City urged to hurry up with her­itage

Sum­mer­hill, Lea­side and Lawrence Park sin­gled out in re­port

Annex Post - - NEWS -

Some Mid­town res­i­dents are con­cerned by the num­ber of res­i­den­tial tear-downs in their neigh­bour­hoods and ar­gue the city should make sweep­ing her­itage des­ig­na­tion changes a pri­or­ity.

A Toronto Preser­va­tion Board’s rec­om­men­da­tion to hurry up and un­der­take Her­itage Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict Stud­ies for sev­eral ar­eas, in­clud­ing Lawrence Park, as well as cul­tural her­itage re­source as­sess­ment stud­ies for Lea­side and Sum­mer­hill, will soon be con­sid­ered by Toronto City Coun­cil.

Ge­off Ket­tel of the Lea­side Prop­erty Own­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion said re­quests to de­mol­ish homes in Lea­side come up at the com­mit­tee of ad­just­ment ev­ery cou­ple weeks.

“There’s no pro­tec­tion on any of it,” said Ket­tel. “We con­tinue to get mon­ster homes that erode the char­ac­ter of the neigh­bour­hood.”

Ta­mara An­son-Cartwright, pro­gram man­ager for City of Toronto’s Her­itage Preser­va­tion Ser­vices, ex­plained the pur­pose of the her­itage dis­tinc­tion is to put a limit on the types of changes landown­ers in a given area can make to their prop­er­ties.

Sum­mer­hill res­i­dent Su­san Stock, who also be­longs to the Sum­mer­hill Her­itage Group, would like to see such recog­ni­tion for her mid­town com­mu­nity.

“Her­itage preser­va­tion is part of good plan­ning,” said Stock. “What you pre­serve is part of the fab­ric of your city, and so there should be a greater over­view.”

She also sug­gested con­ser­va­tion cre­ates “more liv­able” ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments. She be­moans the loss of im­por­tant build­ings down­town and doesn’t want to see the same fate be­fall Sum­mer­hill.

In Lea­side, Bar­bara Ma­son wel­comed the pos­si­bil­ity of a her­itage dis­trict too.

“It’s about com­mu­nity. It’s not about not in my back­yard or look­ing out for my­self or how do I get the big­gest buck,” she noted.

By­law changes can’t come soon enough for her. Based on how she has seen Lea­side de­velop over the nearly 30 years she has called it home, Ma­son has de­cided to move to Picton, Ont., once her hus­band, a teacher, re­tires in the com­ing years.

“There used to be a vis­ual syn­ergy here,” she said. “You were a left stair­case or a right stair­case [kind of house] — that was kind of the joke,” she added. Now she looks for­ward to mov­ing into the Vic­to­rian home in Prince Ed­ward County that she pur­chased four years ago and cur­rently re­sides in for part of the year.

In Lawrence Park, Kather­ine Armstrong said she’s on the fence about the area be­com­ing a her­itage dis­trict. Pre­vi­ously, some lo­cal res­i­dents had been vo­cally op­posed to the his­toric neigh­bour­hood at­tain­ing her­itage dis­trict sta­tus. Armstrong, who has lived here for four years, sees both sides.

“I’m of two minds. On the one hand, I like the charm of hav­ing older houses in my neigh­bour­hood. I think that pro­vides more scenic, well, charm,” she ex­plained. “And on the flip side, I don’t want the govern­ment to tell me what I can and can­not do to my house.”

An­son-Cartwright said that even within Toronto’s her­itage dis­tricts, there is room for home­own­ers to al­ter their prop­er­ties.

“With dis­tricts, what’s pro­tected is what’s vis­i­ble from the street or from the pub­lic realm,” she said.

For in­te­rior ren­o­va­tions or rearend ad­di­tions, for ex­am­ple, a home­owner would only need the usual pa­per­work and ap­provals, she said. And they may still be able to de­mol­ish a build­ing en­tirely if it were con­sid­ered “non-con­tribut­ing” to the neigh­bour­hood’s her­itage.

“There’s flex­i­bil­ity for those non­her­itage [build­ings], but you are within a dis­trict. I don’t want to say it’s just like any­where else. We only have 26 of them [her­itage dis­tricts] in the city, so it’s some­thing im­por­tant,” said An­sonCartwright.

If ap­proved, the rec­om­men­da­tion would fol­low the list­ing of 258 her­itage build­ings in the Yonge Street and Eglin­ton Av­enue area this past Septem­ber.

“In this case, at Yonge-Eglin­ton, the area hadn’t been thor­oughly sur­veyed be­fore, so that’s why the num­ber was so high,” An­sonCartwright ex­plained.

— Josh Sher­man

I don’t want the govern­ment to tell me what I can and can­not do to my own house.”

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