Heritage & Development
Providing access and assistance to members in understanding and interpreting various bylaws applying to your home
Providing access and assistance to members in understanding and interpreting various bylaws applying to your home
What is a Heritage Conservation District?
The Ontario Heritage Act enables any municipality in Ontario to designate an area as a Heritage Conservation District (HCD). Designation occurs where there has been a proposal for designation initiated by one or more property owners in the area and where this proposal is subsequently supported by a majority of property owners in the area.
HCD designation allows a municipality to protect and enhance the special characteristics of a designated area, as defined by local property owners themselves. The special characteristics generally include the overall look and quality of buildings, landscapes and open spaces, as seen together from the street. (HCD designation does not in any way affect the interior or the back or sides (except where a corner lot) of buildings in the HCD.)
A HCD enables a Municipal Council to improve the management of and more rigorously guide the future development of particular areas within a municipality that have been identified as having special character. A HCD may comprise an area with a group or complex of buildings, or a larger area with many buildings and properties. It may also comprise an entire municipality with a concentration of heritage resources with special character or historical associations that distinguishes it from its surroundings.
Once a district is designated, it gains public recognition as well as some measure of protection against the demolition or unsympathetic alteration of properties. Future changes to a heritage conservation district will need to be carried out in a sympathetic manner, compatible with the area’s established heritage character as identified in the heritage conservation district plan and designation by-law. The Act requires municipalities, when a designation by-law is passed, to adopt a heritage conservation district plan which includes policies and guidelines for property owners and the municipality as to what is regarded as acceptable and desirable changes within the district.
Heritage Permit Process
How the process works:
A heritage permit is required for work that may alter the façade appearance of a house in a Heritage Conservation District, and is needed in addition to any building permit that may be required. Application is made directly to Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) within the City Planning Department. North Rosedale has a HCD Advisory Committee which is available to interpret and explain the process to property owners or prospective new owners who want to understand the nature of the HCD process.
What it covers:
Heritage permits are required for any work, except general maintenance, carried out on the street-facing facades of all buildings. This includes work that otherwise would not require a building permit, such as the replacement of windows and doors, the removal or replacement of decorative trim.
The rules apply only to what can be seen from the street.
Changes are encouraged to revert to the original appearance of the building.
For example, the following projects would be subject to review by HPS:
Applying for a Heritage Permit:
The following is typical of the process to obtain an Heritage permit Contact City staff to set up a meeting with the Heritage Preservation Services unit.
Prepare a sketch showing the location of the proposed work on the building.
Prepare drawings, sketches or plans of the proposed work.
Take photographs of the building, showing its current condition in the area where the work is to take place.
Gather any additional documents that support approval of the proposed project.
Meet with Heritage Preservation Services staff to discuss the application.
If City staff determines the application conforms to the community’s HCD guidelines, they will expedite the necessary Heritage and building permits. If the application does not meet the guidelines, City staff will suggest ways to modify the project in order to secure the required heritage permits.
To apply for a heritage permit, contact the following City of Toronto Heritage Preservation staff:
Heritage Preservation Services
City Hall, 17th floor, East Tower
For community advice and resources:
The City has appointed a District Advisory Committee, made up of a group of North Rosedale residents, to advise Rosedale residents planning to renovate the exterior of their properties. The current Chair of this committee is Jan Ruby, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org The Advisory Committee is familiar with the Guidelines and procedures covering renovation in our community, and can be consulted prior to applying for a building permit covering external changes to property.
Characteristics of Heritage Conservation Districts
Although each HCD district is unique, many share a common set of characteristics. These may be defined as:
A concentration of heritage buildings, sites, structures; designed landscapes, natural landscapes that are linked by aesthetic, historical and socio-cultural contexts or use.
A framework of structured elements including major natural features such as topography, land form, landscapes, watercourses and built form such as pathways and street patterns, landmarks, nodes or intersections, approaches and edges.
A sense of visual coherence through the use of such elements as building scale, mass, height, material, proportion, colour, etc. that convey a distinct sense of time or place.
