Heritage Decision for 698 Spadina

10 Editions Bookstore; photo by C. Levett, Varsity, 6 Feb. 2014On Jan. 26, 2017, the Ten Editions Bookstore building at the corner of Sussex and Spadina received unanimous approval for heritage designation from the Toronto Heritage Preservation Board (HPB). This designation will be considered next by Toronto and East York Community Council, then City Council. (For an account of the planning process so far and HVRA’s participation in it, see our webpage Proposal for Spadina-Sussex residence.)

The decision will affect the application by the University of Toronto and Daniels Corporation for a re-zoning to build a 23-storey, 549-bed residence for mostly first-year students, a plan that would require the demolition of the Bookstore building. A consultant’s report prepared for the University as part of its re-zoning application had declared that the building lacked heritage value. City staff did not agree.

The City’s Heritage report (available online) sets out a full history and analysis of the building, with evocative photos from the 1940s onward. Designation is the highest form of protection and would impact the University’s plans. At the HPB hearing, Wendy Duff traced her family’s 34-year history operating the secondhand bookstore in the ground floor of the Victorian building. Longtime Robert Street resident Norman Track, who in his youth knew the building as the first owner’s grocery store, gave an eloquent account of the importance of the bookstore to a community so close to a University. HVRA has supported the designation and asked the City to ensure that no demolition takes place while the heritage process is underway.

Heritage Preservation Board denied a request for a deferral from the University of Toronto’s lawyers, who described the process as “hasty.” (The designation arose through a motion for heritage evaluation by then Councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh in 2014). The University could challenge a Council approval at the Heritage Conservation Board—a body similar to the OMB.

A story in the HVRA Spring 2017 Newsletter describes the history of the bookstore and its significance to the community. We welcome your thoughts and memories: email development@harbordvillage.com.

In a separate but related process, City Planning is continuing its evaluation of the University’s application. Among its concerns are height, density, wind, massing, shadow and transition to the neighbourhood. The latest public meeting on the application was held Jan. 16, 2017. While the University has moved to include an unspecified but greater proportion of older students, the community once again expressed worries about the numbers and demographic mix of students, the presence of a cafeteria, the height and massing of the buildings. You can read and download the preliminary Planning report from the City website.