News & Opinion

Posts Tagged ‘Bathurst Street’

A new map of Toronto, how Adam Vaughan almost snuck on Mayor Ford’s executive committee, Crazy Town: Robyn Doolittle’s upcoming book on Ford, Bathurst built form report, Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Bloor, and more this week in the neighbourhood | October 18, 2013

In Coming events, The West Annex, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on October 18, 2013 at 12:05 AM


Map of Toronto by stereotype

By West Annex News | Another jam-packed week with lots of things happening in and around the West Annex.

BlogTO wrote this week about URBANE, a US hipster-map manufacturer’s new map of Toronto neighbourhoods by stereotype. Burn: nothing north of Bloor was included on the map, so Harbord Village–“Professors in bay and gable housing”–has to stand in for the Annex.

____________________________________________________

Adam Vaughan almost joined Rob Ford's executive committee when Council's left wing called a snap vote after five Ford allies had left for the weekend.

Adam Vaughan almost joined Rob Ford’s executive committee when Council’s left wing called a snap vote after five Ford allies had left for the Thanksgiving weekend.

This week in Fordlandia

#TOpoli aficionados are salivating at the news broken by Marc Weisblott at Canada.com that The Star’s Robyn Doolittle will publish a book about Rob Ford and family called Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story. Quill & Quire reports that Doolittle’s publisher promises the book will contain “shocking new revelations” about Ford. The book will be released March 2014, in the midst of the nomination period for the 2014 Toronto municipal election. Amazon.ca is taking advance orders for Doolittle’s book.

Complaints to the Ontario Press Council about The Star’s series of articles about the Rob Ford crack video scandal and the Globe and Mail’s revelations about Doug Ford’s drug dealing past were both dismissed this week. [cbc.ca]

Let sleeping Ford's lie.

Let sleeping Fords lie.

Not long after he called for the firing of an apparently napping city employee, a photograph of a sleeping Mayor Ford began circulating on the Internet.

Council’s left wing almost snuck Councillor Adam Vaughan on Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee Friday evening, October 11 when five of Ford’s allies left Council’s October meeting early for the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Vaughan allies moved a snap vote to break the shut out of the old City of Toronto from the powerful executive committee. Although the motion failed on a 16-16 tie, Vaughan told The Star’s Daniel Dale “I certainly saw the panic in Ford’s face, and every time I see that, I love it.”

_____________________________________________________

Condominium towers at Dupont and Shaw

Two eleven-storey residential condo towers are proposed for the Sobey's site at Dupont and Shaw

Two eleven-storey residential condo towers are proposed for the Sobey’s site at Dupont and Shaw

The Grid reports this week on the battle to build two 11-storey condominium towers at Dupont and Shaw where Sobey’s grocery store now stands. The lands are zoned for employment and if the developer wins an exception from the city or the OMB, all of the employment lands on the north side of Dupont Street will be up for grabs for residential development.

____________________________________________________________

Brooklyn graffiti artists subcontract mural job on Bathurst Street

Brooklyn street artists subcontracted this mural on Bathurst north of Davenport

Brooklyn street artists subcontracted this mural on Bathurst north of Davenport

The National Post revealed that Brooklyn, NY graffiti artist collective Faile, paid $23,000 for a mural commission on Bathurst Street just north of Davenport Road, did not show up to paint the mural themselves but subcontracted the work to others.

If you support bikes lanes on Bloor-Danforth, Cycle Toronto is asking you to write to members of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee by 4:30PM today, October 18, to support the Bloor-Dupont environmental assessment, and to ask the committee to expand the assessment to include Danforth. Email addresses for the members of the committee are on the Cycle Toronto website.

A $1.3 million semi at 314 Robert Street just south of Bloor is Toronto Life‘s House of the week. With a skylit kitchen, massive living room fireplace, coffered ceilings and wainscoting throughout, the before and after transformation of this recent reno is truly stunning.

__________________________________________________________

Bicycle Fall Blowout sale logoComing events:

Bicycle Fall Blowout Sale, Saturday, October 19, 10AM to 5PM: The 14th annual Bicycle Fall Blowout Sale is this Saturday, 10AM to 5PM at the Direct Energy Centre, East Annex, Hall F in Exhibition Place. This annual seven-hour sales blitz is well worth your time if you’re looking to buy a new bike, bike accessories, clothing or footwear, as manufacturers and local retailers clear out 2013 stock at deeply discounted prices. It pays to be well-prepared for the sale. Stock moves incredibly fast. Do your research, study the floor plan and be ready to pounce when you see a deal you want.

