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Matador Ballroom headed for potential heritage designation

As the owner of the Matador Ballroom on Dovercourt Road renovates the legendary location, Toronto City Council has adopted a couple of motions that throw wrinkles into what might happen at the property.
Last year owner Paul McCaughey told media he was planning to turn the former music venue, which he had bought in 2012, into a high-end event space. The property was built in 1915 and for decades was used as an assembly hall with residential space on the second floor. As the Matador Club starting in 1964, the venue hosted the likes of Johnny Cash, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. By the time the Matador closed in 2007, it was known as an after-hours club.
This spring city council voted to advise the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario that issuing a liquor licence for the Matador, “is not in the public interest having regard to the needs and wishes of the residents, and that the registrar should issue a Proposal to Review the liquor licence application,” reads the backgrounder on the motion brought forward by Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailão. “Neighbouring residents and the local councillor’s office are concerned that the operation of a licenced entertainment facility, including, but not limited to a concert hall and special event facility with a capacity of 804 patrons will negatively impact neighbouring residents.”
Meanwhile, Bailão also successfully got a motion adopted to have the city move to designate the property as a heritage building.
“The building features a beautiful interior that was recently discovered as part of renovation work by the current owner,” states the backgrounder. “The local community is aware of these unique heritage characteristics and would like to ensure that the historical richness of this property is protected, regardless of future change of use and/or development,” states the motion.
The Director of Urban Design will evaluate the property for potential inclusion in the city’s Heritage Registrar and report back to the Preservation Board and Toronto and East York Community Council.
At one point, just after the Matador closed, the city considered expropriating the property, demolishing it and turning it into a parking lot.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City Council
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