foundry toronto

Demolition begins on Toronto heritage buildings despite residents begging for it to stop

Despite cries from the community to stop the destruction of Corktown's Foundry buildings, demolition of the Toronto heritage site has begun.

As of Monday afternoon, Provincially-mandated construction crews have started tearing down the buildings at 153 and 185 Eastern Ave. 

Local organization Friends of the Foundry, which formed in response to the sudden news that demolition would soon begin on the heritage site, have congregated outside the fence of the site today as the demolition happens in real time. Police are now on the scene.

Part of the southwestern building's wall and windows have already been torn down. According to Corktown residents, the destruction of the buildings is still ongoing.

The Province has ignored requests to cease work on the site from residents, city councillors, and local organizations since news broke last week that crews had taken over the property.

On Monday morning, the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA), which had been working with the Corktown community to turn the Foundry buildings into a music hub, sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking him to postpone the demolition.

"They own the property," said Ann Summers Dossena of the IRCPA. "But we want them to let us have it. At least give us, say, a year, to finish the feasability study we've started." 

The IRCPA has asked the Province to grant them a 99-year lease to build a centre with residences, a daycare, recording studios, two music venues, and other community amenities, especially for musicians.

"The city has about 90 per cent of musicians in Canada," says Dossena. "Everybody congregates here, and they just have no place to go. Some of them are leaving Toronto to go to Hamilton or Guelph. That's not very productive."

Dossena says she tried to call Premier Ford personally, and the Provincial switchboard, with no response. The Premier's office has not yet officially responded to the IRCPA's letter either. 

It could be too late, now. 

After more than a year into a City-approved feasability study, and weekly steering committees since May, the IRCPA's vision—and Corktown's hopes for a community hub—has been directly bypassed by the Province's Ministerial Zoning Order. 

Allowing the Province to sidestep Toronto's usual planning processes, including community consultations, means that the Corktown residents have no say in what will replace the Foundry site. 

As of Monday, no development plans have yet been submitted for Blocks 17 and 26 of the West Don Lands, so the Province's rush to demolish the Foundry buildings—especially at a time when non-essential construction is supposed to be banned—has raised questions regarding the Province's real intentions with the site.

"We have nothing of culture in our neighbourhood right now...We've doubled the population of Corktown. We have a wonderful diverse area but we don't have a place to meet. I have no clue who anyone is anymore," said Dosssena. "That's not right."

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