_________________________________________________________

Toronto Waterfront Marathon Sunday, October 20th

Bathurst and Bloor will be closed Sunday, October 20, 2013 for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Image credit Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Bathurst and Bloor will be closed Sunday, October 20, 2013 for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Image credit Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | click to enlarge

Get your cowbells ready, the 25,000 runners of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be passing through the neighbourhood the morning of Sunday, October 20, 2013. This is a chance to see world-class marathoners up close, as last year’s winners Sahle Warga Betona and Mary Davis try to repeat their wins and break the course record of  2:07:58.

The race starts at 8AM at University and Queen Street. Runners head up University, then along Bloor and down Bathurst. Running at just over 3 minutes per kilometer, the leaders should be on Bloor between Spadina and Bathurt by about 8:08AM. The Bloor Annex BIA is sponsoring a window decoration contest, asking Bloor Street businesses to decorate their windows with banners and signs to cheer on the runners.

Road closures for the event: Bloor will be closed between Bay and Bathurst from 8AM to 10:15AM. Bathurst will be closed from Bloor to Lakeshore from 8AM to 10:45AM. Details of all street closures in Toronto are here.

_________________________________________________________________

Bathurst Street Built Form study Tuesday, October 22, 6:00 to 9:30PM

Bathurst_Street_built_form_composite

Councillors Mike Layton and Adam Vaughan are once again hosting a community meeting at Central Technical School, this time to discuss the draft proposed recommendations of the Bathurst Street built form and land use study team. More details at Ring Around the City.

___________________________________________________________________

Related posts:

Last week in the neighbourhood: Report from the Four Corners of Bathurst and Bloor community charette

Nuit Blanche 2013, Bathurst and Bloor charette, Eden Smith’s own house, the Bathurst bendy bus, and more this week in the neighbourhood | October 4, 2013

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Eating & Drinking, Heritage & History, The West Annex, This week in the neighbourhood on October 4, 2013 at 12:05 AM
The Four Corners of Bathurst and Bloor charette will be hosted by Councillors Layton and Vaughan on October 5th

The Four Corners of Bathurst and Bloor community charette, hosted by Councillors Layton and Vaughan, October 5, 2013, 1 to 4PM at Central Technical School. | Image credit bottom left photo: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, item 1043, April 3, 1911; all others West Annex News.

By West Annex News | Here’s what’s happening this week in and around the neighbourhood.

The Four Corner of Bathurst and Bloor Community Charette, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 1PM, Central Technical School, 725 Bathurst Street. From the public notice:Now that the future of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village are up for debate, it is even more important to set out a vision for the four corners of Bathurst and Bloor. There are many sites at this corner that may become development sites in the next decade and we need to be prepared as a community to define how we want our neighbourhoods to grow.”

Prepare for the charette by reading Putting the CON in Consultation“. This indispensable guide tells you the tricks and techniques developers and city planners use when they want to mute your voice in working groups, visioning studies and other so-called community consultations. [Dooney’s Cafe]

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2011

Nuit Blanche Toronto starts Saturday, October 5 at 6:51PM

Nuit Blanche 2013, from sunset (6:51PM) Saturday, October 5 to sunrise the next morning. It’s the big one: Nuit Blanche 2013, Toronto’s annual free, city-wide sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art. All the major city blogs–[blogTO] [Now] [The Grid] [Torontoist]–have good guides to the most highly touted events. But here are some local events that deserve some love:

  • Convergence North at Spadina House, 285 Spadina Road. An array of interactive light sculpture installations along a path created through the five-acre grounds of the Spadina Museum.
  • Nothing is Better at the Church of the Redeemer, 162 Bloor Street West. Synchronized multi-screen video, music, sound, live performance. A thought-provoking and amusing science musical documentary and allegorical journey from the city’s outskirts to its heart of darkness.
  • Art meets Chess at Wychwood Barns, Chess pieces created by artist Blandford Gates out of recycled metal will be re used to recreate the Game of the Century, game 5 in the match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972.  See video below to learn more.

The Pottery and Glass Show at Artscape Wychwood BarnsSaturday and Sunday, October 5 & 6, 2013, 8AM to 5PM: This juried show and sale showcases the best of Ontario’s glass and clay artists. Admission is free.

Eden Smith's home at 267 Indian Road | Image credit Google Street View

Eden Smith’s home at 267 Indian Road | Image credit Google Street View

For the architourist, Eden Smith’s own house is for sale for $1,169,000. The Century 21 listing says the c. 1896 home at 267 Indian Road home was the prototype for Smith’s Art & Crafts/English Cottage style. [Built Heritage News].

