In February 2021 Justice Corbett of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice forced the Province to pause demolition on the Foundry site. At that time the Province got to work meeting its obligations to the minimum possible level: they published a web page inviting the public to send in an email giving their views on the matter. The page gave no context, and did not even mention the Foundry, heritage, or demolition.
We were not fooled. Hundreds of Ontario citizens emailed the Province passionate, articulate, and carefully composed letters in response.
Below is a very small sampling of these letters. Personal information such as names, addresses, and email addresses have been redacted for privacy.
March 2, 2021
To Premier Ford and the Ontario Government:
RE: AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON EASTERN AVENUE CONSULTATION
I am a member of Friends of the Foundry.
I am writing to ask that the Ontario Government respect local planning and the wishes of Toronto residents and cease the demolition of the Foundry.
It is truly shocking that the Ontario government sold this site before the Heritage Impact Assessment was tabled. Using provincial power to ignore and disrespect due process and local planning is a gross misuse of government.
Please stop your plans for the demolition and start again with proper community consultation on how to preserve provincial heritage and build affordable housing. These goals are not mutually exclusive.
Please inform the public of how you intend to evaluate and work with the advice you receive.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am an advocate of preserving what little is left of the historic buildings in Toronto. We recently won the Architectural Conservancy award for adaptive reuse of the Destructor building in the Junction neighborhood.
It has since become a hub for small industry, events, farmers Market, weddings… The Foundry can become just such a community space. There is nothing like it in that neighborhood. It would add an amazing community space for community events, live music, classes, …
Please make use of this historic landmark for good not condos.
Comment re Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
March 3 2021
Dear Ontario Government,
I am writing as a resident of Peterborough, Ontario, to express my concerns regarding the province's attempt to demolish the Foundry historic property. Although I don't live in Toronto, I did live there for about 20 years, I often visit, have family there, and have a strong affection for the city.
Historic properties like the Foundry are really important to ensuring that Toronto remains an attractive and interesting city. There is no reason to believe that protecting such properties could interfere with providing necessary affordable housing.
I urge the Ontario Government to undertake a proper community consultation on how to preserve this heritage property while also building affordable housing. This shouldn't be too much to ask, or too difficult.
I would also like to ask how the Ontario Government intends to consider the advice you are receiving on this issue. It would be good to have some assurance that the Government takes public views seriously.
Thank you for your attention to my concerns.
Feb. 21, 2021
Dear Members of Infrastructure Ontario;
We are residents of Canary park in Toronto's West Donlands and Friends of the Foundry members. We are very concerned about the lack of public participation in the plans for the Dominion Foundry site on Eastern Ave. It was terribly upsetting to be surprised when demolition began in January without the knowledge of the city or the community and in such a hurried manner. Having affordable housing in the city is a goal for all of us. However, the development should be planned with the city and with members of the neighbourhood. There have been many creative ideas as to how affordable housing could be incorporated into the site without destroying the Heritage buildings. We would love to see the site repurposed for housing and cultural events, similar to the very successful Distillery District. The old buildings do not need to be demolished, but can be reused as a reminder of Toronto's history. Will there be a public meeting or a way to open up discussion about the Foundry site? Has density been considered as a factor in infrastructure design? How will you evaluate the advice that you receive? Will you consider modifying your plan? Is the new purchaser of the land flexible and willing to include Heritage features? We encourage open communication and transparency so that a positive new development is created that blends our industrial history with new and innovative designs.
Feb. 23, 2021,
Regarding Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
This letter is to register my objection to this one-way consultation process, in which there is no opportunity for open dialogue between government representatives and the public.
I object to the lack of transparency and the rejection of the usual channels of community involvement, local planning considerations, heritage preservation processes, and open tender when public lands are up for sale.
It is unacceptable for the Premier to state that the public will only learn the details of the sale of the Foundries property once the sale is final. It stands to reason, that once the sale is final it will be too late for any meaningful public processes to take place. There are so many questions that need to be answered, some of which were outlined in my previous letter to this consultation address and to Minister Clark directly. This one-way consultation process does not allow for questions to be raised and answers provided so that all stakeholders can work from a set of agreed upon facts.
Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
March 3, 2021
To whom it may concern,
Please allow me to add my name of those strongly opposed to the proposed demolition of the foundry buildings. Toronto already has a dubious reputation of having a terrible record with respect to historical preservation and there is surely no need to make it any worse.
Yes, there is a need for affordable housing in this city, but not in this location. There is great potential for these buildings – surely they be put to any number of uses – and NO - not just their façades which is the typical style of “preservation” in Toronto. Consider the case of the Wychwood Barns as a way in which old buildings can be used for new purposes
How do you intend to evaluate and work with the advice you receive – or will it simply be ignored?
Walnut Hall on Shuter St., the William Reynolds Block on Yonge and the Sheard mansion on Jarvis are all examples of buildings in Toronto that should have been preserved. But through lack of foresight and careless attention to urban planning, they’ve gone.
The foundry buildings must not fall to the wrecking crew. If this is allowed to happen, a part of Toronto’s history will be lost forever.
As a Friend of the Foundry, I recognize the heritage value and the community consultation done by the community for the future of the Foundry. This consultation and its findings must be respected with respect to any next steps of the Foundry’s future.
It’s critical that the government start to show transparency in how the government intends to evaluate and work with the advice they receive in a new consultation with the community and the public. Public trust in the government and its use of the MZO has been severely eroded due to the attempted demolition of the Foundry; the government must work to restore that trust.
Re: Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
Dear Premier Ford and Minister Clark:
While I am a firm believer in the need for more affordable and supportive housing in Toronto and across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and in municipalities across Ontario, I don’t support the demolition of the Dominion Foundry site to fulfill these aims.
Rather, as the community group, Friends of the Foundry, has made clear, alongside the creative and constructive input of community residents, architects, urban planners, and historic preservationists, we in Ontario can meet affordable housing by adapting and preserving our heritage buildings. Moreover, as these groups and experts demonstrate, we can create a revitalized Dominion Foundry to incorporate affordable housing, small business and community amenities. After all, this is down the street from the renowned Distillery District!
I urge you to diligently consult with these groups and experts and design a community-responsive situation that neither compromises heritage nor housing need. I also would ask you to inform the public on how you intend to respond and work with the advice that will support greater transparency and accountability.
Thanks for your leadership in this matter.
Re: “Affordable Housing Supply on Eastern Avenue”
I am writing to object to the apparently ‘fast-track’ MZO that has been issued in this matter, without any the opportunity for preliminary consultation from the community and city planning. I would like to see careful consideration of the community needs, and the best way to meet these, rather than simply ‘bulldozing’ ahead as has been the case. I do not find anything to indicate how the stated consultation process is going to take these issues into consideration, especially the community response, and indeed the title “Affordable Housing Supply on Eastern Avenue” suggests that the province has foregone conclusions and decisions. There is nothing I can find to indicate that the intended development will indeed meet affordable housing needs, or indeed other needs for potentially more vulnerable or less financially secure citizens of Toronto, including green space, recreation space, small business development incubation, and similar community hubs and resources. It is particularly disturbing that this appears to be one of several MZOs issued recently in what appears as an attempt to make an end-run around proper input from the citizens and voters, and our municipal government. Given the track record of the current provincial government regarding the City of Toronto I have a huge degree of distrust about the intention and effect of this MZO, as well as distrust of the ability of some developers to act in concert with the needs of the larger community. The stealth demolition needs to stop. At the least, a full, open, and entirely transparent discussion is needed regarding use of this valuable and historic space, with recognition from the provincial government that it is the citizens of Toronto who will live with the decision for decades to come, accompanied by proper respect for the wellbeing of our urban core. We have limited development space, and limited historic assets, and it is essential that we use these wisely with an eye to the quality of life for our community in future years, as well as current needs.
To whom it may concern, March 2, 2021
I am writing in regards to the so called consultation on the Foundry site.
It is quite clear that this is a sham consultation, but I am participating to express my views. I have donated to the legal fund and participated in protests to save the buildings.
I live about a 15 minute walk from the site. I walk by the site occasionally. It is quite clear these are significant industrial heritage buildings and should be saved for re-use. They were designated by the City of Toronto in 2004.
I am outraged that the province has done the following
- secretly sold the buildings to benefit an unnamed developer
- without any consultation with the City of Toronto planners issued an MZO
- started demolition without notice
- tried to hide behind an unbelievable fig leaf of “affordable housing’ without naming what type of affordable housing is on offer, # of units etc. It is clear the bulk of the units will be condominiums for sale or for market rent for the benefit of the developer. If you have a plan for affordable housing for the site, why don’t you tell us exactly what it is in a proper consultation process.
