Spectre of OMB appeal may harm plan to preserve harbour silos

Dennis Hanagan — 

Community council recommended at its Feb. 23 meeting that city designate the Victory Soya Mills silos near the foot of Parliament St. as a heritage site.
But a letter from Bay St. lawyers Aird & Berlis representing owner Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. says the designation “is premature.”

The silos are associated with industrialist and philanthropist E.P. Taylor who founded Sunsoy Products Ltd. with financial support from the federal government to provide soybean products for human, animal and industrial consumption during the Second World War.

The silos ceased operating in the 1990s.

The Air & Berlis letter to the Feb. 10 meeting of the Toronto Preservation Board said the silos property is within the framework of an official plan amendment, the Central Waterfront secondary plan and is regulated by the Keating Channel Precinct West zoning bylaw “all of which are appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board and remain the subject of ongoing formal mediation.”

Although the silos’ future is unclear—whether it can be adaptively re-used, preserved or whether it will be in private or public ownership—Manufacturers Life “has no desire to see the silo structure demolished,” said the letter.

A staff report said designation will ensure the silos’ heritage values and attributes are made known to anyone who might want to develop the site.

The silos are “a rare surviving example” of a structure “unique” to North America, said the report.