Understanding an historic place is an essential first step to good conservation. This is normally achieved through research and investigation. It is important to know where the heritage value of the historic place lies, along with its condition, evolution, and past and current importance to communities. The traditional practices associated with the historic place and the interrelationship between the historic place and its context should also be considered.

The primary document used by Heritage Planning to guide independent research and evaluation of properties for their cultural heritage value is the CHER. The CHER is essentially a stand-alone version of the first part of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA). It should be completed by a property owner when potential heritage value has been identified through a planning study, community interest or as identified within the Toronto Heritage Survey.

The CHER should be prepared as early in the planning process as possible as the report conclusions will have consequences for the project’s design and application requirements.

Terms of Reference


The purpose of a Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report (CHER) is to assist the City in determining whether a property, collection of properties, or landscape feature has cultural heritage value. It will be considered when determining whether a recommendation is made to City Council for the inclusion of the property on the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register and/or designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.

Policy Context

  • The Provincial Policy Statement; Section 2.6 Cultural Heritage and Archaeology
  • A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe; Section 4.2.7 Cultural Heritage Resources
  • City of Toronto Official Plan 


A CHER includes primary and secondary research, visual inspection, and evaluation against prescribed criteria (Ontario Regulation 9/06), and where appropriate, the preparation of a draft Statement of Significance and identification of Heritage Attributes. The CHER is the recommended first step in the development application process, and establishes what heritage values and attributes will be conserved when planning for change. The preparation of a CHER prior to determining what change may be appropriate enables a resource’s significance to be determined at the earliest stages of the development application process. It may also be used to identify heritage resources outside of the development application process, in order to recognize valued community assets or qualify a property for the heritage property tax rebate and grant programs.

A CHER can ensure that an understanding of a resource’s cultural heritage value is made without regard to pre-determined or desired outcomes. A clear understanding of the resource’s heritage value can both ensure its long term conservation, as well as identify opportunities for flexibility and change early in the planning process.

In addition to a standalone document, a CHER may also be submitted as part of a development application, forming part of the Heritage Impact Assessment. Applicants are encouraged to undertake a CHER and submit that to the City of Toronto prior to the submission of a development application to assist with the conservation of buildings and structures as part of the land use planning process.

Standards and Practices

The CHER must be impartial and objective, thorough, complete and sound in its methodology and application of Ontario Heritage Act evaluation criteria, the City of Toronto Official Plan Heritage Policies and the Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada and be consistent with recognized professional standards and best practices in the field of heritage conservation in Canada and the CAHP Code of Conduct.

The CHER must be prepared by qualified professional members in good standing with the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) who possess applied and demonstrated knowledge of accepted standards of heritage conservation, historical research, and the identification and evaluation of cultural heritage value or interest.

The CHER must include all required information and be completed to the satisfaction of the City as determined by the Senior Manager, Heritage Planning or it will be considered incomplete for application or other purposes.

A CHER may be subject to a peer review if determined appropriate by the Senior Manager.

When Required

A CHER will be required:

  • for development applications that include a property that is listed under Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act on the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register
  • for development applications that include a property that is designated under Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act prior to 2006
  • Prior to the submission of an application for either the heritage grant program or the heritage property tax rebate program

A CHER is strongly encouraged:

  • for development applications that include a property that is not on the City’s Heritage Register, but that is believed to have cultural heritage value as identified by the community, City staff, professional site assessments, planning studies or local Councillor
  • for applications on properties that include a building or structure that is 40 years or older

A CHER is not required for properties that are:

  • subject to a Notice of Intention to Designate under Section 29 of the OHA
  • designated under Part IV, Section 29 of the OHA after 2006
  • designated under Part V, Section 42 of the OHA

Required Contents

If the property under review is on a development site, it is advisable that you discuss your project in advance with Heritage Planning staff during preliminary consultation meetings. Evaluation of cultural heritage resources prior to project planning is strongly encouraged.