I plan to continue to participate in the fight to save these buildings. Heritage buildings can be combined with new development. The whole surrounding area is full of quality new buildings. A good neighbourhood combines both heritage buildings and new buildings. The desire to clear the site is clearly about profiting a developer. Why? People are going to assume the worst without transparency.
I am calling for a proper transparent consultation process on the future of the site. This sham consultation won’t do.
I am also calling for the province to cancel the secret sale or to name the developer and bring them into the process.
There is lots of support for saving these buildings.
I look forward to your response.
February 23, 2021
Dear Housing Supply Ontario,
In response to the consultation of the use of Crown land for affordable housing, the fundamental request is for transparency in the sale and use of all provincially owned lands.
No one living in this city would deny the obvious fact that Toronto is in desperate need of affordable housing. The problem with the foundry development has been in the opaque governmental procedures and use of MZOs, in overriding all public/municipal consultation in how our cities, municipalities and landscapes are developed.
Accountability of all land use is of the utmost of civic importance as decisions made now, affect how we live in the present and for future generations.
Cityscapes, buildings, and natural environments define us as a society and directly reflect the wellbeing of a populace and all those that inhabit it, both human and wildlife.
The use of MZOs is an alarming “Fordnation” development especially when used to override existing pre-determined designations of provincial lands both urban and rural.
In the case of the Foundry buildings, the sudden destruction of the few remaining provincially and thus I will note “publically” owned heritage buildings, created massive outrage due to the lack of any transparency or public consultation in the process.
As a young city, Toronto developed rapidly and oft recklessly creating sprawling concretized urban landscapes with community connectivity as an afterthought, whilst demolishing much of its heritage past. The urban Toronto of the 21st century has become a skyline of glass towers, banal streetscapes, commercialization and clogged roadways as a result of a sorely lagging public transit system. As the city undergoes another rapid transformation, it is critical that any remaining designated heritage buildings be preserved as a testament to the city’s past and to our own cultural heritage as citizens.
That said; any future development must include the existing Foundry structures in an integrative way so as to promote the maximization of multi-use residential, communal and commercial space.
There are skilled urban planners, tireless municipal counselors, talented architects, and passionate community activists whose concepts can be put forth to help forge the urban landscape of the future ~ one of vibrancy, in a combination of contemporary and heritage aesthetics designed to embrace a diversity of social and economic realities. We could call this ethical development.
As this city progresses at breakneck speed, I as a citizen, demand accountability and transparency from our elected officials.
Firstly, I want to know to whom this land has been offered for sale without tender - the name and ownership of the development company along with their portfolio of existing developments - if this slated project is exclusively a private endeavor or a private/public partnership.
Also, Premier Ford and Minister Clarke need to make known immediately as to why no public tender was made on these buildings and land. As to why the buildings despite their provincial heritage designation have been slated for demolition in direct contravention to public policy?
And! Please let it be known exactly what percentage of any proposed development will be designated affordable housing?
What is needed more than ever is civic engagement to create a vibrant future city, which reflects a respect for its inhabitants, allows for economic and cultural livability, and most importantly, integrates a combination of contemporary, heritage and environmentally conscientious aesthetics.
Also! Our elected officials need to stop pretending they can do as they please without anyone taking note.
Premier Ford, we are watching every move and demand accountability before the fact.
March 3, 2021
Re: Affordable Housing on East Avenue Consultation (The Foundry)
As a professional conservationist and the co-editor of – and contributor to - a recent book on adaptive reuse (Asian Revitalization: Adaptive Reuse in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore), I am dismayed by the province’s disregard for the heritage value of a provincially-designated heritage site that offers such potential for adaptive reuse, especially for the benefit of the community.
It has been shown through KPMB’s design for the site that adaptive reuse and redevelopment can come together to create a place that responds to housing needs and provides needed community space for a wide variety of activities. Simply put: Conservation-cum-development is a responsible way forward – and in keeping with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Mr. Steve Clark
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Re: Crown Land for Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue
Dear Mr. Clark,
Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the government’s plan to develop on the Dominion Foundry Site.
As a member of the community and a Friend of the Foundry, I was dismayed that demolition on these buildings began with no consultation or dialogue with those responsible for municipal planning in the city of Toronto. I understand that this is provincial land, but it is in the city of Toronto, the neighborhood of the West Don Lands and it has played an important role in the history of the railway in Canada. When heavy demolition equipment arrived on January 14th, and the crew was asked what they were doing, a crew member said they were getting rid of all the buildings: "everything has to be gone by March". No City officials, City Councillors, or local MPPs were aware of these intentions. We learned that the Province does not require a demolition permit as the property is on Crown Lands and subject to an MZO. This may be legal, but it certainly is not the right way of going about this. To developers, these buildings might just seem like a barrier standing in the way of economic gains, but historic buildings root us in our past and tell us where we came from. Without them, a city is a hollow, soulless shell.
I believe that it is crucial that the Ontario government stops the plans for demolition and starts again with proper community consultation on how to preserve Provincial heritage while also building affordable housing. There are many excellent examples of multi-purpose spaces that combine affordable housing, with other types of use while keeping the integrity of the building.
The conservation of heritage buildings does not only serve a historical and cultural purpose. It can serve a practical purpose as well. By maintaining and adapting heritage buildings, communities are able to create affordable housing options and contribute to overall neighbourhood improvement. Turning buildings into homes and neighborhoods into vibrant communities, heritage conservation is a catalyst for change! A municipality may meet its goals of heritage conservation as well as increased affordable housing supply simultaneously. What’s more, using existing buildings can lower construction costs.
We don’t have to look far to find incredible success stories of reimagined spaces that are not only used for education, community gathering and social services but can be profitable as well. One example is the Evergreen Brickworks.
Here are some suggestions for how the site could be used (in addition to providing affordable housing:
- Music, Dance and Performance Space – (e.g., the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists and the proposal from Corktown Residents and Business Association for the site)
- Workspace, ranging in size – for not-for-profit organizations, both shared (like Centre for Social Innovation) and for individuals (e.g., artist studios) • Multi-Purpose Space – community meetings, markets (indoor and outdoor), rental venues with associated support spaces including food facilities (e.g., Covered Street Wychwood)
- Gallery Space – for both not for profit and private operators (e.g., Gallery 1313 in Parkdale)
- Workshop and Maker Space – desperately needed workshop space to support the arts
- Child Care / Nursery • Educational Uses – Alternative School, Space for Community Colleges (e.g., York University in Regent Park, George Brown College in Canary District)
- Community Centre Space – potentially a City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation facility to complement the existing Cooper-Koo Cherry Street YMCA around the corner. This could incorporate the multi-purpose space noted above plus several other meeting and community use spaces ranging in size.
Redevelopment of the Foundry Site
I am a member of the Friends of the Foundry group. I am distressed by the decision of the province to demolish the Foundry rather than preserve the heritage structure as a component of the redeveloped site. With proper community consultation, I believe a more creative solution might be achieved, allowing for the preservation of Ontario’s architectural heritage and the creation of affordable housing. I would appreciate some assurance that the government is taking into account the opinions received via this online portal (Consultation: Crown land for affordable housing on Eastern Avenue (Toronto)), and an indication of how the opinions received are being assessed and used.
March 3, 2021
Dear Premier Ford:
It is with real concern that I write to you about the potential destruction of the heritage site at 153 Eastern Avenue, Toronto, the Dominion Foundries Property.
The presence of an unknown buyer, the mysterious Ministry Zoning Order to begin work without proper planning and municipal consultation raise concerning questions. Is it not the province’s responsibility to protect its own Heritage Sites, neither to destroy them nor sell them to developers? Aggressive bull dozing of these sites does not help the province in the long run.
Yes, we need both affordable housing in the City of Toronto as well as market-value housing. We do not need wholesale destruction of an historical, protected site.
Could not the area be reconstructed with the heritage buildings being turned into affordable housing as well as new housing buildings created in the same land area with connecting green spaces. I suspect many would like to live in a reconstituted heritage building. Why not make the area a superb example of urban restructuring that will benefit all involved and be a jewel in the cityscape? A benefit to the city and the province. Some retail stores for the adjacent condo dwellers and the occupants of the foundry site would be a great convenience for all and provide jobs. Art scattered in the appropriate places. Gardens? There is no reason why Toronto with its savvy reconstitutions successfully implemented, e.g., The Distillery District, the Brickworks Farmers Market, cannot continue in this vein and not, unfortunately, adopt a retrograde stance. All win, including the developer/builder.
One way consultations rarely work. How does the provincial government plan to respond with its Request for Consultation? I ask that you halt any further demolition until municipal and community consultations can be held.
