How the process works:

A heritage permit is required for work that may alter the appearance of the façade of a building in a Heritage Conservation District, and is needed in addition to any building permit that may be required.

What it covers:

Heritage permits are required for any work, except general maintenance, carried out on the street-facing facades of all buildings. This includes work that otherwise would not require a building permit, such as the replacement of windows and doors, and the removal or replacement of decorative trim.

  • The rules apply only to what can be seen from the street.
  • Changes are encouraged to revert to the original appearance of the building.

The following projects are included:

  • Replacement of windows and doors
  • Installation of new siding
  • Construction or alteration of verandas
  • Installation of new skylights
  • Creation of new window and door openings
  • Alteration of existing cladding and/or brickwork

Applying for a Heritage Permit:

If work is planned for the exterior of the property visible from the street, the following steps must be taken:

  1. Contact the City of Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services department.
  2. Prepare drawings, sketches or plans of the proposed work.
  3. Take photographs of the building, showing its current condition in the area where the work is to take place.
  4. Gather any additional documents that support approval of the proposed project.
  5. Meet with Heritage Preservation Services staff to discuss the application.

If City staff determines the application conforms to the community’s HCD guidelines, they will expedite the necessary Heritage Permit and Building Permits. If the application does not meet the guidelines, City staff will suggest ways to modify the project in order to secure the required Heritage Permit.

> To apply for a Heritage Permit, contact the following City of Toronto Heritage Preservation staff member: Ragini Dayal, 416-338-1075; Ragini.Dayal@toronto.ca

For community advice and resources:

Technical help and advice on appropriateness of plans and materials is available from the Cabbaagetown HCD Advisory Committee, whose members are knowledgeable about the area’s history and architecture. The Advisory Committee is familiar with the City guidelines and procedures covering renovations in our community.

If the work envisaged likely requires a heritage permit, committee members can walk you through the City’s permit process. The committee does not enforce the community’s heritage status guidelines; enforcement is a city and provincial function.

Appeals Process:

The City of Toronto is responsible for approving work applications requiring a heritage permit. Applications are reviewed initially by the appointed municipal staff person and/or by the heritage district committee, who will check for compliance with the approved guidelines. If there are any concerns, alternative options can be explored with the owner before the application is referred to council for a decision. Council has 90 days from the date of notice of receipt of the application to either issue the permit, possibly with conditions, or refuse it.

The applicant has the right to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board if the application is refused or if approved with terms and conditions attached. The decision of the OMB is final. If council does not make a decision within the 90-day period it is deemed to have granted the permit.

Section 69 of the Ontario Heritage Act allows for imposition of a fine of up to $1million for any person found to illegally demolish a property in a Heritage Conservation District. This amount recognizes that illegal demolition of designated heritage properties is one of the most serious offences under the Act. Since the Ontario Heritage Act was passed in 1974, there have been prosecutions carried out for unauthorized alterations or demolition of designated property.

(Credit: Paul King Education Technical Advisor Heritage & Libraries Branch Ontario Ministry of Culture September 21, 2005)

Financial Assistance:

Financial incentives (such as heritage property tax relief, grants and other programs) exist under certain conditions, such as:

Heritage Grant Program:

The Toronto Heritage Grant Program is administered by the Heritage Preservation Services Unit of the City Planning Division to encourage the conservation of designated heritage properties in the City of Toronto. The Toronto Heritage Grant Program provides grant funds of up to 50% of the estimated cost of eligible heritage conservation work to designated heritage properties.

Owners of a property designated under Parts IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act may qualify to receive a grant for eligible conservation work in either of the two project categories:

  1. Residential house form buildings – Up to a maximum grant of $10,000.00 for individual properties.
  2. Commercial, institutional, multi-residential and industrial form buildings.

More information at: www.toronto.ca/heritage-preservation/grants/index.htm

Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program:

The Toronto Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program is administered by the Heritage Preservation Services Unit of the City Planning Division to encourage the conservation of heritage properties in the City of Toronto. All eligible heritage properties may receive a maximum of a 40% property tax rebate on identified heritage portions of the property.

More information at: www.toronto.ca/heritage-preservation/taxrebate/index.htm