Process to designate Kensington Market underway
By Geremy Bordonaro
After a year of study and consultation, the city is going ahead with the process to designate Kensington Market a Heritage Conservation District (HCD). The decision was announced at a community consultation meeting last month.
“It’s a two-year process,” said Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina). “By this time next year, we’ll have a new Heritage Conservation District here in Kensington.”
“We’ve heard a whole range of passionate articulations on why this place has been so important in your lives”—Melanie Hare, partner, Urban Strategies
Prior HCDs have been used primarily to maintain architectural heritage. This HCD will instead preserve the culture and history of the market. Protecting an area based on something that doesn’t have so much of a tangible presence may prove difficult, noted the councillor.
“The history and heritage of Kensington is unlike anywhere else. It’s not just physical and architectural. It’s not about a row of townhouses or unique Victorians. It’s as much about cultural and intangible heritage,” he said. “How do you seek to ensure that the intangible and the cultural continue to grow along with the architectural? That’s what the challenge is as we develop this.”
Tamara Anson-Cartwright, program manager for the city’s Heritage Preservation Services, said there is a key difference in how an HCD works that will help the community.
“With a Heritage District Plan it’s about conserving what is there as well as thinking about how change will occur in the future,” she said. “Other planning studies are all about “What will be the future?’”
Anson-Cartwright said the community was very productive.
“I thought it was excellent. It was very informing and engaging. What I appreciated was the understanding of the depth of analysis that has been done,” she said. “I’ve been with the city for two years and I think it was one of the best meetings that we have had.”
The planners involved in the designation not only actively welcome community participation; they have been counting on it ever since this process began.
“What has worked well since the first phase is that we set up a stakeholder advisory committee. They were very engaged and helped us a lot,” said Anson-Cartwright. “One of the keys for success in this second phase will be getting that type of community engagement.”
At the heart of the consultation process is a desire to protect the market, and discussions in part centered around the proposed boundaries of the market, currently Spadina Avenue, Dundas, Bathurst and College streets.
One audience member argued that those streets “provide a shield from downtown and should not be included”, while another felt that those streets “do not reflect the culture of the community”.
“We’ve heard [terms like] chaos, we’ve heard anarchy, we’ve heard evolving, we’ve heard welcoming,” said Melanie Hare, a partner with Urban Strategies, who chaired the community meeting. “We’ve heard a whole range of passionate articulations on why this place has been so important in your lives and in many different generations of families.”
The staff report formally endorsing all the HCD recommendations will be presented to the Toronto Preservation Board on April 20.
“Going forward council will formally endorse proceeding,” said Cressy. “Over the next years, we’ll develop the specific tools and regulatory provisions to forward the Heritage Conservation District. I have to tell you, now is when we’re going to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work.”
FORUM: Our dynamic Kensington Market (November 2016)
CHATTER: Painted streets launch in Kensington (September 2016)
ARTS: Molly Johnson launches new jazz festival (September 2016)
CHATTER: Kensington Market consultation focuses on culture (July 2016)
NEWS: Kensington Market to become heritage district (May 2016)