This document sets out the policy for the City Clerk’s Office program for the acquisition of City and non-City records for the City of Toronto Archives. It establishes the roles and responsibilities for the City Clerk’s Office Archival Services unit with respect to the acquisition of City and City records. All Archival Services staff are expected to comply with this Policy. If required, Archival Services staff should contact their Supervisor or Manager for advice on this Policy.

In 2014, City Council, enacted City of Toronto By-law No. 1067-2014 to amend Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 217, Records, Corporate (City). Chapter 217 makes the City Clerk responsible for establishing a framework of standards and policies relating to information and records management, including policies for the acquisition of records or collections from private sources by the City of Toronto Archives. In addition, there is authority for entering into agreements for the donation of records as set out in the City Clerk’s Memorandum dated March 23, 2015.

This Acquisition Policy supersedes all previous acquisition policies for the City of Toronto Archives.

Archival Services preserves and provides access to government records of enduring value, regardless of media or format, which provide evidence of the decisions, policies, and activities of the City of Toronto and its predecessor municipalities. Archival Services also acquires, preserves, and provides access to non-City records that make a significant contribution to an understanding of the development of the City, its natural and built environment, and the people who lived, worked, or had an impact upon Toronto.

City Records

1. Records of the City of Toronto and its predecessor municipalities that possess archival value shall be transferred to the custody and control of Archival Services when the records have reached the end of their inactive period of retention according to schedules set out in municipal by-laws.

2. All agencies, boards, and commissions and other special purpose bodies (that do not have a program to provide services with respect to records with archival value), shall transfer records that possess archival value, according to retention schedules passed by Council, to the custody and control of Archival Services, subject to legal limitations and, if required, to the terms of an appropriate Agreement.

Non-City Records

3. Non-City records and collections of documents deemed to possess archival value that meet the terms of the Archival Services’ Mandate and Acquisition Priorities, may be acquired as a donation to the City, subject to the terms of a satisfactory Acquisition Agreement.

4. Non-City records and collections of documents deemed to possess archival value that meet the terms of the Archival Services’ Mandate and Acquisition Priorities, but are available for acquisition only through sale, may be purchased by Archival Services, subject to funds being designated and approved in the annual budget process.

5. Non-City records and collections of documents may be loaned to the City by persons or organizations on a temporary basis for the purposes of copying or display, but material of this nature shall not be acquired as a permanent loan to the Archives, or placed on deposit with the Archives without the transfer of ownership to the City subject to the terms of a satisfactory Acquisition Agreement.

6. Acquisition Agreements will include a provision that all copyright be transferred to the City and any moral right that the donor has in the donated records or documents be waived. An acceptable alternative to transferring copyright is for the donor to allow Archival Services to make low-resolution copies available to researchers, while referring researchers to the donor to purchase high-resolution copies. Despite the preceding, Archival Services may acquire records or documents without a transfer of rights or licence from the donor, changing the Acquisition Agreement accordingly.

7. Donors seeking a charitable tax receipt for their donation will be responsible for paying for the monetary appraisal.

8. If a donor requests Archival Services to prepare a cultural property application to the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board (CCPERB), Archival Services may refuse the request, in its sole discretion, if it is not satisfied that the application will be successful. If Archival Services does agree to prepare the application, the cost of the monetary appraisal(s) to determine the value of the donation will be borne by the donor. Archival Services will make every effort to prepare a successful application, but is not responsible if the application is rejected by CCPERB.

9. Archival Services may refuse non-City records or documents that are subject to limitations on their use, reproduction, location, access, and disposal. However, limited periods of restrictions on access on all or part of an acquisition may be administered, and restrictions on access consistent with access and privacy legislation will be administered. Archival Services will not administer restrictions on access that privilege or discriminate against certain groups, are not consistent with access and privacy legislation, or, require researchers to seek the donor’s permission to access donated records or documents.

10. Donations may be declined if the records or documents offered are outside the scope of the Acquisition Priorities, or if other repositories appear to have a greater interest such as the national or provincial archives, or archives serving religious or business communities. When declining a donation, Archival Services will make every effort to refer a donor to another suitable repository.


11. The City Archivist is responsible for ensuring that the holdings are safely and securely stored, and will designate storage locations as required.

12. The City Archivist may authorize temporary storage at the Archives for records that may meet the terms of the Archival Services’ Mandate, but are at risk of loss or destruction, by means of executing an approved Records Storage Agreement, pending a review and determination of the final disposition of this material at the earliest possible opportunity.

13. Records and collections of documents comprising the holdings stored at the Archives shall not circulate beyond the Archives, unless removal of this material is required as evidence in litigation or to support pressing operational needs of the City, or to preserve, reproduce, or temporarily display the material in a secure facility that meets archival standards, subject to the approval of the City Archivist.

14. When circulating records and collections of documents comprising the holdings, Archival Services respects copyright and other intellectual property legislation. Archival Services relies on the Copyright Act’s Fair Dealing section and other sections specifically to manage and provide access to materials in its holdings for which it does not own copyright or have a licence.

15. Archival Services may deaccession records or documents in its holdings that fall outside of the Acquisition Policy, or which are found to no longer be relevant after undergoing archival appraisal. If possible, Archival Services will return the materials to the donor, or transfer deaccessioned materials to another suitable repository. If not possible, the materials will be confidentially destroyed.

Archival Services staff shall comply with the roles and responsibilities relating to the acquisition of City and non-City records as set out in the Acquisition Procedure as approved by the City Archivist.


