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Issue No. 262 | November 3, 2017

1. ACO Toronto wins Community Heritage Award, People's Choice
Catherine Nasmith

ACOToronto gets Community Heritage Award at Heritage Toronto Awards, October 25

If you will forgive me tooting my own horn a bit, I am very proud that ACO Toronto Branch (I am President) was awarded the Heritage Toronto Community Heritage Award on Monday night. It was awarded to us by popular vote of Heritage Toronto members so means a lot to our small committee. We, like many other small heritage organizations, work hard to put together programming and make some progress against the army of demolition crews stomping through Toronto. 

We were very grateful for the opportunity to promote our biggest project to date, TO Built, an open source database of Toronto buildings at Our goal is to have every architect post their projects, and to have citizens across the city photograph their neighbourhood buildings, landscapes and landmarks, and post them, along with any information they may have about who built or designed them. 

2. Toronto Star: Supreme Court Rules Against BC First Nation Desire to Protect a Place of Indigenous Cultural Value
Tonda MacCharles

Supreme Court approves B.C. ski resort development on Indigenous lands

In a landmark decision on how courts should protect not only Indigenous religious beliefs, but all religious belief, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that a British Columbia First Nation, the Ktunaxa people, could not block the development of a ski resort in the Jumbo Valley.

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that a British Columbia First Nation could not block the development of a ski resort in the Jumbo Valley in British Columbia. The decision was 9-0, written mainly by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin (pictured), writing with Justice Malcolm Rowe.

OTTAWA—The constitutional guarantee of aboriginal rights does not give Indigenous groups the right of a veto over land development in the name of religious freedom, says the country’s top court.

In a landmark decision on how courts should protect not only Indigenous religious beliefs, but all religious beliefs, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that a British Columbia First Nation, the Ktunaxa people, could not block the development of a ski resort in the Jumbo Valley.

The high court ruled that the constitution’s religious freedom guarantee protects Canadians’ freedom to hold religious beliefs and to act in accordance with them, but does not require the state or courts to protect the “object of beliefs or the spiritual focal point of worship, such as Grizzly Bear Spirit.”

“Rather the state’s duty is to protect everyone’s freedom to hold such beliefs and to manifest them in worship and practice, or by teaching and dissemination.”

The high court said the provincial government’s decision to approve the project and efforts over two decades to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of the Ktunaxa people were reasonable, and entitled to deference by the courts.

The decision was 9-0, written mainly by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing with Justice Malcolm Rowe. Justices Michael Moldaver and Suzanne Côté wrote separate but concurring reasons.

The court didn’t set out new ground on the duty of government’s to consult and accommodate aboriginal rights, however it set new limits on what the religious freedom guarantee in the Charter really means.

The case pitted the religious freedom and aboriginal rights of the Ktunaxa (pronounced TeNaHa) against the B.C government and the company Glacier Resorts. 

The Ktunaxa Nation Council, representing the people whose traditional territorial claim straddled the Canada-U.S. border, opposed a proposal by Glacier Resorts. The company wanted to build a year-round overnight ski resort in the Jumbo Valley, about 55 kilometres west of Invermere, with lifts to glacier runs that were previously reachable via helicopter — a $900 million project that would create up to 800 permanent direct jobs.

The high court said negotiations and consultations “are a two-way street.”

When the Indigenous community’s representatives, late in the process, finally asserted in 2009 what the high court called a “novel claim” — that development must be barred altogether to protect the presence of the Grizzly Bear Spirit itself and the “subjective spiritual meaning they derive from it” — the court said the Ktunaxa got it wrong.

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Editor's Note:The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that places of significance for Indigenous People be protected by the federal government, yet there remains no effective federal mechanism to do that. This case points to the challenges in identification and protection. Hope it is not too late for Cabinet to step in and find a solution.

3. BlogTO: Future for Ten Editions Bookstore
Lauren O'Neill

Toronto Can't Decide if it Should Demolish Bookstore for Student Residence

photo Catherine Nasmith

The University of Toronto will not go down quietly in its fight to tear down a 132-year-old retail store for a new high rise residence. 

