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Kristyn Wong-Tam leads activists in filing injunction to halt Foundry demolition
Jan. 22, 2021
Ben Cohen

Ward 13 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and a community coalition sought to pause to the controversial demolition of the historical Foundry buildings Thursday, filing a notice of injunction that could potentially halt work at the site for 30 days.

“It’s the fastest way for us to get to court to stop the demolition,” said Wong-Tam “The City solicitor can’t go to court without council direction. There is not enough time to call a special meeting because the demolition crew is moving too fast.”

Wong-Tam and activists also staged a brief demonstration at the Corktown-area Foundry Thursday; the Province began demolition work at the site last week.

“It’s unfortunate that this is how we have to engage with the Province, through the courts. It’s really quite sad,” said Suzanne Kavanagh, a signatory to the affidavit. She represents the West Don Lands Committee, one of the local community groups involved in the injunction.

“We’re trying to be good citizens in a civil society and we’re dealing with a government who just doesn’t want to listen.”

When the Province approved the demolition of the Foundry buildings in October, it said the historic structures would be replaced with affordable housing.

Currently, one of the three buildings planned for the space, projected to be about half the size of the other two, will have affordable units. The other two buildings, of 34 storeys, and between 40 storeys and 43 storeys, will be market buildings.

In a media conference Thursday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory said, “There are probably ways in which some of this could be resolved outside of the court, which is always better, but we’ve made our views known. I’ve made my views known, and we’ll have to see what transpires.”

Tory previously said he supports the development of affordable housing, but believes the community should have been consulted before the demolition began.

Stephanie Bellotto, a spokesperson for Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said when the Province assessed the site in 2019, it determined the Foundry is “not of provincial significance.”

Wong-Tam noted that, when the four Foundry buildings were added to the City’s heritage register in 2004, they were deemed “historically and architecturally significant, as a good example of an industrial enclave.”

“The Provincially-owned Foundry property has been in a state of bad repair and largely abandoned for over 40 years,” said Bellotto.

City planner David Sit said that the Ministry indicated “full building preservation was not possible as the site is heavily contaminated and does not allow for an opportunity to conserve buildings.”

Bellotto did not respond to further requests for comment Thursday.

Wong-Tam called this “a classic example of ‘demolition by neglect.’ ”

“The Foundry has been owned by the Province since 1987,” she said. “They owned the properties, don’t take care of it and they move to demolish what they neglected.”