The office of Brian McHattie, councillor for Ward 1, just issued a press release calling on Caroline Di Cocco, Ontario Minister of Culture, to release the recommendations of the Lister Block Working Group.
The Working Group, led by Alan Wells, was convened after a council vote on June 14 to delay the planned demolition of the Lister Block to study the heritage impacts of destroying the building, as its owner, LIUNA, had requested.That decision was prompted in part by Councillor McHattie's request to Minister Di Cocco in May to designate Lister a provincial heritage building.
As a result, Di Cocco asked the Ontario Heritage Trust to prepare a report on the building's heritage value. It was never made public, but Lincoln Alexander, its chairperson, said, "[Mayor] Larry Di Ianni is going to be disappointed," suggesting the report recommended preserving the building, since Di Ianni supports the demolition bid.
The report of the Working Group will be presented to Council on September 27, and council will be asked to endorse its findings. McHattie has asked for the report to be made available at least 36 hours before that meeting, so councillors and the public have a chance to consider and debate its merits before having to make a snap decision.
Rendering a decision on the fate of the Lister Block without this disclosure would be undemocratic and would exacerbate public concerns that decisions surrounding the Lister Block are not being made on the merits of the provincial importance of the building, but on the basis of political or other motivations.
Like so much of the Lister dealings over the past two years, the meetings of the Working Group have been held in private, so litle is known of what they may have concluded.
In addition, McHattie reiterates his call for Di Cocco to designate the Lister a provincial heritage building in keeping with section 34.5 of the recently strengthened Ontario Heritage Act.
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