Re: Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
To whom it may concern,
I do not want another heritage building torn down to build yet another high-priced condo tower. I want to see the heritage buildings at 153-185 Eastern Avenue retained as community space in any new development. I want the majority of any new construction on the site to be for affordable housing. This is what Toronto needs now.
The Ontario Government needs to stop the plans for demolition, and start again with proper community consultation on how to preserve Provincial heritage and build affordable housing.
Why did the Ontario Government use a minister’s zoning order, or MZO, to skip over the municipal planning process? Why did the Ontario Government’s request for public comment come well after the demolition had started?
Why has there been so much secrecy concerning the plans for the historic buildings of The Foundry?
Why did Ford secretly sell off the land and refuse to disclose who the buyer is?
The request for public comments says “The Province of Ontario intends to use the provincially owned property at 153-185 Eastern Avenue to create new affordable and market housing, and community space…” Please specify how many of the new units will be built as affordable housing and how many for market rate housing/condos. What proportion of the development will be allocated for community space?
Please let me know how you will evaluate and use the information that is submitted through this request for public comment.
I look forward to your response.
Consultation: Crown land for affordable housing on Eastern Avenue (Toronto)
I have lived in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood since 1982 and I am a Friend of the Foundry.
Your actions in signing a sales agreement then beginning the demolition for these buildings is a sin. There was NO community consultation. Even this process, initiated only after you were taken to court, is the most thin consultation process I have even seen. You do not even identify the buildings in a fashion that many would recognise. If people even find this weblink, how do you plan evaluate and publish the results?
I have now seen several schematics on how the site could be re-developed with the retention of at least some, and in cases all, of the historic buildings, plus include community space, artists space, green space, affordable housing. These are all important goals for the re-development of the site. It is located close to the historic Distillery District so you don’t need to go far for inspiration about how stately old buildings can be imaginatively repurposed.
The City is desperately short of affordable housing. The reference in your plans did not define it and probably is not truly affordable but only somewhat less expensive than market. I have lived in a housing co-op for decades and have experienced how truly mixed income neighbourhoods, including households with deep subsidy, thrive.
These secret backroom deals to sell the land put your whole government to shame. How did you think that you could run a bulldozer through a dense Toronto neighbourhood and have no one notice? These buildings have historical designations by both the province and the city. The provincial government is using the excuse of the pandemic to destroy historical and environment lands using MZOs. SHAME.
3 March 2021
Re: Preservation of the Foundry Site
I write as both a concerned citizen of Toronto and a scholar with some professional knowledge of how place, community, and built memory contribute to a sense of belonging and ownership of public space. Cities are organic: they grow by changing and developing in the context of what is already there and what must change. The significant issue is how that change is managed and by whom. The Foundry site constitutes a physical link to an important part of the memory of Toronto, a memory not just defined by great women and men or by monuments to power and wealth but also by the places in which ordinary citizens worked to create our economy and our civic society. The Foundry reminds us of that past; and its potential use a community resource for the diverse residents of the neighborhood illustrates exactly how urban space should change and be revitalized by different generations for different needs.
The way to ensure that there is a process of community mediated sensitive change and development is through constant and engaged consultation with the neighbours and the city population at large. The suppression of the role of the City of Toronto, the community, and those with some professional knowledge and experience of heritage issues constitutes a dangerous and inexplicable precedent. The optics of the province’s actions are disturbing and imply an intention to circumvent due process and appropriate consultation for obscure reasons. Consequently, not only for the Foundry site, the wishes of the community and the City of Toronto but also for transparent, ethical government, the MZO must be rescinded.
I, like many others, look forward to hearing that the suppression of legitimate civic concern has been reversed and that an important Toronto historical site is protected once again by the legislation crafted to ensure our city maintains its collective memory.
March 1, 2021
Re: Demolition of Heritage Buildings in Name of “Affordable Housing”
I am writing as a concerned citizen, local resident and Friend of the Foundry about the Province’s use of MZO’s to fast track the demolition and destruction of the Heritage Protected Foundry Site without public consultation, community input and adhering to Provincial laws about heritage protected properties.
I have lived in Old Toronto for over 15 years and have closely followed the development of Corktown and the West Donlands. It is inexcusable that the Foundry Site has been desecrated already. Affordable housing and heritage preservation are NOT mutually exclusive. I am in favour of heritage preservation, good urban design that incorporates and protects existing heritage buildings, community consultations and affordable housing. This government has disregarded all of these crucial factors in its rush to demolish the Foundry Site.
Furthermore, plans were underway by IRCPA to create affordable housing, a space for emerging artists, performance space and venues, community hub and community space all while maintaining and incorporating the heritage building. As well, several architects have come forward with designs and plans that could easily incorporate and preserve the unique features of the Foundry Buildings.
As for environmental remediation, this can be achieved without the demolition and destruction of these heritage protected buildings. Look to Wychwood Barns as an example of how industrial buildings can be protected and preserved and reimagined as something new that benefits the local. There are ways to address environmental remediation and concerns without having to raze or destroy the existing buildings on this site. In addition, there are significantly large empty pieces of property on the site that could easily accommodate new development without having to destroy any existing structures.
It is completely unacceptable that the Province is moving forward with the demolition and destruction of Toronto's history and heritage. These buildings are heritage designated and need to be respected and preserved. Any development on the site of the Foundry Buildings on Eastern Ave need to include preserving these buildings, even if just facades. There are empty parking lots and areas in the Canary district within a block that are more suitable for development.
These buildings MUST be saved!!!!! There is no excuse, pandemic or not, for the demolition of our heritage and history! Stop the plans for demolition, and start again with proper community consultation on how to preserve Provincial heritage and build affordable housing. How do you intend to evaluate and work with the advice that you receive?
Please do the right thing and put an end to this project and protect the Foundry buildings. The preservation of these heritage buildings CAN include affordable housing.
RE: AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON EASTERN AVENUE CONSULTATION
Dear Premier Ford and Minister Steve Clark.
We are Friends of the Foundry and we are opposed to the demolition of the historically significant Dominion Wheel and Foundry.
It is generally agreed that we need more housing choices in Toronto, including more affordable housing. Affordable housing is a welcome initiative in the West Donlands. But the levelling of the historically designated Dominion Wheel and Foundry on provincial land is ill conceived.
Thank you for taking time for further deliberations.
We live to the East of the Don but have a keen interest in the unfolding transformation of the Lower Don waterfront over the last decade. It has become a great destination since the Distillery makeover. With all the new residential towers being built, it is important that we do not erase what is left of our history in the area. The Dominion Wheel and Foundry tells our story. These stories are important to who we are and where we come from.
Stories help anchor us to place, instill connection, and foster a sense of community in a changing city.
Please respect the local planning process to reflect the aspirations of residents who see possibilities for creative re-adaptation of the old Foundry.
Often, when we have family come to visit us in Toronto they are very appreciative and enjoy visiting the re-purposed industrial spaces such as the Brickworks and the Distillery . These are very successful community spaces.
The Dominion Wheel and Foundry could likewise be restored for the enjoyment of the community and be an additional touch stone to the historic roots of this emerging neighbourhood of Corktown.
I am writing to you as a Friend of the Foundry and a concerned resident. I do not live in the immediate area of the Foundry but I do live in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood.
In the short term it is good that, due to the gargantuan efforts of the community, the plans for demolition have been put on hold for this “consultation” process.
It is not good that “consultation” means dialogue between 2 or more people and written submissions miss that mark by a long shot.
It is also not good that your website spins the whole issue as the provincial government trying its’ best to provide affordable housing where in reality, affordable housing is a miniscule portion of the original design.
To be fair to the community and the province and our heritage, the demolition plans must be stopped and there must be a re-start on the consultation process with appropriate community involvement with a focus on preserving heritage while providing more than a token of affordable housing.
Given that the experience with the province to date on this issue has not shown a lot of integrity or even awareness of the impact, I do want to know how you intend to evaluate and work with the advice you receive.
Submitted respectfully in support of the Friends of the Foundry.
I am writing today as a Friend of the Foundry and want the demolition plans for this historic building to be halted.
I am furious that this property was sold before the Heritage Impact Assessment was tabled and, as the developer bought it before the issuance of the MZO, I can only conclude that the MZO was promised in some backroom deal. This is NOT democracy but a cozying up of the premier with development cronies and NOT ok.
There has been no proper community consultation on how to preserve Provincial heritage and build affordable housing. There needs to be consultation in this matter so that all the needs of all the inhabitants of the City of Toronto are served.
There must also be proper evaluations at regular intervals of the planning process so that advice given by the community is integrated into the work to be done. I would like to receive an indication of how this evaluative process will be designed so that I may participate in the consultations.
