509 Parliament St., Cabbagetown

Upscale Toronto nabe criticized for protest of 10-storey building plan

Residents of Cabbagetown, one of Toronto’s oldest and most protected neighbourhoods, are protesting a new amendment that would allow for the construction of a 10-storey building in the downtown Toronto area. 

Cabbagetown is an area with a lot of history and is also known as one of the richest and lowest-density areas in the entire city. Those attributes are due to the zoning laws in the area that only allow for buildings designated as “low-rise” to be built in the neighbourhood. 

This proposed 10-storey building would require approval to amend the area’s zoning by-law to actually be built. The plan, if approved, would have a 10-storey mid-rise mixed-use building with retail at-grade and 86 dwelling units built on 505, 507 and 509 Parliament Street.

According to the city of Toronto,  the “western (Parliament Street) elevation of the existing 1½ storey listed heritage building at 509 Parliament Street is proposed to be retained and the existing building at 505-507 Parliament Street is proposed to be demolished as part of the proposed development.”

Rendering of proposed development (City of Toronto)

One of the buildings, at 509, was once a CBC recording studio, and a series of dance theatres and schools over the years.


A change.org petition was put up supposedly by residents of the neighbourhood calling for the denial of the amended requests. The petition says that “residents and businesses are concerned about the visual and physical size, scale design, and lengthy construction of the proposed development and the resulting impact on the safety and quality of life of pedestrians, patrons and residents in the surrounding area.”

The petition also lists proposals from those against the building’s construction. These proposals include “Low-rise housing that is compliant with current height bylaws,” and having “some units that are designated as affordable/rent geared to income.”

The petition is directed at the City of Toronto Planning Department, as well as Chris Moise, the councillor for Toronto’s 13th Ward, which encompasses Cabbagetown. 

Among the listed complaints in the petition include the “height and design are not sensitively integrated with heritage buildings in the context of Heritage Conservation Districts,” and “Unease amongst residents about the precedent-setting for future developments on Parliament Street between Gerrard and Wellesley streets.” 

However other people online are calling out the citizens against the proposed building saying that denying its construction will only add to the city’s housing crisis as well as the growing gap between economic classes. 

One person who replied to the petition on Twitter said that “the richest, whitest and least populated neighbourhood in downtown Toronto is upset about a 10-storey building.” 

That poster went on to say in a Twitter thread that “it’s fun to joke around but to be clear: The issue is deadly serious. We’re seeing large and growing inequality and segregation as a direct result of public policy. The city has been unable or unwilling to see this but it’s time to call it for what it is.” 

Other people online are calling out those for the petition, saying that it shows a NIMBY mentality, NIMBY standing for “Not in my backyard.” The term NIMBY is usually used negatively to describe someone or a community of people who is resistant to any developments in their local area. This usually comes from either keeping the property value of the area or to gatekeep the area to only those within a certain economic class. 

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO