Heritage Toronto releases 2019 State of Heritage Report

Hot off the presses, Heritage Toronto is pleased to announce the release of the State of Heritage Report today, following a year of research, consultations, and engagement with 58 community organizations and over 500 members of the general public. The Report provides 17 recommendations on how to better promote and protect Toronto’s heritage.

Heritage Toronto, State of Heritage Report
Agincourt School, Image: City of Toronto Archives

The Report identifies strong examples of successful heritage work, but it also describes an overall sense of public discouragement at the continued slow pace of heritage protection and, in some cases, the outright refusal of private and public leaders to recognize and integrate heritage into their plans.

Report Highlights:

We must showcase the depth and breadth of heritage outside downtown Toronto.

The Report identifies a need for greater recognition and protection of Toronto’s suburban heritage, finding that 91% of listed properties are in the downtown council area. “We’re the poor cousin of downtown,” said one Scarborough resident who is quoted in the Report. Scarborough has only 163 listed properties, compared with over 10,500 in Toronto and East York. That region’s Agincourt neighbourhood has been waiting for over a decade for its Heritage Conservation District to be approved.

Heritage and sustainability are natural allies.

The Report also calls for more incentives for environmentally friendly adaptive reuse of heritage buildings, recognizing that construction and demolition debris currently accounts for approximately 24% of annual municipal waste.

Meanwhile, development and population growth are encroaching on the city’s green space. Parkland supply is still considered low in major parts of the city. The Report calls for an inclusive natural heritage network throughout the city, recognizing initiatives such as the Great Streets program, which integrates urban infrastructure, heritage architecture, and the natural environment. Further, the recent threats to Ontario Place and the Hearn Generating Station has brought into sharp focus the future of the natural heritage of the waterfront and the question of public access.

A full copy of the State of Heritage report is available via Heritage Toronto, at this link.