Sun Oil Company building in the Port Lands given heritage status by Toronto Council

The former Sun Oil Company building at 29 Basin St. has officially received Heritage designation by Toronto Council. The building will be part of the proposed Basin Media Hub in the Port Lands.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Toronto-Danforth is making more strides towards preserving some of the area’s historic elements after City Council officially designated the property at 29 Basin St. in the as a heritage building.

The Sun Oil Company received heritage status from the city last month following an acknowledgment of the building’s cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Located on the north side of the Port Lands’ Ship Channel (east of Bouchette Street and west of the Turning Basin), the property currently hosts the CreateTO offices.

The City of Toronto does, however, plan on redeveloping the buildings at 29, 35, 41 and 75 Basin St. which would make the newly designated heritage building a part of the Port Lands’ proposed $250 million film and television studio campus – the Basin Media Hub.

This rendering from CreateTO shows a view of the proposed Basin Media Hub from the lake.

According to CreateTO, the site will include eight sound stages, office space, workshops and production support space. There will also be a public space along the waterfront.

With construction for the Basin Media Hub expected to be quite extensive, council’s recent ruling ensures that the Sun Oil Company building, which has been standing since 1931, retains its heritage aesthetic.

A July 23 Designation Letter confirmed that the building will experience “no significant alterations” apart from “the removal of the later rear addition which dates to the 1990s”.

Upon completion of construction, the film studio operations will include $280 million in economic activity, an expected $119 million in net contribution to GDP, as well as $32 million in tax revenues across all levels of government, according to CreateTO.

With potential heritage buildings being required to meet at least two out of nine criteria set by the Heritage Act, council’s decision was expected considering 29 Basin St. met four of the criteria in relation to its design, physical, historical, associative, and contextual value.

“29 Basin Street has cultural heritage value as an early twentieth-century factory / warehouse type building with Classical Revival design elements,” read the July 23 Designation Letter.

One physical attribute of the building which contributed to its heritage status approval is the cast stone capped piers and horizontal bands with red brick infill which gives it a classical revival appearance. This architectural style is further emphasized by the central entryway’s brick parapet with central gable which is capped with terra-cotta coping.

The Sun Oil Company building was designed by T.H. Mothershill and Company in 1931. Utilized as an oil refinery and storage facility, the building was a staple during the first major development phase in the area between 1912 and 1945.

— 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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