Currently home to Ten Editions bookstore, the building at 698 Spadina was first opened in 1885 as the John James Funston grocery store.

Ten Editions, which itself has become an attraction for its charming, old-timey atmosphere and collection of rare titles, started operating out of the building in 1984.

Is it worthy of a heritage building designation? Toronto City Council certainly thinks so, as do members of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association.

"The building has design value as an example of a late 19th century corner-store building type designed with a high degree of craftsmanship in the late Victorian style," reads a Notice of Intention to Designate on the city's website.

"The design value is evident in such elements as the characteristic recessed diagonal corner entry, the decorative wood elements of the shop front, window and door frames and in the variety of the brick cladding details on the east and south elevations."

Ten Editions Bookstore

Photograph of 698 Spadina Avenue taken in 1972, when the building's base served as a laundromat. Photo via The City of Toronto Archives.

U of T disagrees, and will be challenging the building's potential addition to the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register at the Conservation Review Board this November.

The University argues that the building doesn't "seem to contain enough design or contextual value to warrant the heritage designation." Also, there are already 80 listed heritage buildings on U of T's St. George campus.


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4. Toronto Star: Dufferin and Queen Studio Spaces, lost but not found
Julien Gignac

Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio space

Plans involve a residential and light manufacturing complex, near Dufferin and Queen St. W.

Janak K. Khendry is the artistic director of a dance studio in a warehouse that will eventually be redeveloped.
Janak K. Khendry is the artistic director of a dance studio in a warehouse that will eventually be redeveloped.  (JULIEN GIGNAC / TORONTO STAR) | ORDER THIS PHOTO  

Peter MacCallum, Karl Schantz and Alfred Engerer each balk at an arrangement between the city and a residential developer that will eventually lead to the demolition of the warehouse, located near Dufferin and Queen Sts.

MacCallum and Schantz have studios elsewhere in the city, but have turned up to weigh in on the discussion, which revolves around city decisions that threaten artistic environments.

“My thing is about preserving this building,” said Alfred Engerer, who is the building’s superintendent. “I love this building. I don’t want it to go. Their intent is to fully destroy it and replace it with condominiums.”

The plan for the site was given the green light by the city after a settlement was reached with the developer in 2015 to incorporate work spaces for artisans into a predominately residential design. 

Alfred Engerer, artist and superintendent, opens a door to a studio belonging to a number of wood workers.
Alfred Engerer, artist and superintendent, opens a door to a studio belonging to a number of wood workers.

Engerer said the issue is yet another example of displacing artists to make way for gentrification. 


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Editor's Note:A city needs to be diverse, in employment, spaces, and people. At the moment intensification is transforming a vibrant place into a mono-culture.

5. Globe and Mail: Property Tax Reform for Small Business (Main Street0
Cailynn Klingbeil

Toronto eyes new tax class that could spell relief for small businesses

Frédéric Geisweiller, owner of Le Sélect Bistro in downtown Toronto, says he may be forced to sell the property to a developer if the city doesn’t address soaring tax bills.
The City of Toronto is exploring the idea of creating a new property-tax class that could provide relief for small businesses facing soaring assessments and tax bills. This follows moves to create a similar plan to help cultural hubs in the city.Rapid redevelopment coupled with an assessment model that values properties with smaller buildings the same as ones with larger developments are causing challenges for small business owners."I'm being asked to pay on the building's hypothetical value, which has not been realized," says Frédéric Geisweiller, owner of Le Sélect Bistro in downtown Toronto.
Mr. Geisweiller says nearby construction in the neighbourhood has led to both a drop in customers and a jump in his building's assessed value. He's facing a 55 per cent increase in his non-residential property tax bill this year over last year, to $93,667 from $60,131. By 2020, if the tax rate stays the same, he expects to pay $203,710, which is 239 per cent more than last year's bill.
"It's unsustainable," Mr. Geisweiller says, adding this is the toughest issue he's faced in his 40 years of owning the restaurant.


