Toronto neighbourhood furious after building gets demolished without warning
The drama surrounding Toronto's historic Dominion Foundry site — and the province's plans to demolish the 100-year-old buildings on it — continued this week as residents of the surrounding Canary District neighbourhood awoke to some extremely loud and unexpected work taking place on the property.
After immense backlash from locals, the government in January decided to temporarily halt the destruction it had managed to hastily push through without community or city consultation through something called a Minister's Zoning Order (MZO), though there were no pressing development plans in place.
A (more) dystopian vision of Toronto's future: No heritage. No culture. Just condos. #Toronto https://t.co/305XrGjqhP— Matt Gardner (@LogosContinuus) January 21, 2021
The pause, a "good faith measure" to assuage angry Torontonians, was helped by a notice of injunction filed by City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and a number of advocacy organizations who are concerned about the blatant lack of respect for the historical significance of the site, and lack of community input.
An agreement was eventually made as tensions heightened, with the province vowing to work with the city to preserve parts of the structures' historic value while still transforming them into something new — mainly, much-needed housing.
But, it seems that some parts of demolition are still moving forward unexpectedly and taking citizens by surprise.
MONDAY FOUNDRY UPDATE: the warehouse and office buildings are more than half gone as of this afternoon. This view is from the west side of the site, looking northeast over the debris screen toward the warehouse. 1/4#SaveTheFoundry pic.twitter.com/WLQmjGjZNn— Friends of the Foundry (@FoundryFriends) December 20, 2021
According to videos posted to the Friends of the Foundry Facebook group in recent days, crews were on the scene earlier this month tearing down parts of the buildings that people thought were supposed to remain in tact.
"This is the 1940s addition which they were also not supposed to touch, although ultimately, yes, this particular building is going down. Still waiting for a clear answer from the Province as to why they have diverged from HIA recommendations," a post from Dec. 13 reads, with video showing large machinery tearing through the aforementioned structure.
Good morning Corktown! If you’re wondering what served as our 7am alarm clock today, wonder no more. They’re tossing large metal items into dumpsters and then pounding on them. Yay. #SaveTheFoundry pic.twitter.com/5eFKmVlvOo— Friends of the Foundry (@FoundryFriends) December 21, 2021
As of Dec. 17, the addition connecting the office buildings with what is known as the "machine shop" building had been completely razed, and by this past Monday, the warehouse and office buildings were half gone as well.
Tuesday morning, work had started up again at 7 a.m., disrupting those in the area and reducing parts of the complex, built between 1917 and 1929, to rubble.
Though further research indicated that the work was indeed part of the overall plan, it is way ahead of schedule, which Friends of the Foundry noted on Twitter is "extremely suspicious and upsetting to community members, who had not been informed of the change of timing."
The north side of the Machine Shop was always going to be demolished (although much later, we thought) in order to integrate it into one of the residential towers on the redeveloped #FoundrySite. 2/5 pic.twitter.com/jYKqXdKboD— Friends of the Foundry (@FoundryFriends) December 14, 2021
The group added that Councillor Wong-Tam will be doing her best to ensure improved communication with Infrastructure Ontario moving forward to avoid surprises, while City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services remains on board to "scrutinize progress to ensure no mistakes are made."
"Our Foundry is safe, but the community remains vigilant and engaged," the group wrote last week.
Even though the work was on-plan, encountering the unexpected demolition of the Machine Shop north wall on a Saturday afternoon was extremely suspicious and upsetting to community members, who had not been informed of the change of timing. 3/5 pic.twitter.com/f516NBQHmJ— Friends of the Foundry (@FoundryFriends) December 14, 2021
The new vision for the site, fortunately, offers slightly more than the facadectomies Toronto is known for, integrating the industrial heritage of the site underneath shiny new residential towers that will include affordable units.
The developer for the project has yet to be revealed, but the property is under the ownership of the province.
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