Mimico neighbourhood rallies to preserve historic home from demolition

Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman was upset by plans to knock down a historic home in her Mimico neighbourhood.

A Mimico neighbourhood is rallying to preserve a cottage-style home dating back to at least 1923, with two residents going as far as sitting in front of bulldozer to prevent its demolition.

Neighbours hoped the City of Toronto would add the home at 98 Superior Avenue, less than a 10-minute walk away from Mimico GO Station, to its heritage register.

Alexander Basso, owner of the property, has a permit for demolition.

But neighbours were upset that he was about to go ahead while they were still fighting to get its designation. The matter is to be heard at the Toronto Preservation Board on Monday.

Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman arrived at the house at 7 a.m. and sat on the front step.

“When the police officer first asked me to leave the property because the owner said I was trespassing, I said ‘OK, I don’t mind standing on the sidewalk — until they brought a trailer with a big bulldozer on it,” Sheasby-Coleman said.

“So that’s when I came and sat on the porch.”

Basso declined to comment when reached by the Star.

The house incorporates elements of the British-inspired cottage style, with symmetrically arranged principal elevation and stone cladding, as described in a city report supporting its preservation.

The stone of the cottage at 98 Superior Avenue was likely locally sourced from Mimico Creek, the report that recommended it be included in the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register found.

It’s part of a collection of three historic cottages, along with 96 Superior Avenue and 214 Queens Avenue, which neighbours hoped would also be included in the heritage register.

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Sheasby-Coleman said another woman named Denise later joined her on the front steps of the house, while other neighbours stood close by.

About 15 neighbours would come and go, she said.

Their protest was successful for now, as residents were told by the construction workers that they wouldn’t resume until Monday.

Cindy Bleeks, who lives in one of the three unique homes, said the Committee of Adjustment notified her by mail in late July that the house neighbouring hers was going to be demolished.

“This house was purchased a year ago and it stood vacant,” said Bleeks. “We didn’t know who purchased it or what their plan was, until we actually got a Committee of Adjustment notification in the mail that said that it was going to be torn down and a triplex was going to be built on the property.”

Bleeks took documentation of her own home to local Coun. Mark Grimes, in hopes of preserving the structure at 98 Superior Avenue.

At a Committee of Adjustment hearing mid-August, the committee said it needed more time to review the documentation, Bleeks said.

By Nov. 2, the property owner had submitted another application to demolish the structure, the Nov. 9 report reads.

”I’m kind of biased because I have the middle house. I bought this house because of the charm and the character, and . . . the nod to history,” Bleeks said. “Everybody, literally, in the neighbourhood stops, and is like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is the history of these places?’ ”

Lesley Headrick, the third owner of the three homes, said demolition is nothing new to the neighbourhood.

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“This neighbourhood’s gone through a lot of these upsets with older homes being torn down and double lots being put up. It’s been very disheartening over the last five years,” Headrick said.

“The fact that that house is one of three that were built around the same time, similar structures, and the fact that they’re tearing it down within (days) of a hearing to . . . possibly designate it as a heritage building. It’s a little bit sickening in a way.”

A city of Toronto employee has told the neighbours that the only hope for them now is if the owner doesn’t knock down the building and city council at its next meeting on Dec. 14 issues a “notice of intention to designate” and rescinds the demolition permit.

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