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Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science

Program: Mechanical Engineering/Industrial Engineering

Course ID: CMN432 Section: 07 Instructor: Dr. Guang Ying Mo, Dr. Glen Farrelly
Course Title: Communication in the Engineering Profession

ASSIGNMENT: Research Report

Submission Date Monday, October 16, 2018
Due Date Monday, October 16, 2018

Student Name Jeremiah Lumbantobing
Student ID xxxx26233
Signature* J.L.
(Note: Remove the first 4 digits from your student ID)


Toronto City Council
Jeremiah Lumbantobing

October 16, 2018
Subject: Research on the Cultural Impact of a SuDS Implementation
Message: Introduction

Dear Toronto City Council,

My name is Jeremiah Lumbantobing. I understand that your committee has had the chance to review my company’s proposal to addressing flash flooding in the City of Toronto with a sustainable urban drainage system (SuDS). My role in this assessment is to examine the cultural impact of implementing a SuDS in the city. The research presented will explore how cultural objectives can be integrated into key stages of the development plan of the SuDS from proposed locations, to ongoing monitoring and evaluation to bringing lasting cultural benefits.
Often when a new urban redevelopment plan is proposed, it can be quick to dismiss the cultural dimension in favour of focusing on the financing of the redevelopment or the economic benefits it can yield. However, research done by van der Borg and Russo (2005) show that culture itself can be considered a full-fledged economic sector that – as any other – enables access to jobs and various other social benefits.
By integrating SuDS solutions such as permeable concrete and green roofs in already existing urban developments, flooding can be mitigated whilst still working within the limited space available in the city (Fraser, 2002). This would however require heavy changes to be made to the current infrastructure. Toronto itself is an eclectic composition of buildings from the 19th century to 21st century with ranging architectural styles. Special considerations need to be made to whether these changes are possible to buildings in historic neighbourhoods and if made, how they would affect their respective communities. The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places from Parks Canada (2010) will be used as guiding principles for the project regarding the SuDS and historic buildings.

The relationship between historic buildings and development in Toronto
Pelley reports that as of 2017, the City of Toronto claims to have approximately 9000 buildings on the list waiting to be evaluated for a potential heritage designation. The amount of buildings slated for demolition is unable to keep up with the backlogged heritage designation process. In the case of the historic Mimico factory built back in 1917, it was just weeks away from potentially getting a heritage designation but was demolished in September 2016. The loss of historic Toronto buildings can cause public outcry and create tension between developers, city council and community members.

The use of a SuDS for historic buildings
The proposed SuDS aims to add green roofs to as many buildings needed to effectively mitigate flooding throughout Toronto as possible. This can serve as a middle ground between the heritage designation and the demolition of historic buildings. In the example of the University of Toronto’s McLaughlin Planetarium, the vice-president of university operations Scott Mabury noted that building was “not reusable” despite the university’s efforts to find a purpose for it (Pelley, 2017). A SuDS expands the range of possibilities for the reuse of buildings in the city and can limit controversies such as the demolition of the McLaughlin Planetarium.
Visual appeal
The U.S. National Park Service (n.d.) states it must first be assessed if the building can accommodate the addition of a green roof without altering its historic character since the visual appeal of a historic building is of primary importance. The importance of visual appeal can be seen in the case of a house at 2 St. James Ct in historic Cabbagetown which is the subject of a decade-long battle amongst neighbours and between the neighbourhood and the city McKeen, 2017). It’s box-like exterior make it seem out of place amongst Victorian Revival styles of homes. A green roof, its plantings and any other ancillary features such as outdoor furnishings, on a historic building should not be visible from the public right of way (U.S. National Park Service, n.d.). Thus, the same guidance should be used for determining the compatibility of a green roof addition to historic buildings for the SuDS.
Physical challenges for developers
Developers face challenges when working with historic buildings, which can be totally dilapidated or technologically archaic. The 5 St. Joseph Street project from ERA Architects integrated 10 buildings into a new condo and retail development. One of the buildings was on the brink of collapse, displaying signs of catastrophic structural failure such as physically dropping two-and-a-half inches (Pelley, 2017). It must be considered that if not proceeded carefully, a project such as the SuDS could result in damages to a historic building or its surrounding buildings ultimately leading to further loss of historic and cultural significance in Toronto. A structural engineer should first investigate whether the building in its current state is able to support the additional weight that comes with a green roof. If a structural upgrade will be necessary and if it cannot be introduced into the building without damaging historic features or altering its historic character, then a green roof would likely not be appropriate and should not be installed.
The U.S. National Park Service (n.d.) also notes that a flat or slightly-sloped roof is most suitable for a green roof location. Ideally there should be a substantial parapet to help shield the green roof from public view to not throw off the aforementioned historical significance. This could prove particularly difficult to work with in the cases of gable roofs in Victorian Revival styles of buildings common throughout many older parts of Toronto such as Cabbagetown and Little Italy (Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet and Associates Architects, Archaeological Services Inc., & Bousfields Inc., n.d.). Gable roofs have several intersecting pitches meaning that if a green roof is even possible on the structure, it would be nearly impossible to shield it from public view.

Cultural Associations
Historic districts of Toronto such as the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood have buildings that serve as identifiable city landmarks and add to the cultural heritage value. Examples of buildings that reinforce and sustain social and cultural activities to the communities it serves include St. Lawrence north and south markets, which have since their inception been focal points for civic activities. St. James Cathedral, as the home of the Diocese of Toronto and the Anglican Church of Canada, is a historic religious anchor located within the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood (Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet and Associates Architects, n.d.). The viability of implementing elements of the SuDS into cultural landmarks such as these in Toronto which have remained relatively unchanged since their conception must be considered.

In conclusion, the proposed SuDS will need to factor in the cultural challenges of developing infrastructure in historical districts of Toronto. The benefits of building the SuDS include finding a use for many ageing buildings however that is if they are able to sustain the added weight of roof gardens. Many historical buildings continue to serve their surrounding communities and it must be considered how the added SuDS elements will affect the perception of those buildings.

I hope the research presented was to your satisfaction. Thank you for your time.

Best regards,



Fraser, E. D. G. (2002). Urban ecology in bangkok, thailand: Community participation, urban agriculture and forestry. Environments, 30(1), 37.

van der Borg, J., & Russo, A. P. (2005). THE IMPACTS OF CULTURE ON THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF CITIES. A research into the cultural economies and policies of Amsterdam, Bolzano, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Klaipeda, Manchester, Rotterdam, Tampere, The Hague and Vienna, 7.

National Park Service. (n.d.). Green Roofs. U.S. Department of the Interior.

Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet and Associates Architects, Archaeological Services Inc., & Bousfields Inc.(n.d.). ST. LAWRENCE NEIGHBOURHOOD HERITAGE CONSERVATION DISTRICT PLAN.

Pelley, Lauren. (2017, Jan 29). Why are beloved Toronto buildings torn down — even when people fight to save them?. CBC News.

McKeen, Alex. (2017, Aug 10). Cabbagetown house is the subject of a decade-long neighbourhood battle. Toronto Star.

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