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6. Citytv: Group to Save Garrison (Robinson) Cottages

Neighbourhood group hopes to save Toronto's Garrison Common cottages

Robinson Cottage

A neighbourhood group is rushing to save a cluster of 160-year-old downtown homes that are in danger of being knocked down.

Two properties on Mitchell Avenue, a short walk from historic Fort York, have been sold. They’re some of the few remaining Garrison Common cottages, also known as the Robinson Cottages, built starting in 1858.

There were originally 32 cottages, eight each on Richmond and Adelaide Streets and the rest on Mitchell Avenue. But only 12 remain.

Now, neighbours are trying to save what’s left.

Local resident Dolores Borkowski has created the “Save Garrison Common Cottages” group on Facebook. She wants the city to designate the homes as heritage properties under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Bortowski explains that the cottages – a series of semi-detached bungalows, as well as a handful of detached homes – were built as an early planned community for working families. The eight-acre neighbourhood was bounded by Richmond, Tecumseh, Adelaide and Niagara Streets. Mitchell Avenue, formerly Garrison Street, went down the middle.

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7. CBC Hamilton: St. Catharines Early Black Church in Jeopardy
Samantha Craggs

Harriet Tubman's former church is in dire need of repairs

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is shown in a photograph dating from 1860-75. Tubman was born into slavery, but escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. She lived in Niagara around 1851 to 1861, among other places. Now a church she helped build is in dire need of repair. (Library of Congress/Associated Press) 

A little Niagara church built by Harriet Tubman and other freed slaves is falling down, and desperate volunteers say they need at least six figures to save it.

'I have no doubt she and her brothers participated in building that church.'- Kate Clifford Larson, author of Bound for the Promised Lane: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero

 The Salem Chapel BME (British Methodist Episcopal) church in St. Catharines, Ont., is in the heart of what was once known as "the Coloured Village."

In 1853, freedom seekers and freed slaves who arrived via the Underground Railroad laid the log frame. The church held about 200 people who sang and prayed in its wooden pews. Some of their descendants still attend today.

Now, the awning is held up by wooden posts, said Rochelle Bush, church historian. The rumbling traffic of nearby Geneva Street has shaken the 162-year-old wooden frame.

Salem Chapel

The church hopes to raise $100,000 for emergency repairs by next fall, but needs thousands more to meet Ontario accessibility standards. (Salem Chapel BME)


 The congregation needs to buy cable wire or earthquake straps with turnbuckles to crank the wood tight again, she said. The upper balcony is beginning to break away from the walls.

'We have to keep trying.'- Rochelle Bush

 Beyond that, the 11-member congregation needs thousands more to make the church accessible.

 "The church represents a gateway to freedom for many, many African Americans who fled," Bush said. "It was a hub for abolitionist activity."

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8. Broadway World: Recognition for National Arts Centre Alterations

Diamond Schmitt Architects Receives Jury's Choice Award for Arts Centre Rejuvination

National Arts Centre, Diamond Schmitt Architects

 The expansion of Canada's foremost performing arts centre designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects was recognized for outstanding use of wood in architecture.

 Three new wings have been added to the NAC, constructed of a prefabricated exposed wood structure. Laminated triangular wood coffers of western Canada Douglas fir serve as the finished decorative ceiling. "The use of wood and glass provide a contrast to the original Brutalist building," said Jennifer Mallard, Senor Associate, Diamond Schmitt Architects. "The geometry of the fine detailing in the wood coffers is inspired by the original building and adds a layer of texture to the 1969 structure."

Extensive wood application was added to the 2,100-seat Southam Hall to improve room acoustics. Hardwood flooring and wood seat backs replace heavily upholstered surfaces and the flooring is made of engineered white oak stained to match the dark brown of the original building palette. The reflective wood surfaces have brightened the sound and greatly enhanced the acoustic performance of the hall.

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