Supporting the people’s right to be a part of development,
To the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing,
I am a resident in the Distillery District near the proposed site, and a Friend of the Foundry. I am writing to express my interest and deep concern regarding the consultation and proposed demolition of the Foundry. While I understand that this city desperately needs more affordable housing, that should not come at the expense of Provincial heritage sites and should not negate the need for extensive community consultation and transparency. The “consultation” that is posted on the site does not go nearly far enough for me to be able to understand the development that will take place, the impact on the environment or the impact on me as a resident in the area.
How does the ministry intend to evaluate the work with the advice received from this process? Why didn’t this development go through the normal municipal planning process? Why was an MZO used? Why all the secrecy?
February 17, 2021
Thank you for the opportunity to provide some feedback about the proposed use of the property now occupied by the old Dominion Wheel & Foundries Company building. I’m a supporter of the Friends of the Foundry and welcome the opportunity to have a conversation regarding this important issue.
When will you be announcing the date of the (virtual) meeting for concerned residents? I’m not a member of this riding, but I believe that this is an issue that affects all Ontarians. If a recording could be made available for those not able to attend, that would be great.
At the moment, there is only an email listed as a contact, and the requirement to submit comments as a PDF or Word document makes it even more difficult to be involved in the dialogue. I would like to request that people be allowed to simply write an email, and that you also provide a phone number and mailing address.
I also wanted to ask for more clarification regarding affordable housing in the province’s proposal. What is your definition of “affordable”?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing your response.
Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
To whom it may concern:
I’m writing as a Friend of the Foundry and am deeply disturbed by the lack of community consultation prior to the commencement of demolition.
There needs to be a complete evaluation of the best use of the space for affordable housing, community use, and preservation of valuable heritage assets.
Also, work needs awarded based on a fair and open tender process.
Is this the public consultation for the Dominion Wheel & Foundries (Heritage) building being demolished and sold?
I have written 4 conservative elected MP and ministers multiple emails over the Foundry building and never got a response. I want to clearly state this form of public consultation with the government through a generic titled webpage and requesting the public email in is not acceptable.
To continue there is very little detail or communication spread by the government about this project or consultation. I do not see any notices posted at the physical site and decided to do an internet search which after much searching I found this. I should not have to look into this on my own, it is the government responsibility to post and consult.
The Wheel and Foundries Heritage Property is a beautiful and memorable part of my community. I live next door to the Foundry and have always cherished its architectural beauty and uniqueness to the neighbourhood.
I live in the old Toronto Pan Am village which helped create this wonderful neighbourhood. With space for living, working, eating and exercise it was a perfect place to live downtown Toronto.
The neighbourhood tallest building is 15 storeys and the government MZO calls for 3 towers 40 stories tall. This does not fit our community in size or in capacity, we have a master planned community and to jam in towers without proper planning will potentially run the environment local residents have built over the last 5 years. Vehicle and people congestion is an issue but what about required amenities: School! Library! Grocery Store!
I would like to provide additional input and community insight in regards to the preservation and evolution of this property. Please provide a forum and specific details on your plans so the community and Ontarians can be involved in the process.
This building is important to the City of Toronto and owned by the Ontario government so why is it that the City of Toronto and Ontario citizens have not been involved to any degree in the decisions being made?
Response to Consultation: Crown land for affordable housing on Eastern Avenue (Toronto)
Firstly, I am extremely disappointed with the structure of this consultation for the following reasons:
- There is basically no relevant information on the consultation website;
- The description of the government’s intentions is misleading; and
- The formatting for the response make it difficult to provide comments.
With that said, I am very interested in the use of this site and how it will be developed. I am supportive of using the site for residential purposes and specifically including affordable housing, but based on reading comments from several architects and planners it is clear that those goals can be achieved while maintaining the heritage buildings on site and using them as an integral part of the development. All plans for demolition of the foundry buildings should be immediately stopped.
It is important to hear the community’s voice when determining how to move forward with this development, specifically the Friends of the Foundry, of which I am a part.
Please provide information to the public on how the feedback from this consultation is being used to determine the future of this site and how community interests are being reflected in development.
Thank you for considering my suggestions and the community’s input.
Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
Save the Foundry
I support the proposals of the Friends of the Foundry to Respect Local Planning.
It is an abuse of the democratic process to use a MZO to avoid consultation with city about development of the city's Foundry Heritage lands. The failure to disclose the identity of the proposed developer raises suspicions of possible political corruption.
The province's proposed expropriation of Parliament Square to permit use by Metrolinx is further evidence of the province's abuse of the democratic process and disregard for Toronto's heritage
These lands are not a "surplus site". They are a monument to Toronto's history.
I urge you to explore alternatives that would permit development while preserving key historic structures.
RE: Crown land for affordable housing on Eastern Avenue (Toronto)
Dear Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing,
I am writing with respect to the affordable housing on Eastern Avenue consultation to share my comments. I am a resident in the Corktown neighbourood and a Friend of the Foundry.
My experience is that the area surrounding where foundry building stand has been already been well planned by the City of Toronto, with the input of the local community, and already addresses the question of affordable housing. While I am for the integration of affordable housing along with for market sale real estate as a means to address this current issue in general, I disagree with the manner in which the negotiations and intended plans for the land and the foundry buildings have taken place without local planning. Considering the elements of the neighbourhood, I completely disagree with the notion of destroying the foundry buildings to be replaced with affordable housing just for the sake of addressing affordable housing issue. I had been looking forward to seeing the heritage building become a community space while preserving the actual building without just retaining a façade like other buildings in the city. The neighbourhood density has already intensified over the course of the last 10 years and community spaces are necessary over more housing density regardless if are affordable or not. I especially disagree with the foundry buildings demolition without any local community consultation and ask that the demolition stop altogether. It is my opinion that the Eastern Avenue site plans in subject would benefit from proper community consultation on how to preserve the building heritage and build affordable housing elsewhere.
I would like to request clarity as to how you will evaluate and work with my input on this consultation. I must admit my trust in the Province of Ontario is quite low given the fact the ministerial zoning order took place without local consultation. It appears the Province wished to continue with these actions hoping the local community would not notice, or if noticed, would not speak up and tell you how absolutely inconsiderate, unethical and despicable your actions have been so far. It is my understanding that foundry site was pre-sold even before the MZO was issued which makes my trust in your government even lower and I am very disappointed. It is my understanding that the Province’s intention was to replace the heritage buildings with residential towers that just meet the necessary requirement to say it has demonstrated its ability to address the affordable housing issue and tacks on a community space. I do not think my opinion of your actions would change even if you were to say that 100% of the units would be devoted to affordable housing plus a community space. However, I am open to reconsidering my option if you demonstrate that you are willing to work with the input of the public and transparently indicate how you will evaluate our comments.
Let me be clear: stop the plans for demolition of the foundry buildings.
Let me be clear: engage in proper community consultation on how to preserve the foundry building and build affordable housing.
Let me be clear: the manner in which you have gone about creating a new space in response to ‘numerous requests for the City of Toronto for increased affordable housing’ is not okay.
Thank you for your consideration.
Friend of the Foundry
To: Housing Supply at Ontario
Feb. 23, 2021
Re: AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON EASTERN AVENUE CONSULTATION
This message is to express strong support for the retention of The Foundry Buildings or at least the major part of them because they are part of the significant heritage of the City of Toronto.
While recognizing the importance of providing housing in the city , retaining these buildings should be possible as part of the redevelopment and could not only complement any new construction but also give the site a unique identity in the same way as the Brickworks are recognized and very popular.
If the Foundry is demolished and new residential blocks are constructed it is likely they will be seen as yet another redevelopment such as one can see anywhere and their address might as well be “Anywhere, Ontario” even if some unique design features are incorporated. Examples would be St. Jamestown and Regent Park.
We sincerely hope that this government will make this a reasonable consultation with the community, managed with transparency and fairness.
I am writing as an individual citizen and resident of Toronto. I support the creation of more affordable housing, but I also support the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings.
I live in the west part of the Annex, where I am fortunate to live within walking distance of the Artscape Wychwood Arts Barns, which was formerly a TTC facility. Through community consultation, those buildings were turned into a valuable community asset, one which serves the needs of today while clearly connecting to its industrial past.
The residents of the neighbourhoods around the Dominion Foundry Buildings at 153-185 Eastern Avenue deserve the same opportunity to be part of a meaningful consultation about the reuse of that site. So far, they have not had that opportunity; instead, their interests have been bypassed through issuing an MZO with no community consultation, missing the opportunity to consider the results of a Heritage Impact Assessment which was still in process.
It is not too late to cancel the MZO and instead consult the community before deciding how to proceed. I urge the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to undertake that consultation.
