Bulletin No. 2

August 5, 2008

Friends of Maple Leaf Gardens is a group dedicated to help protect the interior and exterior character of Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, a building which has played a significant role in the collective memory of many Canadians. Our web site is http://friendsofmapleleafgardens.ca .

In this issue:
1. Immediate action needed by friends of Maple Leaf Gardens
2. The Loblaws proposal
3. Subscribe to the Bulletin
1. Immediate action needed by friends of Maple Leaf Gardens
On Thursday, May 6, 2004, at 2:00 p.m., the Toronto Preservation Board will be considering a city staff recommendation that the Loblaws proposal to create a new Loblaws’ store in Maple Leaf Gardens be approved.

Some limited detail is known about this application – see below – but the overall impacts are perfectly clear: the ice surface will be removed and the ambience of the Gardens as a large sports and entertainment venue will be forever lost. While the outside shell of the building will be generally protected, the interior where all of the historical events have occurred – hockey games, political conventions, rock concerts and more – will be totally changed.

Since the public meeting at the St. Lawrence Centre on April 14, there has been wide-spread interest and comment about the future of Maple Leaf Gardens. Some have argued that a Loblaws Store may be appropriate, some have suggested any kind of dominant retail use within the Gardens is inappropriate. What is absolutely clear is that many people are interested in the future of the Gardens.

To ensure the public is heard, the Toronto Preservation Board should be asked to schedule a special evening meeting, preceded by an open house where the plans can be reviewed by everyone interested in the Gardens. This would provide a full opportunity for the public to be informed of the Loblaws proposal for the Gardens.

We urge all friends of Maple Leaf Gardens to write to the Toronto Preservation Board, asking them not to approve the city report, but instead to defer the matter, to post the plans on the city’s website, to make the plans available in a public place such as City Hall for viewing, and to schedule a well-advertised evening meeting where members of the public can make their views known about the proposal to change the interior and the use of Maple Leaf Gardens.

Letters can be sent to the secretary of the Toronto Preservation Board, Colleen O’Neill, at coneill1@toronto.ca, or she can be contacted at 416-392-5227. Members of the public can speak to the Board when it meets on Thursday, May 6 at 2:00 p.m. (this item is on the agenda for 2:20 p.m.), in Committee Room 2, Second Floor, Toronto City Hall.

2. The Loblaws proposal
The information that is available about the Loblaws proposal is found in a city staff report dated April 23, 2004. (The full report should be found at http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/culture/heritage_board.htm , agenda for the May 6 meeting, but as of May 4 at 10.30 am had not been posted by city heritage staff.)

The key section of the report reads as follows:

“On March 16, 2004, Urban Development Services received an application for Site Plan Approval from Loblaws to convert Maple Leaf Gardens to a retail facility. The proposed use is permitted by the zoning by-law. The building will be renovated and converted to a three-level retail store facility with a new loading area and two levels of parking at and below grade. A Heritage Impact Statement completed by E.R.A. architects Inc. was submitted with the Site Plan Application and summarizes the extent of the interventions into the heritage fabric of the structure.

“Proposed Interior Alterations:

“The interior ice surface will be removed to accommodate the new parking and retail floors. Steel frame shoring will be installed within the perimeter envelope to secure the exterior façade. New loading facilities will be constructed within the existing shell adjacent to the north elevation. The existing roof system will be maintained and will be visible from the interior of the retail facility.

“The floor plans, as submitted, do not provide a formal lobby space within the building adjacent to the Carlton Street entrance. The lobby as proposed, is a circulation area round the motivators [modified escalators] leading to the upper levels. Staff prefers that a formal lobby be provided at the main entrance to welcome customers into Maple Leaf gardens prior to entering the Loblaws retail area. If possible, the lobby should be exposed to the roof of the original structure in order to allow the vastness of the structure to be appreciated. The lobby space should accommodate a heritage interpretation program for the building. Staff is recommending that the applicant examine the feasibility of creating a formal lobby space at the main entrance and that, if possible, the floor plans be revised accordingly.

“Proposed Exterior Alterations:

“Generally, the exterior of the structure will remain in its current condition. In order to accommodate loading facilities, an opening is required in the north elevation to permit trucks to enter the building to access the loading docks. The opening will be 20.8 metres in length and 5.2 metres in height and will incorporate a new stone surround to match the existing stone banding. Staff has worked with the applicant’s architects and is satisfied that the proposed opening is as small as possible and does not significantly alter the design of the north façade. In addition to the opening for the loading facilities, a 10.4 metre by 3.3 metre opening is proposed on the northwest corner of the north elevation to allow access to the interior parking facilities. This opening is an enlargement of the existing condition and has a minimal impact on the north elevation.

“The blocked-in storefronts on the south elevation will be restored with a new storefront system. Staff is recommending that storefront plans b e prepared prior to Site Plan approval.

“The applicant is proposing to enlarge the existing opening on the southeast corner to allow for additional access to the parking facility from Carlton Street. Since the south elevation is the primary public elevation of Maple Leaf Gardens, Culture Division staff does not support the enlargement of this opening, specifically, the removal of the stone column separating the existing doors and the glass block window. The applicant has argued that this enlarged opening is required to accommodate the vehicular access requirements for the project; however, City staff in other Departments and agencies are still reviewing this issue. This issue will be resolved prior to the approval of the Site Plan and, if necessary, the drawings will be revised to reflect any changes required by the City.

“The storefront on the east elevation will be restored to accommodate a future retail tenant. The west elevation will remain unchanged, as it is not visible from any public right-of-way.”

The staff recommendation is to approve the application and forward it on to City Council which must vary the Easement Agreement that the city has signed with the owners of the Gardens.

The city staff report (signed by Rita Davies, Executive Director of Culture) is also being sent to the Toronto South Community Council, to which the Toronto Preservation Board reports on this issue. The Community Council next meets on June 8. The Toronto Preservation Board makes the first decision, but the final decision is made by Toronto City Council.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment have stated that no agreement has yet been signed with Loblaws, and that one would not be expected until sometime in June. Obviously the companies are working in tandem to make sure their agreement is contemporaneous with city council approval. Those of us wishing to retain the essence of the Gardens clearly have our work cut out.

3. Subscribe to the Bulletin
Please circulate this Bulletin to friends and colleagues who might share an interest Maple Leaf Gardens. There is no charge for the Bulletin.

To subscribe, or unsubscribe to this Bulletin, please send a note to signup@friendsofmapleleafgardens.ca

We appreciate your comments or suggestions for stories which should be sent to info@friendsofmapleleafgardens.ca .