Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District – Proceeding to Plan Phase

On July 28, 2015, the Toronto Preservation Board (TPB) will consider a Heritage Preservation Services staff report recommending proceeding to the Plan Phase for the Historic Yonge Street HCD.

The TPB meeting starts at 2pm in Committee Room 1, City Hall.

The staff report and attachments are available here:


TPB agenda is available here:



Historic Yonge Street HCD Study: Community Consultation #2

The second community consultation meeting for the Historic Yonge Street HCD Study was held last week to discuss the conclusions and recommendations of the HCD study.HYSConsultation

For more information, please download the presentation.



You can also download the panels presented at the public meeting here.

If you have any feedback or comments please let us know!


Historic Yonge Street HCD Study: Second Community Consultation

The City is holding a Community Consultation meeting where you can learn more about the Historic Yonge Street  Heritage Conservation District Study, ask questions and share your comments.

Date: March 26th, 2014
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Place: YMCA, Grosvenor Room, 20 Grosvenor Street, Toronto

Historic Yonge Street Notice

Hstoric Yonge Street Community Consultation #2

We hope to see you there!

Februrary HCD Study Update

Welcome to another exciting year for HCDs in Toronto!

St. Lawrence Market and The Esplanade

St. Lawrence Market and The Esplanade

We are now wrapping up the second half of the HCD study process for our five HCD Study areas:

Historic Yonge Street HCD Study:

• The consultants are preparing preliminary mapping of proposed Character areas within the Study area, and are examining a preliminary refined boundary. Mapping of themes and typologies is currently underway.
• The survey forms nearing completion, the quality assurance and the final review process is currently underway.
• Staff and the consultant team will be scheduling a community consultation meeting in the spring to discuss the draft HCD Study findings.

Queen Street East HCD Study

• With the help of dedicated volunteers, the Queen Street East HCD consultant team is nearing completion of the field surveys of over 100 properties in the proposed boundary area.
• On January 16, 2014 the consultant team met with some of the Riverdale Historical Society.
• The second of two Community Consultation Meetings for all interested in the HCD Study will be scheduled for late spring.

King Street at Spadina

King Street at Spadina

King-Spadina HCD Study

• The study team completed stakeholder consultations with resident’s and neighbourhood associations as well as the local BIA in September and November 2013.
• The study team is currently evaluating the 390 properties in the study area and making recommendations for HCD boundaries.
• The recommendations will be presented at the an upcoming community consultation meeting.

Garden District:

• Consultants have completed final field work and final recording during ‘leaf-off’ conditions, and have nearly completed the preparation of the detailed survey forms.
• The consultants will be continuing public outreach efforts by hosting a community workshop to get ideas from the community, as well as discuss preliminary findings.
• The second public consultation meeting to is proposed for early spring.

St. Nicholas Street, 1975

St. Nicholas Street, 1975

St. Lawrence HCD Study

• The consultants are currently reviewing and analyzing the built form and landscape survey data.
• They are also beginning to identify the neighbourhood’s unique historic themes and design typologies.
• The consultant team will present the HCD study draft at the second public consultation meeting, to be announced.

Please check back regularly for updates, and announcements regarding the upcoming community consultation meetings.

Why Do HCDs Matter?

As we grow and change, the identity of our city is nurtured and cultivated by the choices we make. We recognize that some stories, and some of our built identity, adds value and tells us something about ourselves.  We see this heritage as an asset; the future city needs to draw upon it to be authentic moving forward.

HCD’s are a policy tool designed to ensure we do just that.  By managing growth to be in keeping with our heritage, not only do we reinforce a distinct sense of place in our city, but we also add economic value.  The Brookings Institute states, “As a local economic development tool, heritage preservation has more than proven its value.  While it is often more efficient and profitable to redevelop buildings, even more importantly, heritage preservation boosts land values.”

But in Toronto, hasn’t so much already been lost, that it’s hardly worth saving it at all?  I often hear this refrain.  And its true – we are late to the game and we do have some significant catching up to do when it comes to protecting our heritage.

I recall, however, a few years back, while working on the Queen Street West Heritage Conservation District, and in consultation with Anthony Tung (author of Preserving the World’s Great Cities), I learned that when New York City implemented some of its key districts in Tribeca in 1991 and Soho back in 1973, the same argument was made.  Today, these Districts, as a result of clear regulation that has shaped growth over many decades are more unified, more distinct, and more desirable, than they were 50 years ago. In fact, these districts have been so successful that the Tribeca district was extended in 1992 and 2002, while the Soho Cast Iron District was extended in 2010.

Heritage Conservation District studies are such a useful tool precisely because they allow us to look at a cluster of heritage resources, and to put a policy framework in place that ensures new development builds upon distinct and valued characteristics over time.  As districts evolve, the change that takes place enhances, rather than detracts from, the uniqueness that already exists.

So I am thrilled that you are reading this blog.  It will be your one stop resource for information from City Staff and the consultants we are working with on the implementation of new HCD areas in the city.

We trust you will find it to be a valuable, interesting resource.

Jennifer Keesmaat

Chief Planner and Executive Director,
City Planning Division,
City of Toronto

What We’re Up To and Why We’re Doing It

Welcome to the HCDs in Toronto Blog!

This blog is maintained by Heritage Preservation Services within the City of Toronto Planning Division and is designed to share information and receive feedback from anyone who is interested in our Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Studies and Plans. The City is currently studying five potential HCDs comprising over 2000 properties to determine if they should be designated as HCDs. We invite you to look around and learn more about these exciting projects, and contact us if you want more information.

Last year, City Council directed us to start work on HCD Studies in King-Spadina, Historic Yonge Street, the Garden District, St. Lawrence and Queen Street East. We’ve worked hard to get these studies underway and have great consulting teams helping us lead the projects. You can find out more about our consultants here too. Each area will be subject to two phases of work – a HCD study followed by a HCD plan, prior to designation.

