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Province pauses demolition of historic Foundry buildings after activist backlash

Last Updated Jan 22, 2021 at 6:25 pm EST

Workers exit the Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company site in Toronto on Tuesday January 19, 2021. The heritage site owned by the Province of Ontario is being demolished under a Municipal Zoning Order. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The province has paused the demolition of Toronto’s foundry buildings in the West Don Lands a day after activists filed a court injunction to save the historic site.

The office for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said it was doing so “as a good faith measure” after receiving the injunction, which was not approved.

“This morning, the Province received the decision concerning the request of the St. Lawrence Community Association seeking an interim interlocutory injunction to stay demolition and environmental remediation activities at the government-owned land at 153-185 Eastern Avenue,” the Ministry said in a release.

“Although an injunction was not ordered, as a good faith measure towards the City of Toronto, I have called Mayor John Tory to advise that the Province will temporarily pause demolition and environmental remediation, until next Wednesday, January 27th.”

Mayor Tory said he was happy that the reprieve would allow the City to be part of the conversation.

“We all want the affordable housing, but we also want to make sure that when you build affordable housing anywhere in the city … that we have consultation with the city and the local neighbourhoods.
“I hope we can reach an agreement,” he added. “That’s what this is all about, it’s about the principle that says when you are doing something in the city of Toronto, that you sit down with the city of Toronto and have that discussion.”

The Ministry says the provincially-owned property has been abandoned for over 40 years and “requires demolition to allow for significant environmental remediation.”

The work will also “allow for the construction of new affordable housing, market housing, and community space,” it said.

“In the meantime, we invite the City of Toronto to provide comments on the documentation that the Ministry has already provided prior to the initiation of the injunction application namely, a Heritage Impact Assessment and Cultural Heritage Documentation Report,” the Ministry added.

On Thursday activists were at the site, protesting the demolition.

The activists have the support of City councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who wants to force the Ford government to repair the damage already done.

“The community has invested time and proposals into a holistic approach to this site, including affordable housing, performance, and community spaces. Local voices help build complete communities,” Tam said Thursday.

“I look forward to a resolution where the province pauses the demolition work so that the community and the City can have a reasonable opportunity to participate and make our views known on the project.”