Residents devastated after 110-year-old North Toronto building demolished
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 2:37PM EST
Residents in North Toronto are left scratching their heads after a historic bank was abruptly torn down over the weekend, mere days after a demolition permit was issued.
The 110-year-old Bank of Montreal building, which is located a 2444 Yonge Street near Eglinton Avenue, was torn down on Saturday morning.
A demolition permit was issued for the building by the city just three days prior.
The move has caught many living in the community by surprise.
In a statement provided to CTV News Toronto on Monday, the director of the Lytton Park Residents’ Organization said community members are outraged and astonished that the demolition happened so quickly.
“This is a heritage site that needed to be protected and it’s unacceptable that there was no warning about its destruction,” Linda McCarthy, the director of the Lytton Park Residents’ Organization, said in the statement.
McCarthy said the building was one of the remaining “beaux arts architecture examples” in north Toronto.
“Developers have been running amok destroying our city’s precious history with no regard to the communities that live here and future generations,” she said in the statement.
“Yet another piece of North Toronto’s build heritage goes to landfill.”
In July of 2014, a developer submitted an application to the city for a five storey retail complex at the site that would have incorporated part of the existing Bank of Montreal facade into the future building.
A city staff report later indicated that the ground floor of the proposed complex would retain the Bank of Montreal as the building’s main entrance.
Though the BMO building, which was built in 1907, is not listed on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties, the 2014 staff report stated that “heritage staff have taken an interest in protecting portions of the building as it has historical value.”
At that time, the developer also submitted an application for a Heritage Impact Assessment review.
According to McCarthy, the developer recently withdrew that application, prompting the city to close the file.
The property owner then submitted an application for a demolition permit which they were granted on Jan. 18.
McCarthy said by the time she found out about the demolition on Saturday afternoon, half of the building was already gone.
“We’re absolutely furious,” she told CTV News Toronto on Monday. “The residents in the area, the resident associations, everybody is just furious. The city really let us down on this thing.”
Coun. Christin Carmichael Greb, who represents the Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence, said the loss of the building shows a “lack of communication” between city departments.
“Planning could have said, ‘Well, let’s hold off,’” she told CTV News Toronto. “The developer had the right to request it but if we had the time to speak to the developer and explain to them, ‘Well, there was a heritage review on it previously. Let’s stop, let’s take a hold and look at it.”
Nick Chaloux, a Toronto student studying urban planning, called the demolition “upsetting.”
“We don’t have a whole lot of heritage buildings in Toronto and there’s this tendency to want to get rid of them to get something bigger up,” he said.
“It would have been nice to see it more protected from whatever they’re going to put there.”