TORONTO’s storied main street – Yonge – is presently being overshadowed by high-rise condo towers. There are construction cranes on almost every significant block raising steel behind low-rise Victorian brick structures. But City Hall has come to the rescue, designating Yonge between College and Bloor a Heritage Conservation District.
<PHOTO ABOVE – The remains of a full city block, demolished in February from Alexander Street to Maitland. Fortunately the 1950’s low-rises on this site will probably not be missed.>
<PHOTO ABOVE – the confluence of towers between Grenville and College Streets, with more on the way>
According to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam there are over 30 active development applications along Yonge between Bloor and the waterfront. Small property owners have been selling out to big developers and that could mean runaway high-rise. The heritage designation won’t stop skyscrapers but it will keep them at bay, and help preserve the street’s character.
<PHOTO ABOVE – some good news. This row at St. Joseph Street & Yonge, within the Heritage Conservation District, has been restored by developers, along with several other brick structures behind.>
<PHOTO ABOVE – this row from Cumberland Street to Yorkville Avenue is just outside the conservation district. It’s being preserved by the developers of a new condo – No. 1 Yorkville>
Mark Garner of the Downtown Business Improvement Area told Metro News “residents want the independent coffee shop, butcher shop and chocolatier.” In other words, big box stores will not be replacing these little shops, and the street will keep some of its hodge-podge charm. Well done, City Hall, and not a moment too soon.