The purpose of the HCD study is to determine if the area warrants designation as a HCD and to develop a full understanding of what makes it significant and a valued part of the city. The plan phase develops and implements policies and guidelines for conserving the valued character and sense of place that exists within the district, and to welcome the type of new development that fits in and benefits a HCD. A plan is adopted by bylaw when a district is designated.

As we work through the process of studying and planning the HCDs you will see new posts and information. We’ll use this blog to share information on milestones, notices and ways to participate in the process. Most of all, this blog is a way for you to communicate with us too, so please post comments and ideas on our blog entries– we want to share the excitement with you!

Scott Barrett

Sr. Coordinator,
Heritage Preservation Services,
City Planning Division,
City of Toronto

Historic Yonge Street HCD Study: Background

The Historic Yonge Street area was nominated by the Bay Cloverhill Community Association (BCCA) and the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA), through the nomination process described by City HCD policy.  The HCD Study for Historic Yonge Street was authorized at the August 16, 2012 meeting of City Council. The Historic Yonge Street HCD study area is currently subject to the North Downtown Yonge Street Planning Framework study.

Historic Yonge

HCD Study Authorization Report

HCD Prioritization Report

Public Consultation #1 Community Presentation

Public Consultation #1 Panels

Historic Photos

Historic Yonge Street HCD Study Timeline

April, 2012 “HCDs in Toronto: Procedures, Policies and Terms of Reference” adopted by Council.
June, 2012 Bay Cloverhill Community Association (BCCA) and the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA) Nominate the Historic Yonge Street Area.
October, 2012 Historic Yonge Street is authorized for study and identified as a high priority study area.
May, 2012 DIALOG was retained by the City to complete the HCD Study.
Summer, 2013 Community Volunteers participate in the Built Form and Landscape Survey.
September, 2013 Preliminary public consultation to introduce community to the HCD Study.

Historic Yonge Street History and Character

  • Historic Yonge Street consists mainly of low rise 19th century commercial buildings, interspersed with mid to low rise residential and mixed use infill developments from the 1920s-40s, as well as 20th century apartment structures.
  • Yonge Street opened in 1796 as a rough, but straight, path from Toronto Harbour to the Holland River near Lake Simcoe.
  • In the early part of the 19th century this section of Yonge Street, north of College, south of Bloor, primarily consisted of estate residential buildings, similar to the early development of Church and Jarvis Streets.
  • However, later in the 1870s and 80s, Yonge Street saw a boom in commercial growth, and increasingly populated by small shops and later, typical Ontario main street commercial buildings.
  • Historically and contemporarily a primary commercial artery of Toronto, Yonge Street is informally considered to be ‘Toronto’s Main Street’.
  • Yonge Street has been the location of many of Toronto’s annual parades, beginning in 1905 with Toronto’s Santa Claus parade. Yonge Street has also been the location of numerous spontaneous celebrations, such as:
    • Street parties at the end of WWII in 1945;
    • In 1967 when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup;
    • In 1992 and 1993 when the Blue Jays won the World Series; and
    • During the Winter Olympics in 2002 and 2010, when the Canadian men’s hockey team won the gold medal.
  • Yonge Street retains a significant number of its historic buildings and heritage character. The unique character of Yonge Street is defined by the variety and vitality of its eclectic mix of uses, as well as the low rise 19th-century built form.

North from CollegeHistoric Yonge Street Study Area Boundary

  • The area proposed by the nominators includes the Yonge Street commercial corridor and adjacent blocks and lanes, located south of Davenport Road, east of Bay Street, west of Church and north of Carleton/College Street.
  • Staff have reviewed the proposed boundary, and through a site visit and preliminary survey of the area with the nominators,  identified the study boundary.
  • The study boundary includes the east and west sides of the Yonge Street commercial corridor, between Davenport Rd. to the north, and Carleton to the south, as well as commercial areas  directly to the west of Yonge Street on Carleton Street, Wellesley Street, St. Joseph Street, St. Nicholas Street, and Irwin Ave.
  • 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

The the team of consultants working with the City of Toronto on the Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Study includes:

  • DIALOG , the planning, consultation, and urban design project lead.
  •  Philip Goldsmith Architect, an award-winning heritage architect in heritage restoration, preservation, and conservation.
  •  Archaeological Services Inc., who specializes in historical and archaeological research built heritage and cultural landscapes and,
  • Carl Bray, an advisor conservation district planning, conservation policy & guidelines.

The Study includes an area along the Yonge Street from College Street to Davenport Road comprising a mix of retail, mixed-use, office, and residential along the corridor.

The purpose of the HCD Study is to analyze the Study area in detail to understand its content, evolution, structure, history, character, and cultural heritage values. The characteristics of the Historic Yonge Street HCD will be defined through consultation and studied in relation to existing buildings, structures, and landscapes in order to evaluate the District’s heritage importance. The HCD Study will determine if the Study area demonstrates cultural heritage value, integrity, and definable character sufficient to warrant HCD designation and a corresponding Plan.


The purpose of the Study is to:

  • Document the area’s history and resources
  • Evaluate design, historical, contextual, social, and natural values
  • Identify heritage significance, character, attributes, and boundaries

The purpose of the Plan is to:

  • Finalize a statement of district significance
  • Finalize HCD boundaries
  • Identify heritage attributes and contributing resources
  • Identify areas of general archaeological potential and recommendations
  • Recommend changes to zoning and OP provisions
  • Develop conservation policies and guidelines


On September 24th, 2013, the first public consultation for the Historic Yonge Street area was held.

Download the Community Presentation, along with the Display Panels for more information.

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