Harbord Village is being lauded for its laneway-naming project which has reminded the community of its history. [YongeStreet]

The TTC’s new Bombardier bendy bus was in Bathurst station today for a test run from the TTC’s Hillcrest complex. While the buses are generally receiving favourable reviews, the routes they serve will see a cut in the frequency of bus service to offset the new bus’ increased rider capacity. [Torontoist]

Kops Records’ Annex location opened last weekend at 592 Bloor West  (formerly Markus Fashion). This continues a trend: interesting new shops are bypassing the West Annex stretch of Bloor east of Bathurst in favour of Koreatown. [BlogTO]

"Before the last supper . . . they at brunch" says Big Crow's Anthony Rose | Image credit Rose and Sons Big Crow

“Before the last supper . . . they ate brunch” says Big Crow’s Anthony Rose | Image credit Rose and Sons Big Crow

Anthony Rose’s Big Crow (in the back of 176 Dupont Street, the former People’s Foods) is opening for brunch on weekends starting October 5th. Brunch hours are 11AM to 3PM, Saturday and Sunday. The brunch menu is here.

Theh west field of Sibelius Square is closed yet again for soil decompacting and re-sodding.

The west field of Sibelius Square is closed yet again for soil de-compacting and re-sodding.

The playing field at Sibelius Square is out of commission. Again. The $1 million plus park renovation in 2012 made the field’s drainage problem worse, not better. Councillor Vaughan’s constituency assistant Areej Hasso reports that city staff is blaming soil compaction, not a design flaw. Staff says they de-compacted the soil before laying new sod on October 3rd. No word on when play can resume on the field.

And oh yeah, there was that rat article. They’re on the rise in the Annex. Your green lifestyle may be partly to blame. [thestar.com]

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Related posts:

Last week in the neighbourhood

Nuit Blanche 2012: West Annex News presents Fortifications for Small Worlds

Jean Sibelius Square Park official re-opening

This week in the neighbourhood | September 20, 2013

In Coming events, This week in the neighbourhood on September 20, 2013 at 8:00 AM
A rendering of what separated, bi-directional bike lanes would look like at Bloor and Howland/Borden.

A rendering of what separated, bi-directional bike lanes would look like at Bloor and Howland/Borden. | Image credit Cycle Toronto

By West Annex News | Here’s what’s  been happening lately in and around the neighbourhood:

Bike lanes on Bloor might make a come-back. BlogTO and others are reporting that emails from residents and advocacy groups prompted a group of six city councillors to ask city staff to reopen a study into bike lanes on Bloor. Cycle Toronto has a petition with almost 1000 signatures, urging city council to support the initiative. Mayor Ford ended the study in 2011, at the same time he lead council to remove the Jarvis Street bike lanes.

The interim control bylaw on Bathurst Street, meant to give both Kensington Market and Mirvish Village some breathing space from development pressures, is being challenged at the Ontario Municipal Board. RioCan’s application to put a Walmart in the former Kromer Radio site was turned down by the Committee of Adjustments in May. The bylaw was put in place in June.

Meanwhile, Adam Vaughan’s vowed to destroy the OMB after Harbord Village residents were given permission to keep their illegal two-storey addition at the back of their 36 Brunswick Avenue home after an epic seven-year legal battle. Owner Shih Tseng, a former realtor, argued that he didn’t realize a permit was necessary. The battle cost Tseng about $300,000, the city $500,000.

The Galle family’s annual peperonata-making party in the laneway between Montrose Avenue and Bickford Park was commemorated by the City by the naming of laneway on Saturday, September 14th. After the ceremony about 150 neighbours and friends sat down in the lane to roast, peel, and eat the traditional Sicilian pepper and potato dish.

Peperonata Lane naming ceremony on September 14, 2013

Peperonata Lane naming ceremony on September 14, 2013

The thieves drove a white BMW in a daring robbery at the Prada Store at 131 Bloor Street West in the early morning of September 18, 2013.  The store’s plate glass windows were smashed and purses and wallets taken.

The Grid features an article this week about how apples from an Annex resident’s front yard ended up on the menu at Richmond Station restaurant with the help of Not Far From the Tree.

What’s up this coming week:

sharrows_don't_work_by_West_Annex_News

Why sharrows don’t work

Saturday, September 21 at 1PM: Bagels for bike lanes: Love-in at the Harbord Bakery, 115 Harbord Street. Cycle Toronto has organized this friendly mass bagel-buy to show our good neighbour at the Harbord Bakery–long-time bike-lane opponents–that cyclists are an important part of their customer base. While you’re at it, don’t forget to sign Cycle Toronto’s petition supporting separated bike lanes on Harbord and Hoskins.

Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22: Queen West Art Crawl featuring an outdoor art show and sale in Trinity-Bellwoods Park from 11AM to 6PM, a Parkdale Night Crawl, and guided art walks and talks.

Thursday, September 26, 7PM to midnight: Vintage Crawl. More than 35 vendors between College and Queen, Spadina to Roncesvalles will offer vintage clothing, jewelry, furniture and home decor items.

Map of vendors participating in Vintage Crawl Toronto Thursday September 26th from 7PM to midnight.

Map of vendors participating in Vintage Crawl Toronto Thursday September 26th from 7PM to midnight. | Image credit Vintage Crawl

The wrap for June 9, 2012 | Goodbye People’s Foods, hello Famoso Pizzeria and Barton Snacks . . .

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Eating & Drinking, The West Annex, This week in the neighbourhood on June 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

The charming Barton Snacks at the south east corner of Bathurst and Barton, one block north of Bloor. Finally, somewhere to get indie coffee after 6PM in the Annex.

By West Annex News | Here’s what’s  been happening lately in and around the neighbourhood and on the Web:

New additions to the deadpool: After 50 years, Annex diner People’s Food is folding due to a rent increase [blogTO], while Kromer Radio is closing after 55 years in business. While Kromer told The Grid they’re closing just because they’re tired, an application for a height and usage variance by the new land-owners RioCan suggests that development pressures were the real culprit. Openfile reports that RioCan’s application was turned down by the Committee of Adjustments, but the developer is expected to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Green sprouts: The tiny but charming Barton Snacks  is cheering up the south-east corner of Bathurst and Barton with espresso-based coffee drinks and premium products like ice cream from Maypole Dairy and healthy(-ish) potato chips prepared with avocado oil and reduced sodium. Manager Chris Sherwood tells us that he’ll also be serving hotdogs. The Snack is open 8AM to 10PM Monday to Friday, and 11AM to 10PM Saturday and Sunday. Finally, a place to get indie coffee after 6PM in the Annex.

And genuine Neapolitan pizza is coming to the Bloor-West Annex strip, albeit in the form of an Edmonton-based chain Famoso Pizzeria. The owners expect to have the 386 Bloor Street location open by June 21, 2012. The previous tenant was the James Joyce Irish Pub.

Busy weekend: We hope the rain holds off for the Portugal Day Parade and Picnic today. The parade starts at 11AM on Landsdowne at Bloor and then heads down to Dundas Street West for the live music and picnic in Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

If it rains, the wonderful Ring Around the City reminds us that the Raw/Vegan Festival is going on all weekend indoors at 918 Bathurst Street, just north of Barton.

918 Bathurst Street, where the Raw/Vegan Food Festival is being held this weekend

The inaugural Junction Flea market is this Sunday June 10, starting at 9AM, on Dundas Street West, one block east of Keele. If this preview of  The Vintage Cabin’s wares is in any way typical of the quality and prices of the offerings, this is a not-to-be missed event.

Then from 11AM to 6PM Sunday it’s the Annex Festival on Bloor. We’re sad this festival seems less Annex, more the same old travelling road show of vendors that you see over and over again at every Toronto street festivals. But we love the chance to walk on a car-free Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst once a year and enjoy the live music.

Then at 3:30PM Sunday, don’t forget to head over to the Jean Sibelius Square Park official re-opening.

The renewed Jean Sibelius Square Park, 50 Kendal Avenue in the Annex.

Good reads: YongeStreet proposes how Toronto can further densify without more condos in Right up your alley: Can laneway housing provide an antidote to our high-rise growth spurt

Toronto Life has a story about that 83 story condo, the tallest in Canada, that could be coming to the Holt Renfrew Centre on Bloor. Closer to home, the massive condo development including a 40-storey glass condominium planned by the United Church for the Bloor Street United Church at Huron and Bloor has local residents and Councillor Vaughan concerned [The Varsity].

The Dupont Street cycle lanes are probably safe for now despite the plotting of  Ward 17 Councilor and Rob Ford ally Cesar Palacio to get rid of them [openfile].

Ring Around the City is passing on a warning from 14 Division about a hot water scam in the neighbourhood. Two men already face charges.

And the always interesting Atlantic Cities’ website has two recent  articles we enjoyed: Why We Pay More for Walkable Neighbourhoods  and The Evolution of Bike Lanes (cycle tracks anyone?)

Neapolitan pizza in the Annex via Edmonton: Famoso Pizzeria’s big pizza oven has already arrived, readying for the opening at 386 Bloor Street West June 21, 2012

about Design Corp. at 1042 Bathurst Street

In Arrivals & Departures on March 27, 2011 at 12:05 AM

about Design Corp., where interesting things began to happen in late 2010

By West Annex News | Last month while reviewing the John Cadiz show at Ideasincorporated gallery, we commented upon the exciting mix of galleries, indie coffee houses, shops and restaurants suddenly appearing on Bathurst Street south of Dupont.

