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No fun Toronto turfs Foundry from dream venue

Posted by Aubrey Jax / March 13, 2014

FoundryElectronic fans in Toronto are gearing up for Foundry, a month long concert series entering its second year as a powerful new force bringing international and local producers and DJs such as Four Tet, DJ Harvey, Shed, Purity Ring, Gingy, and Kevin McPhee together for high energy, art-first dance parties.

The promoters hit a snag yesterday, and the city of Toronto is to blame -- yes, the same city championing us as a "music city" on the same scale as Austin, where SXSW is taking place right now. The entire series will be forced to move from the historic Tower Automotive Building (recently used for the Promise Heart Party) to 99 Sudbury -- still a worthy venue, but at best a serious inconvenience to both promoters and ticket holders.

While Foundry has been working with City authorities and received "repeated reassurances" that the permits would go through, a zoning technicality stood in the way at the final minute (even after the promoters took a chainsaw to the building to make extra exits). Foundry's statement on the venue change reads in part: "We hope that one day in the near future, we will be allowed to take greater creative risks in a city that we love so much."

Foundry promises the concept and spirit of the will remain the same at 99 Sudbury, where their connected project Visions has hosted events in the past. The show will go on, but city officials should be taking note of what's happened here -- Foundry is pulling international attention toward Toronto's music scene, and this doesn't make us look like we have our act together.

Read our preview of Foundry's month long series, which begins this weekend with Four Tet on Friday night at 99 Sudbury, here.

Photo at 99 Sudbury by Javin Lau



heehaw / March 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Yup. They did it because they don't want any fun. uh-uh. I'm sure that was the reason.
John / March 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm
Very biased article. Clearly a poorly planned and researched event if chainsaws were taken to the building at the last minute. Bi-laws are in place for a reason. There are rules - follow them.
cultureshot / March 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm
Without knowing the specific zoning roadblock they faced it's hard to comment, but it seems strange that they would plan and promote for the Tower Automotive building without being 100 per cent sure they had the permit.

That being said I imagine obtaining a permit for an event like this in a space like that would be a bureaucratic NIGHTMARE. Either way, still excited for the Saturday show.
g-unit replying to a comment from Ryan / March 13, 2014 at 01:22 pm
remember that this venue had been used very recently for a legitimate event:

event permits are not the same as building codes. the problem is not the structure itself but how its being used.
chuckles / March 13, 2014 at 01:23 pm
seems more like the promoter just didn't have their shit together.

CaligulaJones / March 13, 2014 at 01:59 pm
Sounds like a bit of "plausible denialbility": oversell something, then blame the city. Everyone knows its always the city's fault. Look who's running it...
v79 / March 13, 2014 at 03:10 pm
It's ridiculous to blame the city for this. There are more than enough venues in this city that already have the proper zoning/permits to host such events. If the promoter went ahead with the event before securing such permits for an unapproved site, it's their fault and their fault alone. Bureaucracy can be blamed for many things that are wrong with this city, but this isn't one of them. Think of the outrage if God forbid a fire broke out at an event with too many people and too few exits. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Mark Daye / March 13, 2014 at 03:31 pm
That's not a chainsaw.
Chris / March 13, 2014 at 03:47 pm
Great article. Sad comments.

According to my fellow readers, it's the promoter's fault for scheduling the event and filing for the permits months in advance, well ahead of any reasonable approval schedule. It's their fault they received repeated assurances from city officials and complied with whatever last-minute requests were tossed their way, only to still be denied by a technicality that was there all along. After all that, it's their fault because... safety?