The CHER will be submitted in hard copy and PDF format along with any other required application material and will include the following headings and information, in the order presented below (at minimum):

Statement of Professional Qualifications

A Heritage Professional is a person who has specialized knowledge in the conservation and stewardship of cultural heritage and is supported by formal training and/or work experience. The professional must be a registered Professional member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals and in good standing. The background and qualifications of the professional(s) completing the CHER must be included in the report.

Provide confirmation that the Professional conforms to accepted technical and ethical standards and works in accordance with the regulations and guidelines of their specialty heritage fields and jurisdictions of practice and confirms the information included in the CHER is accurate and reflects their professional opinion.

Executive Summary

This section includes a summary of the evaluation of the potential cultural heritage resource(s); a summary of recommended heritage values and attributes and a summary of the reasons for or against their identification as warranting inclusion on the Heritage Register, with reference to applicable regulation(s).

Property Owner

Owner name and full contact information, including e-mail address(es)

Owner’s Representative or Agent

Name and full contact information, including e-mail address(es), for any representative or agent acting on behalf of the owner accompanied by proof of owner consent.

Location Plan

Location of the site and the subject heritage property/properties shown on:

  • City’s property data map
  • Aerial photograph
  • Maps and photographs must depict the site boundary within a 300 metre radius, or as appropriate, in order to demonstrate the existing area context and identify adjacent heritage resources. Maps to be to a metric scale (i.e. 1:100, 1:200, 1:500)

Reasons for the CHER and Background Information

This section will include information pertaining to the reasons why the CHER has been prepared. For properties that were designated under Part IV prior to 2006, or that are listed under Section 27 of the OHA, any pertinent information relating to either the designation or listing will be provided, including reasons for inclusion (where known) and the date of inclusion on the Heritage Register.

Confirm all that apply:

  • Evaluation of a property designated under Part IV, Section 29, of the Ontario Heritage Act prior to 2006
  • Evaluation of a property listed on the City’s Heritage Register under Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act
  • Evaluation of a property previously identified as having cultural heritage value through professional site assessments or planning studies
  • Evaluation of a property believed to have cultural heritage value as identified by the community, City staff or local Councillor
  • Evaluation of a property over 40 years old
  • Evaluation of a property for the purposes of the heritage grant or heritage property tax rebate program

Description of the Property and Visual Inspection

This section will include an overview of the property, including its physical condition and noting any additions or alterations. It will include a description of the property’s location and existing conditions as observed through a visual inspection of the property, a the date(s) of the visual inspection. The section must:

  • Provide the resource’s legal address and land use designation and, if applicable, any Secondary Plan or Site and Area Specific Policy that applies
  • Identify any existing heritage recognitions
  • Identify and describe all existing buildings and/or structures on the property
  • Identify and describe any other features that may be of interest, including landscape features
  • Identify whether the property is within an area of archaeological potential

Current Photographs/Images

This section will include photographs, both general and of each building, structure or landscape feature. For larger properties or properties with a number of features, a map or annotated aerial photograph may be required.

  • Current photographs/images taken within 3 months of the CHER submission date showing the existing context and features of existing and potential heritage resources on the property. The context includes other buildings and existing landscaping (mature trees, fences, walls, driveways) on the subject property. Photographs will include the following:
    • Each building elevation
    • Each heritage attribute or draft heritage attribute, including both exterior and interior, where applicable
    • Existing context including other buildings on and adjacent to the site and existing landscaping
    • a photograph of the property as seen from the public realm around the property including each public right of way, lane, or shared driveway, park and publicly accessible open space, as appropriate to the site
    • a photograph showing the relationship of the site to the adjacent properties

Description of Surrounding Neighbourhood Keyed to a Context Map

Provide a description of the surroundings of the site with particular attention to subject street frontages or block faces, subject property and opposite side of the street frontage(s). Be sure to reference architectural styles, profiles and ages of buildings and describe the existing “sense of place” where discernible and key to a context map.

Historic Photographs

Historic photographs should be provided where available. If historic photographs cannot be located, it must be confirmed that the noted sources in the Primary and Secondary Research section below have been checked and no photographs were present.