Since then we have watched while several more building on this rapidly gentrifying strip have been transformed. None has been more intriguing than 1042 Bathurst Street. Following the departure a few years ago of Apollo Volvo Specialist mechanics in the rear and Das Autopro, a European auto accessories shop in the retail space in the front, this double-wide space had been occupied by a number of short-lived tenants. By mid-2010 the space was empty, and stayed that way for some time.

Then in the late in 2010, interesting things began to happen. First the space was stripped down to white walls and hardwood flooring. Some time later a black curtain appeared across the entire width of the back of the store, and then stark fluorescent tubes were installed on the floor and a wall.  Finally a clothing rack arrived in one window, from which hung beautifully tailored white shirts. But were they shirts? On closer inspection, the shirt tails were sewn together at the bottom, and straps wrapped around them. Were these stylized strait jackets? Was this a gallery? An art installation? A performance space?

Then cryptic information appeared in small letters  in the bottom left corner of the front window.  A name, an email address, and a website, for about Design Corp. We visited the website, which featured moody, enigmatic videos which only deepened the mystery.

To add to the intrigue, the front door were always locked, no matter the time of day we went by. That is, until last Saturday, when we tried the door, and it opened. Inside we met the charming Dean Hutchinson and Yunchieh Chang, the fashion designers and principals behind about Design Corp, who ushered us into their spare, elegant, and now-opened shop.

Yunchieh Chang and Dean Hutchinson of about design corp.

Hutchinson is returning to Toronto after many years in the San Francisco fashion scene. A Canadian, he headed to California immediately upon his graduation from the University of Saskatoon Fine Arts program to learn the fashion business. He quickly built a following for the strong, beautiful architecture of his designs.

In the late 1990’s he established Dean Hutchinson (Design) Inc. where fashion designed and manufactured in Toronto was sold at his San Francisco retail stores.

In California, Hutchinson met Cheng, an American born in Singapore and a winner of a prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America fashion design scholarship.

Beautifully draped, asymmetrically designed jackets come in fabric or leather

About Design Corp. is the product of their collaboration. Their Bathurst Street atelier contains immaculately constructed classic wardrobe pieces in black, white and gray, together with asymmetrically designed jackets in fabric and leather. The leather is luxurious and buttery soft; it drapes like fabric.  On some pieces exposed zippers add an edge to the feminine designs.

Chang and Hutchinson decided that there would be no labels in the clothing. “We want you to create what you think it is” said Hutchinson, explaining their design philosophy. “We want to be both respectful of the heritage of clothing making, and create a design-centric, artisan collection.”

“New idea need old buildings” Jane Jacobs said. And about Design Corp. and Bathurst Street exemplify this maxim.  The still relatively low rents on the street allow Hutchinson and Chang to locate their design studio, manufacturing facility, and showroom all at in the same building.

Exquisitely constructed, label-free classic wardrobe pieces

Chang and Hutchinson were kind enough to part the black drapes that so dramatically frame their showroom, and give us a behind-the-scenes tour.

Hutchinson and Chang in their design studio at 1042 Bathurst Street

The design and manufacturing area is down the stairs from the showroom. It’s an exciting space bursting with creativity, with paper patterns lining the walls and works in progress partially assembled on dressmaker dummies and spread out on large tables.

About is the latest of a number of new shops, galleries and cafes which have been garnering rave reviews from the media, like Madeleines, Cherry Pie and Ice CreamRapidoBurnettJava Mama, ideasincorporatedBarbara Edwards ContemporaryEwanika, and Scoop and Bean, and which have joined with neighbourhood stalwarts like Annapurna VegetarianLa Parette Gallery and the unspoiled vintage diners Apollo 11 and Vesta Lunch to form a vibrant new neighbourhood. For lack of a better name, we called the neighbourhood the upper West Annex in our last article. Since then we’ve heard that local merchants–who are banding together and hope to form a business improvement area–are branding the area “Bathurst-Dupont Village”.

We’re glad to see such efforts towards a BIA. The stretches of interesting new shops on Bathurst are still broken up by tough, gritty sections that discourage pedestrian traffic. Merchants and their landlords have to work together to try to steward the gentle gentrification of the street, to entice shoppers to travel up the street from Bloor.

But care must be taken that the area does not undergo explosive growth like Ossington Avenue experienced, where the pioneers of the gentrification are quickly priced out of the mix by rapidly rising commercial rents.

