ERA Architects

Proposed Heritage Policies in the ‘Toronto Official Plan’ Review

As part of the current review of the Toronto Official Plan, new heritage policies have been drafted and presented to City Council for public discussion.

Over the past months, we here at ERA Architects have thoroughly reviewed the proposed municipal heritage policies. We are concerned that a great opportunity may be lost, for three key reasons:

  • The proposed policies primarily address regulatory and process issues rather than goals and objectives,
  • They don’t significantly advance us beyond the status quo, and
  • They show no sense of strategic implementation.

Simply stated, why do we want to protect heritage resources? With an awareness of what we are not doing well, how can we do it better?

The adoption of new Official Plan Heritage Policies represents a rare opportunity for the City of Toronto to introduce the most current ideas, definitions and principles into the city’s framework for development and stewardship of its built and natural environment. It also enables the city to strengthen the tools and processes that it employs to protect and promote its cultural heritage.

ERA Architects has undertaken a systematic review of the draft policies and is proposing a number of significant amendments, in order to enhance their clarity and transparency, and eliminate potential redundancies. The amendments are also intended to make explicit the strong connection that exists between heritage conservation and sustainable development, and the critical contribution that cultural heritage makes to the character and livability of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.

The Official Plan heritage policies are available for review on the City website, at:
www.toronto.ca/opreview/pdf/opreview_proposed_heritage_policy.pdf

Linked below, we respectfully submit comments on the current proposed policies, and a draft counter-proposal – a goals-based policy document that can significantly improve the delivery of heritage services in the City of Toronto.
www.era.on.ca/pdf/ERA_OP_heritage_policy_comments.pdf

The key authors of this draft include Michael McClelland (Principal and Co-Founder at ERA), Victoria Angel (Senior Heritage Planner at ERA, Dean of the Willowbank School of Restoration, and former Manager of the Federal Heritage Building Review Office), Sydney Martin, and urban planners Julie Tyndorf, George Martin, and Chris Lawless.

The City wants your opinion on these policies before they go forward for Council’s consideration, and is holding an open public forum on Monday, September 10th. Please come out and have your voice heard.

Heritage Open House – Proposed Official Plan Policies
Monday September 10, 2012
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Room 308-309 Metro Hall,
55 John Street

Read Christopher Hume’s article on this issue in the Toronto Star.

image source: adapted from Toronto Archive Fonds 329, Series 1569, File 2531