I have received a report that the Deputy Chief of Community Risk Reduction at Toronto Fire has issued orders for both properties at 238-240 Berkeley Street to be shut down immediately, effective January 21, 2021.
This morning the Court did not issue the interim injunction to halt further demolition on the Foundry buildings as requested by the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and supported by the City of Toronto. Instead, they will hear the full legal arguments next Wednesday.
This morning an application seeking an injunction on further demolition work was filed at the Ontario Superior Court by lawyers on behalf of the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA). This legal action names the City of Toronto as an interested party. As such we have provided the applicant’s lawyer with research and sworn affidavits that describe the factual background to support the interim and interlocutory injunctive relief restraining further demolition work at the Dominion Foundry Complex in the West Don Lands.
January 20, 2021
Late Monday, my office learned that Metrolinx, an agency of the Province of Ontario, initiated expropriation proceedings of the City-owned lands at 271 Front Street East and 25 Berkeley Street, a significant part of the historic First Parliament site. Located in downtown Toronto at the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets, the First Parliament site is a full city block, bounded on the west by Berkeley Street and on the south by Parliament Square Park. It is comparable in size to Nathan Phillip Square.
Yesterday, I was informed by residents of Berkeley Street that a massive fire broke out at 5:15 a.m. at 238 Berkeley Street. The at-risk activities arising from these properties are well known to Toronto Police and City divisional staff as they have a long history of jeopardizing the wellbeing and safety of the community. My office was first informed by the residents of their ongoing struggles, when they brought the properties to my attention in June 2020.
It is with fury and anger that I watched yesterday as the Government of Ontario began demolishing the Dominion Foundry buildings at 153 to 185 Eastern Avenue. It is clear that when Doug Ford says his government is “for the people” he is not referring to residents who see the opportunity to adapt and incorporate the 100+ year-old buildings on site for the future of the community, but his wealthy donors who see it as an obstacle to their bottom line.
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.
I am deeply saddened to learn of Michael Miceli’s passing on December 22, 2020. Only 40 years old, Michael was a valued leader in the city and member of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC) for over two and a half years. As Chair of this committee, I had the privilege of learning from Michael and working with him on a number of key issues to improve the livability of Toronto for people living with disabilities.
I have learned today alarming news that the Province is actively on site with the intention to demolish the buildings on the Foundry Site (known as 153 to 185 Eastern Avenue or Blocks 17 and 26) in the West Don Lands. The lands contain the Dominion Foundry Complex, the largest concentration of heritage buildings to be preserved within the 80 acre precinct. The demolition of these heritage assets would be an incalculable detriment to proper city planning. It signals to municipalities and developers across the province that the Ford Government is unwilling to follow its own recently updated heritage planning policies. If the Province refuses to respect its own heritages policies, why should anyone else?
Last week the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) provided a revised decision on the proposed daycare at 459-461 Sackville Street. This application proposes to turn the existing heritage building into a daycare for up to 80 children. Following a confusing 2020 TLAB decision which appeared to unconditionally approve the daycare despite noting concerns about parking, traffic and safety, the City Solicitor asked the TLAB to review its decision. I am pleased to hear that the City Solicitor was successful in that review request. While the TLAB has affirmed the variances for the approved daycare, it has helpfully attached five new and clearly stipulated conditions that the applicant must satisfy prior to any daycare use on the site.