LISA RAINFORD|Oct 07, 2010 – 5:45 PM| 0
Neighbourhood heritage preservation a key issue debated in Junction meeting
Junction Residents Association hosts Ward 13 all-candidates debate
Questions on preserving neighbourhood heritage, improving Toronto’s large spaces and accessibility to the local councillor were put to Ward 13 councillor candidates by the Junction Residents Association members at a meeting Wednesday, Oct. 6.
Questions were given to candidates in advance and names were drawn to determine speaking order.
“I’m all for preservation,” said first speaker, candidate Nick Pavlov, in the sanctuary of West Toronto Baptist Church on Dundas Street West at High Park Avenue.
While he said he supports saving the historical significance of the community, Pavlov said a balance between new construction and restoration must be found.
“Development has to be to scale,” he said. “It has to reflect the size of the neighbourhood. We have to consider ‘what is it adding to the neighbourhood.'”
Bill Saundercook said heritage of the Junction is extremely important. He pointed out that already several properties, namely churches, along Annette Street between Quebec Avenue and Keele Street, are protected. He said he has been in talks with the owner of the retail property on Dundas, just east of Pacific Avenue where the replica of the train platform is and has asked him to take into account the surrounding buildings that have been restored to their former glory when he chooses to start construction.
“When it comes to preservation,” said Redmond Weissenberger, “the problem is we don’t notice that a building is historic until it’s about to be demolished. The problem is, the bylaws deal with structure. The building’s owner doesn’t have to bring anyone into the process of design.”
Weissenberger said he would like to work with local architects in order to recognize which buildings need a heritage designation.
“You need to be proactive and not reactive and I think that’s what I’d like to do,” said Weissenberger.
Candidate Sarah Doucette said that as councillor, one must represent the majority of constituents.
“Historical preservation is important in certain areas. The Junction is one of them,” she said. “I know that the Junction Residents Association is working to designate High Park Avenue.”
Doucette said she followed the plight of 244 High Park Ave., whose owners wanted to sever the lot, tear down the house to make room for two new houses.
“I was really pleased to find out the new owner is going to restore it,” she said.
Asked if they thought the city’s large public spaces, such as the waterfront, should be improved, candidates were on the same page on this topic.
“Certainly, our waterfront is extremely important as we move towards the Pan/Am Games in 2015,” said Saundercook.
He credited the new ‘curtain’ at Sunnyside Beach for improving the water quality and making it swimmable.
Weissenberger replied simply, yes.
“The only answer could be yes. We have to look at our existing public spaces,” he said, attacking Saundercook for the “$100,000” gazebo in front of his constituency office. Saundercook later clarified and said the price tag was about $10,000.
Weissenberger wondered why the city doesn’t clean up the goose droppings on the waterfront as well as the syringes he said he has seen floating in the water. He called Bloor West Village’s sidewalks “an embarrassment,” adding that citizens are “breaking their ankles.”
Doucette said the city’s public spaces are a necessity. They are key to keeping communities engaged, she said. She cited 34 Southport St. as an example, where a developer has been meeting with the community to discuss possible plans. “Five years ago, it was a thriving plaza. We had lots of amenities. Since it’s been closed down, people miss going to coffee shops so they could meet their friends. We’re now working to design a new space.”
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