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Toronto councillors demand a halt to Dominion Foundry demolition
Jan. 20, 2021
David Nickle

Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee has voted unanimously to ask Premier Doug Ford to immediately put a minimum 30-day pause on demolition of the historic Dominion Foundary on Eastern Avenue and consult with the public and the city on future plans for the provincially-owned property.

The motion from local Ward 10 Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam came as workers at 153-185 Eastern Ave. have already begun work on the demolition. The site was used by the Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company in the early 20th century to manufacture railway equipment.

The site is listed in Toronto’s heritage inventory but in October 2020, the Province of Ontario issued a minister’s zoning order for the site that lets the province get around both municipal planning input and public consultation.

In an email to the Toronto Star, the province said the existing buildings are being demolished to allow affordable housing.

“The government is committed to building significant new affordable housing and new community space to Toronto’s West Don Lands, by leveraging vacant provincial properties," wrote Stephanie Bellotto on behalf of Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark in the email.

The order, according to a Toronto Star report, permits three buildings, with the tallest being 143 metres. But Toronto’s chief planner Gregg Lintern confirmed that the city has received no information as to who if anyone is intending to build on the site.

Councillor Wong-Tam expressed skepticism about the province’s intent to build affordable housing at the site.

“If the province wanted to build affordable housing and work with the community they would have done so,” said Wong-Tam. “But they have chosen a path of vandalism and wilful neglect. We need to defend the heritage assets that belong to the people of Ontario. The provincial government holds them in trust.”

Wong-Tam said the buildings are of historic significance beyond their age and design.

“This is the largest concentration of heritage assets in the West Donlands,” she said. “It represents the history of this country because it was an industrial site where we manufactured railway parts, and we know this country was forged with a ribbon of steel. This is not just a piece of history that belongs to Toronto or Ontario.”

The committee has voted to ask for a range of measures to stop the demolition. Immediately, it recommends council to ask the provincial government to stop any demolition or construction work and provide a number of documents for city review; a cultural heritage evaluation, an archeological assessment, a heritage impact assessment, a strategic conservation plan, an environmental site assessment and any other studies completed related to the project.

As well, the committee recommends that the province immediately consult residents about the site’s future.

The committee is also asking that the province provide information as to who intends to develop the site, the number of affordable and market units that are proposed and any draft concept plans that were provided to the province in making this order.