View Corridor Queen's Park Toronto

Are heritage "view corridors" worth protecting?

Despite a January ruling that denied an appeal of the Ontario Municipal Board's decision to approve a proposal to replace the current Four Seasons Hotel on Avenue Road with 40+ storey condos, heritage enthusiasts and organizations continue to battle to preserve an unencumbered view of the Ontario Legislature. We've already written a little about this, but I thought I'd open it up for a poll today as the discussion about whether such historic "view Corridors" are worth keeping has yet to die out.

University Avenue 1896

As much as I'm an advocate of preserving historic buildings, I'm ambivalent when it comes to the desire to regulate certain views of the city. When new office towers started going up in front of the Royal York Hotel, for instance, I wasn't too happy. Even though it hasn't been identified by the Tall Buildings Study as one of the three main view corridors to be protected — which include Queen's Park, Old City Hall and New City Hall — this particular aspect of the Toronto skyline still seemed a shame to lose. Ultimately, however, I just chalked it up to inevitability: cities change, new views take shape.

Not everyone feels this way. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario continues to fight against what it terms a "visual attack" on Queen's Park, and has released computer models that predict what the view of the Legislature might look like if development along Bloor is allowed to proceed. These images also show that if height restrictions were enforced, the impact on the view would be diminished. What do you think? Weigh in by participating in the poll below.


First image from the ACO, second from the the Toronto Archives (depicting University Avenue in the 1890s).

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