Old stomp­ing grounds

Toronto shouldn’t use her­itage plan­ning as a way to fight against change

Midtown Post - - News -

One ex­am­ple of a true her­itage house is the Snider House at 744 Du­plex Ave. The house, built in 1820, was orig­i­nally owned by Martin Snider and is one of the old­est in the city.

The cur­rent house sits on the re­main­ing par­cel of the orig­i­nal 170 acres of fields that ex­tended from Yonge to Bathurst. Martin Snider was a United Em­pire Loy­al­ist who fled from Amer­ica to York af­ter be­ing charged with trea­son. There is a par­kette on Yonge Street bearing the Snider name.

Pre­serv­ing our his­tory in or­der to un­der­stand what makes our city great is as im­por­tant as pro­tect­ing the her­itage of build­ings. Neigh­bour­hoods tell the sto­ries about how the city evolved, and that is why neigh­bour­hoods are the strength of the city.

Al­though it is un­der­stand­able that res­i­dents want to keep neigh­bour­hoods in­tact from the change that is oc­cur­ring through­out the city, it should not be done through her­itage pro­tec­tion. There are other ways to share this his­tory.

If the city’s plan­ning staff and a few se­lect coun­cil­lors spent as much time de­bat­ing how to pre­serve our her­itage and his­tory as they do de­bat­ing the Scar­bor­ough sub­way, per­haps one is­sue fac­ing res­i­dents in the city might ac­tu­ally get re­solved.

Ac­cord­ing to City of Toronto her­itage plan­ning staff, the num­ber of po­ten­tial her­itage prop­er­ties has grown from 3,000 in 2001 to 11,000 in 2017. Not only are in­di­vid­ual list­ings of prop­er­ties on the rise, but there is an in­creased move­ment to des­ig­nate en­tire neigh­bour­hoods as her­itage dis­tricts in need of pro­tec­tion.

The lat­est district under re­view is Sun­shine Val­ley in East York. The post-war homes built on large lots are ripe to be­come the lat­est ca­su­alty of in­fill hous­ing that has plagued Mid­town and Lea­side. Neigh­bour­hoods in the city such as parts of the An­nex and Cab­bage­town have also been named Her­itage Con­ser­va­tion Dis­tricts with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing range re­stric­tions.

Al­though lo­cal coun­cil­lors raise a fuss when a build­ing gets de­mol­ished or the com­mu­nity gets up­set about the pace of change in the neigh­bour­hood, little was be­ing done to ac­tu­ally re­solve the is­sue of how her­itage and his­tory should be pre­served.

Pro­tect­ing the her­itage of the city in­volves pre­serv­ing as­pects of the city that are nos­tal­gic and tell the story of the great Toron­to­ni­ans who lived there and had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the city. It’s not the way to fend off a condominium.

Toronto’s his­toric Snider House

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

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