Using the guidelines of the Ontario Heritage Act, Toronto has listed and designated approximately 7,000 buildings in its Inventory of Heritage Properties, including such landmarks as Old City Hall, the Flatiron Building, Osgoode Hall, and the Park Plaza Hotel. There are also many private homes listed in the inventory that are of architectural or historical interest or that have a special "characterdefining context" within the neighbourhood, ranging from Casa Loma to the William Lyon Mackenzie House on Bond Street to the Wellesley Cottages, a series of row houses just off Wellesley Street East.
In recent years, City Council has extended its inventory to encompass not only individual buildings but also entire neighbourhoods. To date, there are several Heritage Conservation Districts across the city:
Once properties are included on the inventory, it is a clear statement that the city would like to see the heritage attributes of these properties preserved. In other words, the city makes it very difficult to change any detail of the exterior of the properties.
How does this affect the value of real estate? Clearly, within these designated areas there are some older homes that require extensive renovations to bring them up to the standards demanded by today's buyers. While updating the wiring and plumbing does not affect the exterior of a home, installing new thermal windows or a new front porch does. If the property is listed or designated in the inventory, it may be more costly for a buyer to undertake certain renovations or to obtain demolition and building permits. The number of potential buyers may be limited to those who are willing to work within the guidelines established by the city.
If you admire the Victorian homes in Cabbagetown or the East Annex, you should not hesitate to buy one. Just remember, before you make an offer, ask your Martin & Meredith sales representative to check with Heritage Preservation Services at City Hall whether or not you will be allowed to proceed with your planned renovations.
For more information on Heritage Conservation Districts, see www.toronto.ca/culture/heritage_pres.thm