The term “weaponized Jesus” comes from an article I read on politicsusa.com, from November 2013, titled “The Religious Right With Their Weaponized Jesus Are Not Christians.” It’s worth a read, if you enjoy the political-religious debate. I eventually traced the phrase back to a 2010 story in Mother Jones. It’s a good description of the way […]
Toronto is world’s best city to live in, Economist study says; New mayor, same old quarrels between Toronto and Ontario; Majority of Torontonians think the TDSB is doing a poor job of running schools; and more news…
Near-empty schools? Often, it depends on how you count (Toronto Star)
Toronto is world’s best city to live in, Economist study says (Globe and Mail)
Brampton mayor wants staff salaries reviewed (Toronto Star)
New mayor, same old quarrels between Toronto and Ontario (Globe and Mail)
Title: Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture Author: Andrea R. Jain…
There are thousands of buildings in Toronto that are listed under the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties. These properties have been given a status by the City that aims to prevent their demolition, signifying their cultural heritage value. Yet, on several occasions in recent memory, potentially valuable heritage structures in Toronto have ended their storied histories in rubble. The loss of Walnut Hall, the former Empress Hotel at Yonge and Gould and most recently, the Stollerys building, have raised questions about what more could or should have been done to protect these structures.
Municipalities in Ontario have the ability, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, to designate buildings they deem are of “cultural heritage value or interest.” The property must meet one or more of the prescribed criteria related to the building’s physical, historical and contextual value. The Toronto Preservation Board is assisted by Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) in deciding which buildings are worthy of protection. If staff recommends that a building be included in the inventory, it is put to a vote at City Council.
Buildings on the Inventory are either “listed” or “designated”. A listed property is one which the City has merely adopted a recommendation that the property be included on the Inventory. It signals the City’s intention to see the building preserved. Though the listing does not give the property any legal protection, the property owner must notify the City within 60 days of their intention to demolish the structure. This notification is meant to give the City time to “designate” the structure if they wish. A designation means that demolition or alteration of the heritage attributes of the building would need the approval of Council. A property owner who wishes to demolish or make alterations to their building can legally be refused a demolition permit by Council, though the owner retains the right to appeal.
In recent years, efforts have been undertaken by the City to designate buildings on a much larger scale, helping to mitigate the threat of development. This is done under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act, which allows Council to designate entire neighbourhoods through the implementation of a Heritage Conservation District (HCD). Every property within a HCD then becomes protected, requiring heritage permits approved by Council in order to alter or demolish the building’s exterior. Each HCD is accompanied by a District Plan which outlines the heritage and cultural value of the area, the objectives the HCD is meant to achieve, and any prescribed minor exterior alterations that would not require heritage permits.
Designated properties undergoing conservation work may be eligible to receive financial assistance through the Toronto Heritage Grant Program. Preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration activities are eligible under the program, which grants funds of up to $10,000 or 50% of the eligible heritage conservation work cost.
The Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program also assists designated property owners by offering a rebate of up to 40% on their municipal and educational property taxes. A Heritage Easement Agreement (HEA) must be in place for properties to be eligible. The HEA is a voluntary agreement between the City and the property owner which legally commits the owner to conserve the heritage features of a building and perform any required maintenance over time.
Though the financial assistance provides some relief to property owners, some heritage buildings fall into disrepair. Other potential heritage buildings not designated or even listed in the Inventory suffer a more final fate in the form of demolition. In cases where a potentially significant property is not included on the Inventory and a demolition permit is forthcoming, the City has limited options to protect the building.
Commercial buildings do not have the same level of protection against demolition that residential buildings do. Under Section 33 of the Planning Act, municipalities have the power to prevent the demolition of residential buildings if no replacement building permit has been issued. “For commercial buildings, the only circumstance where there is demolition control is if it’s designated a heritage building,” Ann Borooah, Executive Director and Chief Building Official for Toronto Building told us. “If something is allowed as-of-right and doesn’t need more municipal approvals, we’re obligated to issue a demolition permit.” In addition, the Building Code states that municipalities must review the permit application within a specified timeframe so long as it meets the defined criteria. “Once all the requirements have been met, there’s an obligation to issue,” said Borooah.
In cases where an application has been submitted to demolish a building not currently designated, the City can signal its “intention to designate” which would void any demolition or alteration permits in the system. Anyone, including the property owner, can object to the intention to designate within 30 days, after which a hearing will be held if any such objections are filed. Though the intention to designate voids any active permits, it first requires proper study and approval by the Toronto Preservation Board and City Council. “You have to research, you have to document, you have to understand architectural history and the history of the site,” Mary MacDonald, Acting Manager of Heritage Preservation Services told us. “You need to put all that together and evaluate it in order for it to be a designation which will withstand an appeal. The primary goal is to make sure that your designation is sound, that it’s based on existing criteria, and that it’s defensible.”
In the case of Stollerys, the partial demolition of which has caused some controversy, local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam initiated an evaluation looking into the possible designation of the property. The demolition permit application had been submitted to the City prior to this initiation and, as per law, was granted within the allotted timeframe. Wong-Tam has stated that she would like demolition control to be extended to commercial buildings in addition to residential, in order to prevent lots from being vacant for extended periods of time, which would require an amendment to provincial legislation.
