A series of heritage buildings in Toronto’s West Don Lands that were slated for demolition will be largely retained thanks to an agreement reached between the City of Toronto and the Ontario government.
In a press release issued by the city, it was announced the two parties had “reached an agreement in principle,” for the four former industrial buildings located at 153-185 Eastern Avenue, known as the Foundry Buildings in the provincially-owned Dominion Foundry Complex.
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The Province would pledge to preserve the heritage value of the buildings and provide affordable housing in support of the City’s Open Door Affordable Housing Program and HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. Details of the agreement were also shared with community group leaders.
“The province has committed to conserving the cultural heritage value of the property and has taken into account feedback from the community and the City of Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.
“This path forward has ensured the outcome that I always had hoped could be achieved here — we ensure more affordable housing is built and at the same time address community concerns around heritage and public consultation,” he added.
According to recent reporting by UrbanToronto, demolition started on the century-old buildings in January, but was quickly halted after public outcry led to the filing of a temporary court order, which stopped wrecking activities. The court application was put forward by the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association along with the city as a party to the application and a participant in the court proceedings.
On Friday, August 20th, the city unveiled the Province’s Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), which sheds some light on the redevelopment plans for the heritage properties.
The HIA concluded that the building’s heritage value derives from being the last industrial complex associated with the West Don Lands railroad expansion between 1910 and 1960. The conceptual renderings produced by CORE Architects in the HIA show that the heritage properties could be integrated into new building elements with what appears to be new amenities, housing and public gathering spaces. Many features of the site would be retained and some demolished, the press release noted.
Any future purchasers of the property would be required to respect the redevelopment plans put in place. If the properties were ever to become privately owned, the city could designate them under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act or have the owner enter into a Heritage Easement Agreement.