I am writing you about the site of the former Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company, in the West Don Lands in Toronto.
Your government, after engaging in an Agreement for Purchase and Sale of the site in September, subsequently issued a Ministerial Zoning Order in October, removing any requirement for city planning procedures or community consultation. Then in January of this year a crew arrived and began to demolish the first of four Heritage buildings on the site. Demolition was halted only when the community hired lawyers to take your government to court. Imagine that: we had to take our own government to court to get your attention!
Meanwhile your government has not revealed any plans for the site of the Dominion Wheel & Foundries Co: no public consultations or coordination with the city. The Foundry may be in Toronto, but Heritage belongs to everyone in Ontario. These buildings are the only structures remaining in the area that reflect Ontario's industrial past. Why is your government so set upon destroying this valuable heritage?
Any new development needs to integrate community spaces, and these should be planned in consultation with the people already living in the neighbourhood. And finally, we need to be sure that basic infrastructure such as sewers, parking, transit, police services are keeping up with the increase in density. But again, there has been no communication with the City or with the community as to plans for the site, although clearly those plans exist.
Since then, your government has opened a very minimal, vaguely-worded website that invites people to send an email with their comments attached in a PDF document. Nowhere in the web page are the words “heritage”, “demolition”, or the name by which the site is commonly known, Dominion Foundry site. Nowhere is the area mentioned, West Don Lands. The site was “publicized” by mentioning it to a journalist, and posting a couple of tweets on Twitter. In addition to that the Ministry set up three — yes, only three — 30-minute “listening sessions” wherein separate neighbourhood groups were invited to make a presentation. No questions allowed.
That’s it. That is not consultation. Consultation needs to be a dialog not simply an email with no response, and a one-way presentation to a group of bureaucrats who refuse to answer any questions or give any feedback.
Your Party did well in 2018, but 2022 could be another story. Treating your constituents like this will cost votes. Please try to talk some sense into your colleagues. Let’s reset this relationship now.
In case you’re not familiar with the site, here is a web page with many photos:
I am sure when you view those photos you will get a sense of the potential here.