Primary and Secondary Research

This section will document the research that was undertaken for the property, including the primary and secondary sources that were consulted, and will record and present the findings of the research in a logical and chronological order. This section will also identify any archaeological assessment reports that apply to the property, and whether the property has been identified as an area of archaeological potential in the City of Toronto’s Archaeological Management Plan.

Primary resources must be consulted in order to identify the property’s history of ownership and development. If certain primary resources are determined not to be of relevance or are unavailable, the rationale for the exclusion must be demonstrated. At minimum, the resources that must be consulted include:

  • Toronto Archives
  • Assessment Rolls
  • Building Permits
  • Toronto Building Records
  • Goad’s Atlas of the City of Toronto Maps
  • Toronto City Directories
  • Land Registry Office (or online equivalent)

Additional resources that may be consulted include:

  • Ontario Archives
  • Toronto Public Library
  • Historical society archives
  • The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950
  • City of Toronto Aerial Photographs
  • Other historic maps including Cane, Boulton, Tremaine, Miles & Co., etc.

The section will include written narrative, describing the history of development and activity of the site, including any events, communities, individuals or activities that are historically or continue to be associated with to the property where applicable. A chronological timeline may be included as a summary historical narrative where warranted. All statements of fact regarding ownership, date of construction, occupation, sale, etc. will be footnoted providing the source, including relevant identifiers such as dates including day month, and year as appropriate, page numbers, and location of source.

Research results will be used as the basis for an evaluation of the property’s cultural heritage value, following Ontario Regulation 9/06. In the event that City heritage staff find that the research provided within this section provides insufficient information or detail to properly inform the evaluation, additional information and a revised CHER will be requested.

Research sources must be documented using a consistent citation style (MLA, APA, or Chicago). All research sources will also be listed in an appendix attached to the report. If possible, copies of such sources should be provided to the City as part of the CHER submission.

Visual Resources (Maps, Drawings, Plans and Images)

This section will include a visual overview of the property over time, including the pertinent maps, images, drawings and plans consulted, to assist with understanding the general history of the site and its development over time.  Images should be arranged chronologically and will illustrate the historical development and evolution of the site, including chronological construction and/or alterations to the size, features or primary use of the property and its associated buildings or features.

Images included in this section should be labelled appropriately with a title of the image, a description of what is being shown, and the source for the image including author, publication, date (day, month, year), volume where appropriate, page number, archival references, location or website, etc. All visual resources will also be listed in an appendix attached to this report.

Community Consultation

This section will outline what, when and how community input was undertaken as part of the research methodology for the property and describe the results. Based on the resource(s) being evaluated, the City may suggest groups, organizations or individuals for consultation and may participate/lead in the consultation. At a minimum, the relevant Community Preservation Panel must be consulted, and it is recommended that local heritage groups and historical societies are consulted. If consultation at the time of submission has not been undertaken, it is expected to take place at the earliest possible opportunity.

There may be circumstances where community input is fundamental to understanding the value of a property and an HIA or CHER may be considered incomplete until appropriate consultation has taken place.

  • Community Preservation Panel
  • Local heritage group/historical society
  • Other (oral histories, individual meetings, etc.)

Evaluation under Ontario Regulation 9/06

This section will describe how the prescribed criteria, Ontario Regulation 9/06 (Ontario Heritage Act), was applied to understand the property’s cultural heritage value, if any. It will present a rationale supporting how each criterion was met or not met, and include a summary of the physical/design, historic/associative and/or contextual value of the property, where the prescribed criteria have been met.

Statement of Professional Opinion

The conclusion will summarize the research, survey and evaluation undertaken for the property, and where the property is believed to have cultural heritage value, will provide a recommendation for its inclusion on the Heritage Register. If the evaluation believes that the property has cultural heritage value based on an evaluation against O. Reg. 9/06, a draft Statement of Significance must be prepared and a draft list of Heritage Attributes identified. The list of Heritage Attributes provided in the CHER should be organized in relation to each criterion met.