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Issue No. 192 | February 13, 2012

1. Toronto HCD Policy Document Moves Forward
Catherine Nasmith

 Processing Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD) has been slowed to a trickle for several years while Heritage Preservation staff have been developing a policy document.

That document, Heritage Conservation Districts in Toronto, Policies and  Terms of Reference went in draft form to the Toronto Preservation Board in December. At that time several heritage consultants and HCD community representatives expressed concern that the proposals would make it far too complicated and costly to research and implement HCD's in Toronto. 

Immediately following that meeting there were several followup meetings to discuss modifications. The discussions were collaborative and resulted in many changes. Not all suggestions were adopted. For example staff not the Toronto Preservation Board will decide which areas are studied, every property in the district must have a statement of contribution, an additional requirement that will have to be done by a consultant, and quarterly reporting is required. The  requirement to go to Council between the Study and the Plan phases has been dropped. 

The streamlined document goes to Planning and Growth Management this Thursday. If you want to read, comment or depute the document can be found at:

There is no doubt that it will take far more volunteer hours and professional time to prepare the necessary documents and undertake the community process than has been necessary in the past, but there are clear benefits to standardizing the process so it is clear what is expected. Congrats to Scott Barrett for completing a long and difficult process. 

Once this policy is passed we should be able to get back to working through the backlog of areas seeking protection under the Ontario Heritage Act.  In fact one of the first tasks is for staff to prepare a priorized list of communities to be considered.

Over the next few years we will see how this all works in practice and if modifications are needed, but in the meantime lets get back to protecting Toronto's heritage in the most effective way we have, doing large areas at a time.

2. Wong Tam Fights Back After 81 Wellesley Demolition
Councillor Wong-Tam from Letter to Constituents

February 8, 2012.

The demolition of 81 Wellesley is one of the most unfortunate and avoidable circumstances I have seen happen in the city of Toronto. There are no excuses to justify what happened, but there are a number of policy gaps that I have learned about and that I addressed immediately.

Despite writing to the Toronto and East York Community Council on November 2, 2011 to request that 81 Wellesley Street East be designated as a heritage property (which puts the property into a long queue with others waiting for heritage status by the City of Toronto), a demolition application submitted on December 1, 2011 was approved and issued fourteen days later.

Toronto’s Chief Building Official confirmed that unless a commercially-zoned property is designated as heritage, they are legally obligated to issue the demolition permit, as per Section 8 of the Ontario Building Code Act. Once a demolition application is approved, it cannot be revoked nor suspended. Toronto Building staff are also not required to notify or consult with the Ward Councillor or community for demolition applications for commercial properties under the minimal provincial requirements. Clearly Toronto needs a system that goes above and beyond minimum provincial statutory requirements to prevent situations like this in the future. These are very serious policy flaws.

Last week, I met with the Chief Building Official, city planning including Heritage Preservation staff and city legal to review how we can make improvements to the way the City of Toronto responds to commercial demolition applications. Specifically two steps in the right direction include mandating that Ward Councillors, planning and heritage staff are officially notified by Toronto Building of all demolition applications. Furthermore, the list of pending properties under review by Heritage Preservation Services be considered prior to issuing any demolition permits. This may prevent situations like the unsupported demolition of 81 Wellesley Street East and other such properties of interest from happening again.

We are launching a three month pilot project to better coordinate communication among city staff and hopefully close the provincial policy loopholes at the municipal level whereby commercial property demolition applications are circulated in notices from Toronto Building to City Planning through Heritage Preservation Services and to the Councillor’s office as they are received. Heritage Preservation Services will then evaluate and respond to applications as necessary.

Furthermore, I moved a motion at City Council yesterday that directs staff to report back with recommendations to permanently address the loopholes between the applicable laws that govern this jurisdiction. The motion reads “Improving demolition control policies to strengthen heritage protection” and was seconded by Councillor Peter Milczyn. More information is available here:

3. Response to Odette House Demolition
Carl Stryg

Odette House
Carl Stryg's House at 993 Queen St. E.

