Light at the end of the tunnel for 3100 Weston Road

TORONTO – It has been a rough three weeks for the Marian Shrine at 3100 Weston Rd. and the thousand who call it a refuge for those seeking tranquility, meditation and opportunities to express thanks to the Mother Mary of Gratitude for her intercessions. 

The location is world renowned, even appearing on TripAdvisor as a “go to place” in Toronto. In North-West Toronto, it is a unique Heritage site and a hub for social, cultural and educational activities associated with healthy and productive citizenship.

The Gardiner and Crang Families from the earlier part of the last century made it their summer home: Rivermede, in the former township of North York, was also a stopping point for the Aboriginal tribes who had made it stopping place as they plied their trading goods from the interior to the lake along the Humber River.

One of their leaders, Chief Shingwaukonce, of the Garden River First Nation (1773-1854), led the Ojibway contingent alongside the British forces in the War of 1812-1814. From war and trade, it has evolved into a religious shrine.

Some citizens of diverse backgrounds have been labouring diligently to preserve the site, as is, for future generations. The new landlords, AvranceCorp Developments, have already begun to dismantle the Summer Home and the Shrine.

It is being alleged that their rush is unreasonable and aggressive.

Today, City Council entertained two motions, presented by Councillor Anthony Peruzza in respect of both Rivermede and the Marian Shrine. Both Motions had the support of Mayor Olivia Chow as urgent items. Motion one allowed for “receiving” petitions (20,000 signatures) as evidence for designating the site as Heritage.

The second, much more elaborate, calls on the Toronto Conservation Authority, the Preservation Board and the planning and Housing authority to do a proper evaluation of the site with a view to designating the entire 13.5 acres of the location as Heritage.

Both motions passed unanimously on recorded votes. It suggests that any development plans by AvranceCorp and its partners may face uphill challenges unless the TRCA and other Boards make contrary recommendations for Council.

This too is improbable given the Ford Governments sensitivity to local communities’ desire to preserve sites of social-historical to local or regional populations. Rivermede/Marian Shrine fits those definitions and others including those from environmentalists.

As they say, it’s not over yet but the future is no longer as bleak for the Marian Shrine and its faithful. AvranceCorp, which did not respond to email requests for comment at the time of going to print, may have to engage experts in diplomacy from here on in. 

Mayor Chow and councilor Perruzza with Angela Carboni and some of the faithful of the Marian Shrine
Toronto City Council and, in small photos, Mayor Olivia Chow and City Councilor Anthony Perruzza (screenshots from