01/23/2014 06:39 EST | Updated 03/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Toronto bylaws ignored as developer bulldozes historic school

The city is admitting bylaws and procedures were not followed when a historic schoolhouse being considered for a possible heritage site was recently demolished by a developer.

The site near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue West housed a local schoolhouse since 1863.  A new school was built on the site in 1927 and recently torn down to make way for townhomes.

Mato Roncevic is one of the hundreds of people in that community who are looking for answers from the city.

"The process was not followed, and because of that, we end up with this," Roncevic said. "The neighbourhood is going to suffer because of this."

The CBC’s John Lancaster reported that the city’s bylaws said that before a demolition permit can be granted in this case, the issue should have gone before a community council for deputations and a full vote.

In this case, that process was skipped and instead city building officials unilaterally decided to grant that demolition permit, and within days, the historic school was gone.

"I think part of the frustration is we don’t really know what was lost," Roncevic said.

It’s possible that the foundations from the original schoolhouse may still be underground.

Coun. Josh Colle confirmed the city was looking at declaring the land a heritage site before building officials gave the OK for the building to be torn down.

"Not that we're suggesting a conspiracy theory, but there seemed to be a real rush to make sure this happened as quickly as possible,” he said.

CBC Toronto has learned the land was sold to developers for approximately $6.3 million: more than $1 million more than it was valued at.

Letter of apology

Local residents still haven’t been provided with an explanation for why the city didn’t follow proper procedures in this case, and officials declined to speak with CBC News on camera.

In a letter provided to residents, and signed by the executive director of Toronto Building, Ann Borooah, the city did admit it messed up.

"We apologize for not applying the requirements of the City of York By-law 3102-95 prior to issuance of the building permit and for the impact this may have had on the community," Borooah wrote.

Roncevic, however, said he doesn’t think "sorry will be enough" to fix the long-term damage of losing a historic site in the community.