The City of Toronto is on course to fulfill its statutory requirement to update its Official Plan by the end of the first quarter of 2013. City Planning staff will make their final recommendations with respect to an Official Plan Amendment for heritage policies to the October 12th, 2012 meeting of the City’s Planning & Growth Management Committee.

The proposed Official Plan Amendment with respect to heritage policies is the first amendment to go to Committee and it is possible that City Council will adopt the Amendment as early as October 30th of this year.

What’s New About The Proposed Heritage Official Plan Policies?

As anyone with development interests in Toronto knows, the City’s Official Plan contains policies with respect to the protection and conservation of properties with cultural heritage value or interest. In late September 2012, City Planning staff circulated to the public a draft Official Plan Amendment which proposes significant revisions to the existing policies. Changes of note include:

  • New policies which require private development to maintain, frame, and, where possible, create public views to important natural and human‐made features. Views identified in attachments to the Official Plan Amendment are designated as significant and are to be preserved without obstruction. Where a development proposal may obstruct or detract from a view designated in the Official Plan Amendment, a heritage impact assessment may be requested by City staff;
  • The impact of proposed development adjacent to a property listed on the City’s heritage register will be assessed by City staff prior to work commencing on the property. City staff’s assessment will be achieved through the proponent filing a heritage impact assessment;
  • Policies provide for additional gross floor area to be permitted in excess of what would be permitted in designated zones for a heritage building, provided the additional floor area will not detract from the heritage property and will not conflict with any other Official Plan policy, and the concerned heritage building or structure is protected in a heritage easement agreement, and the necessary by‐laws are enacted prior to approval of the site plan for the entire development;
  • Heritage impact assessments will be required for the proposed demolition of a property adjacent to a property listed on the City’s heritage register;
  • New construction adjacent to a property listed on the City’s heritage register must be designed to protect the cultural heritage values, attributes and character of the heritage property, and to minimize visual and physical impact on it, including considerations such as scale, massing, materials, height, building orientation and location relative to the heritage property; and
  • Significant cultural heritage landscapes, defined as “a geographical area of heritage significance which has been modified by human activities and is valued by a community and includes a grouping of individual heritage features such as structures, spaces, archaeological sites and natural elements which form a significant type of heritage form distinctive from that of its constituent elements or parts”, will be included in the City’s heritage register and/or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Examples of cultural heritage landscapes include, but are not limited to, heritage conservation districts, villages, parks, gardens, battlefields, main streets and neighbourhoods, cemeteries, trailways and industrial complexes of cultural heritage value.

What Do You Need To Do?

If you have real estate interests in Toronto the onus is on you to review the proposed Official Plan Amendment and determine if and how it impacts your interests. If you fail to register an objection or concern with the proposed Official Plan Amendment before it is adopted by City Council you will lose your right to appeal the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board.