Monday, October 31, 2011

Threatened Museum Receives Smithsonian Support

"Jack" Dailey.
The Canadian Air & Space Museum (CASM), threatened with permanent closure by federal crown corporation and landlord Parc Downsview Park (PDP), which hopes to build a four rink ice complex on the site, has received a letter of support from the director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, DC.

The October 31st, 2011 Canadian Press article "Threatened Toronto museum gets vote of support from director of Smithsonian" quotes an October 25th, 2011 letter from NASM director John R. "Jack" Dailey to CASM chairman Ian McDougall stating that he was very aware of the lasting contribution of the Toronto museum and the historic value of the building.

The museum is housed in what was once the original factory for de Havilland Aircraft of Canada and the original home of  Spar Aerospace (which started out as the special products applied research division of De Havilland and built the Allouette 1 satellite). The hangar is the oldest surviving aircraft factory building in Canada.

While Dailey did not explicitly call for the Canadian federal government (which directly controls all federal crown corporations) to cancel its plans, he did call for decision-makers to consider the building's historical value.

Unfortunately, in Canada at least, the heritage status of the building is currently in dispute. According to the October 29th, 2011 Toronto Star article "Air and Space Museum heads for demolition amid heritage status confusion" the proof of the building’s heritage status seems to have vanished. According to the article:
Until Oct. 26, the building was listed as “a recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental value” on the Canada Historic Places website.

This has been called an error by Parks Canada, the federal agency that oversees heritage sites. The entry in the official register of the agency’s Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office is gone.

David Soknacki, the chair of Parc Downsview Park, the Crown corporation in charge of the redevelopment, has said the building is not currently a heritage building.
However, the City of Toronto still lists the building on its inventory of heritage properties.

There is also the question of where the exhibits currently housed in the museum will be relocated should the building close. Displays include dozens of reproductions, full sized models and working aircraft from the last hundred years. The estimated cost of moving these items approaches one half million CDN dollars according to CASM estimates.

PDP has offered storage space at 40 Carl Hall Road, just down the street from the present museum but access to the offered storage is through a loading dock with doors which are too small to fit many of the displays and working aircraft.

1 comment:

  1. good vibrations engineering is one of the SME tenents of the same building as CASM. We located here because of the aerospace atmosphere created by the museum, the runway, the Bombardier plant and DCIEM just down the street. Our offices are in what was formerly early Spar Aerospace offices. We'll be pretty sad to have to leave. Its a struggle to keep doing space work in TO.


Support our Patreon Page