TORONTO -- The demolition of several heritage buildings in the West Don Lands is continuing today despite widespread community opposition.

Crews began tearing down the old Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company buildings located at 153-185 Eastern Ave on Monday evening, months after the Ford Government issued a ministerial zoning order that allowed it to sidestep the local planning process and go ahead with the development of high-rise residential towers on three provincially owned sites, including 153-185 Eastern Avenue.

City officials have pled with the province to reconsider the demolition of the Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company buildings, which are listed on Toronto’s heritage inventory.

More than 8,000 people have also signed a petition calling on the province to halt the demolition to allow for community input.

“What you see here is an act of vandalism,” Toronto Centre Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam told CP24 on Monday night. “These are assets that belong to the people of Ontario. Doug Ford doesn’t own these buildings, they (the province) hold them in trust and this isn’t what we want them to do.”

Dozens of protesters showed up to the West Don Lands site on Monday when news that demolition had begun first began circulating.

The protesters were then back at the site early Tuesday morning.

“We are for development but the thing is you have to have development with transparency,” one of the protesters, Asif, told CP24. “The Ford government has never consulted a single person here. We have been writing to them since October. (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing) Steve Clark, Doug Ford, their offices have received letters from us since the fall and not a single person has received a response. They have completely frozen us out from the discussion and have brought bulldozers into our community without talking to anyone. That is not how you build a community.”

The city’s Chief Planner Greg Lintern wrote a letter to the Ford government over the weekend noting that conservation of the heritage value of the site should be “fully considered” before demolition takes place.

But in a statement provided to CP24 a spokesperson for Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark said that a heritage impact assessment was conducted on the site and that it determined that it is “not of provincial significance.”

The spokesperson said that alternatives to demolition were considered but it was ultimately determined that those would not be feasible “due in part to the contamination of the property, requiring full remediation.”

“The Foundry site has been in a state of bad repair and largely abandoned for over 40 years,” the statement reads. “The government has determined that the site would be best used to provide affordable housing and new community space.”

The Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company buildings were all constructed between 1917 and 1929 and were added to the city’s heritage inventory in 2004.

They were owned by Canadian Northern Railway and were used to produce rail equipment.