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When a foreign-owned developer seeks to destroy Spadina Gardens, a quirky cast of unlikely activists battle to safeguard a Toronto historical landmark they consider themselves the caretakers of.

Built in 1904, the half-block mid-rise apartment complex at Spadina and Lowther is the oldest Toronto building to maintain its original floor plans, not to mention many original architectural details. These rental units have drawn an equally eclectic mix of tenants: literary, industrial, operatic, from economizing aristocrats to ascending rock stars—embodying the unique creative spirit that drew developers to Toronto in the first place.

After their home is sold to a Dutch developer, the Spadina Gardens tenants form an association to petition for heritage status to protect the building amid dramatically rising property values. While easily among the most privileged of Toronto’s constituents, the fight to preserve Spadina Gardens nevertheless offers insights into the current housing crisis and about the solidarity required to preserve the rapidly disappearing soul of the city.

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