“One of the commentators pointed out that it is private property. Then why recycle anything? Once you've paid for a coke, why recycle the can? It's yours isn't it? Well, we recycle because we all recognize that we have limited resources, and that we are the are the caretakers of this planet, and that profligate waste just comes back to bite us. Forget heritage, save buildings wherever possible because they are built from limited resources. Demolition, even gutting interiors - is not a sustainable practice. And to those who cry "preservation costs taxpayers": may I remind you that it is taxpayers who subsidize developers' demolition by paying to manage the landfill they create. Developers who demolish thus get to avoid the true costs to all of us of their destruction. We pay. All of us. We pay with our taxes, we pay in lost heritage, and we all pay in wasted resources.”

Editor's Note:
Carl Stryg is my brother, and the owner of 993 Queen Street East in Toronto, which he has very carefully restored.

4. North York Modernist Architecture Forum Online
Forwarded by Geoff Kettel

You may recall that the North York Community Preservation Panel and the City Institute York University with the support of the heritage events grants of the City of Toronto organised the 2011 (third) North York Modernist Architecture Forum. We are pleased to announce that the video from the November event is now available from the Heritage Toronto web site.

We would thank Chris the moderator, all the presenters and discussants, the City Institute at York University and most recently Nathan Storring and Rebecca Carson for the video work.

5. Please fill Out Heritage Survey for Carleton Symposium
Sarah Hill

Dear Heritage Colleagues,

I am very pleased to have been chosen to speak at the 7th Annual Heritage Symposium at Carleton University in March. For my presentation, I would like to focus on what everyday Ontarians think about Heritage.

I would very much appreciate if you could help me with my research by passing on this survey to friends, family and other people you know (link below). Ideally, I...

6. Heritage Canada Lighthouse Petition
Heritage Canada

Sign the petition to help save Canada's historic lighthouses

Ottawa, ON, February 7,2012 -- The Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF) is urging Canadians to sign the petition to help save Canada’s historic lighthouses.

The Government of Canada owns hundreds of iconic lighthouses. Earlier this year, it declared more than 500 of them—including many of the most historic ones—as “surplus.” That means many of these important local landmarks and historic icons are at risk. Already neglected, starved for essential maintenance and care, and often located on remote, weather-ravaged sites, Canada's historic maritime symbols face an uncertain future.

Local groups want to help. But, they are under pressure to find the money and the means to save these iconic structures. HCF is launching a campaign to get the word out, including an information website, and an online petition encouraging the Federal Government to invest in the efforts of local groups and communities to save their lighthouses.

You can help: Sign the petition to help protect Canada’s historic lighthouses. Then, share the petition on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for taking action to save Canada’s lighthouses.

For further information contact:
Carolyn Quinn, Director of Communications,
Telephone: 613-237-1066 ext. 229; Cell: 613-797-7206

7. Blog: Vicarious Study in Rome
June Botkin

Hi Everyone,

As many of you know I have been accepted to attend specialized training in Building Conservation in Rome from March 2 – April 27th. Many of you have asked to include you in my emails so that you can hear about my adventures. I have decided to create a blog so that you can follow what I a studying and what life in Rome is like from my perspective. There are 19 other individuals coming from around the world. I am the only one from North America. I decided I would also attach a letter from the Director General as well as a list of the participants that are going to be attending. I received everyone’s profile today and almost all of the candidates have PhD’s, so I am feeling incredibly humbled and honoured to be included with this group of conservation experts.

I hope that you will follow me on my adventures and I would love to see some posts from you. I am also holding a steak night fundraiser to help offset the costs of this adventure. The steak night is going to be at Nicky’s on Feb 22nd from 5 – 8 p.m, children are welcome. You can buy tickets from me or on line at my events website. I need to have money in by February 15th so that I can confirm numbers with Nicky’s. If you could share this information with others in your organization I would really appreciate it.

There will be an auction, raffle and 50/50 draws. Keep an eye on the events website as I plan on posting pictures of some of the items that are going to be auctioned or raffled.

I look forward to hearing from you and please pass on this email and share with anyone I may have missed.


8. Toronto Star: Ontario Place Closes
Reg Cohn

Ontario Place is dead until further notice

Ontario Place has been taking on water for years. Now, at 41, the jewel on the lake is sunk — no more bailouts.

So will the signature Cinesphere rise again in a different form?

Make no mistake. For all the uplifting rhetoric about future resurrection, it’s the recurring red ink that prompted the province to shutter an amusement park that fewer and fewer Ontarians found amusing enough to visit.

