for public review and comment, and will hold a focus group workshop to invite feedback from citizens with business interests, infill or redevelopment interests, residential property interests, heritage interests and social/institutional interests. Following public input, the document will be finalized, and considered by the Preservation Board. Information and updates regarding the HCD Study process will be posted on this blog as the project progresses. The MHBC Project Team and Preservation Services Staff look forward to working with the Garden District community on this project.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the Garden District HCD Study, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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