This study addressed the conflict between development and conservation in the oldest part of Toronto, centred on the original ten blocks of the 1793 Town of York. Carl Bray was co-project leader, heritage planner, and primary author of the final report, working with a team of Canada’s top heritage experts.
The innovative aspect of this project was promotion of a middle way “heritage-friendly” development that met the goals of conservation and of land development. The objective was to make Old Town a distinctive and attractive area for residents, workers and visitors. To do so, the area’s heritage character should inform development, using design ideas taken from examples elsewhere and from within the area.
The study advocated new tools for generating solutions through skills training and capacity building involving the City, the private sector, and local citizens’ groups. This innovative approach to conservation and development advocated a strategy for overcoming the potentially adversarial situation and, instead, make possible collaboration amongst those three main parties. This strategy would then set in motion an improved process for shaping development in Old Town, one that is collaborative, innovative and which emphasizes Old Town’s unique character.
The study has since influenced a number of infill projects and has led to the most recent City initiatives in Old Town: the heritage lighting and heritage interpretation master plans (both of which Bray Heritage was involved in).