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Frequently asked Questions


Question:

What is a Heritage Conservation District?

Answer:

The Ontario Heritage Act enables municipalities to designate the whole or any part of an area, recognized as having heritage value for the community, as a Heritage Conservation District. This allows the municipality to administer guidelines designed to protect and enhance the special character of properties in that area. The character of an area is established by the overall heritage quality of its buildings, streets and open spaces as seen together.

The “Weston Village Phase 1” Heritage Conservation District was approved by Toronto City Council in August, 2007. It is composed of Cross Street, Little Avenue, King Street Crescent, most of Fern Avenue, and parts of George Street, Church Street and Weston Road.

Further information on this topic is available at the City of Toronto’s website at:

http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=998752cc66061410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

Question:

How does the heritage designation process work in Toronto?

Answer:

When a neighbourhood is selected for consideration, (for example, “Weston Village Phase 2”), the Ontario Heritage Act requires that a study be conducted to provide background as to the historical, architectural and character-defining features that make the area special. As the study progresses, design guidelines are developed for the proposed area, with extensive community consultation. Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services Department is actively involved in this process. When the study is complete, City Council will be asked to pass a by-law to establish the heritage conservation district and implement the District Plan.


Question:

How will a heritage designation affect my neighbourhood?

Answer:

A designation will offer your neighbourhood a significant level of protection from unsympathetic development that might otherwise, over time, fundamentally alter its character. This, in turn, will protect your investment in your property. The fourteen Heritage Conservation Districts that currently exist in Toronto have remained relatively stable, despite the rapid development that has occurred on their periphery since they were first designated.


Question:

What about my property rights?

Answer:

A designation will not affect your right to sell your property, nor will it stop you from remodelling or making improvements. You will not require a special heritage permit for roof replacement, painting, landscaping, the installation of eavestrough and outdoor lights, interior work, or any exterior work that will not be visible from the street. A designation cannot prevent the demolition of a building however it may impose a waiting period while alternatives are examined.

If you request a building permit related to exterior changes that are visible from the street, Heritage Preservation Services will be notified. This is done to ensure that the planned changes are in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood and the guidelines established by the community during the Heritage Conservation District study. As of June 2008, the City of Toronto did not levy a charge for Heritage Permits.

If the changes that you are planning would not normally require a building permit (for example, new windows), we would nevertheless recommend that you consult Preservation Services beforehand to ensure that your choice of materials conforms to the District Plan. They will endeavour to help you find a workable solution.


Question:

I want to renovate the street-facing side of my property while the Heritage Conservation District study is in progress. Will I be permitted to proceed?

Answer:

That would depend on the age and character of your home and what you are planning to do. The decision would be made by the City of Toronto.


Question:

Will any renovations that I undertake, once my neighbourhood is designated, be hindered by additional paperwork and red tape?

Answer:

Usually not. Heritage Preservation Services will review your building permit request and building plans at the same time as the City’s Planning, Engineering, Forestry and Traffic Departments. If your building proposal conforms to the heritage guidelines for your neighbourhood, the approval process should be swift. Property owners have the right to appeal unfavourable decisions.


Question:

Will a heritage designation affect my property insurance premiums?

Answer:

Designation itself would not place additional requirements on your insurer and should not affect your premiums. Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services maintains a list of insurance companies that will insure homes in a Heritage Conservation District.


Question:

Will heritage protection affect property values in my neighbourhood?

Answer:

Any opinion that we might render on this question would be speculative. Instead, we would refer you to Ontario’s Ministry of Culture website, which states “Several recent studies suggest property values are affected positively by heritage protection.”


Question:

Will I be required to make costly improvements or upgrades to my property if my neighbourhood is designated?

Answer:

No. Regular maintenance of your property is encouraged of course, but is not a requirement in a Heritage Conservation District.


Question:

Are trees and riverstone walls in a designated neighbourhood subject to heritage guidelines?

Answer:

Landscaping is not governed by Heritage legislation; residents are nonetheless entitled to develop guidelines to encourage the preservation of these features within the boundaries of the Heritage Conservation District.


Question:

Are commercial properties located in the Heritage Conservation District subject to the heritage guidelines?

Answer:

Yes. Special guidelines will be developed for commercial properties situated within the Heritage Conservation District.

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