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:
- 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?
- Recent studies indicate that property values are similar or higher in HCDs vs. comparable non-designated properties and indicate that HCD property values may be more able to withstand market downturns.
- Two recent local studies on the topic include:
- The Effect of Heritage Conservation Districts on Residential House Prices in Toronto, Ontario April 2010, Murray X. White, Ryerson University
- Heritage Conservation Districts Work! – Heritage Conservation District Study, 2009, Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Robert Shipley, University of Waterloo
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?
- Information regarding existing designated HCDs can be found here.