Until the bleeding is stanched for all time, don’t expect the gates to reopen anytime soon. Ontario Place is proof that if you build it, they will not necessarily come.

Its promised reincarnation, to be led by John Tory, requires a leap of faith. Perhaps the government will one day rebuild it, but for now the Liberals are seizing the moment to dismantle a crumbling structure — with the former Progressive Conservative leader providing convenient political cover.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:This greatest of all of Eb Zeidler's buildings has NO heritage protection, none, zero, you get the picture. In the early nineties I proposed designation, idea was deep sixed by then Councillor Joe Pantalone.

9. Toronto Star: The Adamson Estate in Mississauga
Mark Weisleder

The hidden value in heritage properties

A city’s heritage should be a sense of pride. It honours the past, while allowing the future to evolve. But many people complain that a heritage designation lowers a property’s value because it limits what a new owner can do with it.

I believe that’s a myth and here’s why.

Ontario’s Heritage Act guides municipalities in supporting heritage efforts. Most city heritage staff work with a committee of citizens and local politicians who advise city council and act as a resource on heritage issues. The city clerk keeps a register of all heritage properties.

About 4,500 homes in Toronto and 280 in Mississauga are designated heritage properties while there are many others that are “listed.” Listed means the property appears in the city’s heritage register, but it has not yet been fully researched or documented so it is not yet protected by the Heritage Act.

Click here for Link

10. Toronto Standard: Jane Jacobs Her Current Relevancy

Is the work of the great writer/city planner still relevant?

Jane Jacobs published The Death and Life of Great American Cities over 50 years ago, changing radically the way city planners and architects do their jobs. She has become a mythic — some might even say sacred — icon, credited with turning the planning profession on its head. But now, as cities grow and evolve in unpredictable ways, some are beginning to question the relevance of her work.

We talk to Timothy Mennel, a senior editor for the American Planning Association and co-editor of the book Reconsidering Jane Jacobs, about the legacy and the myth.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities has had a profound influence on urban planning practices across the globe. Do you think Jacobs’s ideas are as relevant today as they were when the book was published?
Yes and no. The world has of course changed tremendously in the more than 50 years since the publication of Death and Life, and sometimes it’s hard to relate the neighbourhoods and situations described in Death and Life to our own. As diverse as New York was at that time, today’s cities are far more so, and they face a host of economic challenges that are of a different scale and character than what she focused on in that book. For example, the erosion of the industrial economy, the development of global supply chains, and the rise of China as an economic powerhouse are just a few of those changes.

Nevertheless, Jacobs’s major contribution to planning and countless other fields was to stress the importance of fine-grained attention to all the social and economic qualities that make up a community—and the importance of that hasn’t decreased at all. What will be interesting to see, though, is how our notions of “community” change as our larger frameworks do.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:I should preface these words with saying I am a Jane Jacobs prizewinner and very proud to have my name linked to hers. I attended the Jane Jacobs Undone event last week where Mr. Mennel spoke. His comparison of Jacobs and Andy Warhol was so superficial it was embarrassing to witness. I was also struck by all the panelists' focus on Death and Life, barely mentioning her important later books, their total ignorance of Jacobs' life in Toronto, and of the differences between American and Canadian urbanism. No author is beyond question, but I would say that Jane Jacobs has nothing to fear from these critics who seem to be more caught up in publish or perish than any kind of useful dialogue.

11. St. Catharines Standard: Port Dalhousie Theatre in Question
Marlene Bergsma

Tower builders may drop theatre

The Port tower developers are considering scaling back the massive development.

The surprise move comes three years after the Ontario Municipal Board handed down its approval of the most controversial development application in the history of St. Catharines, and with little sign of work beginning on the Port Place tower.

The Standard has learned that late in January, Mayor Brian McMullan hosted a meeting at city hall between the new owner of Port Dalhousie Vitalization Corp. and the leaders of the Port Dalhousie Conservancy, the organization that replaced anti-tower citizens’ group PROUD.

On the potential chopping block: the 415-seat theatre.

The development, which also includes an 80-unit condo tower, a hotel, underground parking garage, shopping and office space, was approved in a series of all-or-nothing rulings.