The process of recording basic information (extent, date range, provenance, transfer of ownership, etc.) concerning an acquisition of archival records by Archival Services.


The activity of transferring physical custody and legal ownership of archival records to Archival Services by means of donation or purchase of non-City records, or transfer of inactive records from municipal divisions through the disposition process.

Acquisition Agreement

An executed agreement between the City of Toronto and a donor relating to the transfer of ownership of records from the donor to the City establishing the City’s title to the donated records, as well as the rights and obligations of the donor and the City in terms of preservation, access, use, digitization, and copyright. An Acquisition Agreement may be in the form of an approved “Deed of Gift,” “Unsolicited Donations Form,” “Records Donation Agreement,” or “Records Purchase Agreement” as set out in the Acquisition Procedure.

Acquisition Priorities

The document approved from time to time by the City Archivist, establishing and informing a focus for the acquisition of records within the context of the Archival Services’ Mandate. The Acquisition Priorities document will consider Archival Services’ goals to connect broadly with diverse communities in Toronto, to avoid unnecessary redundancy, and will consider changing resources in Archival Services, together with other considerations and goals as indicated by the City Archivist.


The process of determining the value and thus the disposition of records based on a consideration of their administrative, legal, fiscal implications, and archival value.

Archival review

The process of determining if the City records listed in disposition packages are correctly classified. This review takes place prior to accessioning or destruction, as the case may be.

Archival records

Records designated by the City Archivist that warrant continued preservation.

Archival Services

The unit within the Toronto City Clerk’s Office which is responsible for selecting, acquiring, preserving, and making available records possessing archival value.

Archival value

The evidential value and informational value of records, which are determined during appraisal, and justify their preservation as archival records.


The building(s) or part(s) thereof where the holdings are stored.


A person trained, experienced, and engaged in the administration of archival records, including the following activities: appraisal, acquisition, arrangement, processing, description, reference services, and outreach.

City Archivist

The City Archivist is employed in the City Clerk’s Office, and is the Manager of Archival Services.


An accumulation of documents of any provenance brought together on the basis of some common characteristic, such as details of acquisition, subject, language, medium, type of document, or name of collector, which may be managed and described as a unit under a common title.


The component of preservation that deals with the physical or chemical treatment of records.


The right vested by law in the author of a document and the author’s heirs or assignees to publish or reproduce the document or to authorize publication or reproduction of the document.

Culled records

Records that have been determined by the City Archivist to not meet Archival Services’ Mandate because they lack enduring archival value, and have been removed from the records during processing.


The process of removing previously accessioned records from the holdings after re-appraisal has determined that the records no longer have archival value.


The action by which a device such as a scanner or camera, is used to convert a Physical Record to a Digitized Record for use in a computer.


The actions taken with regard to inactive City records as determined by an appraisal pursuant to legislation, regulation, or administrative procedure. Actions include destruction, or designation as archival records, or as permanent records.


A unit of recorded information regardless of form or media.

Evidential value

The importance of records for providing evidence of the origins, structure, functions, policies, and operations of the creator of the records.

City record

A record created or received in the course of City administration or delivery of City services.

Also includes records that were created or received in the course of City of Toronto predecessor municipalities’ administration or delivery of City services. These include records created, accumulated, and used by a member of Council in the course of the responsibilities specifically imposed on a member of Council under the City of Toronto Act, 2006.


The whole of the archival records and collections of documents held by Archival Services.

Inactive records

Records that are no longer required to conduct the current business of their creator, but must remain the responsibility of their creator due to administrative, fiscal, or legal requirements.

Informational value

The usefulness of records for research based on the information the records contain. This information often has uses not envisaged or intended by the creators of the records.

Monetary appraisal

The appraisal of the fair market value of a record or group of records, usually for the purpose of providing a tax receipt to a donor for the appraised monetary value of the donation.

Non-City records

Records that make a significant contribution to an understanding of the development of the City, its natural and built environment, and the people who lived, worked, or had an impact upon Toronto. These may include records created, accumulated, and used by an individual who is or has been a member of Council, in the course of the individual’s personal activities, or political activities, or activities undertaken in relation to “constituency relations.”


All processes and operations involved in the stabilization and protection of records against damage or deterioration and in the treatment of damaged or deteriorated records to ensure their long-term use. Preservation may also include the transfer of information to another medium to maintain access to the contents of records.


The activities of an archivist dealing with an archival acquisition, including arrangement, culling, rehousing, and description.


The person(s) or office(s) of origin of the records; the person(s), family (families), or corporate body (bodies) that created and/or accumulated and used records in the conduct of personal or business life.


Information, however recorded or stored, weather in printed form, on film, by electronic means or otherwise, and includes documents, financial statements, minutes, accounts, correspondence, memoranda, plans, maps, drawings, photographs and films.

Records Storage Agreement

An agreement between the City of Toronto and a prospective donor for the provision of temporary storage of records at the Archives.

Restrictions on access

Restricted records are closed to the public. Restrictions on access to records by members of the public will result from:

  1. compliance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), with respect to City records
  2. compliance with the spirit of MFIPPA, especially regarding the protection of sensitive personal information about identifiable individuals, with respect to non-City records
  3. compliance with a donor request to limit access to some or all of the donated records for a period of time negotiated between the donor and the City

Contact: Supervisor, Collection Management and Standards – City Clerk’s Office

Policy Approved: May 28, 2018

Approved By:
Name: Ulli Watkiss
Title: City Clerk