In order for the City to signal its intention to designate, thus stopping demolition, Heritage Preservation Services would have to determine first whether the property is worthy of designation and if so, refer it to City Council for approval. “The next Council meeting was February 10 so in terms of the actual possibility, if we stayed up all night, did the research, went to the archives and got a report together that was sound and we felt confident in our professional judgment, and we were able to get an emergency meeting at the Toronto Preservation Board within 24 hours, we still don’t have a Council meeting to get to,” said MacDonald. MacDonald acknowledged that while a special meeting can be called to prevent demolition in emergency cases, it is rare and would require a “full-sitting Council”. “Sometimes in these circumstances, it does place you at a disadvantage in terms of time for dealing with emergencies,” she said.
In rare cases, the province can step in and protect buildings against impending demolition. Section 35.2 of the Ontario Heritage Act allows the province to issue a stop order to prevent demolition, but it may only be used on property of “provincial significance”. “It’s only been done twice to my knowledge since the stop order provision has been in existence: 7 Austin Terrace and the Lister Block in Hamilton,” said MacDonald. “But that’s a pretty big hammer and they have to be fully able and willing to see the provincial significance of something, and even then it’s complicated. It’s an extraordinary measure.”
Although not every potential heritage property can be saved from the wrecking ball, Heritage Preservation Services is expanding its scope to focus more on Heritage Conservation Districts, which would help protect the specific features key to a particular neighbourhood’s urban fabric. “We have lots of buildings in the city that should be on the Inventory and the work is never complete,” said MacDonald. “You’re always adding to it because you’re discovering new things, time marches on and what we think of as valuable goes with time.” Heritage Preservation Services is also studying the inclusion on the Inventory of buildings from a variety of architectural eras. “We’re looking at 60’s and 70’s architecture now and seeing the value of it from a heritage perspective. It’s not just the Victorian brick.”
While development pressure can lead to a heritage designation for a specific property, the City constantly undertakes surveys to ensure the Inventory is accurate and as comprehensive as possible. With Toronto undergoing a dramatic transformation that shows no signs of letting up, the architectural and cultural role our heritage buildings play in contributing to the evolving cityscape will only become more significant.
Massive $500M facility for new TTC streetcars might sit nearly empty when it opens; TTC chair, CEO at odds over option on new streetcars; One in five Toronto schools targets for possible closing; and more news…
TTC chair, CEO at odds over option on new streetcars (Globe and Mail)
One in five Toronto schools targets for possible closing (Globe and Mail)
UrbanWhile there are a few details still to be applied to its exterior, the new PATH network bridge joining the Toronto Delta Hotel and Southcore Financial Centre up with the SkyWalk is otherwise complete, and has now been open for the best part of thi…
Torontonians split on fourth Scarborough subway stop; Auditor issues financial storm warning for Brampton; Apartment dwellers endure days without heat; and more news…
Apartment dwellers endure days without heat (Toronto Star)
Toronto, let the skaters skate on Grenadier Pond (Globe and Mail)
Auditor issues financial storm warning for Brampton (Globe and Mail)
Not too late to really talk transit in Scarborough: Keenan (Toronto Star)
Includes exclusive photos of the “Wall of Love”…
James Delingpole and Milo Yiannopoulos – Part I:
JAMES: “Rape Culture” … If you want to know what “Rape Culture” really looks like, just pay a visit to Islamic-State-held territory in Iraq and Syria.
… Now compare and contrast with the confected, faux grievances of the West’s oppressed female Social Justice Warriors, as they battle against such appalling injustices as: their insufficient representation on bank notes … not having been given as many Nobel-prizes as men have …
MILO: “GameGate” … Gamers are the only fandom ever to mount a sustained revolt against social justice warriors riding in to “save” their hobby from “misogyny” and other invented offences.
… GamerGate, indirectly, had a huge effect on feminism in the popular imagination this year, because it showed third-wave feminism up for what it is: a hateful, bullying, authoritarian creed of funless cultural Marxism. …
JAMES: “Torture” … can you not see something effete, decadent and self-defeating in our enthusiasm first for washing our dirty linen in public (as the Democrat Senate report was so eager to do)…
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Theodore Dalrymple:
Anthony (A.M.) Daniels (born 11 October 1949), who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple, is an English writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist. He worked in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries as well as in the east end of London. Before his retirement in 2005, he worked in City Hospital, Birmingham and Winson Green Prison in inner-city Birmingham, England. …
… The doctor’s oeuvre takes pessimism about human nature to a new level. Yet its tone is never patronising, shrill or hectoring. Once you get past the initial shock of reading about battered wives, petty crooks and junkies from a non-Left perspective, you find humanity and pathos.
… It’s striking that many of those who are the most relentlessly upbeat about the perfectibility of man … are in person sour and humourless. Theodore Dalrymple, by contrast, is gloomy in theory, but sunny in practice. Perhaps conservatism is the secret of inner peace.
Toronto-area book lovers are looking forward to a new and exciting event this weekend. INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is Canada’s book exposition for all things print and digital, launching this weekend, November 13 to 16, 2014. From literature to […]
Dear Readers: Once again, ya saw it here first! After a great amount of trouble and expense, the Perspective Naked News staff , a branch of the Perspective Research Department, has managed to obtain this clip of Jian Ghomeshi on a recent date with one of the women now accusing him of assault. As you […]