A Hogg’s Hollow home dating back to the early 20th century has been demolished over the Victoria Day long weekend despite city heritage protections in the works.
Neighbour Donna Jez witnessed the demolition at 19 Plymbridge Cres. on Saturday, May 22, at around 10 a.m. from her kitchen.
“We were trying to tell the driver of the truck that what he was doing was illegal,” she said. “The backhoe just kept working away.”
According to Jez, residents gathered around the demolition crew and asked if they had a demolition permit.
The crew said they assumed the developer did, according to Jez, but local councillor Jaye Robinson’s office has confirmed there was no permit and no notice was given of the demolition.
The city councillor later arrived at the scene and said they did not have a permit, according to Jez, at which point they packed up.
However, by then the house was a pile of rubble and only the garage remained, Jez said.
The house dates back to 1912, when it was built as stables for the Boultbee family. The two-story stucco-clad structure featured a Tudor Revival style and was believed to have been designed by famous Toronto architect Samuel Hamilton Townsend, who built historic homes across the city.
The property was recommended by city staff to be included in Toronto’s Heritage Register in February 2021 and was listed on March 10, 2021. A listed property means further evaluation must occur before it is “designated,” but 60 days notice before demolition is still required.
“Like many in the community, I am devastated by the demolition of the heritage property at 19 Plymbridge Crescent, which was undertaken without permits on a long weekend,” Robinson said in a statement. “City staff will be conducting a comprehensive investigation as a top priority.”
Owners Mohammad Kassirian and Marzieh Beigum Taheri had applied for a minor variance in November 2020 to demolish the Hogg’s Hollow estate and create a new two-storey home in its place, which was opposed by residents and Robinson due to the length of the building being double that allowed in the zoning bylaw.
“It’s a shame the building’s gone,” Jez said. “[But] the pile of rubble to me is preferable to the house he was going to put there.”
Kassirian and Taheri have opposed the city’s heritage recommendation because staff made it without visiting the property in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Should the property be evaluated further for designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, staff would seek permission from the property owner to access the property in order to document the building and site,” Toronto Heritage Planning program manager Tamara Anson-Cartwright said at the time.