Written by Dan Donnelly
TORONTO, ON – Residents of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood are protesting the city’s plan to demolish the remains of a “beloved” and “historic” former slaughterhouse in order to provide the area with more affordable housing.
The recently approved development plan—which would add 108 units of affordable housing targeted toward visible minorities and other marginalized people in an area where rents have nearly tripled in the last five years—has been met with significant resistance from locals who argue it would unacceptably “change the face” of the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood.
“It’s absolutely criminal what the city’s trying to do! A real insult to the history and integrity of the neighbourhood,” said Emily Ouellet, a graphic designer and Etsy entrepreneur who moved to the area in 2019 with her partner Lisa Fitch, a lawyer for a local non-profit.
“Our petition to have the building registered as a historic landmark has been totally ignored, despite gathering 11 signatures from the other members of our condo board. The city is just plowing ahead with no respect at all for the wishes of long-time residents like us,” Ouellet continued.
The slaughterhouse, which was built in 1968 in the Dystopian Brutalist style, was mostly destroyed by a 1999 fire that left the proposed construction site with only a few scattered cinderblocks and the partial remains of a single, charred concrete wall that Ouellet argues contributes “significant historical character” to her bedroom’s unobstructed view of a nearby park.
“We chose to live in this area for a reason,” Ouellet concluded, adding: “Is it too much to ask that things just stay the way they are?”