The City of Toronto’s Official Plan Policy 188.8.131.52 directs that potential and existing properties of cultural heritage value or interest, including cultural heritage landscapes and Heritage Conservation Districts, will be identified and included in area planning studies and plans with recommendations for further study, evaluation and conservation.
Section 27 of the Ontario Heritage Act gives municipalities the authority to maintain and add to a publicly accessible heritage register. The register includes a list of all designated properties, including conservation districts within the municipality. In addition, the register may also contain ‘Listed’ properties – those that are not designated, but are believed to be of cultural heritage value or interest.
- Including non-designated properties in the municipal register is a means to identify properties that have cultural heritage value or interest to the community. The municipal register is an important tool in planning for the conservation of heritage properties:
- Recognizes properties of cultural heritage value or interest in the community
- Demonstrates a council’s commitment to conserve cultural heritage resources
- Enhances knowledge and understanding of the community’s cultural heritage
- Provides a database of properties of cultural heritage value or interest for planners, property owners, developers, the tourism industry, educators and the general public
- Should be consulted by municipal decision makers when reviewing development proposals or permit applications
To find information about properties currently on the Heritage Register you can search by a map or by address:
- Heritage Register map
- Heritage Property Search tool – the most up-to-date way of confirming whether a property is on the Heritage Register
Assessing Potential Properties
Potential heritage properties must be researched and evaluated by Heritage Preservation Services before they can be added to the Heritage Register. These properties may be brought to the attention of the City by community members, City Councillors, or through planning studies and heritage conservation district studies.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Ontario Heritage Toolkit: Heritage Property Evaluation provides guidance on undertaking research and evaluation for heritage properties.
All properties are evaluated against the criteria for determining cultural heritage value or interest set out in Ontario Regulation 9/06. A property must meet one or more of the criteria in order to be individually designated.
Listing on City's Heritage Register
Listed Versus Designated Property
Properties that are believed to have cultural heritage value but are not designated can be included on the municipal heritage register. These ‘listed but non-designated properties’ are commonly known as ‘listed’ properties. Requests to list a property may come from property owners, municipal heritage committees, municipal heritage or planning staff, or local historical societies or residents’ associations.
Notice Under the Ontario Heritage Act
A municipality is not required to consult with property owners or the public before including non-designated properties in the municipal register. However, notifying the property owner that their property will be included in the municipal register is recommended. Property owners in Toronto are notified and invited to attend the Toronto Preservation Board meeting to discuss the matter when their property is recommended for inclusion on the municipal register.
The Toronto Preservation Board, an Advisory Board, follows the same protocol established for Toronto City Council under the Municipal Code (Chapter 27, Council Procedures By-Law) whereby agenda items and any associated reports are made available to members of the public once the meeting agenda is published. There is a second opportunity share concerns (in person or writing) when Community Council or Planning & Housing Committee considers the matter at their meeting.
Pro-active listing of properties is intended to give greater clarity to property owners with regards to the City’s interest and the application of Official Plan policies. The primary aim of a batch listing of a collection of properties is to achieve an informed, timely listing of properties in tandem with local area studies e.g. Planning Study or Heritage Conservation District etc.
Since 2017, in order to shorten the time it takes to research and evaluate multiple properties for listing, the City Planning adopted an abbreviated approach, one that still applies provincial criteria (O. Reg. 9/06) as required in the Official Plan, sets out a preliminary, not exhaustive, set of unique values. An understanding and articulation of contextual value will be prioritized and, where information is readily available, additional values may be identified. The multiple-listing process is an efficient and effective practice that balances the need to respond to unprecedented growth within Toronto with the need to account for the cultural heritage value that adds character to our neighbourhoods.
Non-Designated Listed Properties
Non-designated listed properties do not have any protection under the Ontario Heritage Act, except insofar as an owner must give the council at least 60 days’ notice of their intention to demolish or remove a structure on the property. This allows the municipality time to decide whether to move forward with designation of the property under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
Listing does not trigger maintenance requirements over and above existing property standards, restrict altering any features that do not require a building permit. It does not allow the City to withhold a building permit for non-demolition related alterations and it does not preclude a property from undergoing renovation or development.
How Listing is Implemented by Staff
Properties that are listed on the City’s Heritage Register are flagged for review by Heritage Preservation Services Planning staff. Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) are required for development and demolition applications and alterations that might adversely affect a cultural heritage property. City staff undertake further research and evaluation of the property and may recommend designation of the property under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
Listing Does Not Automatically Trigger Designation
It is also important to note that when a property is listed it does not necessarily mean that it will be subsequently “designated”, but designation generally happens within one of three scenarios:
- a property owner gives notice of an intention to demolish the listed building and staff evaluation recommends designation
- a listed property is included within a planning application and subsequent evaluation directs appropriate conservation measures and designation within the planning approval process
- a property owner wishes to take advantage of one of the city’s incentive programs and requests a further staff evaluation and designation, as appropriate
How to Locate Property's Designation By-law
All properties that are individually designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act have a by-law registered on title. The by-law includes a description of the property, reasons for designation, and may include a list of heritage attributes, or features of the property that must be conserved. Properties that are listed do not have a by-law registered on title.
Follow this process to locate a property’s designation by-law: and
- Look-up the property by address using the City’s Heritage Property Search tool
- Note the designation by-law number, and the year of designation
- If the property was designated before 1998, contact the City Archives at 416-392-5431 and request the by-law
- If the property was designated after 1998, look up the by-law using the By-law Status Registry