Driven by provincial intensification policies, Yonge Street remains one of the prime locations for new development, driven largely by the Yonge Subway. At the same time, 90% of buildings on Yonge Street—between roughly Bloor and College Streets—date between 1860 to 1954, showcasing a variety of architectural styles that give this portion of Yonge a particular character. Despite this, a significant portion of properties in this stretch did not have heritage protection. Recognizing this gap, Councillor Wong-Tam pushed for staff to study and create a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) in 2012 to help ensure that new development retained the urban fabric that has made Yonge a destination for both residents and tourists.
The Historic Yonge Street HCD, as approved by City Council, requires that any new development that involves a contributing property retain the historic frontage and provide a 10 m. setback from the front of the building. In addition, it imposes a 75-degree angular plane that seeks to prevent new development from overwhelming the streetscape. For properties that are not considered to be part of the historic character, any new base building will need to fit in with the historic two-to-four storey main street heights, with the same setbacks and angular planes noted. The effect will be to allow redevelopment along one of Canada's busiest streets while retaining its character.
Council approved the Historic Yonge Street HCD on March 10, 2016. The designation has been appealed to the former Ontario Municipal Board/Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and currently remains under appeal.