(2023, April 4). MAYOR’S RACE: Eyes on the ball, not just the prize. Spacing.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of about 150 people of all ages gathered at 145 St. George, an 11-storey 1960s-vintage apartment building immediately north of the subway station. Their goal: to protest the proposed demolition of this and several other mid- or high-rise rental buildings that sit on land deemed sufficiently valuable that developers can take them down and replace them with much larger ones, and still make a profit.

The tenants’ associations in three of these buildings have found each other. There’s now a Twitter account and outreach to some local politicians, including mayoral candidate Chloe Brown, and the inevitable sign-up sheets. It will be interesting to see if this network grows, makes common cause with other increasingly dispossessed tenants’ groups, and gathers some political momentum. I suspect it will. And it should.

Several of the demolition projects now in the pipeline promise to replace all the demolished rental units and provide the tenants with some funds to make other arrangements, as well as right of first refusal once the new building is complete. But in this market, these measures (which are no longer mandatory) fail on a human level.

(2022, October 30). A brief history of early apartment buildings in Toronto. BlogTO.

The emergence of purpose-built apartment buildings within Toronto was due to both their development and proliferation in other North American cities, as well as due to a rapid increase in the population of Toronto within the first decades of the 20th century that outpaced the availability of single-family dwellings.

Bylaw 6061 was altered in 1941 on the advice of the City Solicitor who considered it “was illegal for the Council to authorize violations of residential bylaws by passing amending by-laws, if such action was taken for the benefit of private individuals, and not in the general public interest.”

Dennis (1989) further discerns that post-1941 the practice continued but “whole blocks or streets, rather than individual lots, were specified whenever an exemption was made.”

(2022, Spring). Preservation for sustainability: Can conserving Mid-century Modern apartment neighbourhoods help cities meet emissions targets? ACORN, 18-20.

Take, for example, the 12-storey edifice at 145 St. George Street. Many of the current tenants have called this building home for decades – several of them for more than 40 years. But their obvious affection for the building and sense of security has been challenged recently by a proposal to demolish the structure and replace it with a 29-storey residential tower, comprising almost entirely of individually owned condominiums.

There is no question that such displacement is deplorable, notwithstanding legal strictures that allow the current residents some rights of return. But there is an equally compelling objection to such demolition that faces existing buildings in Apartment neighbourhoods- not only on St. George Street but across the city. The issue is one of sustainability – a concern that has increasing resonance as governments around the globe wrestle with solutions to climate change.

That brings us back to 145 St. George Street and similar residential mid-rise buildings that are currently threatened with replacement. The demolition of 145 St. George – a building of substance though it could admittedly benefit from proactive maintenance – flies in the face of environmental sustainability.