I want to start by recognizing the hard work of dozens of community advocates from Friends of the Foundry, the West Don Lands Committee, the Corktown Residents and Business Association and a very special thank you to the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association for their dedication and time, and initial court action as we would not be celebrating this victory without them. Their advocacy along with the support of City Council allowed us to halt demolition to save these buildings, and force the Province to this legal settlement.
I am grateful to the thousands of residents who wrote emails, and made phone calls and signed our petition. This victory belongs to all of us and it demonstrates the power of community.
I also want to thank my own staff for supporting me over dozens of emergency meetings, and to City Legal and Planning staff for working so diligently with us to get to this outcome.
While I am pleased that we have reached a positive outcome, it should never have come to legal action. We must not forget that the legal proceeding was only necessary because of the Province’s action of reckless demolition, which was carried without consultation and without adherence to their own heritage policies as outlined in the Standards and Guidelines for Conservation of Provincial Heritage Properties (2010).
So much time, energy and wasted money could have been avoided without the heavy-handed actions by the Province, and I hope this settlement is a lesson for future engagements.
Again, a huge thank you to the individuals who contributed to the legal defence fund, and to local residents including the West Don Lands, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood and Corktown for your community efforts.
Moving forward, I will continue to urge the Province to properly and broadly consult the community on further changes and enhancements to their development. Building great neighbourhoods must include the voices of local residents and community stakeholders. There can be no shortcuts and community priorities must be centred to all key decisions moving forward.
The community and I look forward to an improved working relationship with the Province and even better outcomes in the near future - this is the only way forward together.