FAQs

Who are you and what is this site for?

  • This is a City of Toronto blog about current Heritage Conservation District Studies and Plans in Toronto.
  • It is maintained by Heritage Preservation Services staff, from the City of Toronto, City Planning Division.
  • It is an online resource for community members and stakeholders, where heritage consultants and City staff post information about ongoing HCD Study and Plan projects.
  • Please read our About page for more information.

What is a Heritage Conservation District (HCD)?

  • HCDs protect and manage change within historic neighbourhoods to maintain their heritage value and character.
  • They have defined a boundary and are designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA).
  • They reflect the historic significance and community heritage values of an area.
  • They are evaluated by heritage professionals, planners, urban designers and archaeologists, sometimes with the help of volunteers and community members, to determine cultural value.
  • HCDs are designated by bylaws that are registered on title of each property.

Why does the City of Toronto designate HCDs?

  • HCDs contribute to our quality of life and the City’s competitive edge.
  • They reinforce our identity, create self awareness and promote social cohesion.
  • Our City’s neighbourhoods have history and character that contribute to a strong sense of place.
  • HCDs are one of the most important tools for the managing growth in a high-growth heritage environment.
  • HCDs help to conserve and improve those areas through a values-based conservation planning framework.

What provincial legislation enables HCDs to be studied and designated?

  • HCDs are protected under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA)
  • The OHA sets out the provisions for studying, planning and designating HCDs
  • The OHA also regulates permits for alterations and demolitions within a HCD

What is the City of Toronto HCD policy?

  • HCDs in Toronto, Procedures, Policies, and Terms of Reference was adopted by Council in 2012.
  • It describes all City procedures, policies and guidelines for HCD:
    • Nominations
    • Studies
    • Plans
  • It creates a fair and transparent process for creating HCDs that is:
    • consistent in conservation expectations;
    • responsive to the unique heritage significance and character of each district; and
    • in keeping with the requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) and related policy.
  • This new policy encourages increased feedback and consultation.

What is the difference between a HCD Study and a HCD Plan?

  • An HCD designation has two phases, the Study and the Plan.
  • Phase 1, The Study:
    • Records the history and resources of a HCD Study Area.
    • Evaluates its cultural heritage value, character and attributes.
    • Concludes whether sufficient cultural heritage value exists to warrant designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.
    • Lays out next steps for a HCD Plan.
  • Phase 2, The Plan:
    • Provides the framework and requirements for the conservation and management of a heritage conservation district.
    • Contains policies, guidelines, and procedures for ensuring that the cultural heritage values, character and integrity of the district and contributing properties are conserved in the long term.
    • States clear objectives, definitive policies for heritage conservation, as well as relevant planning requirements and procedures.
  • An HCD is not considered designated until a HCD Plan has been completed and is adopted by City Council by By-Law.

How do you know if an area is significant enough to be a HCD?

  • Every potential district is evaluated by a set of criteria to determine if it demonstrates cultural heritage value.
  • The Criteria are:
    • The district has design value or physical value;
    • The district has historical value or associative value;
    • The district has contextual value;
    • The district has social value or community value;
    • The district has natural value or scientific value.
  • If an area meets any one of these criteria, it is considered significant, however most HCDs meet more than one criterion.

How do I designate my neighbourhood as a HCD?

  • You can nominate your area of Toronto for a Heritage Conservation District. Please see our Nomination Form and the HCDs in Toronto policy document for more information.

How does a HCD designation work?

  • Every property within a HCD boundary is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act (2005).
  • Every HCD has a unique HCD Plan written that contains policy and guidelines for how the area is to be managed.
  • The HCD plan also identifies properties in the boundary as contributing or non-contributing to the heritage value, character, and integrity of the district.
  • HCDs help to manage change in districts by:
    • Providing policy and guidelines for how to conserve and appropriately adapt contributing resources
    • Providing policy and guidance on how to build new structures in the district that fit in, but are of their own time
  • Changes are managed through heritage permits under the Ontario Heritage Act. These permits have no fee and are issued by Council and staff.

Does a HCD designation mean I can’t change my property?

  • HCD designation does not prevent future change and development in a community.
  • HCD designation is not intended to prevent development, does require development to fit in and be compatible with the character of the area.

What can I do to my property if it is designated?

  • You can add or make changes to your property, or demolish a non-contributing structure, as long as you obtain a heritage permit and the changes:
    • Are keeping with and support local heritage character and the individual HCD Plan policies.
    • Do not negatively affect the cultural heritage value of the area

Will a HCD designation affect my property values?

Will a HCD designation affect my insurance premiums?

  • The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Insurance Bureau of Canada both state that insurance premiums should not go up as a result of heritage designation.
  • Heritage property owners are encouraged to shop around to find the right insurance provider.

Will a HCD designation affect the use of my property?

  • No, HCD designation should not affect the use of your property.  If you are proposing changes to the exterior of your building to adapt it to a new use,  a heritage permit may be required.
  • Property use is regulated by Zoning By-Law.

Can a HCD designation be appealed?

  • Yes, a HCD designation can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board within 30 days of its adoption by City Council.

Are there any grants available for heritage properties?

  • The City of Toronto maintains a Heritage Grant Program.
  • All contributing properties within a HCD can apply for a heritage grant.
  • Heritage grants are awarded to assist heritage property owners with the conservation of their heritage property.

Where do I find information about existing designated HCDs?

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