I am pleased to share the good news that today, Justice David L. Corbett granted interim relief to stay the decision of the Government of Ontario to demolish the heritage buildings at the Dominion Foundry Complex in the West Don Lands. Demolition began two weeks ago on the four 100+ year old heritage buildings. Collectively, they are the largest concentration of heritage assets in the West Don Lands and are representative of Canada’s industrial railway history. This demolition began without community consultation and without any formal notice to the City.
Among one of the many reasons for the Justice’s decision, he cites that the Province and its agents, “made serious mistakes... It appears clear that the demolition began in contravention of the Heritage Act, and in breach of Ontario’s obligations under a subdivision agreement between Ontario and the City of Toronto.”
I want to thank the thousands of residents who signed the petitions, joined in protest and donated to the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association’s Legal Defence Fund. In addition, my gratitude goes out once again to all the lawyers who support this application and the city staff, subject experts and residents who provided the supporting affidavits. Thank you to City Legal, City Planning, Heritage Preservation Services and Transportation Services for your hard work and support during this legal process. Finally, I want to thank Suzanne Kavanagh, Cindy Wilkey and the entire team at Friends of the Foundry for your relentless advocacy and support.
Today’s victory would not have been possible without the collective efforts of all those aforementioned, including the support our campaign received from MPPs Suze Morrison and Chris Glover, Mayor Tory and City Councillors who lent us their political voice in defending the local planning process.
The fight is not over. While the demolition has been halted on an emergency basis, the next step is to properly have our concerns about these heritage buildings heard by a panel of judges at the Divisional Court.
Next week, City Council will be meeting to provide clear direction to the City Solicitor by way of my motion previously adopted at the January 19, Planning and Housing Committee meeting. I will work with City Legal Services and City Planning to update my motion to reflect any additional pertinent information arising out of today’s court proceedings. Further to this, I will ask City Council to endorse reimbursement of current legal costs incurred by the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, as I anticipate direction will be given to the City Solicitor to formally take a commanding role in any and all legal proceedings to come.
The application shall be heard by the Divisional Court on February 26, 2021, and be publically streamed on Youtube.
Our requests to the Premier and the Ontario government remain the same - immediately stop all demolition and begin consultation with the community and City to jointly determine the future of the Dominion Foundry Complex.
To date, the Province has clearly demonstrated no interest in working with the City or local residents on the responsible re-development on this site. Our challenge is much broader than the four heritage buildings. We need to send a message to Premier Ford and his government that they cannot ignore the rules and laws that apply to all, override local planning processes and bulldoze over proper community consultation. If we want to build safe, equitable and complete communities across Ontario then we need to do it together.
Please continue to stay in touch and up to date through www.kristynwongtam.ca/respectlocalplanning to #SaveTheFoundry.