King-Spadina Heritage Demolition Freeze – FAQ
How would this demolition freeze work?
The legislative tool for the demolition freeze is officially known as a "Heritage Conservation District Study Area By-law" under the Ontario Heritage Act. It is one of the few powerful planning tools available to municipalities, and was created by the province specifically for the purpose of protecting heritage buildings from demolition as an HCD Plan is finalized.
The freeze has been applied to all 303 buildings that were identified in the draft HCD Plan as potentially having heritage value. Legally, the City of Toronto does not have any power to stop a property owner from demolishing more than 50% of these buildings today.
Why not consult with affected landowners before imposing the demolition freeze?
In fact, this demolition freeze gives us the comfort and security to take some additional time for further conversations on the final King-Spadina HCD Plan without risking the loss of any more heritage buildings in the meantime. We have heard from many landowners and the local Business Improvement Area that they would appreciate further consultation on the HCD Plan.
What is the King-Spadina HCD?
A Heritage Conservation District (HCD) is a planning tool that allows us to look at all the heritage buildings in an area and implement policies to ensure that the area's unique heritage character is protected and enhanced. It is a more powerful tool than simply protected individual heritage buildings because the HCD considers the relationship between heritage buildings and also allows us to ensure that any new buildings fill gaps in the heritage fabric in a contextually appropriate way.
The King-Spadina HCD contains a concentration of residential and commercial buildings constructed between 1880 and 1940, public parks, and a distinctive network of laneways associated with several periods of Toronto's historical and economic development. Many of the commercial buildings reflect the early 20th-century manufacturing and garment industry boom in the area. There are pockets of homes that predate the proliferation of manufacturing in the area, hinting at the first wave of development around King-Spadina that was mostly residential. The land west of Peter Street formerly served as the Military Reserve and burial ground, and when this land was developed it was laid out with a deliberate plan of streets, blocks, and public spaces – including Victoria Memorial Square, Clarence Square, and St. Andrew's Playground.
The study and consultation process for King-Spadina started in 2013. Following intensive work and many community meetings, a draft of the King-Spadina HCD Plan was released in October 2016 for public comments. City Council is expected to consider a final report on implementing the HCD Plan in 2017.
How does this affect a home renovation?
Residents who live in the old Victorian homes in King-Spadina should not be affected by the demolition freeze. Interior renovations and routine maintenance are exempted from the freeze. And any existing planning permissions that you may have, such as a minor variance from the Committee of Adjustment, will continue to be valid.
How does this affect the many redevelopments that have been proposed in King-Spadina?
Many of the buildings included in the demolition freeze are part of re-development proposals, and this prevents the developers from demolishing any heritage buildings unless a full review of the proposal is completed. The standard process of reviewing development proposals and holding community consultation meetings will continue as normal.
The demolition freeze can only be lifted from a specific building if re-zoning approval is granted for a redevelopment proposal. The City seeks to secure an appropriate heritage conservation plan as a condition of re-zoning approvals. For example, the protection provided by the demolition freeze could be replaced with a heritage easement as a condition of approval, protecting the important parts of the building in perpetuity.
Properties that already have re-zoning approval in place can still get building and demolition permits if it is consistent with the approved redevelopment plans.
Does the demolition freeze protect heritage buildings that are part of a development proposal currently appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)?
Yes, the demolition freeze protects heritage buildings that are part of an OMB appeal, while the appeal is underway. However, at the end of a full hearing, the OMB has the power to grant re-zoning approval. A demolition permit will be issued if it is consistent with the approved redevelopment plans.
What happens now that the demolition freeze has been approved?
The province only allows us to impose this demolition freeze for one year, so there is much to do in that time.
We have heard from many of the property owners in King-Spadina that there is a need for further consultation on the details of the draft HCD Plan. The demolition freeze gives us the comfort and security to take some time for this additional conversation without risking the loss of any more heritage buildings in the meantime. In that same timeframe, there will also be another public consultation meeting in early 2017 before the final report is submitted to City Council for approval.
The goal is to address any outstanding questions or concerns form the public in early 2017 and then have City Council's approval of the King-Spadina HCD Plan well in advance of the expiration of the demolition freeze.
Once the King-Spadina HCD Plan is in effect, all heritage buildings will have appropriate tools in place to protect them against demolition, and as a result the blanket freeze will no longer be needed.