Responding to changes to the Ontario Heritage Act resulting from Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022

This webpage is intended to provide information to the public on the work being undertaken by Staff to update the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register and the Heritage Planning process. The Heritage Register Review is being conducted to respond to these changes to maintain and conserve Toronto’s Heritage Resources for present and future generations. The following sections provide an overview of the Heritage Register Review project, amendments made to the Ontario Heritage Act, as well as reports and presentations made by Staff. It will be updated as events for public engagement and feedback are scheduled.

 

 

At the end of 2022, the Ontario Provincial Government proposed extensive changes to various pieces of legislation, including the Ontario Heritage Act, through the More Homes Built Faster Act 2022. Most of these changes came into effect on January 1, 2023.

Toronto’s heritage resources are a key component to the makeup of our city. They contribute to its social and economic prosperity by defining our unique sense of place, supporting cohesive and resilient communities, and maintaining environmental sustainability through adaptive re-use.

The City of Toronto is developing a strategy to prioritize the designation of properties that are currently listed on the Toronto Heritage Register before they are removed from the register on January 1, 2025. Only a portion of the approximately 4,000 properties currently listed on the Heritage Register will be able to be designated within this time frame. As part of this project, the City of Toronto is also reviewing its designation process, to ensure a sustainable designation program beyond 2025.

In close coordination with the Toronto Heritage Survey, a key task associated with this project includes an analysis and review of the Toronto Heritage Register, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary (50th Anniversary of the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register), and the properties in the City that are currently listed and designated. A heritage register helps protect a very tangible aspect of a city’s history – the built form. Through both the Toronto Heritage Survey and the Heritage Register Review, the City is seeking to identify those listed properties that demonstrate and reflect an important aspect of the City’s diverse history to provide greater clarity about the location and value of Toronto’s Heritage Resources for City staff, property owners, and the public.

This project is focused on identifying principles for prioritizing designations ahead of January 1, 2025 and for future designations beyond this date. Key outcomes of this project will include a greater clarity on which types of properties are most at risk of loss, as well as the different stories and histories of the amalgamated City that should be stewarded through the protection of the buildings, structures, and sites that have value to the community.

The Heritage Register Review will engage stakeholders, communities, volunteers, and City of Toronto partners to raise awareness of the challenges of Bill 23, the City’s heritage response to these challenges, and to gather input that can inform and strengthen the City’s response. The City will be seeking input on priorities for protection to weave together those stories and histories that should be protected through designation of the built form. Several engagement opportunities and events will be held throughout the project.

Project Schedule

The Heritage Register Review will consist of three phases. Phase 1, launched in August 2023, entails a review of comparable practices in other jurisdictions and analysis of existing Heritage Register data to establish a baseline understanding for the project. Phase 2 will launch in January 2024 and focus on hosting engagement meetings and events. Reporting and further consultation events will be conducted in Phase 3, which will be launching later in 2024 and into 2025.

Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act 2022 proposed extensive changes to the Ontario Heritage Act, most of which came into effect on January 1, 2023. The following summary outlines the changes implemented through Bill 23:

Section 27 – Heritage Register

Changes to the Heritage Register include new requirements for information pertaining to each property, more rigorous evaluation criteria, the ability of owners to object to the inclusion of their property on the Register, and the prohibition of adding properties back to the Register within five years of their removal.

  • Detailed requirements for the content of the Heritage Register including information included on the Register pertaining to each listed (non-designated) property.
  • Prescribed criteria for the evaluation of listed (non-designated) properties and the requirement that each property meet at least one of the nine criteria prescribed in Ontario Regulation 9/06.
  • Ability of owners of listed (non-designated) properties to file a notice of objection to the inclusion of their property on the Heritage Register.
  • Requirement that Council issue a notice of intention to designate for all listed properties within two years of their inclusion on the Heritage Register, or for properties listed prior to January 1, 2023, within two years of the Act coming into force (January 1, 2025).
  • Listed properties removed from the Heritage Register are prohibited from being re-listed on the Register for a period of five years from the date of removal.

Section 29 – Designation

If a property is subject to a “prescribed event” (rezoning, plan of sub-division, and/or Official Plan Amendment application), Council may not give notice of intention to designate the property if it has not already been included on the Heritage Register as a listed property.

Section 41 and 41.1 – Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs)

New requirements pertaining to the content and structure of the Statement of District Cultural Heritage Value and a threshold of the number of properties that meet the prescribed criteria for evaluation. Processes pertaining to the amending and appealing of HCDs will be forthcoming.

  • The Statement of District Cultural Heritage Value must describe how the District meets the prescribed criteria (contained within “Heritage Conservation Districts in Toronto: Policies, Procedures and Terms of Reference”).
  • At least 25% of all properties within a Heritage Conservation District must meet two or more of the prescribed criteria.
  • Processes yet to be prescribed will inform how Council may amend or repeal a Heritage Conservation District.

Other Amendments – Provincial Matters

  • The Minister may review whether a property included on the Heritage Register and that is provincially owned or occupied meets the prescribed criteria.
  • The Lieutenant Governor may exempt the Crown, a ministry, or a prescribed public body from complying with heritage standards and guidelines if the exemption could potentially advance one or more of the following provincial priorities:
    • Transit
    • Housing
    • Health and Long-Term Care
    • Other Infrastructure
    • Other priorities as may be prescribed

This page contains links to background information, reports, and presentations related to the Heritage Register Review, including direction from City Council and Committee.

Reports:

Presentations:

Meetings and events will be held over the course of Heritage Register Review to provide information on the program and to receive input from community members and stakeholders. Meetings will be posted below as they are scheduled.

Heritage Register Review: Public Information Session – February 26, 2024

Toronto residents are invited to an online public information session on February 26, 2024, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to learn about the City’s Heritage Register Review project. Registration is required.

The purpose of the meeting is to share information about the project and answer questions. The Heritage Register Review project is focused on developing an ongoing strategy to prioritize the designation of properties that are currently listed on the Toronto Heritage Register before they are removed from the register on January 1, 2025.