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October 10, 2002
Site of Upper Canada's first parliament buildings at risk
  
Note: The following is being released by Heritage Toronto, Old Town 1793, and
Sederi-Revitalizing Old Town Toronto, the South East Downtown Economic
Redevelopment Initiative.

Toronto - Citizens are rallying on October 17 to protect public access to the
site of Upper Canada's first parliament buildings. There is a pending decision
by the Ontario Municipal Board that will turn part of the site into a Porsche
dealership.

"I'm pleased that the Ontario Municipal Board has given until December 1 for a
purchase plan to be developed for the site located at 265 Front St. E.," said
Ernest Buchner, executive director of Heritage Toronto. "If the new retail
operation is approved, meaningful public use of the land as a significant
commemoration of the first parliament buildings could be postponed for at least
30 years - an entire generation."

Heritage Toronto, The Citizens for the Old Town and The South East Downtown
Economic Redevelopment Initiative believe the availability of this land
provides a unique opportunity for the Government of Ontario to assume the
leadership necessary to return the site of the first parliament buildings to
public hands.

"The site at Front and Parliament Streets would become the focal point, and
provide a much-needed catalyst for the revitalization of Old Town Toronto -
where the city was first settled," Buchner said. "The vision is to create a new
type of gathering space in this area which is rich with heritage and could
serve as an educational and tourist destination."

A recent dig proved that the foundations of the first parliament buildings -
which date back to 1797, shortly after Upper Canada was established - still
exist. The remains are considered something of a miracle after 175 years of
industrial activity on the land, now home to a carwash.

"On a one to ten scale of Ontario's history, I'd rate the discovery of this
site as an eleven," said Dr. Ron Williamson, president of Archaeological
Services Inc., who uncovered the site during the summer of 2001.

Support for revitalizing the site comes from Toronto City councillors, MPPs,
MPs, business and neighbourhood associations, as well as numerous heritage and
tourism organizations. "Everyone recognizes the value of restoring historic
neighbourhoods," said Rollo Myers of Citizens for the Old Town, a local
heritage advocacy group, "not only for preserving our heritage, but for
generating new economic opportunities too."

However, despite the unprecedented co-operation of all parties involved, it
will now take Queen's Park to save the first parliament buildings site and lead
the charge in celebrating Ontario's first permanent home for democracy.

"The provincial government does respond when the public will is clearly
expressed," Buchner said. "Our job over the next six weeks is to ensure that
public access to this site receives the profile it deserves."


What: Public meeting on future of first parliament buildings site
When: Thursday, October 17, 2002 at 7 p.m.
Where: St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East (southwest corner of King &
Jarvis), Assembly Room, Third Floor.


Media Contact
Access Toronto
416-338-0338

 

 

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