March 2, 2021
Re: An exploratory concept on how heritage and affordable housing can be used to create a new future for The Dominion Foundry Lands
The Gooderham & Worts Neighbourhood Association is made up of a large group of members/residents who live in The Distillery area.
We have been wondering and considering for quite some time as to what was going to be done at the Historic Dominion Foundry site. Having not heard anything at all, the Friends of the Foundry proceeded to draw up some plans and some suggestions as to what this historic site could be used for to maintain its culture and at the same time enhance the neighbourhood making it even more inviting for people to want to live here as well as attracting people from all of the world to visit and thereby appreciate the history that is here.
On January 14, 2021, out of the blue, bulldozers arrived at the Dominion Foundry site on Eastern Avenue in Toronto’s West Don Lands and proceeded to commence to destroy the structures which were there. This was a complete shock to us all and we immediately saw the danger to these listed heritage buildings which were being demolished in front of our eyes.
Somehow the Province of Ontario, City, Federal Government, community and private sector had not given any thought to these historic properties and had taken it upon themselves to demolish them. We have been able to create one of Toronto’s most successful new neighbourhoods and one that will attract people/visitors from all over the world due to its history as well as house many Torontonians who want to live in this neighbourhood. This came as a huge and very disappointing shock to see these bul dozers starting to tear down these historic buildings.
We understand that there is a need for housing in the City of Toronto and especially affordable housing. However, we also understand that these historic buildings can be incorporated with collective imagination to illustrate the incredible possibilities for this site that could emerge through a thoughtful, inclusive approach to planning. The Friends of the Foundry have been working over the years to incorporate a meaningful public engagement strategy to collectively determine how we can celebrate our heritage and create affordable and market-priced housing and community space for this site which will continue to include the remarkable history of engagement which has shaped the West Don Lands and be guided by development principles that are anchored in the historical contest of the Foundry and the ongoing evolution of the West Don Lands community.
We therefore respectfully ask the Province take this opportunity to start fresh and work together with the Friends of the Foundry and the City of Toronto to create a meaningful, inclusive engagement process.
Lost in the immediate controversy was the threat it created to the collaborative development process that has already seen the Province, City, Federal Government, community and private sector create one of Toronto’s most successful new neighbourhoods.
Our goal is to realize the best public outcome for this site and to create a vibrant mixed-income, mixed used community that both addresses our affordable housing requirements and respects and leverages the legacy of the Foundry.
GOODERHAM & WORTS NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSOCIATION
Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
I represent myself (not an organization) and strongly object to many aspects of the process being implemented under the rubric of providing affordable housing on Eastern Avenue.
Even though the Province owns the land, I object to the use of a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) that allows you to bypass nearly all planning requirements set by the City. There is evidence that you have not met your own standards under the Ontario Heritage Act and that you have breached heritage-related commitments in a related subdivision agreement.
This is very bad for the conservative government, if it wishes to be re-elected. Many citizens of Ontario are making the connection between the MZO affecting the Foundry site and other MZOs across the province. The public is starting to understand the large costs this government is imposing on them through manoeuvres used by the Province to fast-track developments without full and fair public consultation with those directly affected.
Dear Sir or Madam:
In response to the consultation on the redevelopment of 153-185 Eastern Ave. (The Foundry), here are my comments.
First, I live just east of the Don Valley, close to that part of the city and am therefore very interested in its development.
While the intention to create affordable housing is certainly a good one, the process that the Province followed is simply unacceptable.
I was horrified to hear that demolition crews would show up without any warning to anyone, let alone any consultation. I was even more dismayed when I learned that the Province had already sold the land a while ago, in a behind-the-doors deal, without going through any open bid process and before the MZO was issued or the Heritage Impact Assessment was tabled.
For one thing, this building presents a definite architectural heritage interest. It should be redeveloped while preserving this heritage, and any good architect would find a way to do this. Toronto has already been the victim of way too much demolition and construction of anonymous, grey, boring buildings all over.
And you know what? Torontonians are fed up! Fed up to see their city redeveloped without any consideration for esthetics or character. Fed up, mostly, to have no say in the way their city grows and changes. Fed up to have to fight at every turn to have a voice, and often have their opinions ignored and local decisions overturned by the Province.
The fact that the Foundry is a provincial property doesn´t mean it´s the private property of any politician. It means it belongs to all of us. We need to have a say in its development. Local planning needs to be respected.
I want to know that the City of Toronto and local residents are going to be meaningfully consulted on this development, and any other, for that matter. Whatever is underway needs to be stopped and the process started all over, based on community input.
Please let me know how that input will inform your plans.
Submitted by a private citizen.
Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue - Consultation
As a private citizen and Toronto resident I am responding to the Ontario government's call for input on potential developments on Eastern Avenue, which is the site of the historic Dominion Wheels and Foundry on Eastern Avenue.
Let me begin by commenting on the ample news coverage and attention that this site has received. I've been following it since last year. I am appalled by the most recent news regarding the possible background of the MZO on this site. As far as commentary goes there seems to be evidence for what is being reported by CBC and other news sources. The swift rebuttal of this news by government representatives does not reassure me. It is not credible. In fact, it has left me wondering how sincere this request for the public's input is. However, I am taking you up on your call.
A 1-way consultation is definitely not sufficient in the circumstances at hand. What is needed is a solid and transparent 2-way-consultation process since, though the Eastern Avenue site is a mere block of land the ramifications for planning land use in the City of Toronto (and, probably, beyond city limits) are large as mounting cases from elsewhere in Ontario (municipalities, farmlands, convervation areas) suggest. It is telling that all of these cases do involve MZOs. There seems to be a proliferation of this extraordinary measure to 'cut red tape'. As reported Minister Steve Clark recently has stated: "I come in only when a municipality calls me in" for such measure. As far as I am aware no such call has been made by the City of Toronto and its planners for the Eastern Avenue site.
On a note: I am a historian (currently not affiliated). I am specialised in public policy, which includes the analysis of legislative change facilitating such. I have been noticing that, since 2019, the Ontario government has expanded a great deal of such efforts in making changes (as one example, to the Conservation Act). The design of these alterations to the legal framework for land use planning in Ontario is such that they shall be binding any provincial government for decades beyond the current government's ruling.
Such endeavours by the current government lead me to conclude that the case of Eastern Avenue development is no small matter all. What is at stake and at risk are all aspects of the democratically established planning processes and equitable citizen participation. I do believe that this is the heart of the matter that deserves protection at Eastern Avenue and everywhere else where it is threatened by MZOs.
As I have been able to observe a deep loss of trust in the provincial government's fiduciary duties to citizens has occured. I do suggest that this current provincial government take note of this distrust and, as a remedy, seriously consider rescinding the MZO resting on Eastern Avenue and return to a urban planning process that has been working effectively for the majority ("for the people") based on negotiation and compromise instead of 'emergency' law. In fact, the need to return to the table is the sole emergency that I can detect.
I hope that government representatives tasked with producing those missing documents will understand that they are legally obliged to fulfill these requirements (under the Ontario Heritage Act) and the additional commitments in the Subdivision Agreement with the City of Toronto.
Only once we are back at the table will it make sense to talk about affordable housing options at Eastern Avenue or anywhere else for that matter. Nobody doubts that there is a great need. Trying to start a housing or heritage debate instead points to a serious misunderstanding of the aims of heritage preservation. I would hope that whoever produces the related document will be able to prove professional competence and professional integrity.
The demolition of a historical site by the provincial government is a concern to me, and that makes me a friend of the Foundry.
Overriding the plans and decisions of the municipal government is a very big concern of mine, here and in the case of the new proposed highway in the greenbelt , and in Ajax where construction of new homes on the wetlands were decided against the local government’s wishes.
Each one of these decisions suspiciously seems to benefit developers in Ontario. Coincidence that a large portion of this same group financially supported the election of the Ford government? In other parts of the world this would be deemed corruption in politics.
If for no other reason, thought should be addressed to the possibility of making Ontario risky for business and development. Decisions that appear to be corrupt, are not the kind of behaviours that inspire confidence for business considering future investment and relocation to our province.
In this example it is very concerning that a historic site should be partially demolished before asking for community consultation on the demolition.
It is even more concerning that the demolition be disguised as addressing the lack of affordable housing in Toronto.
Standing on the site, there is a very large site in view that is occupied by a storage unit company. If one was to consider the options available for locating affordable housing, one would think clearing a corporate storage companies’ property to free up space for building affordable housing, or demolishing a historic site, one that has been planned to become an important part of a greater community wouldn’t be a difficult decision to make. The province can appropriate property when it wants to, as has been demonstrated many times over, why not take down the ugly, non-productive storage unit if space is needed in this local?
