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Parts of CAMH’s ‘Lunatic Asylum wall’ to come down

City council has voted to permit the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to alter parts of the historic 19th century Provincial Lunatic Asylum wall that once surrounded the property at 1001 Queen Street West so the organization can build two new buildings and create new publicly accessible open spaces and roads.

CAMH is allowed to remove the northernmost bay of the historic east wall along Shaw Street and to make alterations to the south wall, as long as the alterations are in accordance with the conservation plan prepared by ERA Architects.

“The current conservation strategy for the historic wall includes the preservation of the masonry wall [on several segments], including repointing, cleaning, resetting of displaced stones, replacement of damaged/missing bricks, removal of cementitious material and installation of new flashings and stone caps,” states the report. “Two modern additions flanking the east storage building will be removed allowing for the restoration of the portions of the south wall that are currently concealed. Later openings will be bricked in, all masonry, original steel windows and doors will be conserved while the roofing, flashings and downspouts will be replaced.”

City staff acknowledge the removal of the section at Queen and Shaw Streets represents “the loss of a very prominent portion of the historic wall,” but stated that the section is “severely deteriorated due to water saturation, that there is an opportunity to open this corner to the new park and that the much-needed salvaged materials from the dismantling will be reused in the preservation of the wall in other areas.”

“The wall is dated to 1851 with additions through that decade and is strongly associated with the social and architectural history of Toronto,” states the report.

The proposed CAMH redevelopment is part of the 2002 master plan to create a new multi-use neighbourhood on the site.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto
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