Thousands of Toronto buildings are at risk of losing their heritage status

Heritage Toronto. Image credit: X/@heritagetoronto

#TorontoBuildings; #TorontoHeritage;  #Bill23 

Toronto/CMEDIA: Almost 4,000 buildings in Toronto that are set to lose their heritage status at the end of 2024  .

Ontario government is prioritizing in building more homes and in 2023 it passed Bill 23 for the More Homes Built Faster Act which caused a drasticchange in the Heritage Act’s rules in ways causing municipalities to deal with the fallout 

Some of the city of Toronto’s best-known buildings could potentially be affected. 

In its efforts in building more housing, Ontario is trying to eliminate a designation that covers almost a third of the buildings on the over 50 years old City of Toronto’s Heritage Register. 

The City of Toronto’s Heritage Register has 11,271 properties on it that are either “designated” (evaluated and granted heritage protection for historical or cultural significance) or “listed but non-designated” (covering properties that may be of importance but haven’t been evaluated). 

Developing, demolishing, or changing a listed site by any one needs to give 60 days’ notice, which can then examine whether the building needs to be designated.

There are currently 3,977 properties with listed status.

“We’ve had a number of properties that have been on the Heritage Register since 1973, that are listed and have never been designated, because there has just been no particular reason to do that,” said Mary MacDonald, City of Toronto’s senior manager of heritage planning.

“Removing listed properties from the registry after two years ensures that municipalities are proactively prioritize identifying, listing and designating properties that have distinct heritage value, and makes the process transparent, consistent and predictable for all parties involved,”  Mark Pelayo, director of communications for the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism reported saying and added,

 “Previously, municipalities were able to keep listed properties on the register indefinitely, which in many cases resulted in additional red tape, uncertainty and delays. We will continue to work with municipalities and monitor the implementation of these changes.”

“We don’t have a culture in this city, province or country, where we believe our history is worth saving,” Christopher Hume, the Star’s former longtime architecture critic was reported saying. “If a buck can be made by knocking something down, people will do it.”

Bill 23 changed that concept. Apart from making it tougher to add buildings to the register, as well as adding new buildings to the list before they become designated, the bill adds a two-year time limit on currently listed properties.

Since Bill 23 became law on Jan. 1, 2023, any undesignated building can not be designated till the new limit expires, and the property can not be re-listed for another five years.

Image: Toronto Heritage. . Image credit: X/@heritagetoronto