For all gentrification that has taken place, Bathurst Street between Bloor and Dupont still sports some tough, gritty sections

About are welcome new members of the vanguard who are transforming Bathurst street for the better. We’d like to see them stick around.

Postscript: Before ending our interview with Hutchinson and Chang, we asked about the stylized strait jackets that had so intrigued us for months.  Hutchinson laughed. Neither strait jackets nor art installation: those perplexing white garments are about’s custom-made garment bags.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read Karen van Hahn’s Bathurst and Dupont is the newest style mecca in thestar.com, and Bert Archer’s Bathurst Street’s gorgeous bones in YongeStreet.

In Arrivals & Departures we document the changes in the commercial/retails strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets.

See the Arrivals & Departures archive for other articles like this one.

Issues for this Wednesday’s meeting with Councillor Vaughan and Royal St. George’s

In Coming events, Royal St. George's construction on February 15, 2011 at 1:34 PM

By Louise Morin | BOHICA: bend over, here it comes again.

Yes, Royal St. George’s College is back at it again; they will be resuming construction on March 14, 2011 for two weeks, then take a hiatus during the spring, resume the summer of 2011 and continue then until the fall of 2012 . . . and perhaps beyond, to complete the project Jane Jacobs famously called “bad Mel Lastman-era planning.”

And between RSGC’s indifference to bylaws and construction guidelines and the City’s inability or unwillingness to enforce them, the St. Alban’s Park neighbourhood can be forgiven for feeling abused.

But Adam Vaughan has decided to wade in where Olivia Chow wouldn’t, and has called a community meeting this coming Wednesday, February 16th at 7:00PM at Walmer Road Baptist Church  to try to address some of the more contentious issues arising from the construction.

What are the issues?

1.  Routing of construction vehicles through the neighbourhood

Of the 500-plus construction vehicles to pass through the neighbourhood, 200-plus will be tandem dump trucks | Photo credit Jack Byrnes Hill

Adam Vaughan wants our input on the proposed route for the 500-plus construction vehicles which need to travel through the neighbourhood to the RSGC construction site. The first option would bring the trucks down Howland from Dupont to the RSGC campus, the second brings them in Barton from Bathurst and north up Albany–the wrong way on the one-way street; the third brings the trucks in Wells from Bathurst–the wrong way on one-way Wells–then south on Albany. In all three options, the trucks exit south on Albany and west on Barton out to Bathurst.

In an attempt to avoid having this issue divide the neighbourhood, I’ve heard some neighbours suggest that the trucks should rotate amongst the three routes. While I appreciate the spirit of compromise that motivates this suggestion, I’m against it. RSGC has been my neighbour for 23 years, and they’ve never failed to disappoint me during construction projects: they just don’t follow the rules. If they’re given a schedule of rotating routes, they are not going to comply; instead, we’re going to have trucks on all three routes all of the time.

The red line is option 2: the fastest, shortest route in and out of the neighbourhood.

Although it will be unpleasant for me personally (I live just a couple of doors north of the corner of Barton and Albany), I’m in favour of the trucks following option 2.  It’s the shortest route in and out of the neighbourhood. It keeps the rest of the neighbourhood relatively safe and undisturbed. It will be easy to tell our kids where they can and can’t go without our supervision, to avoid trucks. And it will be crystal clear to RSGC the only route where their trucks are permitted.

2.  Protocol and compensation for interruption of services .

RSGC says that they will need to interrupt services (hydro, water, gas, telephones, Internet) for up to six hours at a time, at various times during this project. Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park–the de facto residents’ association of the West Annex–has pressed RSGC to provide a schedule of the interruptions in advance. Neighbours also asked for details of RSGC’s plan to pay compensation to those financially inconvenienced by the interruptions.

In reply, RSGC wrote earlier this month “RSGC can’t speak to compensation as it relates to third parties. If neighbours have questions, we ask that they contact these utilities directly.”

This disingenuous response won’t do. RSGC has to speak to a protocol for advance notice and compensation for us at Wednesday’s community meeting.

3. Removal of portables

The portable illegally moved by RSGC in late 2010. RSGC first promised to remove their portables in 1996, in return for permission from the Committee of Adjustments to build an addition. They built the addition, but never removed the portables.

In 1996, RSGC promised to remove the two portable from their property in return for a variance to permit them to build addition for more classrooms.  They built the addition but the portables were not removed.

In December 2010, RSGC moved the two portables, and pushed them up to the back fences of adjoining residential properties on the east side of Albany and the west side of Howland. In keeping with their philosophy that it is always better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, RSGC didn’t get the okay from the city before making the move. The city has since told them one of the portables must go.

Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park have asked that the portable–which is used only as a judo studio–be removed entirely from the site immediately; after all, it’s been improperly on the property for well over 10 years. RSGC wants an indulgence: they want to move the portable to the tarmac, facing Albany Avenue, pleading just “three more months”.

Given the long history of broken promises around the portables, yet more promises aren’t going to cut it. The portable has to go, now.

4. Community Committees

During the construction in the late 1990’s, early 2000’s, in 2007 and again in 2010, RSGC repeatedly breached bylaws and construction management guidelines, particularly those concerning hours of construction, weekend construction, dust, mud, and noise control, and traffic and parking control.

The OMB ordered that for this project, various mandatory committees be struck, and that neighbours have a seat on these committees–the Construction Committees, where RSGC can seek permission to break the rules in special circumstance; the Community Consultation Committee, where neighbours can take complaints and problems caused by the construction; and the Neighbourhood Liaison Group under the Traffic Demand Management Plan.

RSGC has funny notions about neighbourhood representatives on committees.

Up until now, without any consultation with the neighbourhood, RSGC has chosen the so-called neighbourhood representatives. RSGC has then refused to give the rest of  us contact information for the neighbourhoods reps; they ignored Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park’s 2007 request for contact information, and mine made in the summer of 2010. And if these committees have ever met at all, RSGC has kept secret the date and place of their meetings and the results of their deliberations.

This farce can’t continue.  The neighbourhood should get to choose neighbourhood representatives.  We should be able to contact our representatives. We should be told in advance when committees will meet.  We should be able to attend the meetings.  Meeting agendas should be posted on the RSGC website in advance, and the minutes of the meetings promptly posted afterwards.

5. Enforcement of construction guidelines and bylaws

Councillor Vaughan’s office has asked someone from the City staff to come to to Wednesday’s meeting to explain to us why, project after project, RSGC has gotten away with breaking rules, and coach us on how we can get help from the city in the future.

In my many years as RSGC’s neighour, I’ve been to too many meetings where I hear RSGC’s “sincere” apologies for past breaches, followed by their lavish promises that they’re going to change their behaviour–this time.

When the next round of construction begins, we get the same disappointing behaviours–construction on weekends and statutory holidays, construction noise well before 7AM and well after 7PM, sidewalks blocked with building materials and trucks, no dust or mud control, on-street parking taken by construction crews and equipment and RSGC students.

Personally, I believe that RSGC follows a deliberate strategy of apology.  Why pay, for example, several thousand dollars on dust control when an apology later costs nothing?

6. Building on the south lawn by St. Alban’s the Martyr Cathedral

The view of St. Alban's the Martyr Cathedral from the east end of St. Alban's Square park

RSGC recently mentioned their desire to build–at some point–a small greenhouse “of less than 100 square feet” on the south lawn of St. Alban’s the Martyr Cathedral, where the RSGC environmental club wants to grow plants.

It is important that we stop any expansion of RSGC sheds and bins onto the lawn of St. Alban’s the Martyr Cathedral. The Cathedral is a designated heritage building of tremendous historic significance.

Between the brutalist gym RSGC stuck on the Albany end of the Cathedral in the 1970’s, to the big bus layby stuck on the Howland side in 2007, and the various bits and pieces stuck here and there on the Cathedral in between, there only is one unobstructed view left of the Cathedral for public contemplation, that is the view from the east end of St. Alban’s Square.

RSGC filled the the north side of their property with many sheds, bins, and portables. Now that they’re converting that space to a playing field, they’re looking to the only open space left on their campus, the lawns on the south side of the cathedral.  We must say no, and preserve what’s left of the view of this heritage site.

After 30-plus years of RSGC expansion, this the view of the historic cathedral from Albany Avenue

So as Jane Jacobs urged us, this we must remind RSGC on Wednesday night that there is a community here. If we all work together to make sure RSGC follows the rules, there’s no need for this latest project to become the same chaotic hell of those of the past.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For further articles and information about Royal St. George’s College construction, visit the RSGC Construction home page and RSGC Construction Archive.

Visit Jack Byrnes Hill’s photostream on Flickr.

John Cadiz Life Stories at Ideasincorporated, 1081 Bathurst Street, until February 20, 2011

In Coming events, Reviews on February 7, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Launching the boat (1989) by John Cadiz, at Ideasincorporated

By West Annex News | After decades of struggle, the Bathurst Street strip south of Dupont is finally taking off. With the trauma of a major fire and the seemingly endless construction on Bathurst Street and the CPR underpass finally behind it, the revolving door of shops that have come and gone over the years has finally stopped spinning. A critical mass of interesting galleries, indie coffee houses, shops and restaurants have come and stayed. Suddenly signs of gentrification are everywhere on this once perennially scuzzy strip.

