Contributed by Andre Bermon – The long-awaited conclusion to the appeal of the St. Lawrence Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Plan is set to unfold November 12, 2019, at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). This event marks a possible turning point for the future of heritage protection in Toronto’s oldest district.
The HCD Plan for the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood came into effect November 2015 after years of study and evaluation by City Planning in concert with both private and public consultation. City Council backed the plan as a response to concerns over diminishment of heritage character in the downtown east. Protection under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act would help guide development in this culturally sensitive area.
However, since the Plan’s endorsement a consortium of developer and investment enterprises, with vast real-estate portfolios, including First Gulf and Larco Investments Ltd., were swift in calling for an appeal. According to a document released by the LPAT, issues surround the interpretation of the Plan’s guidelines and conformity to municipal and provincial planning goals.
The 249-page HCD Plan details policies restricting practises, such as alterations and demolitions, and forces developers to recognize heritage attributes of buildings by imposing limitations on density and height in order to preserve the existing character of the community. These regulations would undermine the freehand of massive condominium proposals presently underway.
A successful appeal to the heritage district plan may forever stall future conservation efforts in Old Town Toronto. A precedent that could threaten the potential of other HCD sites under study and review. Yet, a ruling in favour of the Plan would be a major win for the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood and a boon to preserving the city’s-built history.
Stay tuned readers!