The Anne Johnston Health Station helps keep midtowners in good physical shape but it was city councillors that just saved the station’s life.
The facility, located at 2398 Yonge St., has been leasing the site from the city for 20 years. On Nov. 9, the city’s Government Management Committee heard a proposal to transfer the property to Build Toronto so they could develop and/or sell the site.
“The property was coming up to the point we had to take a report back either to extend the lease, through a declaration of surplus, or divest ourselves of the property,” said Bruce Bowes, the city’s chief corporate officer. “When we looked at the property we determined that there’s development potential for that site.”
Opposing the idea of giving the health station to Build Toronto was Ward 16 councillor Karen Stintz, who addressed the committee asking to have the property removed from the list.
She said she was against development because it is a designated heritage property and that doing so would be disrespectful to its namesake.
“Given that this building was named after Anne Johnston, who served the community for over 30 years, Councillor Stintz felt she deserved to have her namesake maintained,” Stintz’ executive assistant Adah Pettingill wrote in an email to the Town Crier while the councillor was out of the country. “The Government Management Committee unanimously agreed with Councillor Stintz’ position.”
Staff at Anne Johnston said they were unaware of a proposal to transfer the property to Build Toronto.
According to Bowes, all buildings that have been leased from the city for more than 20 years must be reviewed and are then placed on the surplus lands list either for the purposes of a transfer or an extension of the lease.
Although the station leases the building at a market rate he said the city felt it could get more for the site.
“We’re looking at it from a perspective of monetary value of the site,” he said.
While Bowes said he was aware the site was a heritage property, he pointed to other sites that have recently been redeveloped like the former Carleton Village Public School on Davenport Road, now the new 11 Division police station as of October.
City council will vote on granting the Anne Johnston Health Station a three-year lease extension in late November.
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