Stintz on Midtown: The city has to figure out a better way to protect built heritage, and fast


Published:

Historic Postal Station K was the location of Montgomery’s Tavern, gathering place of William Lyon Mackenzie’s rebels

It is breathtaking how much Toronto has changed over the last 30 years. Many areas of the city are under redevelopment and breathing new life into neighbourhoods. However, as old buildings are demolished to make way for new growth there is a nostalgia for the city’s history and a worry that our past is not being adequately protected.

A recent example is the demolition of the historic Bank of Montreal building at Roselawn and Yonge. Without involving the community, the developer got a permit and razed the building. As expected, there was upset and finger pointing.

The community pointed to the politicians who pointed to the city planners who pointed to those in the building department and those in the building department simply shrugged because they were just doing their job.

The cycle won’t change until someone who works for the city starts to make our heritage a priority. It won’t be an easy job. Protecting heritage buildings is challenging because there are no clear rules that determine when a building actually has heritage value. 

Residents also do not help their own cause when their interest in protecting historic buildings is mixed together with a desire to slow the pace of change. 

Then there are the misplaced efforts to highlight Toronto’s history by designating buildings as heritage when they are simply offices where innovation took flight.

One example was the spirited debate over whether or not the Bata building on Wynford Drive should be demolished to permit the construction of the Aga Khan Museum. At the conclusion of the debate, there was no question that a fascinating part of the city’s history occurred in that office building, but that didn’t make the building a heritage site. The same can be argued for Stollerys at Yonge and Bloor.

However, sometimes it is obvious that a building should be protected and those buildings don’t need to be designated for developers to respect the heritage value of the building.  

The retention of the exterior of Postal Station K at Yonge and Montgomery is a great example of an enlightened developer working with the city and the community to redevelop and preserve the heritage of a site. 

The city needs to be thoughtful about what should be protected and what important stories should be told to the residents of Toronto, not just about the buildings, but also about the people that worked, lived or played in those buildings.  

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Karen Stintz is a former city councillor, elected in 2003, and was chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her husband and two kids.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Seven guitar makers to honour Group of Seven

Seven guitar makers to honour Group of Seven

Seven of the top guitar makers in Canada have each made a masterwork guitar paying homage to one of the members of Canada's most famous artist collectives – the Group of Seven. The artists’ work is part of the Group of Seven Guitar Project, a new art exhibition, commissioned by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in Kleinburg, Ont., set to open to the public on May 6.
Posted 2 days ago
Dr. Jess on Sex: Toronto researcher tackles the “Are you getting enough?” question

Dr. Jess on Sex: Toronto researcher tackles the “Are you getting enough?” question

Studies suggest that couples who have sex more frequently are happier, but Amy Muise (PhD), now an assistant professor at York University, and her team found that this associated happiness maxes out at once per week. Muise explains that weekly sex seems to be enough to maintain the connection, and the happiness boost is really about prioritizing intimacy and sex — not about keeping score.
Posted 2 days ago
Thornhill School review on hold

Thornhill School review on hold

Parents at Stornoway Crescent Public School (SCPS) welcomed the York Regional District School Board’s (YRDSB) decision to put the review of possible closure of their children’s school on hold.
Posted 2 days ago
Mirvish announces Broadway musical smash hit Hamilton finally coming to Toronto...eventually

Mirvish announces Broadway musical smash hit Hamilton finally coming to Toronto...eventually

Although jumping the gun substantially on the announcement of its 2019-20 season, Mirvish just couldn't contain the glee and had to share that it had finally landed the Hamilton touring production as part of that season.
Posted 2 days ago
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module