The Junction Heritage Conservation District

19 February 2018
Rosemary MacKenzie
Administrator
Etobicoke York Community Council
Etobicoke Civic Centre
399 The West Mall, main floor
Toronto, ON M9C 2Y2
Re: Intent to Designate 2896 Dundas Street West – EY28.9
Dear Etobicoke York Community Council members,
It is my pleasure to write on behalf of The Junction Heritage Conservation
District (HCD) Board regarding the Intent to Designate 2896 Dundas Street
West.
As a Listed heritage property, since 1995, The Treasury building has many
important attributes. Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) prepared a
comprehensive profile about the history and significance of this property, and it
was recommended for Designation under Part IV of the Heritage Act by the
Toronto Preservation Board. This report is available at:
www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/pb/bgrd/backgroundfile109842.pdf
On 16 January 2018 a decision to support the Designation by the Etobicoke
York Community Council (EYCC) was expected, based on an endorsement by
the property co-owners, but the outcome was a deferral to the 21 February
2018 meeting. Incidentally, this deferral did not negate the impeccable quality
or the heritage value of the historic building, and the requested variances were
approved by the Etobicoke York Committee of Adjustment on 25 January
2018. We trust the designation of The Treasury can now proceed without
further delays.
This property is also within The Junction heritage conservation district (HCD),
a nomination that was approved by two Community Councils in 2014, and a
Phase One Study Area was recently approved.
On 13 May 2014 Etobicoke York Community Council nominated several areas,
including the Junction Area, for consideration as Heritage Conservation
Districts. Community Council directed Planning staff to review the
nominations against the criteria for the determination of cultural heritage value
and bring forward study authorization reports and consider for prioritization those areas that meet the criteria. The decision is available at:
app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.EY33.39
It was concurrently approved by the Toronto & East York Community Council on 13 May 2014.
The decision is available at:
app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.TE32.87
On 15 January 2018 the Planning & Growth Management (P&GM) Committee endorsed a
recommendation from the Toronto Preservation Board for a Phase One heritage study in The
Junction HCD. At the 31 January 2018 meeting City Council officially approved The Junction HCD
Phase One Study. The HPS report and decision are available at:
app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2018.PG25.4
A map of The Junction HCD and Phase One Study area within the former West Toronto city
boundaries is attached.
The Junction HCD is intended to be a microcosm of the former West Toronto city that
amalgamated with the city of Toronto in 1909. Our vision is to conserve the core of that former
city, which includes all aspects of society with industrial, commercial and public buildings, and
residential properties from the mansions of the gentry (on High Park Avenue) to the houses of
professionals and merchants (who lived on St. John’s Road and other neighbourhood streets) and
homes of the working class (rail and factory labourers, et al).
To achieve that vision, The Junction HCD (former Committee and current Board) has been
consistent in its analysis of every redevelopment project within its proposed boundaries, and
specifically to adherence of the mid-rise performance standards on our contiguous collection of
authentic, fine-grain, heritage and chorus main street buildings.
Our main street ‘Avenue’ is a twenty-metre road width in a designated Character Area; therefore the
applicable maximum height is 0.8 of the right-of-way road width, or sixteen-metres (and not one
millimetre more) of total height. P&GM concluded their consideration of this matter on 11 May
2016; a process that began in 2015 with a review of the mid-rise performance standards, which
revealed several unintended consequences created by this built form on the smallest, twenty-metre
‘Avenue’ width. Council approved this and other essential changes to the mid-rise performance
standards on 7 June 2016.
Another critical performance standard is the set of step-backs. While we preferred the proposed
five-metre front step-back to minimise the visual impact of the additional height of two floors, we
are comfortable with the negotiated agreement between HPS and The Treasury co-owner applicants
of a four-metre step-back for the front elevation.
3
Moreover, to ensure the contribution of every existing, Moreover, to ensure the contribution of every existing, renovated and new building to complement
and enhance the predominant architectural heritage character of the Junction streetscapes, the
choice of design and materials is paramount to The Junction HCD and the community we serve.
We unequivocally concur with the conditional recommendation by HPS to continue dialogue with
the co-owner applicants during the site-plan process “prior to the issuance of a building permit.”
For more than 100 years the Junction’s heritage architecture was conserved and remained intact,
until recently, when the hyper-intensification virus unleased in Toronto has spread to infect our
historic Junction neighbourhood and now threatens the existence of our HCD. Our expectation of
sensible, “moderate” and respectful, “context sensitive” intensification has been proven to be false,
due to the implementation failure of the mid-rise performance standards, which is an ongoing
impediment to our success.
Despite a seemingly bleak future for The Junction HCD, we are fortunate to have many heritage
properties ‘Listed’ and some that are ‘Designated’ on the Heritage Register. A list is attached for
your reference; it includes eight (or perhaps nine, if The Treasury is approved) Designated and 39
Listed properties. There are also two pending nomination additions to the Register, and The
Junction HCD is preparing at least 25 more property nominations, but the procedure is unclear.
We share the concern of EYCC about the timing of these requests to designate properties, and
concur that it should be a transparent process that is not commingled with an active development
application, but that would require a pro-active approach.
Currently, the Heritage Register process operates solely based on a reactive, crisis management
approach with demolition risk as the impetus for action. Perhaps when this defective process is
changed, the Intent to Designate and the adding of new properties to the Heritage Register could be
advanced with less controversy in a more transparent and timely manner. We would appreciate your
help to resolve this procedural issue.
However the issue is more complex, because the “intangible” chorus of the streetscape is what
matters. It’s not just about saving a few special “tangible” buildings; the surrounding context also
has meaning and a special building has important connections to its setting. The heritage value is
highest when both the special building and its authentic setting are retained. Heritage properties
cannot exist in isolation; they need the chorus of old buildings to highlight and provide the context
for the soloists. Yet, protection of the chorus can only be accomplished within an HCD.
An excerpt from the Official Plan, Section 3.1.5, affirms this concept:

