By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Toronto City Council has passed a bylaw which officially gives the church building at 415 Broadview Ave. heritage status.
Council concluded that St. John’s Presbyterian Church is worthy of designation under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act for its cultural heritage value, and that it meets provincial criteria required under all three categories of design, associative and contextual value.
The property was registered as a heritage building and received Notice of Intention to Designate the Property last November after councillors voted 25-0 in favour of the motion. The City Clerk did not receive any objections which left Council a clear path to final approval of the heritage designation.
It is currently unclear how this designation will affect the ongoing Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) procedure in which developer, LCH Developments, is looking to get approval for a proposed 10-storey addition to the existing church.
Although the designation may not prevent the 60 new residential units from being built, it does serve to ensure that the developers maintain the heritage aesthetic of the building in the case that the OLT green lights the project.
According to the City of Toronto, St. John’s Presbyterian Church’s heritage design value is a “representative example of an ecclesiastical building that displays a high degree of craftsmanship”.
The church is built in a Neo-Gothic style which was popular in the 19th century. After architects began moving towards more simplified architectural designs, Neo-Gothic architecture were more often than not used only for religious establishments and educational buildings.
“With its monochromatic surfaces, overall balance, and less ostentatious medieval details including sparse religious symbolism, the style differs from the more elaborate Gothic Revival designs of the previous century,” said the City of Toronto report about St. John’s Presbyterian Church and its design elements.
Adding to the value is the location of the building which can be viewed from Broadview Avenue, Gerrard Street East, and the adjoining residential neighbourhood, said the City of Toronto.
St. John’s Presbyterian Church has been a landmark on the northeast corner of Broadview Avenue and Simpson Avenue (just steps north of Gerrard Street East) for about 115 years.
For this reason, many residents have voiced concerns about attaching 10 levels of condominium apartments to it.
The developers, who say they have the support of the church’s congregation, have expressed plans to maintain the building’s heritage façade. However, some critics of the proposal have said that it does not blend the heritage look of the church on ground level with the new condos that would rise above and through it.
LCH’s proposal was moved to the Ontario Land Tribunal after City of Toronto staff declined the approval in its current form, stating that the heritage conservation strategies “do not comply with the Official Plan or respond appropriately to the existing and planned context”.
The City of Toronto also took issue with the building’s proposed size as well as a lack of affordable units in the development application.
For more information on the proposal for 415 Broadview Avenue, please go to the City of Toronto’s Application Information Centre at https://secure.toronto.ca/AIC/index.do and type in the address for the property.
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.
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