21 don roadway toronto

People are trying to prevent Toronto's iconic soap factory from being demolished

Heritage advocates are attempting to block the impending destruction of an important piece of Toronto's industrial and manufacturing history, a new petition seeking support to prevent the demolition of the former Unilever Soap Factory (or Lever Brothers Factory) at 21 Don Roadway.

A new petition with a mission statement to "Save Lever Brothers Plant No. 2" aims to stop Cadillac Fairview's massive East Harbour development — a plan that has been evolving for roughly a decade now — in its tracks.

The petition seeking 100 signatures was created by Patricia Milne in response to the latest plan for the 38-acre site, specifically its proposed demolition of the iconic soap factory building dating back to the 1940s.

"Cadillac Fairview has issued an updated proposal for the East Harbour site, which is now under a Ministerial Zoning Order," states the petition. These fast-tracked provincial orders have proven controversial in the past, but Milne's petition focuses purely on the plan's proposed demolition of the factory.

"Unlike the previously approved plan by First Gulf, this scheme demolishes the massive soap factory building, Lever Plant No.2, effectively erasing the site's industrial heritage," states the petition, adding that "this building presents a fantastic opportunity for adaptive reuse."

Interestingly, this exact approach was proposed in an earlier plan for the site.

"The Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation performed a comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental benefit of building reuse which found that it can take 10 to 80 years for a new building to overcome the negative climate change impacts related to the construction process."

The petition closes with a rallying cry to "Help us save Lever Factory No. 2 by signing" as a way to put pressure on "both the local and provincial governments [to] know that heritage and sustainable development play an important role in the life of our cities."

Seventy-six people have signed as of writing, including artist, writer, and cartographer Daniel Rotsztain. He has stated in the petition's comments section that "the greenest building is the one still standing."

"We need markers of the past to ground us in our history. We have the opportunity to create a vibrant, interesting, human-scale neighbourhood rather than a placeless megadevelopment that could be anywhere."

Lead photo by

Randy Hoffmann

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