The well-known wooden façade of Plateau Afghan restaurant Khyber Pass has started to be demolished, after almost a decade of bickering between the restaurant and city officials.
CBC caught word of the restaurant’s move after it posted a Facebook update on Sunday, with the restaurant claiming that it would take $100,000 to dismantle and rebuild it. The lower part of the façade has now been removed, but the upper sections are still intact; the restaurant was ordered to remove it by the end of November.
It’s important to note that this situation was entirely avoidable — as was reported in October, the restaurant never actually obtained a permit to build the distinctive wooden structure in 2009, and over time, refused to compromise with the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough over it. A Plateau committee on urban planning and architecture indicated that the façade doesn’t fit with the historical character of the Duluth Street area, hence the reason permits were never approved.
That means it’s not quite the “bureaucracy gone mad” situation that the restaurant is painting this situation to be: while city officials have made occasional errors around permits in the past, this doesn’t seem to be one of those cases — instead, it was totally avoidable for the restaurant, so the complaints about money ring a little hollow.
That said, in the time since the façade went up, it does seem to have become a minor icon in the streetscape, so perhaps there could have been room to compromise. But it doesn’t mean the restaurant was right all along. Rather, it’s just that they avoided or ignored complaints from the City (which could have been easily predicted) for long enough for the structure to settle in.