The Aga Khan Council for Canada was granted the opportunity to fill some
rather large shoes yesterday as the North York community council
unanimously voted against designating a former Bata headquarters
building as a heritage site.
Perhaps the Aga Khan knows something we don't. Why else would the spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims have chosen a 7-hectare site near Don Mills and Eglinton to build his $200 million community centre/cultural campus?
Most Torontonians would have dismissed that location without a second thought; after all Wynford Dr., where the old Bata and Shell corporate sites were located, is more a drive-by corner than a destination
Given the number of surface lots in Toronto, one might think we love them, but thankfully the Aga Khan doesn't. Though his demand will raise the cost of the project, that's a price he's willing to pay.
For this, and everything else, we should be eternally grateful. It is revealing that the Aga Khan and his foundation treat this city with more respect than most developers who work here. Not only did Toronto win the museum over London, England, the plan will empower three important architects to help transform Toronto.
The Aga Khan is also hard at work in Ottawa, converting the old War Museum of Sussex Dr. into the Global Centre for Pluralism. There's another Ismaili centre, also designed by Maki, under construction in the embassy district.