Protecting Kensington Market – Heritage Demolition Restriction passed by City Council

TORONTO - City Council approved a motion by Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) today, calling for a demolition freeze of commercial and mixed-use buildings in Kensington Market, a designated National Historic Site.

"This is a significant step in our work to protect one of the most important neighbourhoods in our city," said Councillor Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina). "Kensington Market is a jewel in the heart of our city. We have to do everything we can to protect it, while we plan for the ongoing change that's so critical to the history of the Kensington".

Recommended by City Planning staff, the now-approved Heritage Study Area By-law puts a one-year freeze on the demolition of properties in commercial and mixed-use areas, while City staff continue the ongoing work to complete the Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District Plan. Requests for residential demolitions will be carefully monitored and reviewed to ensure residential heritage features are protected during the ongoing HCD Plan work.

In 2015, City staff began work on the Kensington Market HCD Study, to determine the merits of developing an HCD Plan in the neighbourhood. After 2 years of work and significant community consultation, the Toronto Preservation Board endorsed staff recommendations that the area merits designation, and that an HCD Plan should be prepared, in September 2017.

However, commercial and mixed use properties located within the study area that have not been listed or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act are at greater risk of demolition than residential properties as the City cannot deny or withhold a demolition permit where the applicant has complied with all applicable law. Under section 40.1 of the OHA, municipalities have the option to enact a HCD Study Area By-law to maintain the stability and integrity of the area while the study is being undertaken.

An HCD study area by-law will protect the integrity of the district and provide necessary stability for the Council-authorized and prioritized Kensington Market Neighbourhood HCD Study while Staff complete the HCD Plan. At present, staff are conducting additional policy research and analysis of the study area and heritage planning best practices from around the globe in order to inform a "made in Kensington" district approach. The study area's complexity, including its identified tangible and intangible cultural heritage values and heritage attributes requires careful consideration.  

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Media contact:

Lia Brewer, Office of Councillor Joe Cressy: 416-392-4044, lia.brewer@toronto.ca