The Marian Shrine: hope springs eternal
TORONTO – Residents in North-west Toronto who have been pressing their political representatives to “save” the property known as 3100 Weston Rd [at the intersection of Sheppard Ave. West] received a jolt of encouragement yesterday at city Council. Devotees of the Marian Shrine of Gratitude, located behind the Mansion/monastery at the location, are equally optimistic.
City Council, in plenary session, received and adopted, without debate, the report of the Toronto Preservation Board update of the Assessment Listing defining the “items” of heritage value as per criteria for which the TPB has responsibility. After it had received direction to do so from Council, following the registration of change of ownership at 3100 Weston Rd., the TPB had conducted its obligated update of the listing.
It held two public meetings prior to presenting its final report to Council. After making a “cosmetic” amendment (accepted in committee) the final report essentially said that the entire geographic site would fit into the definition of heritage property. Significantly, that definition includes any “improvements” on the land: buildings such as mansion, church and school, soccer fields. Especially important for the devotees of the “Marian Shrine of Gratitude”, it includes the Shrine [and, presumably, its use].
The decision is merely another hurdle the Shrine’s advocates have had to overcome. In practice, it means that before permits for construction or demolition can be issued, the builders will have to address these issues to the satisfaction of the Planning Department of the City. In turn that department will have engage the input of the Heritage Registry and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.
Effectively, conservationists, historic community and devotees have won a reprieve of sorts. It appears that the next step is for staff at the Heritage Registry to research, study and evaluate the property and improvements as a Heritage site worthy of maintenance more or less intact. Following that report, Council will have to determine whether to proceed accordingly.
The Toronto Area Conservation Authority may, in the final analysis, have the las word on the nature of construction – if any – will be allowed.
For now, it appears that there is little if any appetite for any construction on the site, so far as the “community” is concerned.