The Ontario government calls its effort to expand public transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area "The Big Move," but it could also be an appropriate title for a herculean feat of engineering Metrolinx is attempting on Thursday.
And it's a feat the public is invited to watch starting at 9 a.m., with a barbecue to follow.
You'll see construction crews with Crosslinx Transit Solutions move a four-storey building about 60 metres temporarily, as Metrolinx works to transform a huge swath of land into the future site of Mount Dennis Station on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line. It's the first time the regional transit agency has ever attempted such an operation.
The building, located on Eglinton Avenue West between Black Creek Drive and Weston Road, will be shifted so crews can build the foundation for the transit hub. Then, the building will be shifted back in place so it can become an integral part of the station.
Spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins says when Metrolinx bought the site, it had no immediate plans for the vacant building, which was built in 1939, and was a social hub for employees of Kodak Canada.
But the community did, urging Metrolinx to keep the plant.
'We listened to the community'
"We put our heads to the grindstone, and we came up with a plan to incorporate it to the station design to preserve that history. And that's requiring us to move it temporarily to build it," Aikins said.
"We listened to the community," she added.
The parcel of land has sat unused for about a decade.
There's just one building standing, the very last of what was once known as Kodak Heights.
The building weighs about 3,000 tonnes, and spans about 11,000 square feet. So, moving it will be no small feat.
Thursday at 9 a.m. contractors will load the structure onto steel girders. Then the delicate work of moving it begins; a task expected to take about 90 minutes.
And that's just step one. The foundation will be demolished, the site excavated, and eventually, a new foundation will be built. The whole process could take eight months.
'A real sense of community'
"It's the only remaining building from what was an industrial landscape in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood," said Kaitlin Wainwright, director of programming at Heritage Toronto.
"It was where there was a real sense of community with Kodak's labour force," Wainwright said. "It's really an important building in terms of cultural significance and local social history of the Mount Dennis community and all the people who worked at Kodak in those years."
Kodak shut down its facility in 2005.