About Heritage Homes

Toronto and surrounding communities have a rich cache of historic buildings, including a large number of homes listed on inventories of heritage properties. Most home- owners consider owning such a property to be a privilege, but conflicts often can arise with neighbours or with the city if the owner wants to make substantial changes to the property or demolish the existing building to allow new construction.

Houses appear on an inventory because of historic distinction, or if they relate to a significant person or event in local history. It can take several years for a property to be recognized by organizations such as the Toronto Preservation Board, but the time can be reduced to three to six months if the building is scheduled for demolition.

Although the terms “listing” and “designation” often are used interchangeably, they have different meanings. A listed property is simply acknowledged on an inventory, while a designated property has a legal status conferred upon it. Designation provides the city with legal authority to refuse permits for alterations to the property. Generally, routine maintenance is unaffected, but owners of heritage properties are encouraged to consult with city staff to assist with planning. Heritage preservation services receive copies of any permits involving property on an inventory. Designation rarely has an impact on interior renovations.

Heritage preservation agencies do more than police changes to historic buildings. They also provide professional advice for owners. The Toronto Heritage Fund, for instance, administers grants to restore designated homes to their original condition or to conserve original design details.

Listed buildings can receive oval-shaped markers identifying them as heritage properties. Designated buildings receive bronze plaques outlining the home’s origin, original owner and the architect or builder’s name.

Having a listed or designated home does not interfere with your right to sell the property. Designation is registered on the property’s title so new owners will be aware of its status, and should advise the city authorities of the change in ownership.

For more information or to view Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, contact Heritage Preservation Services at 416-392-6827 or go to www.city.toronto.on.ca/culture/heritage.