This is why we aren't allowed to have nice things.
Bob MacKenzie / March 13, 2014 at 03:49 pm
Not very 'forward thinking' by the promoters. Also not a good move, blame the city you work in.. not a good look all around, and a waste of a good underground spot. Nice work Mansion!
Marcus C / March 13, 2014 at 03:53 pm
Promoting and selling tickets to an event without approved permits in hand is highly irresponsible. I suppose all the press the promoters are getting went to their heads and maybe they thought the techno gods were going to get the permits approved for them...I bought a bunch of tickets to this...what a let down.
Dax / March 13, 2014 at 04:00 pm
City's don't "pull" permits im guessing they never had an okay in the first place on paper and lots of people are holding expensive tickets to another so-so faux "warehouse" event while mansion blames the big bad city.
ruby jane / March 13, 2014 at 04:04 pm
@Chris I think this article is full of hearsay. "While Foundry has been working with City authorities and received "repeated reassurances" but in the official press release it did not say "city officials" gave them reassurance. I would think for an event this size they would have had some kind of legal counsel and if they did, than i hesitate to say they were given bad advice. If i was representing the promoters i would have advised them NOT to move forward with any plans until the proper permits were 100% secure. Words are just words.
ruby jane / March 13, 2014 at 04:08 pm
My sympathy is limited. It is not the 90's anymore, yes the city has some restrictive bi-laws but them the rules, and they have to be followed. It was also irresponsible for them to promote the event on an international level without having everything secured, it only brought more attention and heat to the event. They are lucky they got off easy. The city could have busted the event while it was going on Detroit stylez
Rich Cooper replying to a comment from John / March 13, 2014 at 04:16 pm
Actually, the Foundry people met with the fire marshal well in advance and spent thousands of dollars to bring the space completely up to code. They cut an extra exit as per the marshal's instructions. It was not slap-dash as your ignorant comment infers. Why hate on people who are trying to elevate the status of the city and do something interesting?
matty replying to a comment from v79 / March 13, 2014 at 04:16 pm
So true they should have just done this at the opera house! or better yet lets just put every show at the acc!!!!!
Rich Cooper / March 13, 2014 at 04:26 pm
I am surprised at the all the negative comments here. I assure you that the Foundry people met with many, many officials and had every reassurance that they'd get the permit. They would not dump thousands of dollars into the project otherwise. This amounts to a breach of trust on the part of the city. Toronto's electronic music scene (whether you like it or not) is an important part of our culture, international status and economy. Similar events like Igloofest in Montreal get tremendous support from their city staff. We deserve the same here.
ruby jane / March 13, 2014 at 04:30 pm
@rich - it is easy for everyone to speculate when we do not have all the facts. I was so looking forward to this venue, and i feel really bad for the promoters and everyone attending, but it seems like something was over-looked, that something could have been done to prevent this from happening.
Tom / March 13, 2014 at 04:35 pm
Another article is out with a quote from Councillor Ana Bailao:
jiggy tarsands / March 13, 2014 at 04:36 pm
The technicality at work here is that the city decided these events are not one offs, but an ongoing series in a static venue. For whatever reason a different set of bylaws apply in this case. Promise was able to use the venue as is for a one off despite it having fewer exits than it does now.
ruby jane replying to a comment from Rich Cooper / March 13, 2014 at 04:37 pm
hmm if this was a breach of trust by the city then i really hope someone comes out with what happened and the city is exposed at the very least.
Bobby 'Wolf' Brown / March 13, 2014 at 04:42 pm
To all the negative comments - FYI F### Your Ignorance. The series will go on.
ruby jane / March 13, 2014 at 04:44 pm
This article is way better

and now i feel like an ass
iamthecalm / March 13, 2014 at 04:47 pm
upsetting that the location had to be changed, although 99 sudbury isn't a bad backup plan. as long as they have enough staff to get people inside in a reasonable time. it was an absolute mess trying to get in for slaughterhaus a few months ago. i hope they learned from that experience.
EDWORD / March 13, 2014 at 04:48 pm
Very unfortunate. And equally frustrating that so many people are coming out with the "bylaws are bylaws" response. It's that type of resignation and acceptance of the status quo that continues to rob the city of some of its most vital and grassroots culture.
Kobe / March 13, 2014 at 05:00 pm
You don't promote something of this magnitude that is not 100% confirmed.
Foundry / March 13, 2014 at 05:05 pm
We understand people's frustrations with the situation, but if there's one person that knows what we've been through these past several months it's Councillor Ana Bailao - who's been supporting us from the beginning.

Many details have been omitted and glossed over in this article in the blogTO, but we have thorough records with Building officials confirming that we were on the right track for months.

In fact, we also hired an engineering/code consultant (for a very large sum of money) to guide us through the entire process, who is also baffled by how this has all been handled.

