Yorkville residents say a heritage coach house will “destroy” their neighbourhood
In the annals of Toronto NIMBYism, this one is destined to become a classic. In a clever inversion of the usual script (wherein pitchfork-waving townsfolk complain about a developer’s plan to tear down an old building), some Yorkville residents are objecting to a businessman’s bid to move a heritage building into their community.
The coach house in question, a 125-year-old heritage property that currently stands at 119 Isabella Street, is home to Casey House Foundation, an HIV/AIDS charity. To make way for a new treatment centre, the foundation plans to level the property next fall. In a last-ditch bid to save the building, Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has been offering it for free to anyone willing to pay for it to be moved off-site.
At first, the offer seemed like a nonstarter, but the Star reports that Wong-Tam has found a taker. Robert Hiscox, a Toronto entrepreneur, has agreed to spend around a million dollars to move the whole building to a spot on Molson Street, in north Yorkville.
But there are complications. For one thing, the move would require the city to make all sorts of complicated exceptions to its by-laws; for another, neighbours say the introduction of the historic building would utterly decimate their way of life. “It’s just plain ugly,” Peter Rehak, one of several participants in a recent community meeting about the proposal, told the Star. “It would destroy how the neighbourhood is set up.” The site is currently occupied by a three-car garage, as God apparently intended.