A distinctiveness which enables districts to be recognized and distinguishable from their surroundings or from neighbouring areas.
How is an HCD designated?
The Ontario Heritage Act requires that a standard process be followed by residents proposing to establish an HCD. (The “Ontario Heritage Tool Kit”, A Guide to Heritage Conservation District Designation Under the Ontario Heritage Act, can be found at: www.cabbagetownhcd.ca/images/HCD_Toolkit.pdf)
Where there has been a proposal for HCD designation initiated by one or more property owners in an area, and where at least a few area residents are in agreement with this proposal, a study of all buildings in the proposed HCD is conducted by a committee of interested area residents. This research (conducted at an archives or library) is intended to identify the age, architectural style and features, historic uses and other details relating to buildings (and even landscapes) in the proposed area. The committee itself will have determined the boundaries of the proposed area.
The committee subsequently hires an architect or heritage consultant (usually partially or wholly funded by the municipality in which the proposed HCD is located) to prepare a draft Heritage Conservation District Plan on behalf of the committee. This Plan, which is drafted based on the research gathered by the committee of area residents, normally includes the following:
A description (overview) of the historical and architectural character and fabric of buildings and landscapes in the proposed HCD;
Recommended heritage design guidelines to enable conservation of the heritage fabric and restoration of lost features in both the public and private realm, including:
Design guidelines that clearly define appropriate change, whether it is for altering existing buildings or for new construction, in the HCD and in areas immediately “adjacent to” the HCD; and
Design guidelines for streetscapes in order to strengthen their heritage character.
This draft Plan is presented to area residents for feedback at an initial and at least one subsequent public consultation meeting. The feedback from area residents helps to determine what design guidelines will be incorporated in the final draft Plan to be presented to area residents for approval at a final public meeting. Where rejected by a majority or residents present, the proposal to designate an HCD proceeds no further. However, where approved by a majority of residents present, the designation process proceeds through three more steps as follows (assuming the proposed HCD is located Toronto):
1.The (now) final Plan is presented to the Toronto Preservation Board that reviews the Plan and makes recommendations for changes (if any) to City Council.
2.The final Plan is presented to the appropriate Toronto Community Council, which discusses and votes whether to recommend the Plan to full City Council.
3.City Council votes on the recommendation of Community Council. If passed, the area is designated as an HCD by City by-law. If there are no appeals of the HCD designation to the Ontario Municipal Board, the bylaw is enacted. If appealed, the final decision on whether to implement the HCD is made by the Ontario Municipal Board.
Sometime after the HCD is designated, the final HCD Plan is printed and distributed to property owners within the proposed HCD for their information. Area residents will be expected to follow the guidelines contained in the Plan in carrying out all future renovations or new construction within the HCD.
Heritage Conservation Plan
Key contacts for development & heritage inquiries
Trees on Property lines
Noise and Construction
Q: I won’t be able to do as I please with my house.
A: No heritage permit is required for the following types of projects:
Q: What about additions or replacement of buildings?
A: Where new buildings and additions are necessary, the bylaw encourages design that is sympathetic and compatible with the character of the existing heritage properties and the character of the District.
For infill construction, it encourages designs that respect the human scale of the area while enhancing the area’s heritage attributes.
Q: The value of my house will go down/ I won’t be able to sell.
A: Heritage designation itself is not likely to lead to any significant change in the value of a property, and may in fact help to maintain its value. A 1998 study of 3,000 designated properties in 24 Ontario communities found that:
(Source: Robert Shipley, “Heritage Designation and Property Values: is there an effect?” International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2000, pp. 83-100.)
Q: I won’t be able to get insurance
A: Premiums should not rise as a result of heritage designation. A variety of other reasons can cause insurance companies to increase premiums for older buildings, if there is a higher level of risk such as outdated wiring, old heating systems, etc. Designation itself does not place additional requirements on the insurer and should not affect premiums.
Q: Who sets the guidelines for heritage conservation districts?
A: A subsection in Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act enables a city to designate any defined area or areas of the municipality as a heritage conservation district.
