The First Parliament site is located in downtown Toronto at the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets. It is a full city block, bounded on the west by Berkeley Street and on the south by Parliament Square Park. The First Parliament site is almost as large as Nathan Phillips Square.
The events and people associated with the First Parliament site have shaped the City of Toronto and Ontario. It is where the first purpose-built parliament buildings were constructed in 1797, establishing York (now Toronto) as the capital of Upper Canada. These buildings are also best known for being burned down by the Americans during the War of 1812.
The site is adjacent to the historic 10-block town site of York, the birthplace of Toronto and the City’s earliest buildings. In later years, the site would be developed for a county district jail and in the 1800s, the entire block (plus the surrounding lands) would be occupied by Consumers Gas which powered the industrialization of the City. In the 1960s the Consumers Gas buildings were demolished and the site is now occupied by a car dealership, car wash and car rental agency.
The First Parliament project consists of two phases.
In the first phase, the consultant team will research the histories and the evolution of the site to identify key historical themes. The team will refer to archival material and will consult with stakeholders and community members.
Here is the Heritage Interpretation Strategy:
The second phase will build on the heritage values, create a vision and guiding principles and propose a plan to develop the site over the next 10 to 20 years. The Master Planning process will engage stakeholders, identify partnerships and develop an overall vision and implementation plan for the site.
On May 18, 2021, the project team hosted a public meeting to showcase and celebrate the effort that individual residents, the community and the project team have put into the Heritage Interpretation Strategy and the Master Plan. The presentation is available for reference.
The Long Range Master Plan is a document that provides a framework to guide the development of the First Parliament site.
The First Parliament site will be developed for a mix of community uses. Planning and consultation is underway to determine how the site will be developed.
To date, City Council has approved the redevelopment of a new district library on site to replace the existing St. Lawrence Public Library Branch. That amount of space required for the library represents only a portion of the First Parliament site so there are opportunities for other public and community uses.
The First Parliament Project is sponsored by the City of Toronto in partnership with the Province of Ontario. Local community groups and the general public are important participants in the Project.