There are many other creative ways to create affordable housing in Ontario that do not involve the destruction of historical and notable community structures. The first to consider would be rent controls. This is easily in the power of the province and should be given the attention and urgency that is currently directed at overriding local municipalities and destroying valuable assets like green spaces, wetlands and historical sites.
I am sorry the current government of Ontario couldn’t come up with more useful options. One would expect a “Party for the People” to do a better job addressing the needs and desires of the people, over the needs and desires of short term solutions that favor the “people” who have somehow got the ear of the premier through monetary and political influence, as it appears to be right now.
I hope you will consider a re-think on this project, and take action on rents in Ontario to help the “people” who are having a difficult time finding reasonable housing in Toronto and beyond.
Finally, I would like to know how you intend to work with the advice and input you receive in this call for community consultation.
Mar 3, 2021
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is ——— and I am a Friend of the Foundry. We live in an old Victorian row house just on the border of Corktown and Regent Park. And our choice of the area is far from accidental. We cherish and enjoy our old beautiful house and love the neibourhood. There are Distillery district, Riverdale farm, Cabbagetown, Leslieville in a walking distance. Each of these communities have its own charm and character due to different epochs’ buildings. Corktown is not an exception. Beautiful modern high-rises stand near to the Foundry (the example of industrial architecture of the beginning of the XX century) and Canary restaurant (old school) buildings resulting in an exquisite mixture of old and new. Came to Canada many years ago we always adore how Canadians whom we belong to for 2 decades now value their history, how carefully Torontonians maintain antique objects and how they are devoted to our city and country heritage.
We, my family and I as passionate Torontonians and responsible citizens can not be indifferent and call to stop the barbaric demolition of the Foundry and to conduct proper consultation with the community and Toronto authorities.
We are proud to be Canadians who are famous in the world for being the kindest nation. Therefore, we support affordable housing construction. But… one good thing can not ruin another good thing. Otherwise, it is not good anymore. No doubt, the correct decision is here and City local planning together with the Province departments in charge will be able to come to a good plan to preserve our heritage and to find sources and places for affordable housing!
2 March, 2021
Government of Ontario,
Dear Government of Ontario, and in particular Premier Doug Ford,
We are writing as Friends of the Foundry. By now you have probably received a large volume of letters from many of the Friends, and we would like to add our names and concerns to those you have received.
We were shocked indeed to see the damage done to the Dominion Foundry buildings by bulldozers in early January. While we recognise that the buildings and the property belong, or is belonged ?, to the Government of Ontario, which in turn means that they belong to every citizen of the province. This government has entered into negotiations to sell this property, or has already sold them depending on who you believe, without any consultation whatsoever with the real owners of the property, and especially the citizens of Toronto.
We understand that the Ontario government has now approved a very condensed “one-way consolation” which in effect is no consultation whatsoever. You have by-passed Toronto zoning laws, the Ontario Heritage Act, environmental impact legislation, and any considerations for the expansion of necessary infrastructure to support increased residential density consequent to a developer building on this site, through the issuance of a Ministerial Zoning Order. No plan has been put forward to the City of Toronto, or to the residents who will be most affected by the development.
You have justified the total lack of transparency of the sale of the property, and the intent of the purchaser, in the interests of confidentiality. The Premier is on record as saying that there will be full transparency after the sale is complete. This is not the style of government that we expect in a democracy. Surely, the citizens of Ontario have every right to know the future intent and plans for this property, before the sale is complete, and certainly before the demolition began. Should it have been necessary for Friends of the Foundry to seek a court stop order against our own government in order to force you into some form of “consultation”, which so far looks more like window dressing than something that truly demonstrates respect for the needs, wishes, and the overall plan for development in the City of Toronto. And it’s worth adding that it’s becoming somewhat tiresome to see “affordable housing” attached to every development proposal in the GTA, and beyond. What should be taken very seriously in itself has now become nothing more than a cynical gateway for a much larger project. If anything is transparent, this surely is.
This city has a historical heritage that must be preserved, and not constantly attacked through the Municipal Planning Board and Ministerial Zoning Orders. We admire European cities for the care that has been taken to preserve their past, with the exception of two World Wars. Citizens in this city, in this province, must wage a different kind of war in order to preserve what is important to preserve any semblance of their historic roots. And to add insult to injury, it is clearly in the public record that the Ontario Government is selling, or wishes to sell, the properties it owns at bargain basement prices, far below market value. Is this what is meant by “Open for Business” ? There is no private sector business that would sell properties that it owns in this manner.
The Province has made no attempt to try to integrate the existing Dominion Foundry buildings into the fabric of the adjacent neighbourhoods, or into the City as a whole. In very short order, Friends of the Foundry have suggested very creative proposals that serve to preserve the heritage and integrity of the buildings while providing meaningful and purposeful alternatives to their demolition. The consultative process needs to be two-way, expanded, and cognisant of the true value of the buildings, the property, and their future potential for the citizens of Toronto.
Take a step back, respect the Acts and laws that have been put in place not to slow development but to ensure that it is done in a manner that respects the social, economic, and physical urban environment of Toronto, its heritage, and demonstrates a dynamic vision for its future. There is still time to do the right thing.
Whether seen from the Adelaide overpass or from the surrounding streets, these buildings are an important aesthetic addition to the recently-built neighbourhood, as well as a vital (and educational) reminder of what came before the PanAm Games development. They cannot be replicated, but with sensitive renovations they can be a vibrant, impactful community resource centre,
I urge you to protect this part of Toronto’s (and Ontario’s) heritage and to ensure that the Foundry buildings are incorporated, intact, in whatever new development takes place on the surrounding lands.
I also urge you to dramatically increase the proportion of affordable, including deeply affordable, housing in the development. The province needs to maximize the long term social gains from its urban landholdings, not it’s short-term financial profits. The former will be of immeasurable value; the latter are of no significance whatsoever to the government’s overall financial situation, now or in the future.
My interest in the West Don Lands neighbourhood dates back many years. I was very excited when Toronto was picked as the host city for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games. When the West Don Lands was chosen for the location for the Athlete’s Village I decided to volunteer in the Athlete’s Village.
It was an experience that literally changed my life. I made many friends who I am still friends with. I really enjoyed helping the athletes who came to Toronto from so many different countries and the experience of so many people working together to help others.
After the Pan Am and Parapan Games I followed the development of the West Don Lands very closely. The development of each building was very thoughtfully planned and fit into the Neighbourhood well.
When I was a volunteer, I worked out of the Dominion Wheel and Foundries Buildings. They are beautiful buildings that have been designated Heritage Buildings since 2004. The possibilities for these buildings are endless !
In the fall of 2020, I was very surprised to hear that the Provincial Government had issued MZO’s on these buildings.
Then in January of this year I was outraged when the demolition of the Foundry buildings began. I quickly realized that many other Community Members were also outraged and wanting to do anything that they could to stop the demolition, and preserve the buildings.
This is not a Toronto issue- MZO’s should only be issued for emergencies but now the Province of Ontario is issuing MZO’s all over the province of Ontario. People all across Ontario are outraged at the government’s use of MZO’s, and the lack of consultation.
To the members of the Toronto Foundry consultation panel:
I would like to register my objection to the MZO regarding the Toronto Foundry site. Even though the provincial government claims it was motivated by the need to supply Toronto with more affordable housing, it is clear to me that this was not real motive to sell this site. The site was not offered in an open bidding competition that would have invited all developers. Instead the government made a private deal to sell it to just one developer. One can only conclude that some favour was being done to that developer, possibly in return for a substantial donation to the Conservative Party’s ongoing fundraising campaign.
I drive past this site almost everyday, admiring the beauty of the old building, glad that they had a designation designed to prevent their being torn down, and wondering why they have not yet been repurposed for housing and community activities. It is a gorgeous site and potentially a hub for the rapidly growing Canary District. It would extremely foolish to demolish these buildings.
It would also be extremely foolish to erect skyscrapers on this site. The surrounding area is being developed with low rise buildings and rapidly so. There are still several undeveloped sites in the Canary District, all razed, and all well suited for low-income housing.
My concern as a friend of the Foundry is that this current consultation is pro forma and will not result in what should take place next: a thorough community consultation on how best to preserve this historic site and repurpose it for today’s needs, and on where in the neighbourhood subsidized housing could best be built.
What are the governments plans for this current consultation? Is it willing to admit it was acting too hastily in agreeing to sell the site without an open competition? Is it planning to inform us of the majority and minority opinions it is currently receiving about its actions and about the future of the site? Is it willing to tear up its agreement with the unnamed developer that started the demolition at the site?
