Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Government of Ontario has paused the demolition of Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company buildings in Toronto until Wednesday, when a judge is set to hear legal arguments from Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and a community coalition fighting to save the heritage site.
In a statement on Friday, Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said the short delay is “a good faith measure towards the City of Toronto.”
Clark’s statement was released after Superior Court Justice James Diamond denied an interim injunction requested to halt the demolition for 30 days.
“The province has been clear that this provincially-owned property which has be largely abandoned for over 40 years and require demolition to allow for significant environmental remediation will be revitalized to allow for the construction of new affordable housing, market housing and community space,” Clark said.
Construction crews started demolition on Jan. 18.
Wong-Tam, who organized a peaceful protest at the Eastern Avenue site on Thursday, said the delay is a sign that the province is “feeling the pressure.”
“While we are pleased to see Minister Steven Clark’s statement, let’s put this back into perspective,” she said in a statement.
“This Province’s action of reckless demolition was carried without consultation and without adherence to their own heritage policies. A temporary pause does not reverse the already extensive damage of the accelerated demolition we have witnessed over the last few days during a global pandemic or restore the community’s faith.”
Instead, the protesters say an act of good faith would be the cancellation of further demolition and immediate consultations with the province, city and community.
“I urge the Premier, Doug Ford and his Ministers to respect the local planning process and stop wasting our time and money by forcing the community and City of Toronto to court,” Wong-Tam said.
The province say it will replace the historic building with affordable housing, however, Wong-Tam calls the claim misleading because two of the three buildings that the province wants to build are luxury condos.
“Thirty per cent of the smallest building will have some affordable housing – 264 units and not the 1000 units they have been claiming,” she said, adding that when the four Foundry buildings were added to the City’s heritage register in 2004, they were deemed “historically and architecturally significant, as a good example of an industrial enclave.”
More than 19,000 people have signed the Friends of the Foundry petition and over $12,000 has been contributed to the legal defence fund, supporting the West Don Lands Committee, St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, Corktown Resident and Business Association.
Mayor John Tory says he is hopeful that a cooperative solution will be found.
“There are probably ways in which some of this could be resolved outside of the court, which is always better, but we’ve made our views known. I’ve made my views known, and we’ll have to see what transpires,” said at a news conference Friday.
“I remain hopeful that a path forward can be found that gets more affordable housing built and at the same time takes proper notice of community concerns such as heritage.”