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Frequently Asked Questions about Heritage Conservation Districts

Seneca Chief There are over 90 Heritage Conservation Districts in Ontario. Heritage Conservation Districts protect and enhance the special character of an area and recognize its historical, architectural, cultural and contextual significance. They ensure that demolitions and inappropriate in-fills or unsympathetic alterations visible from the street will not occur. Existing Conservation Districts in Toronto include Rosedale, Cabbagetown, Weston Village, Wychwood and Harbord Village.

Question: How will my property value be affected?

Property values generally rise in Heritage Conservation Districts more consistently than in surrounding districts based on a study carried out in 2009 by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario entitled Heritage Districts Work!. A copy of this report can be found on the website of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario at { ACO Report } a summary is on file at { ACO Summary }

A Heritage Conservation District designation offers the neighbourhood a significant level of protection from unsympathetic development that might alter its character. This in turn protects your investment in your property. The Heritage Conservation Districts that currently exist in Toronto (e.g. Rosedale, Wychwood) have remained relatively stable, despite significant development on their periphery.

Question: What if I want to make changes to my house?

The Heritage Conservation District designation will not stop you from remodeling your house or making improvements. You will not require a special heritage permit for changes such as roof replacement, painting, landscaping, the installation of eavestroughs and outdoor lights, interior work or any exterior work which is not visible from the street.

Question: What if I do want to make changes to the exterior which are visible from the street?

If you request a building permit related to exterior changes that are visible from the street, the City’s Heritage Preservation Services section will be notified. This is done to ensure that the planned changes are in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood guidelines established by the community during the Heritage Conservation District Study. If you do not require a building permit (e.g. new windows) there is no involvement on the part of the City, although consultation with Preservation Services to ensure that the change fits with the character of the neighbourhood is recommended.

Question: Will I be subject to additional paperwork and red tape as a result of the need for review by Heritage Preservation Services?

Usually not. Heritage Preservation Services will review your building permit request and building plans at the same time as the City’s other departments. If your building proposal conforms to the heritage guidelines for the neighbourhood, the approval process should take no longer than normal. Property owners have a right to appeal an unfavourable decision.

Question: Will the Heritage Conservation District affect my property insurance premium?

Designation would not place additional requirements on your insurer and should not affect your premiums.

Question: Will I have to restore my house to its original appearance?

No, you are not required to make any changes to the appearance of your house not even regular maintenance (e.g. painting).

Question: How does a Heritage Conservation District designation get established?

When a neighbourhood is selected for consideration, the Ontario Heritage Act requires that a study be carried out to provide background to the historical, architectural and character-defining features that make the area special. Based on this work, design guidelines are developed. A key part of this work involves consultation with the community. The City’s Heritage Preservation Services Department is also involved. When the study is complete, City Council will be asked to pass a by-law to establish the Heritage Conservation District and implement the District Plan.

Question: There are houses in Baby Point which are not part of the original development, will they be treated differently than the older homes?

The background study will evaluate the different components of the neighbourhood and may well recommend different approaches or levels of protection for some of the homes which were not part of the original development.

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Seneca Indian Chief - Iroquois Nation -> HCD