Toronto

Toronto Old City Hall could feature a museum, commercial space in the future

Shirley Bush joined the demonstrations against tearing down Old City Hall in the 1960s, and on Tuesday night she was back in the iconic Toronto building to help plan for its uncertain future.

Torontonians want city to preserve iconic building’s history, but are open to some businesses there

Old City Hall could be home to a museum once the provincial courts move out of the building in 2021. (Katherine Holland/CBC)

Shirley Bush joined the demonstrations against tearing down Old City Hall in the 1960s, and on Tuesday night she was back in the iconic Toronto building to help plan for its uncertain future.

The provincial courts are set to vacate the building in 2021, and city officials are already holding public meetings to plan for what could replace them. While it may be a long way off, some 50 people joined Bush at Tuesday's meeting.

"I just think that it's a very special building," said Bush, who was born and raised in the city.

At 85, Bush said most people from her generation wouldn't know what city they were in if they were dropped off in some of the more developed parts of the city. But none would forget the sandstone brick city hall tower.

"It's part of Toronto history. I think it's too easy sometimes to undervalue history," she said.

Shirley Bush, who was one of the some 50 people who attended a public meeting on Tuesday night, was part of the demonstrations that saved Old City Hall from being demolished in the 1960s. (CBC)

Architects working with the city say the building would likely undergo significant renovations and could eventually be home to a museum as well as some retail space. It's unclear how much converting the building would cost.

Ian Rolston, another resident who attended the meeting, said whatever goes into the building should be emblematic of both the city and the country.

"It is absolutely an icon. And we need icons. We do a good job of tearing things down in this city — it's time to save something," he said.

Rolston said he is definitely open to a mixed-use approach to the building. Bush agreed, so long as the businesses that move in respect the history of the building and aren't too "garish."

Whatever goes in there, she said, should match its history. 

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