It was only two days ago that I learned the Province of Ontario deployed a demolition crew to raze the four heritage buildings at the Dominion Foundry Complex on Eastern Avenue.
Since then I hosted an emergency meeting with local community leaders and our area MPPs, Chris Glover and Suze Morrison. There was broad consensus that the heritage properties should not be recklessly destroyed, especially without further review, public consultation or community notice.
Furthermore, I have been actively working with senior staff including City Legal, Transportation Services, Heritage and City Planning to determine how the Foundry heritage properties can be saved from imminent demolition. Through their research and review of federal and provincial statutes, heritage policies, laws and by-laws, City Legal and City Planning conclude that the Government of Ontario must carry out a Strategic Conservation Plan and Heritage Impact Assessment with public engagement before undertaking any removal or demolition of the provincial heritage buildings.
By its own heritage policies outlined in Standards and Guidelines for Conservation of Provincial Heritage Properties (2010), the Province of Ontario is required to “consider removal or demolition as a last resort, subject to heritage impact assessment and public engagement. Use best efforts to mitigate the loss of cultural heritage value.”
This afternoon, Toronto’s Chief Planner submitted a letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Infrastructure requesting confirmation to this effect.
“In advance of the demolition of structures, please confirm that the Province has undertaken a Heritage Impact Assessment on the demolition, including public engagement on this alternative, that a Strategic Conservation Plan was prepared by Infrastructure Ontario and that the disposal conforms to guidance provided in the Strategic Conservation Plan.”
I think it is prudent for the Government of Ontario to carefully consider their response to Toronto’s Chief Planner. Any further disregard of their own heritage policies represents an irreversible mistake and a willful attack on the heritage and cultural identity of our province and city.
Once again, I call upon the Government of Ontario to immediately stop all demolition activity of the Foundry buildings, withdraw the demolition equipment from the site and to work collaboratively with the City of Toronto, local residents and community stakeholders on the revitalization of these historically significant properties.