2 min

Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives getting the boot

Queer collection may move sooner than planned

Two years away from a major move to a new home, the Canadian Lesbian And Gay Archives (CLGA) has been told to vacate its current premises.

“We received a letter politely asking us to vacate,” says vice-president Ken Popert.

The CLGA, currently located in an office building on Temperance St, is scheduled to move in early 2007 to 34 Isabella St, in the gay village. Its new home, obtained through a deal with the city and Toronto Children’s Aid Society which now owns the building, will have to undergo major renovations after the CLGA takes over in 2006.

Meanwhile, their Temperance St home is slated for demolition. Already winding its way through the city’s bureaucratic maze is the 81-storey, 800-unit Sapphire condo development by Stinson Developments. Construction is scheduled to start this fall, with occupancy in the summer of 2008.

“We have been promised vacant occupancy,” says Stinson’s Raymond Peringer. “The last tenant will be moving out late this summer and then construction will start just after demolition.”

Advertising for Sapphire claims the building is more than 30 percent sold.

Popert says he found news of the construction interesting given that the board had just signed a lease two months ago that didn’t mention a possible demolition.

Board president Mary Mac-Donald says there’s nothing to worry about and that the board is entering into negotiations with the landlord to determine a timeline and whether the organization will be compensated for eviction. She says it’s too early to tell if the archives are going to have to move before their new building is ready.

“I don’t want people to feel insecure about their things,” she says, referring to the numerous acquisitions and holdings of the archives.

“It’s a matter of public record that the intention is to demolish the building,” MacDonald says. “But we’re long-standing tenants…. So long as we’re paying the rent and the building is still standing we should be okay.”

She notes that it could take a few years for the owners of the building to obtain all of the necessary permits and permissions from the city, in which case the CLGA would be out before Stinson takes over the site.

Developer Harry Stinson wouldn’t comment on the timeline.

“There is a lot of politics going on in that building,” he says.

“We don’t look forward to the prospect of doing an interim move, but we’re not phased by that. We have to move anyways. Everything would be secure. We’re not really viewing it as a crisis. It’s just a pain in the ass,” says MacDonald.

The CLGA is just about to launch its capital fundraising campaign for the new building, and she is hoping that this uncertainty won’t worry potential donors.

“We’re okay. We have a plan. Everything is going to be fine,” she says.

Rent on Temperance St costs the archives about $55,000 a year. The new much larger digs on Isabella will have higher maintenance costs, but the $1-million property comes almost free, because of a complicated zoning deal with the city.