Our cultural heritage includes both the tangible and intangible values and attributes of the
distinct towns, villages, and cities that have come together to create the Toronto we know
today.
4
Cultural Heritage is an important component of sustainable development and place making. The
preservation of our cultural heritage is essential to the character of this urban and liveable city
that can contribute to other social cultural, economic and environmental goals of the City.
Conservation of cultural heritage resources not only enriches our lives, it is an important shared
responsibility and a prominent civic legacy that we must leave for future generations.
1

The charm and intrinsic value of the Junction’s main street is its contiguous collection of smaller,
mixed-vintage buildings.
A Preservation Green Lab report provides the most complete empirical validation to date of
Jacobs’ long-respected, but largely untested hypothesis: That neighborhoods containing a mix of
older, smaller buildings of diverse age support greater levels of positive economic and social
activity than areas dominated by newer, larger buildings. These findings support the idea that
retaining blocks of older, smaller, mixed-vintage buildings can help cities achieve sustainable
development goals and foster great neighborhoods.2
The Junction is already a great neighbourhood; if only we can retain our blocks of older, smaller
mixed-vintage buildings long enough to create a heritage district, then it can continue to be a great
neighbourhood in perpetuity for future generations to enjoy.
Meanwhile, the value and contribution of The Treasury to the Junction streetscape and as a heritage
asset is undeniable.
We knew that HPS and Planning staff, TPB and our preservation panel (EY and T&EY) members,
we (The Junction HCD) and our community supporters agreed with the Intent to Designate.
At the EYCC meeting on 16 January 2018, we learned that the co-owners agreed and were surprised
that it wasn’t already designated when they purchased it. As experienced heritage property owners
they also expected it to be designated.
We trust that EYCC members will also agree to designate The Treasury building, and will help to
ensure Council approval on 26 March 2018.

1
Toronto City Planning, (22 June 2015), Official Plan, pages 67-68. Retrieved on 27 July 2016 from
www1.toronto.ca/planning/chapters1-5.pdf#page=13.
2
National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, (May 2014), Older, Smaller,
Better: Measuring how the character of buildings and blocks influences urban vitality, page 9. Originally retrieved on 5
October 2015 from www.preservationnation.org/information-center/sustainable-communities/greenlab/oldersmallerbetter/report/NTHP_PGL_OlderSmallerBetter_ReportOnly.pdf.
The report location was
subsequently moved to forum.savingplaces.org/act/pgl/older-smaller-better

Thank you in advance for all your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
Tina Leslie
President, The Junction HCD

Leave a Comment

Let us know your thoughts on this post but remember to place nicely folks!