Thinking about Buying a Heritage Property in Toronto?

Rachel Loizos in Legal, Home Buying

You can browse through the list provided on the City of Toronto Website and search our heritage properties by their municipal address.  The list, which has been compiled by Heritage Preservation Services for Toronto City Council, is an inventory of Toronto’s heritage properties.  From the site, which I encourage you to visit, I learned that the list or inventory was started in 1973 and lists approximately 7,000 properties ranging from well-known landmark buildings and structures to private homes and heritage districts.

The Ontario Heritage Act provides information and guidance about how decisions are made respecting heritage properties.  Although heritage properties can be a beautiful investment, it is worth noting that the designation will restrict how you are able to deal with the property.  As an example, you will not be able to demolish a structure on the property without approval from City Council. 

If you presently own a heritage property, you may be eligible for a grant to maintain the property.  The Toronto Heritage Grant Program encourages the conservation of heritage properties in the City of Toronto through matching grant funding of up to 50% of the estimated cost of eligible heritage conservation work. Details about eligibility requirements, the application process and public workshops are available at the City of Toronto Website, but you had better act soon – the application deadline is FRIDAY JUNE 13, 2008.

Another item of interest is the City of Toronto's Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program which provides eligible heritage property owners with a 40% rebate on their municipal and educational property taxes for the eligible heritage portions of their property. To be eligible for this program, properties must be designated under Part IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act and subject to a Heritage Easement Agreement (as of September 30, 2006).

If you know of a property that you believe should be listed as a designated heritage property, you will be interested to know that these decisions are made by the Heritage Preservation Service who make recommendations to City Council.  City Council then seeks the opinion of the volunteer Toronto Preservation Board when considering each recommendation for listing or designation.

Helpful Definitions:

"Listed" is a term used for properties for which City Council has adopted a recommendation to be included on the Inventory. The recommendations are based on criteria that relate to architecture, history, and neighbourhood context. Their inclusion on the Inventory is a clear statement that the City would like to see the heritage attributes of these properties preserved.

Properties that have been individually designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, or are located within a Heritage Conservation District designated under Part V, are referred to as "designated." Designated properties are also included on the Inventory and are identified by a by-law number.

For more information on the heritage status of a property you are advised to contact:

Heritage Preservation Services
Suite A-17, 2nd Floor, City Hall,
100 Queen Street West,
Toronto, Ontario Canada M5H 2N2

Rachel Loizos is an associate lawyer at Sotos LLP in Toronto. She practices in the area of real estate law.
Email Rachel

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