What’s the story behind all the boarded-up buildings on Howard Street and Glen Road near Bloor?
What’s the story behind all the boarded-up buildings on Howard Street and Glen Road near Bloor? You’d think this prime piece of real estate so close to the Sherbourne subway exit would be used for some infill development. Instead, the block has been an abandoned eyesore for years.—Julie Jai, Bloor and Sherbourne
Believe it or not, it’s all in the name of heritage preservation. Many of these once-pretty Victorian houses and low-rises are listed on the city’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, which makes tearing them down or changing their historical character extremely difficult. While most people agree that protecting heritage buildings is a noble cause, there’s a wrecking ball– sized hole in the bylaws. Preservation Services, which monitors redevelopment or renovation activity, has no authority to force owners to take care of their properties. So anyone who can afford to pay taxes on an empty building is free to let it crumble to total decrepitude, at which point it can be legally torn down. A recently proposed amendment to the Ontario Heritage Act could fix the problem though a resolution is still months away. Even so, it may be too late for the poor, decrepit houses of Howard Street and Glen Road.