A judge has halted demolition of the Foundry, four historic downtown Toronto buildings, by the Government of Ontario, ruling the demolition “began (last week) in contravention of the Heritage Act, and in breach of Ontario’s obligations” to the City of Toronto.
Judge David Corbett’s decision halts development on the heritage site, at 153-185 Eastern Ave., for at least a month, allowing the City to prepare for a climactic court battle with the Province in late February.
“It is my hope that we can use this time to resolve this situation with the government of Ontario,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement. “I believe a path forward can be found that gets more affordable housing built and at the same time addresses community concerns around heritage and public consultation.”
The demolition of the Dominion Wheels and Foundries Company buildings started Jan. 18 and paused Jan. 22 as a “good faith measure” to the city.
The demolition was met with an outcry from residents and City officials, both of whom were seen demonstrating Friday in -11-degree weather for the preservation of the foundry.
The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA), a residents’ group, took the Province to court Wednesday, resulting in Corbett issuing an injunction Friday halting development on the Foundry site for about 30 days.
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The ruling will buy the City of Toronto time to convene next week to authorize its solicitor to attempt to stop the Province from tearing down the foundry permanently.
“Had it not been for the swift action of this group, there is every chance that these buildings would have been destroyed before legal proceedings were brought to identify the issues that will be decided in this application,” Corbett wrote in his decision.
The judge ruled that as the foundry is a heritage site, a heritage assessment report and “public engagement” are both required before it can be destroyed.
“Infrastructure Ontario decided to demolish the heritage buildings without first providing a heritage assessment report to Toronto in accordance with the subdivision agreement, did not disclose publicly its intention to demolish the buildings, did not disclose publicly the heritage assessment report written by one of its employees, and did not undertake any ‘public engagement’ respecting demolition of the buildings,” wrote Corbett.
In a statement written after the decision, Adam Wilson, director of communications for Minister Steve Clark, said, “As we’ve stated, a heritage impact assessment was completed, which determined that the buildings require demolition to facilitate full environmental remediation of the site.”
Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach him via email: [email protected]
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