top of page

Reviving
The Friends of Old City Hall

Citizens serving a Common Good

 IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ACTIVISTS 

The original Friends of Old City Hall (OCH) formed a grassroots  movement to save this landmark building for Toronto's future when it was threatened with demolition in the 1960s.  

Proposed is a NEW  Friends of Old City Hall group as a grassroots support for the City of Toronto's transformation of this National Historic Site beginning in May, 2023. 

 THE APPROVED PLAN 

For almost 60 years, the City rented OCH to the provincial government for use as criminal courts.  However, these moved to the new courthouse northwest of New City Hall.  

 

In January, 2018, Toronto City Council voted to create within this block-sized building: a Museum of Toronto (MoT), a Toronto Public Library branch, the Marriage Registry office and Wedding Chamber moved back to the elegant original mayor's office and surrounding rooms from New City Hall plus commercial space for cafes, restaurants and shops.  See: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-110694.pdf

 A MODEST STARTING POINT 

This site was created in January, 2021, by myself, Cathy Schaffter, as a spark to creating a group which might fund-raise in support of Old City Hall's costly transformation.

I was a court reporter (the kind that makes a record of proceedings) in the courts at OCH until I retired in May, 2023.  So I was able to appreciate the site's immense potential.   

 

I created the BLOG to stir people's imaginations and welcome any corrections or suggestions via "CONTACT".  (The colour scheme of this site isn't my first choice but it is meant to be mindful of people who are colourblind.)

 DETAILS FROM CITY STAFF - March, 2021 

* The estimated cost of OCH's transformation is $60 million.  If all that amount is not immediately available, work on OCH will take longer.

* City staff are seeking donations from foundations, corporations and higher levels of government.   A grassroots group is welcome to raise funds from individual donors.

* No decisions about the building's development will be made until hearings are held for public input.  One was planned for the doomed, Covid spring of 2020.  No public hearings have been held since.

* If a group like Friends of Old City Hall is formed, its suggestions won't necessarily override those of other individuals or groups.

 UPDATE: February 16, 2023 

The real estate division of the City of Toronto -- CreateTO -- is in charge of the redevelopment of OCH.  Jason Chen is the Development Lead for the project and sent this email: 

 

"We are currently undertaking due diligence and feasibility studies to determine the options for the future uses for Old City Hall, as both the Provincial and Municipal Courts will vacate the building later this year. 

 

"Upon completion of our due diligence work we will bring a report to City Council in the fourth quarter of this year, with recommendations that include budget requirements."

 UPDATE: 2024 

The City of Toronto is $1.8 billion in debt...  City tax increases are scheduled...   Toronto has a homelessness crisis and an affordable housing crisis...  

Meanwhile, the estimated annual cost of just maintaining OId City Hall so that it doesn't rot was $300,000 as of several years ago.  It could be $500,000 now.  WHERE will the City find that kind of money?  By renting out part of a National Historic Site for boring uses?!?

  FIRST MEETING: ALL WELCOME 

 

TBD 

Can a Friends of Old City Hall group help the City of Toronto by fund-raising for the building's upkeep and development?

YES!

 

How we do it needs to be decided.  Will we be a charity, a non-profit, a foundation or simply volunteers working under the direction of City Staff?  Much needs to be decided in full co-operation with City staff.

 

We might organize fund-raising events.

We could become an army of volunteer tour guides!  (See the Blog for tour ideas.)  What else is possible?

Is there a way for people to connect for a first meeting to be held in February, 2024, to get things going?

YES! 

 

So far, a group of 20 are interested in forming a Friends group.  Everyone else is invited to use this site's CONTACT to express a wish to be notified when a first gathering has a time and place in February, 2024, on a Monday night to accommodate people in the Hospitality Industry.  No personal details will be shared without consent.

Who belongs in Friends of Old City Hall?

 

People of all ages from students to seniors, fans of history and architecture, native-born locals and newcomers, downtowners, Toronto taxpayers who don't want to have to fund a money-draining White Elephant, and people in the Tourism and Hospitality Industries who appreciate the value of having a FABULOUS NEW ATTRACTION walking distance from Union Station, the Convention Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Textile Museum of Canada, Queen Street West and steps from the Eaton Centre and New City Hall next door.

Will Friends of Old City Hall be a FUN group to join?

YES, YES, YES!

bottom of page