Thursday, February 2, 2017

History of the Town of Mimico

The Town of Mimico began as a Police Village in 1905 when it requested, and was granted powers that enabled it to gain some independance from the more rural Township of Etobicoke.  Under the terms of the bylaw passed by York County Council on January 27, 1905, Mimico was able to elect three trustees who were empowered to set local taxes in support of local services.  By 1910 Mimico had a population of almost 800 and the citizens petitioned York County Council requesting that Mimico become a fully independent Village.  The request was granted and Mimico became an independant Village on January 1, 1911.  It was now completely independent and able to elect its own political representatives and manage its own affairs.  The community continued to grow and in May 1917 the province of Ontario made Mimico a Town.  It would remain an independent municipality until 1967 when it was forced to amalgamate with Borough of Etobicoke.  In 1997 it became part of the City of Toronto. 

The boundaries of the Town were as follows:   a line running north from Lake Ontario up Dwight Avenue, over the railway tracks and along St. George Street up to Evans Avenue on the west; easterly along Evans Avenue to Church Street (present day Royal York Road) then along Algoma Street to Grand Avenue then north one block and along Manitoba Street on the north; Mimico Creek at the north east corner then westerly along the railway track to a line extending south to the end of Victoria Avenue (which was originally a short distance east of Louisa Street), across the Lake Shore Road to Lake Ontario on the east; and, Lake Ontario on the south.

There are two published histories of the Town of Mimico already known.  The first was The Story of Mimico:  Home of the Wild Pigeon, written by Edwin Eland and published in 1935.   The second was The Mimico Story,written by Harvey Currell and published by the Mimico Library Board in 1967.  I hope to provide interesting supplementary material to these two original publications. 

Do you have any photos or documents on the history of Mimico? Are you interested in keeping up to date on heritage issues in Mimico by being added to the heritage email list?  If so please contact me at mimicohistory at hotmail.com. 

All information and photographs on this site are copyrighted and may not be used without my permission unless otherwise noted.   © Copyright Michael Harrison 2011.  All rights reserved. (originally posted January 12, 2011)

Mimico - Judson Regeneration Areas Study - Heritage Buildings Demolished

I have struggled to write a posting for this as it was such a disaster for built heritage.

So lets start from the beginning.  In December of 2013 Toronto City Council adopted an official plan amendment proposing to redesignate the lands near the Mimico GO Station and a portion of lands to the west of Royal York Road as "Regeneration Areas".

Council directed staff to begin a study of the Mimico-Judson Regeneration Area to provide for a plan for its revitalization.

As part of the planning process I identified two properties that I felt warranted further study for their heritage potential.  In the end both would be demolished.

I identified the buildings at 49 and 53 Judson Street (Dominion Abrasive Wheel Grinding Company Complex) and 1 Audley Street (Mitchell and Dorst Building - though best known as the Schindler Company of Canada Building).  

As part of their work the city's consultants, as well as city staff, concurred and identified both historical industrial properties as being "character" buildings potentially worthy of protection and preservation in their planning documents. 

Despite this the owner/developer of 49 and 53 Judson Street (Dunpar Homes) applied for and was granted a demolition permit on December 11, 2015.  The buildings were demolished in early 2016.  How did this happen?   Well, unlike residential buildings, demolition permits for commercial/industrial buildings are dealt with administratively by city staff and do not require approval from Community Councils.  When reviewing applications for demolition city staff check the heritage registry to see if the building is listed or designated.  Since the buildings on Judson had not yet been investigated for heritage potential (though there was a clear planning intent that the city would) they were not on the heritage registry and so there was no impediment to city staff in issuing the demolition permit.   The permit was issued and the owner demolished the buildings.

Shockingly the same thing happened for the Mitchell and Dorst Building at 1 Audley Street.  Again, despite the clear planning intent in all of the documents related to planning for this area, Freed Developments purchased the property in the summer of 2016, and then applied for a demolition permit.  Since the same circumstances were in place city staff had no option but to issue the demolition permit and did so on September 12, 2016.  Heritage staff at the city of Toronto this time were alerted and prioritized research on the property and made plans to bring a report forward to the next Toronto Preservation Board meeting scheduled for September 28, 2016.   However, it was too late.  With their demolition permit in hand Freed began demolition on the day of the meeting.  The Toronto Preservation Board adopted the report but by then there was nothing left to preserve.  

The lesson from all this?  When it comes to potential heritage resources identified in secondary plans and other planning documents in this city, especially if the buildings are not residential, it is critical that they be put on the city's heritage inventory as "listed" buildings as soon as possible in order to safeguard any issuance of demolition permits and give city staff time to assess the building to determine if it merits designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.