In light of the horrendous optics of selling the site via an MZO to an unnamed developer, and the considerable outrage it has provoked, is the government now prepared to rip up that sales agreement and enter into transparent negotiations with the city and the community about the best future for these beautiful heritage buildings?
I sincerely hope so.
Consultation: Crown land for affordable housing on Eastern Avenue (Toronto)
While we appreciate the opportunity to comment on the use of this site, you will be aware that the lack of transparency and not involving local community cooperation in the site utilization planning and development process has unfortunately, so far, led to a distrust of the intentions of the Provincial government. As a matter of record the government:
- Agreed to sell the site 5-6 months ago without disclosing that to the local community and sold it before the MZO was issued.
- Did not go through a public bidding or a request for offers for this public land.
- Did not publicly disclose the proposed development plans, name the developer or provide the sale price.
- Chose not to consult with the community on how best to utilize the site or how to integrate the existing elements of the site into a new development.
- Removed a heritage plaque and brought in demolition equipment in a COVID lockdown and without telling the community and that it was going to demolish the site despite the heritage designation.
- Despite saying the site would include affordable housing for Toronto, it chose not to consult with the City where the housing would be located or ask it what services that City could provide or would need to operate or maintain the property.
On the assumption the government is now sincerely interested in receiving input on the use of the site I suggest the following:
- Replace the demolition plans with publicly posted development plans that have public input, target metrics for the site elements, agreed upon architectural design goals and a communication plan that would credit to both the Province and the local community with a positive outcome. Advise how you will evaluate the input in arriving at the design elements.
- Request a design competition or ask an architectural firm with experience in working with municipalities and developers in utilizing the heritage property structures in new developments to develop end-uses with conceptual designs for the site incorporating the existing buildings (remember the design competitions for Ontario Place and Toronto City Hall?).
- Firms can be screened as acceptable to both the Province and City and would be tasked with providing options for the use of the site and its remaining structures.
- The Distillery District managed to develop new business and residential options while retaining the historical character of the site. Plans for the Dominion Foundry site plans should be able to do the same thing.
- Set targets for the number, size and mix of affordable housing units and retail and/or commercial space.
- Harness the energies and interest of the local community and Ward Councillor in planning the use of the site.
- Develop a three step Action Plan that can expedite the development while still harnessing the local community interests and ensuring development benefits for the City. Working with the City’s Design Review Panel would be one way to approach that. The Plan should:
- Set realistic time targets.
- Disclose Provincial, Developer, City and community planning and financial interests.
- Consider utilizing an independent consulting/project management firm to integrate competing interests.
- Use mediation if necessary.
Affordable housing on Eastern Avenue consultation, request for submissions.
1. The Ontario government has clearly behaved unscrupulously, immorally and probably illegally so far in this matter, by attempting surreptitiously to demolish the remaining Foundry buildings while ignoring and overriding local planning and consultation procedures.
2. No one believes the provincial government’s vague and non-specific claim that its primary objective is to meet Toronto’s need for more affordable housing. Instead it is widely assumed that the government is using the notion of creating affordable housing as a fig-leaf to cover an agenda which is in reality driven by the financial interests of condominium developers, and with the further intention of diminishing the powers of the city government to decide on the city’s future and development.
3. Therefore, it is crucial that in future the Ontario government demonstrate beyond any doubt that it is acting in good faith in this matter, and that it is committed to a process of full cooperation with the people of Toronto and the City of Toronto, and with concerned citizens such as those (like me) involved with such groups as Friends of the Foundry, and that it is not attempting - now that its malign machinations have been found out - to continue to act in a high-handed or unilateral fashion while simply paying lip-service to a process of consultation.
4. The remaining buildings of the Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company must be recognised and respected as heritage buildings, to be preserved in some form. They represent an important aspect of the city and its past - its role as an industrial and manufacturing centre for the entire country. Over the past hundred years Toronto has lost many or most of its heritage buildings, and we must preserve those that are left. Many cities around the world (I think particularly of China, where I have spent considerable periods of time) have demolished virtually all of their older buildings and have ended up charmless and architecturally barren as a result.
5. The development of the area around the Dominion Foundry buildings, and the provision of new affordable housing there, must be done in a way that preserves and uses the existing heritage buildings and their current pleasant and relaxed environment. This is certainly not beyond the capacity of imaginative and sensitive architects. The development must also be consistent with the city’s capacity, as determined by the city itself, to provide all the required infrastructure and services that such new housing will require.
March 2, 2021
Attention: Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Re: Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
I am a Friend of the Foundry, and a supporter generally of maintaining heritage buildings where possible.
I believe the demolition of the heritage building must be stopped until there is a proper community consultation on how to preserve and build affordable housing. It has been proven time and again that both of these goals can co-exist – and it is crystal clear that there is huge long term economic value in maintaining our heritage buildings as they encourage tourism. The fact that a court action was funded by citizen and residents’ groups to obtain the injunction is a demonstration of the importance of Foundry and of maintaining heritage buildings generally.
It is extremely important that the Ministry be transparent about how they will evaluate the comments they are receiving and work with those who are taking the time to provide input.
For a government that prides itself on listening to the people and responding to them, the treatment of the Foundry has not been in keeping with your messages. Without any city review of any kind, without any consultation of any kind, it is deeply troubling that the government would take such steps to demolish any heritage building, and this one in particular as it has been used to show off Toronto and Ontario – and on the first day of the lockdown in Toronto.
Please respect the views of your citizens and initiate a proper consultation process before taking any further steps to demolish this building.
Thank you for your attention to this
RE: Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation (The Foundry)
Dear Minister Steve Clark:
I am writing as a Toronto resident who values our built heritage.
This letter is in response to your Ministry’s request for public input “on how some elements of the existing structures could inform development” of the provincially owned property at 153-185 Eastern Avenue. The request indicates that the Province of Ontario intends to “create new affordable and market housing, and community space, in response to numerous requests from the City of Toronto for increased affordable housing”.
Your request only comes after the Province’s demolition of The Foundry has been temporarily stopped per an Interim Court Order. The court hearing has been adjourned to give all parties more time to come to a resolution. However the Province’s initiation of a one-way process via submission of email comments is insufficient and inadequate. Instead, a regular two-way dialogue with the community must take place.
The Court ordered the Province to continue the pause on demolition because there is compelling evidence that the Province has not met its own standards under the Ontario Heritage Act and has breached heritage-related commitments in a subdivision agreement.
I oppose the use of a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) which allows the Province to bypass nearly all planning requirements set by the City.
I am deeply concerned about a pattern of legislative activity involving the use of MZOs across the province, along with other coercive measures the Province is using to fast-track development without full and fair public consultation with those directly affected.
I request that you open up The Foundry site to full and engaged consultation with all interested parties with a neutral facilitator.
This is a community member response to the Provincial Government’s action to (yet again) sell off government owned land/historic property to developers, with the ‘statement’ there will be affordable housing involved in the transaction. How many times do we hear that there will be more affordable housing involved in development projects? And yet something seems to change by the time the project is completed. Take for instance the Regent Park redevelopment…where the last 2 phases of the project were to bring back low income tenants displaced by the redevelopment. What happened there?? Not what was suggested that’s for sure. Indeed, is it not true, people in the know bought properties for investment within that project…How to profit on affordable housing would appear to be the order of the days we live in.
My concern re the Foundry is the misuse of this space. We continue to witness destruction of historic buildings which reflect our cultural development as a city/province/country…occasionally retaining the front façade of an original building while decimating the integrity of the building as a whole. Being a relatively new country, our early architecture is significant in providing continuity in the articulation of one period of development to the next. Destroying these structures effectively serves as a way to erase our past cultural experiences, denying newcomers and multigenerational Canadians the pleasure of reflection on how our past informs our present. It’s a device used in undermining cultural identity, inclusion and belonging…it needs to stop.
The Foundry building must be used in a creative way, to retain its historic significance (as has been suggested), providing cultural enhancement to this ultra modern condo dense area.
Surplus Crown Land on Eastern Avenue (Toronto)
While the site at 153-185 Eastern Ave. may be surplus to the needs of the Province, which apparently is not in the business of actually building subsidized housing for those is need, it is certainly not a blank slate. It is occupied by four heritage buildings associated with the early days of the rail¬ways in Ontario. These buildings may well “inform” new con-struction, but their first role is retention, renovation and re-use.
It is true that the City of Toronto is in desperate need of housing for those living in shelters and on the streets. However, dumping a Minister’s Zoning Order on a site is not the answer: a proper funding mechanism is what is needed, beyond the current 2% or so of what is being spent by the other orders of government.
The local community in St Lawrence has already come up with potential uses for the Foundry, such as a community centre and performance space. There is no need for the site buyer to build more community space.
