Historic Yorkville row houses to be saved?

Councillor defers vote but intends to protect properties going forward

A vote at the March 19 Toronto and East York Community Council meeting to include 14 Yorkville properties on the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register has been deferred after some property owners in the area expressed concern over the move.

The properties are located on the north side of Belmont Street and include a two-and-a-half storey detached house completed in 1873 and 13 two-storey row houses completed between 1881 and 1886.

Toronto Heritage Preservation Services recommended that the 14 properties be included on the city’s heritage register.

“Belmont is such a beautiful, wonderful street. It’s tough to see how these buildings don’t have significant heritage value,” said Mike Layton, the city councillor in whose ward the properties are located.

According to Layton, a listing on the heritage register means that certain approvals, such as building permits, are subject to consideration and review by the city’s heritage staff to make sure they are consistent with the spirit of the heritage. Layton deferred the item until the April 24, citing a lack of understanding by some property owners as to what inclusion on the heritage register will mean for them and their property. “I don’t mind deferring a little bit so they can get a better understanding of it, but my intent is to move forward with the listing,” said Layton.

Several of the properties were first nominated for inclusion on the register back in 2015. Layton hopes that the deferment will allow staff time to give the new property owners some clarity.

Kathrin Bohr, board director of the ABC Residents Association, is happy the properties are being consider for heritage register inclusion.

“There’s so many buildings in our neighbourhood that have fallen victim to development and modernization,” said Bohr. “Typically what happens is that any kind of renovation or modernization tends to happen without considering the streetscape and the historical nature of the buildings.”

Bohr said that, despite Toronto’s relative young age compared with other world cities, it still does have a lot of heritage.

“Every city evolves and changes and grows, and certainly in Toronto we’ve been seeing that in the last couple of decades,” said Bohr. “It really is important to maintain a connection to our historical roots.”

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