The UHN Heritage Destruction Game at 17 Close Ave Part 2

The University Health Network, or UHN, is following a path that leads to the systematic loss of affordable and historic housing. There is evidence that they are having a negative influence on the neighbourhood.

The University Health Network is responsible for the maintenance of 9 through 17 Close Ave as well as 82 Dunn Ave. In 2014 17 Close Ave was demolished unnecessarily. Read about it in 17 Close Ave, The Heritage Destruction Game Part 1

How to Play the Heritage Destruction Game.

Hide the historic beauty until people forget about it. Paint it, cover it with siding or stucco. Allow deterioration with no maintenance or repairs like plastic on roofs that causes rot.
Replace historic features with minimal unpainted wood fix ups with no detailing.
Repair arches unevenly and with unmatching brick and mortar.
Eventually something becomes dangerous and, hallelujah, you get a demolition order!

I drive by these houses on my way home daily and I began to notice a pattern of destructive ‘repairs’, leading to demolition. The historic veranda on 82 Dunn has been replaced with cheaply designed, pressure treated wood that is starting to age just one year later. All the UHN houses on Close Ave have cheap wood replacements of parts of their steps or verandahs. 19 Close has plastic ‘roofing’ over a side window.  Leaks cause deterioration. Unpainted wood begins to look ugly. One day we will hear that one of these is being demolished and the UHN may hope we will think ‘who cares’.

It is not surprising that the University Health Network appears to value hospitals more than houses, but is that good for Parkdale? Just a few doors north on Dunn Avenue neighbours are investing in beautifying their houses, both rental and single family.  One block east on Cowan Avenue houses are beautifully preserved from end to end.

Gord Perks returned my call this morning and I proposed my plan as follows:

Proposed objective
Maintain housing and historical character in Parkdale.
The University Health Network appears want to remove all of these houses to replace them with hospitals.
Every maintenance issue appears to result in the replacement of parts of the buildings with pressure-treated wood or plastic.
Many buildings sit vacant with leaking windows and roofs covered with plastic or inappropriate repairs.
Demolition occurs whenever possible. Alternatives are not sought.
Require the University Health Network to sell all of these houses individually at arms length. Individual homeowners in the neighborhood are doing a very good job of maintaining old houses and providing affordable rental units.

Gord Perks advised me that he and the city inspectors had been on this for several years, but although they can require basic repairs, building code does not define beauty. I am sure Historic value would be even harder to define. We can’t force the UHN to sell and expropriation is at best very difficult and probably impossible. So they are here to stay.

Other things we can do to protect existing housing.
1. Email me with ideas
2. Advise me of any further deterioration of these houses.
3. Write to Gord Perks or your favorite Politician about protecting Historic and affordable housing in Parkdale.
3. Tell anyone looking for land for big institutions, apartments or condos that Parkdale already paid.

Take a walk past the UHN houses on Close and Dunn below. Follow UHN on this site.  Jack Gibney

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