We tried to do things the right way, and unfortunately got burned. What screwed us was a technicality, which stated that a motion for a "Change Of Use" when applied to Industrial zoning can only work with Publicly owned property.

Somehow, no one seemed to be aware of this little fact until we were deep into our planning stage.

It is fair for people to say we should have waited until permits were acquired, however those of us in the industry know this is often not realistic. Applications for SOPs almost always occur concurrently with the booking and marketing of events. And based on all our interaction with city officials going back months, there was no reason to doubt this situation was any different.

Needless to say, we have learned a very hard lesson. This project is everything to us and we are trying to maintain composure in the face of a catastrophic result we never could have imagined.

I'd like to leave you all with Councillor Bailao's kind and honest statement:

“It’s really disappointing, the applicants worked really hard. I had a lot of meetings. I tried to help as much as possible. Nothing happens at the Tower Automotive, it would have been great to reuse the space for at least three weekends. They worked hard and spent a lot of energy to make sure that they had a plan.”
Champagne / March 13, 2014 at 05:08 pm
I think this a very typical Toronto thing and I happen to agree with the promoters on this one (I guess there is a first time for everything!).

"We hope that one day in the near future, we will be allowed to take greater creative risks in a city that we love so much."

I believe it's a mentality here, we're afraid to let people/businesses/festivals etc be great, take risks and do things that are really awesome and creative.I call this the food truck syndrome. How can they not be a good thing for everybody? Why are we so strict on them? For what?

We've shown that when we do have a little freedom we can do fantastic things, look at the Design Exchange for example.

I'm not one of those people who compares Toronto to New York or any other world class city like that, but I think this mentality is the real problem the city has. Once we realize that the only thing holding us back is ourselves this city can finally grow into it's self and be the city we want/should/can be.

gr1 replying to a comment from Foundry / March 13, 2014 at 05:14 pm
get out of here with your first hand accounts and facts, we're busy dismissing you as amateurs and morons from behind our keyboards like REAL innovators in this city.
Bob MacKenzie / March 13, 2014 at 05:32 pm
Everyone hates on Toronto for the food trucks laws, but really.. if you had a hamburger shop paying out the wazoo municipal property taxes (the real problem), and a food truck pulled up on your block that pay's no property taxes everyday and undercut you, you would be angry as well. Especially since later that day, in the evening the hamburger truck would pull up to another area undercutting someone else who pays taxes.

I'd say there's a lot of blame going around here that is mis-directed. If they didn't have the permits then its not the cities fault. Legal council would have foreseen this... this is why the lawyers get the dollaaas
Craig Johnson / March 13, 2014 at 06:36 pm
can we still buy Molly and other drugs at this new venue?
Chainsaw Bob / March 13, 2014 at 06:44 pm
I personally chainsaw'd a few exits here and there and it was safe we also had a special encased "in case of emergency" chainsaws placed strategically around the venue where a hired specialist had picked for us. Please stop blaming the promoters, they tried.
Hali / March 13, 2014 at 08:56 pm
To all the naysayers on here trying to put blame on the promoters, here's another article in Vice on the same issue. It includes this statement from City Councilor Ana Bailao: “It’s really disappointing, the applicants worked really hard. I had a lot of meetings. I tried to help as much as possible. Nothing happens at the Tower Automotive, it would have been great to reuse the space for at least three weekends. They worked hard and spent a lot of energy to make sure that they had a plan.”
blahblahblah / March 13, 2014 at 09:17 pm
right so because a city councillor makes a statement it changes the fact that someone did not do their due diligence in looking at the detail of the permit that it was zoned industrial and change of space was not applicable unless is was publicly owned. It also makes me wonder about Promise too.. so many details do not add up, but thank you foundry for giving it the old college try, and trying to be as transparent as possible
Interesting / March 13, 2014 at 09:56 pm
This would be a very interesting case to file a Freedom of Information request on the City officials responsible for the work and the late technicality decision. When did they know? How long did they wait to tell Foundry? Could this last minute scramble and extra investment in the building itself have been avoided if someone didn't drop the ball? The findings could be grounds for some reimbursement if there is negligence on the part of the City - but perhaps that is wishful thinking :);vgnextfmt=default
mikey / March 13, 2014 at 11:06 pm
city planning department still has a few old crags working at city hall that never took up the opportunity to move to other branches after amalgamation. they need young blood down there because these guys are so uptight and inflexible with a building code that is in fact open to interpretation to some degree if you can argue engineering alternatives. anyway,...i dont think there's anything dodgey with what happened here except some old dusty men that ought to make room for itu policy makers with vision. another step in actually becoming the world class city Toronto brags off about being
Friar Canuck / March 13, 2014 at 11:22 pm
The promoters cut a door into the side of a "historic" building? I doubt their permits included that.

