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theengineer

The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons


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theengineer

Save the ROM! (From itself)

Last night I was at community consultation meeting regarding the ROM's new proposal for the site of the planetarium. They want to tear the planetarium down, and put up a 46 story luxury condo tower, with units in the three million dollar range.

You read that right. The Rom wants to build right by itself with U of T buildings on two sides, luxury condos. Because I guess we need more of those than the planetarium.

Needless to say, a lot of people are really upset about it. Last night was what I hope to be just the first of a series of meetings to get public input on it. It was moderated by Olivia Chow, and consisted of reps from the ROM and the development company talking about their plans for the site, then questions and answers from the audience.

First, the speakers never addressed why this corner of the city needs a luxury condo tower. We got a lot of stuff about what they plan to do on the GROUND LEVEL (and most of it wasn't bad, like putting in a proper extension to Philosopher's Walk from the street), and then a pile of BS about how the museum needs a striking icon so people actually know it's there, like the fact it's the greatest museum in the city has nothing to do with that. The fact that why it was necessary to do this with condos it still a mystery.

A lot was made by the developers about how a tower has gone up at Charles Street. and St. Thomas, so another one can't be all bad. That tower was bitterly opposed and was just to be a single exception, but now of course it's existence proves the rule that more towers are needed on campus. If they get this ROM tower up, it'll be open season.

With the exception of a single architecture student, who thought the tower looked "neat" and hoped he could afford to live there someday, everyone there was dead set opposed. We had the President of the U of T Student Council, myriad local community groups, and space buffs like myself who wanted to know when the ROM officially gave up on the planetarium.

I think that luxury condos practically right on U of T campus is a lousy idea. At the least it's going to drive up housing costs for students, and flies in the face of what the whole area is supposed to be about, public space. Also, it limits future expansion of the ROM (which has undergone four significant expansions in the last century, including this one).

While I miss the planetarium, I understand that the ROM had to close it thanks to Harris budget cuts, and a modern one would require a new building and a significant cash influx. If the ROM doesn't want to do it, I doubt there's much we can do to pressure them into it. That said, there is a significant push under way to get a new planetarium for the city, and you can read about it here.

If you want to let the city know how you feel about this proposal, and get on the mailing list for future informations, you can contact the city planning office with the following information:

Application #:05 178008 STE 20 OZ
Subject: 100 Queen's Park - Royal Ontario Museum proposal for the Planetarium Site
South Community Planning Office
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen's Park West
Toronto, Ont. M5H 2N2
Tel: 416-392-7501
Fax: 416-392-1330

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(Deleted comment)
Yeah, first time I saw it I thought it was like something out of a Dr. Who episode. "The Crystal Terror"

There wasn't a Dr. Who called that, was there?

I don't think there was. But there was this one episode of SCTV...

Actually, Andrew wonders if they're trying to lease the planetarium's lot for condos because the Crystal Terror is way over budget or something. It seems to me they've kind of been running themselves into the ground for the last decade by acting like an amusement park/corporate party space (raising ticket prices, taking down displays to make room for events, getting fewer visitors, raising ticket prices, etc) rather than a museum.

That's unfortunately possible. My friend Daniel who I was with noted that the ROM representative went out of his way to avoid referring to the ROM as a museum, like the word is out of fashion.

Hiho,

Let's all join the museum's BOD and turf the bum. :)

Cu,
Andrew

A lot was made by the developers about how a tower has gone up at Charles Street and St. Thomas, so another one can't be all bad. That tower was bitterly opposed and was just to be a single exception, but now of course it's existence proves the rule that more towers are needed on campus. If they get this ROM tower up, it'll be open season.

I've got to say, this part of your entry reads remarkably like an editorial in a Clinton-era gun magazine, warning of the newest "potato chip" anti-gun bill coming down the pipe. Unfortunately for the cause of keeping UofT condo-free, it would have been nearly impossible to force the addition of a high explosive ten-year "sunset clause" into the base of the condo tower, LOL.

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