In June 2006, then city planner Paul Chapman said the development had to be built in its entirety or not at all. In February 2009, OMB hearing chair Susan Campbell said the same thing.

But PDVC general manager Greg Bowman now says the theatre is “the least viable aspect of the development.”

“We wanted to know if there are ways we could add value to what we are doing if we didn’t have to do the theatre,” he said. “Is there a way we can work with the community to better utilize that space?”

Bowman said PDVC asked for the meeting because it wanted to “run an idea up the flagpole” to see what could fly.

The meeting last month followed an earlier meeting called by the conservancy, Bowman said, and both meetings were characterized by a spirit of co-operation and openness.

Both sides are keen to avoid a fight.

The lengthy OMB hearing bitterly divided the community and cost PROUD’s members roughly $500,000. Based on the amount of high-priced talent it brought to the table, PDVC is suspected to have spent in the range of $2 million or more.

“When you scrounge through the neighbourhood and come up with half a million dollars, you don’t want to have to do that again,” said conservancy member Eleanor Lancaster in an interview this week. “We certainly don’t want to go through that again.”

Click here for Link

12. Peterborough Examiner: Modern apartments to wrap around old Y

Site plan filed for redevelopment of former YMCA site; minor rezoning change before council Monday

Design sketches show the view from the air and from street level for the planned redevelopment of the former YMCA site at George and Murray streets.

A two-level, modern-looking apartment building with ground-level storefronts will wrap around the historic former YMCA building in Peterborough’s downtown.


Design sketches show the view from the air and from street level for the planned redevelopment of the former YMCA site at George and Murray streets.

The main section of the apartment tower will be eight storeys high, the other five storeys.

A site plan recently filed with the city shows how the space inside the renovated and expanded building will be used.

There will be a fitness area, a hair salon, a dining area for the senior residence that would be part of the development, space for the Kawartha Memory Clinic, three stores with storefronts facing George St., plus 48 market rental apartments and 92 residential suites targeted for seniors.

Click here for Link

13. Dayton Daily News: Demolition of Former Wright Brother Bicycle Shop
Jeremy Kelly, Bode Morin

City may raze site tied to Wrights

Two Dayton buildings tied to the National Register of Historic Places have been declared public nuisances and are gradually heading toward demolition, with public meetings scheduled on both this week.

The former Gem City Ice Cream building at 1005 W. Third St. has created significant interest because it was built around the first Wright brothers bicycle shop.

Michael Perkins, a Wright-Dunbar neighborhood resident, hopes to save the building, saying it is one of the few remaining Wright brothers-related structures in the West Third corridor. Others have been demolished or relocated to Michigan.
City Planner Roane Smothers confirmed that three walls of the original two-story bicycle shop that the Wrights ran in 1892 are still standing inside the current structure.

Click here for Link

14. New York Times: Penn Station
Michael Kimmelman, forwarded by Stephen Otto

Restore a Gateway to Dignity

It’s time to address the calamity that is Penn Station.

Nearly a half-century has passed since the destruction of the great 1910 station designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White, a “monumental act of vandalism,” as an editorial in The New York Times called the demolition in 1963. A vast steel, travertine and granite railway palace of the people, the old Pennsylvania Station had declined by the end into a symbol of bygone Gilded Age opulence. It was replaced by Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden, Modernist mediocrities, erected to serve real estate interests, with a new subterranean Penn Station entombed below.

Some 600,000 commuters, riding Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, now suffer Penn Station every day. That makes it probably the busiest transit hub in the Western world, busier than Heathrow Airport in London, busier than Newark, La Guardia and Kennedy airports combined.

To pass through Grand Central Terminal, one of New York’s exalted public spaces, is an ennobling experience, a gift. To commute via the bowels of Penn Station, just a few blocks away, is a humiliation.

Click here for Link

15. How to Contact Carolyn Neale, Rosedale Researcher
Catherine Nasmith

I am the current President of the Toronto Architectural Conservancy.

Many years ago TAC set up a fund to publish a book on Rosedale with Carolyn Neale as researcher/author. She has done a considerable amount of research, but we are now out of touch with her and her intentions regarding the project.

Does anyone know how to contact her? We would like to reactivate the work.

If you can connect me with her, please send contact info to, or phone 416 598 4144.

Thanks so much,