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Home Woman business Just what is this giant spike attached to Toronto’s new courthouse?

Just what is this giant spike attached to Toronto’s new courthouse?

If you looked up recently at Toronto’s new courthouse and wondered what the heck they were seeing, you are not alone. A curious design feature seen on one of the province’s newest buildings has many people guessing as to its purpose, so we did some digging.

Hanging high above the province’s new courts building on the edge of University Avenue at Dundas Street West, is an 89-metre-long giant white spike, weighing approximately 26,000 kg.

But what is it for?


This 89-metre-long spike may have some functionality, but it wasn’t installed for the purpose of flying flags.


Matthew Bingley/Global News

The new courts building has gradually been coming together since the ground was broken in 2018. In the darkest days of the pandemic, when life in Toronto appeared to grind to a halt, construction, deemed essential, continued.

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When most staff at neighbouring City Hall were sent home to work, only construction workers nearby were left to inject life into the area.

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Now as the new 17-story building nears completion, anyone gazing up at its facade will notice the massive white spike looming over the front doors. It in fact rises an extra 25 metres above the roof, projecting the image of a javelin that landed far off its mark.

At first glance, it appears to be a stylised lightning rod, and while a spokesperson from Infrastructure Ontario said it will serve a functional role in protecting the building against lightning strikes, its true purpose is primarily on the aesthetic side.

“The mast is primarily an architectural element that marks the judicial precinct and provides the building with a dignified, clear and distinctive beacon,” said Ian McConachie from Infrastructure Ontario.

Its height, he said, will make the building visible from various approaches, including from York Street where it’s centered.


Construction crews have been putting the final touches on the new courts building ahead of phased move-ins which begin in March 2023.


Matthew Bingley/Global News

The contract for the 63-courtroom building, which will amalgamate six Ontario Court of Justice criminal court locations, is $956.4 million. But despite having the information of where the mast originated (it was built in Italy), Infrastructure Ontario couldn’t say how much the spike itself cost.

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“The mast is an architectural element that was included in the bid selected to design, build, finance and maintain the building,” said McConachie.

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Just in case you’re musing, “hey, that could make a handy flag pole,” don’t even think about it.

“Flags will not be raised from the mast, there are three flagpoles located outside in the public plaza to the west of the main entrance to the building,” said McConachie.

The Ministry of the Attorney General is scheduled to begin phased move-ins to the new courthouse between March and June of 2023.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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