As part of the City of Toronto's five-year Official Plan
review, the City will hold a "Heritage Town Hall" meeting
on December 1, 2011 to give members of the public an opportunity to
share their ideas on Toronto's heritage policies. Over the past
few years, much has been made in the media of the deterioration of
heritage properties, which is sometimes referred to as
"demolition by neglect".
Demolition by neglect is expected to be a topic of conversation at
the upcoming Town Hall meeting. However, owners of heritage
properties in Ontario should know that municipalities already have
broad legislative powers to protect designated heritage
What heritage property owners should know
The following is a brief overview of the law in Ontario
regarding heritage property maintenance:
An owner of a designated heritage property is responsible for
According to Sections 35.3 and 45.1 of the Heritage
Act, if a municipality has enacted a property standards
by-law, it may, by by-law, identify minimum standards for the
maintenance of designated heritage resources.
If an owner fails to maintain a property's heritage
features to such minimum standards, a municipal licensing officer
may issue an order pursuant to Section 15.2(2) of the Building
Code Act requiring a property owner to maintain or repair a
Upon receipt of a Section 15 order, an owner may appeal to a
municipality's property standards committee. If no appeal is
filed, or if an owner's appeal is unsuccessful, the order is
Pursuant to Section 19 of the Statutory Powers and
Procedures Act, a municipality may file a confirmed Section 15
order with the Superior Court of Justice to make it enforceable as
a court order.
In the event that an owner does not complete the work required
by a Section 15 order, a municipality also has the right, pursuant
to Section 446 of the Municipal Act and Section 386 of the
City of Toronto Act, to enter onto the owner's land to
do the necessary work at the owner's expense. The municipality
may register a lien against the land for the cost of such work, and
may add any unpaid cost to the property's municipal tax roll
for collection as municipal real property taxes.
The above-noted property standards requirements apply only to
properties "designated" pursuant to Parts IV or V of the
Heritage Act. Properties that are identified on a
municipality's list of heritage properties but not designated
under the Heritage Act are not subject to these
An order from a municipal property standards officer may
require an owner to maintain and protect the heritage attributes
for which a property is designated, including repairing or
maintaining the structure of a building to protect the integrity of
the heritage attributes that it contains.
Any proposed addition to or alteration of a designated building
that will impact the building's heritage attributes requires
Council approval. Council's decision on an application to alter
a designated building is final and not appealable to the Ontario
Demolition of a designated heritage building or structure or a
portion thereof requires Council approval. If such demolition
permission is denied by Council, the owner has the right to appeal
Council's decision to the OMB.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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