Look out Brockton! West Queen/West Queen West parties are coming your way because your tall buildings overlook The Junction.
Tom replying to a comment from Friar Canuck / March 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm
To be fair, they took a chainsaw to former exits that were bricked up to prevent break-ins.
LOL / March 14, 2014 at 12:00 am
Funny how all their promoters and friends are the ones writing these articles.
Maybe you should get a permit BEFORE announcing a festival of this size.
seems legit replying to a comment from Hali / March 14, 2014 at 12:56 am
How is this NOT the promoters fault?

“It’s really disappointing, the applicants worked really hard. I had a lot of meetings. I tried to help as much as possible. Nothing happens at the Tower Automotive, it would have been great to reuse the space for at least three weekends. They worked hard and spent a lot of energy to make sure that they had a plan.”

Having meetings and cutting holes in a building thats about to collapse on itself is probably the last thing they should've been doing if they really cared.
Willis / March 14, 2014 at 02:03 am
Foundry is going to be great. Mansion always pulls it off, you guys all need to chill out about something that was beyond their control. They're the ones bringing these great acts to Toronto, and are the leading promotor for electronic music in this city.

I'm v excited for Foundry! This upcoming month will be amazing.
Davya / March 14, 2014 at 02:56 am
"are the leading promotor for electronic music in this city."... you think they'd, you know, secure the proper paperwork before announcing an event considering how much they "lead" the city. Im sure the DJs they booked would be cool with "assurances" they'd be getting paid and not signed contracts? What is this, Fisher-Price's "My first rave"?

EDWORD / March 14, 2014 at 09:09 am
I never get how so many people seem to enjoy saying "Rules are the Rules", or "zoning laws are zoning laws".
Tom replying to a comment from Davya / March 14, 2014 at 09:17 am
If you read either of their responses, they clearly state that they were given assurances from the city that there would be no issues. They also hired a code consultant to help out. Does it make any sense that they'd spend thousands of dollars on something that couldn't happen in the first place?
jer / March 14, 2014 at 11:04 am
That link to the instagram photo does not work. Anyone have a picture of the "chainsawing"?
scottd / March 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm
Blame the city as being anti-fun because you dont have your shit together. How adult. None of the other events I have attended there had any trouble getting approval.
curious george / March 14, 2014 at 01:10 pm
I wonder how the Promise outfit were able to throw their Valentine's party there? Did they do it illegally?
Susan Boyle / March 14, 2014 at 03:50 pm
Why are all of you internet bullies on here throwing shade on the promoters. You are obviously not attending the series nor do you care about it so why are you wasting your time unproductively criticizing them?
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from progrock / March 15, 2014 at 03:18 pm
One of the councilors (Kristin Wong-Tam) said that she wanted the voting age to be lowered to 16-this is one of the issues that a 16-year old would be concerned about (actually, ANYBODY would be concerned about this, as it impacts any local culture in the city and prevents it from happening.

Somebody else suggested term limits for councilors once; that's something else we need, so that people who are stuck in way of antiquated thinking and don't know that Toronto and the world has changed won't be making laws or policy for this city.
Ana replying to a comment from curious george / March 15, 2014 at 07:30 pm
I don't think we're bullies, just being honest.
Also promise got to throw a party there, because they have an incredible relationship with the city because they have thrown legal parties (with proper permits) for more than 10 years.

Some people will just never understand, OH WELL!
a / March 16, 2014 at 06:19 pm
ana you're misinformed. promise threw those parties without permits.
IG / March 19, 2014 at 01:35 pm
Comparing Toronto to Austin for the music scene?
Having just come back from Austin, that statement is extremely comical.
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