Affordable and market housing is certainly needed, but not at any cost. A sensitive project will see new buildings slotted in among the old. The corner at Palace and Rolling Mills could contain a new residential building, and there is another opportunity at the east end of the site near Lauren Harris Square. To respect the heritage buildings, new construction should be mid-rise and feature brick exteriors. Brick or cobble paving, like that used in the Distillery District, could be used for driveways and walkways.
The key thing going forward is to let the community inform this development process, and develop a constructive dialogue between the Province, the City, the buyer and the local groups who care deeply about the place where they live.
RE: The Dominion Foundry sites at 153-185 Eastern Avenue, Toronto
In response to your call for input from the community regarding the Dominion Foundry site in Toronto, I have a few discussion points I feel are vital to turn around and make more positive the current situation.
- Consultation. The Province needs to engage in a direct dialogue with community groups and local representatives to discuss the site. What has been done to date does not constitute meaningful, proper consultation.
- Heritage. The Province needs to respect the letter and intent of the Heritage Act. We have precious few centenary buildings in our city and indeed in our province. This makes preserving the Dominion Foundry buildings crucial. This may be stating the obvious but once heritage is destroyed, it can never be regained.
- Work with Heritage. The Province has been provided with solid examples of how new facilities, such as live and work spaces for low-income artists, can work with the existing buildings and build new structures that are in proportion and in harmony with the existing and planned Canary neighbourhood buildings.
- Transparency. The Province needs to engage and work with the community and city in an open and transparent manner than engenders trust, rather than creating undisclosed plans with private developers without a due competitive process.
Above all, I reemphasis point #1: engage in open consultation and two-way dialogue with the community. As has been stated in recent media, anything less disrespectful and neglects the Province’s duty to its citizens.
To Whom This May Concern,
I am contacting you as a Friend of the Foundry. I’m extremely disappointed in all the news coming from the Foundry. This is a heritage site, why are you demolishing it? Please stop demolishing the Foundry. This should never happen without proper consultation with the community on how to preserve Provincial heritage and build affordable housing.
This entire process requires more transparency. How do you intend to evaluate and work with the advice you receive?
We need more answers and clear answers.
Re: Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation
March 2, 2021
To whom it may concern,
I am writing out of great concern for the future of one of our heritage buildings in Toronto at 153-185 Eastern Avenue. I am alarmed that yet another of our pieces of history may soon be subject to demolition. This must be stopped. Any area with affordable and market housing can and needs to include both the new and the old. This is just good neighbourhood planning- building neighbourhoods with characteristics that look forward with modern housing and backward with a preserved heritage.
If you are building a new community, all communities need a community hub to be proud of. The foundry provides a perfect opportunity for this. Do not waste our heritage, just repurpose it. As they say, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
I am relieved that you are going through this process of public consultation, but the next step is even more important: What will you do with these opinions from the public? We don’t need a charade. What we need is for a community’s desperate request for preservation to be heard and acted upon. What will you do next?
Do not disappoint or disrespect our local community and our city!
Thank you for this opportunity to allow my input.
I am writing to voice my concerns about the demolition of the Foundry Buildings in the West Don Lands. My name is --------- and I am a Friend of the Foundry.
Toronto is a wonderful city with a rich history. I am deeply concerned about certain politicians who seem intent on demolishing the Foundry Heritage site. Why Toronto needs to destroy its own history in order to build is beyond me, when our history can easily be incorporated into new developments. Why Steve Clark seems intent on undermining local opinions with his reckless issuing of MZOs is also beyond me. Yet that does not stop him from (ironically) complaining about the former liberal government's lack of concern when building.
I want to know exactly how my input is being considered with regards to the demolition of the Foundry. I want to know what happens to this message once I submit it on the Government Ontario website. Who is reading this? How will my concerns be addressed during decision making processes? These are not rhetorical questions; I expect whoever receives this message to respond to me promptly with answers to every one of my questions.
To think that the Ford government is capable of performing a legitimate appraisal of the historical significance of any site in Ontario is beyond laughable. This is a government that sat on its hands (and billions of dollars in COVID relief) while Ontarians died in for-profit LTC homes. Steve Clark’s careless issuing of MZOs (which are currently attempting to destroy protected wetlands in my hometown of Pickering) seems to be par for the course for Ontario’s Conserative party.
So to reiterate: in response to this email I want the following questions answered:
- How do opinions gained from public consultations affect the MZO?
- How are opinions gained from public consultations appraised in regards to MZO?
- At what point would an MZO be terminated based on public consultations?
- If MZOs do indeed consider public consultations, why is the Foundry site already sold and why is Doug Ford refusing to reveal who purchased the site?
This last question is where I want whoever is reading this to be as specific as possible. I want to know why Doug Ford believes Toronto residences don’t have a right to know about the future of their community.
Please respond to this message promptly.
I want to express my concern with the events around the Dominion Wheel and Foundries complex. I strongly believe the Ontario Government needs to consult with the Community regarding the future of the site and implement their suggestions into any future development.
The Foundry is an important part of Toronto’s rich industrial past, most of which has disappeared. This is one of the few remaining opportunities at preserving that past making it that much more crucial to preserve the buildings. Precedents of very successful preservation outcomes exist in abundance: the Distillery district, Evergreen Brickworks, the Wychwood Car Barns and the Consumer’s Gas building on Front street.
Several excellent proposals have been presented for potential future uses of the site, all of which will accomplish both preserving the historically significant structures as well as help achieve the City of Toronto’s goals of meeting it’s urgent, immediate need for more affordable housing.
Please do not proceed with demolition of these buildings and consult the community for guidance for both historic site preservation as well as meeting the city’s immediate needs for housing.
I would appreciate if you could elaborate your path forward with involving the community as well as site development.
Subject: "Affordable Housing on Eastern Avenue Consultation"
Date: February 24, 2021 at 10:48:34 PM EST
I am writing to you to offer comments on your plans for the demolition of the heritage buildings on Eastern Avenue in Toronto; the old Dominion Foundry buildings.
To begin with, I must say that I am very egregiously pissed off with you for trying to demolish these old buildings. You are breaking heritage laws in order to bulldoze my city's history and make a parcel of land more profitable for your developer friends. You can try and justify your actions all you like by saying you want to build "affordable housing", but everyone in Toronto knows what you are really up to. You don't care what gets built on that site, as long as your friends and backscratchers make money. What is "affordable housing" to you anyways? What does that even mean? Is it rentals for $2000 a month? For $1500? What do you think affordable is, for those Torontonians who aren't wealthy, which is a shit ton of us. There's no concrete plan. No firm number of units that will be built. No architectural mock-ups of what you think the site should look like. There's nothing. Just your greed, and the knowledge that more ridiculously expensive and hideous glass towers will rise up on the ashes of what used to be beautiful brick buildings; towers that the majority of people who live here will never be able to afford.
You know what really cheeses me off? The fact that you can't see the value in a site like the Dominion Foundry. To you, it's just old run-down buildings in the way of profit. But to me, and to other people like me who have vision, we can see a beautiful future in those bricks. We see sites like the restored and renovated Distillery District, and Evergreen Brickworks, and we can see that the Dominion Foundry can be just like them. That parcel of land and those old buildings can be saved, renovated, restored, just like the Distillery, just like Brickworks. There are so many examples across Toronto of successful, vibrant heritage developments you could look to for inspiration. Old hotels like The Gladstone, and The Broadview — those old buildings were restored and generate LOTS of business while retaining their heritage. Casa Loma is still going strong after, what, 110 years? Old City Hall is still gorgeous and in use. Massey Hall is undergoing renovations and the grand old dame will retain her heritage. Why can't you do the same for Dominion?
I'm under no illusion that this email to you will do any good at all. I know you don't care about Toronto, or about the people who live here. You don't care that the community that lives next to the Foundry doesn't want the site demolished. You don't care that there were plans in place to convert those buildings to community spaces, to become music hubs and gathering spots. You don't give a shit about anyone but yourself, your developer friends and the almighty dollar. You've used a pandemic to cover your underhanded back¬door dealings, hoping that nobody would notice what you were up to (oh and by the way you're botching the pandemic response too, just so you know). As soon as the court order stopping demolition lifts, you'll be back at it. This whole attempt at consultation is pathetic. You have no plans to do anything other than rip those buildings down as soon as possible.
You know, I remember your stupid attempt to sell off our Port Lands years ago, under the mayoralty of your dimwitted brother. The mega mall, ferris wheel and sail-in hotel? That was yet another backdoor dealing you tried to sneak past us that thankfully went south. Remember #CodeBlueTO? I can only hope your Dominion plans go the same way, but I'm not holding my breath.
You'll be voted out at the next election, that's my one consolation.