District designation enables the council of a municipality to manage and guide future change in the district, through adoption of a district plan with policies and guidelines for conservation, protection and enhancement of the area’s special character.
Glossary of Architectural Terms
One of a number of short vertical members, often circular in section, used to support stair handrails or a porch railing.
A low parapet, a row of balusters with rail used on a terrace or balcony.
A subdivision of a faÃ§ade.
BOARD AND BATTEN
A wood cladding usually consisting of vertically applied boards with a narrow raised strip or batten covering the joint.
Any overhanging member projecting from a wall or other body to support a weight acting outside the wall such as a cornice.
A joint that recedes from the bottom to the top or mortar placed on the end of a brick.
The finish covering of an exterior wall of a frame building.
A wood cladding or horizontally-applied overlapping boards, usually thicker and straight-cut along the lower edge.
A horizontal projection on the face of a wall by more than one course of masonry, each projecting beyond the course below.
CROSS GABLE ROOF
Two intersecting gables at right angles to the roof ridge.
A band of small, square, tooth-like blocks.
A small roof and wall projection in a sloping roof to accommodate a window.
An encrustation of soluble salts, commonly white, deposited on the surface of masonry.
A moulded or decorated projection crowning a wide, flat, moulded or decorated band.
A semicircular window over the opening of a door with radiating bars in the form of an open fan.
The arrangement and design of windows in a building.
A small roof ornament that terminates in a point.
Strips of waterproof material used to weather the joint between walls and roofs, walls and windows and walls and chimneys.
A roof that is flat or nearly flat.
Any joint finished flush to the surface.
The enclosing lines of a sloping roof.
The glass surface of a window opening.
The top of a window.
A roof sloped on all four sides.
The projecting molding or arch over a door or window whether inside or outside.
Construction of a new building within an already built-up neighbourhood.
A projecting moulding by the sides and over the top of an opening.
A horizontal structural member that supports the weight of the wall above an opening in a wall.
A roof having a double slope, the lower slope being much lower.
A decorative band or strip of material used in cornices and as a trim around window and door openings.
Small slender bars holding panes in a window or door.
Low wall along the edge of a roof.
In masonry construction, a coat of cement mortar on rough masonry or basement walls.
An ornament suspended from the roof edge.
Squared, freestanding, vertical members that are more substantial than posts.
Vertical, rectangular member projecting slightly from a wall.
A projecting cornerstone at the angle of a building, often a decorative masonry unit.
REGULAR STRUCK JOINT
A horizontal masonry joint in which the mortar is sloped inward and downward from the upper edge.
The removal of existing mortar from joints and replacement with new mortar.
A horizontal masonry joint with a small, ribbon-like appearance.
A horizontal masonry joint produced by taking a small rod and striking the surface to produce a concave joint.
Any framework of a window; may be moveable or fixed.
Ornamental work of any kind in which a scroll consisting of spirally-wound band, or line of scroll-like characters, are an element.
A horizontal masonry joint where the mortar is pressed back 6mmfrom the face of the wall.
Required distance, established by a zoning by-law, from property line to the face of building foundation.
A wood cladding with a shallow groove formed by a notched edge fitting over the thin upper edge of a board below.
The bottom horizontal framing member connecting the wall studs to the foundation.
The flaking of brickwork due to frost, chemical action or movement of the building structure.
In woodworking, a short, turned part such as in a baluster.
Pitch the pitch rises more than fifty-five degrees.
A plaster, or mixture of lime, cement, sand and any other aggregate, applied with various textures to cover or sheath a surface.
A narrow, concave horizontal mortar joint.
A horizontal member that separates a door from a window, panel or louvre above.
A glazed light above the transom bar.
A mortar joint which is cleaned out and then filled with fine mortar, projecting out slightly.
A board that hangs from the protecting end of a roof, covering the gables, often elaborately carved and ornamented.
Small entry room or interior space at entrance to a building.
A flat or curved structural arch over a structural opening such as a door or window, composed of wedge-shaped pieces that are of the same height.
We held a contest over the holidays in 2020, and the winners had their homes sketched by Terrell Wong of Stone’s Throw Design Inc.