I was back at Exhibition Place tonight for a Board of Governors meeting where the hotel proposal was brought forward or final public deputations before the Board was to vote to send the proposal on to the City for approval...
Along with a number of other members of the public bringing their interests to the attention of the Board, I also spoke to let the Board know that there had been an overall positive reaction to the proposal from those who have commented on the plans here.
The proposal was approved and is now headed to the City for discussions.
Deputations tonight were better put together than at the last meeting in September, and I had the chance to meet a number of the speakers after the meeting wrapped. I also had a chance to learn more about some of the history of the site.
Besides the hotel, which I think will be a terrific addition to the Ex Place site, and which looks quite promising simply in regards to its architecture too, there are two other major concerns for the lands here which merit much more consideration.
One is that the City of Toronto should be working with the Toronto Historical Association
to see that the Stanley Barracks are put to some good use once they are surrounded by (what the renders show could be) beautiful gardens and plaza space once this project is built. For example there are numerous military regiments in this city whose stories are not told in museum spaces currently, and what better place could there be than the Stanley Barracks to redress that situation?
Another is that the land immediately to the west of the Stanley Barracks, currently more parking lot, is the site of the world's very first electric-fence enclosed internment camp, or concentration camp if you will, which was used during and immediately after the First World War to house Ukrainian Canadians, who were rounded up as "enemy aliens" at the time. The Wikipedia entry explains the situation, and can be read here
, although it does not mention the Toronto site specifically. Currently there is a plaque along Princes Blvd just south of the Direct Energy Centre, but surely something better can be done than that to commemorate the injustice that took place here. While this land is outside the scope of the current project, it lies immediately west of it, and should be made more recognizable once its eastern border is delineated by new parkland and a reinvigorated Stanley Barracks.
I am hoping that a few of the gentlemen I met at the meeting tonight will add their names to our members list and add more detailed descriptions of their hopes for this site!