Bathurst from Vermont north to Dupont is now a worthy destination to plan to spend an entire morning or afternoon, enjoyably wandering from gallery to gallery and shop to shop, fortifying yourself during breaks at the various interesting cafes and coffee shops.

We’ll be writing more in coming weeks about some of these shops, galleries and cafes which have been garnering rave reviews from the media, like Madeleines, Cherry Pie and Ice Cream, Rapido, BurnettJava Mama, Barbara Edwards Contemporary, Ewanika, and opening later this month, a new wine bar The Grape.  All these have joined with neighbourhood stalwarts like Annapurna Vegetarian, La Parette Gallery and the unspoiled vintage diners Apollo 11 and Vesta Lunch to form a vibrant new neighbourhood in the upper West Annex.

Today we’re looking in particular at Ideasincorporated, a gallery at 1081 Bathurst Street and their current show, John Cadiz Life Stories, which features the exuberant paintings of Trinidadian expatriate and Seaton Village resident John Cadiz.

Opening night of John Cadiz Life Stories at Ideasincorporated gallery, January 28, 2011

“I was born and raised in Trinidad” says Cadiz. “My French/Irish/Spanish ancestry, white skin with all its implied privileges, and a strict Catholic upbringing have perhaps afforded me a unique perspective. I emigrated to Canada in 1977 and worked as a graphic designer to support myself. During a rather stressful period about twenty years ago I started to paint. I am mainly self-taught and tend to use events in my past, religion, and Trinidad carnival as props or metaphors, some of which I put into paintings set in more recent times.”

Whether set in his Trinidadian past or in Canada, summoned from his memory or imagination, these painting layer sweetness, sadness, and the macabre together, using humour to leaven the mix.

Venus de Kaboom (2005) by John Cadiz

The macabre is particularly strong in painting like Putting Down Sambo (2008) based on a true incident in which the artist’s father botched an attempt to euthanize a beloved pet, @#$% Gridlock (2004) where through the window of a TTC bus one sees an execution about to take place, but jaded commuters only complain about the gridlock, and Venus de Kaboom (2005) where a female suicide bomber detonates herself to a sexist commentary on her detached body parts from demons, who presumably urged her on to self-destruction.

@#$% Gridlock (2004) by John Cadiz

Others, like The Family Reunion (2007) appears tranquil enough at first glance.  The label beside this painting reads “I thought I’d have a fantasy reunion, a kind of snapshot with the picture taker trying to get everyone to take a bow at the same time with the usual fooling around. The family would be together one last time when we were all happy.”

John Cadiz: The Family Reunion (2007) by John Cadiz | click to enlarge

Not mentioned are the three guest on the porch, looking on at the family’s merriment: an angel, a top-hatted grim reaper, and a character who is perhaps Jab Molassie–a devil masquerade character in Trinidad’s Carnival. While the angel is plainly a mortal–we see the band on the headdress holding up her halo–the devil is real: he breathes fire as he exclaims in patois. The reaper leans back contentedly; he’s found a home to settle into for a while.

Fall (2006) by John Cadiz

Similarly, in the punning Fall (2006), a placid scene of traffic on a multi-lane highway returning to Toronto at the end of an autumn weekend is punctuated by a disintegrating aircraft falling from the sky overhead.

But not all the painting have a morbid twist. In Bettina’s garten (2000) we see a scene of urban Toronto bliss as Monica and her sister-in-law Poonam barbecue in the backyard of their Ossington home, surrounded by a garden planted by their German tenant Bettina.

Bettina's garten (2000) by John Cadiz | click to enlarge

And in Camping with the mon (1998), the artist’s tenderness and self-deprecating humour is evident in his autobiographic portrayal of a camping trip to Tobermory Provincial Park gone wrong. The loving couple both embrace and shield each other’s eyes as a powerful wind whips through their campsite, blowing campfire smoke into their faces.

Camping with the mon (1992) by John Cadiz

There are many other paintings, equally engaging and absorbing.  We’ve been to the show twice now, and plan to visit again before the show closes on February 2o, 2011.

Ideasincorporated began in 2007 when owner Oliver Heinrich bought 1081 Bathurst Street in 2007 and set to work renovating it into a live/work space with his family’s living quarters above and the gallery below. Heinrich’s first show was an installation of works made from materials he recycled from the building’s renovation.

The Ideasincorporated gallery at 1081 Bathurst Street, beside the empty lot left after the fire that destroyed the Children's Storefront

Devoted to showcasing the work of local artists, Heinrich had just held his first two successful shows when disaster struck in October 2009: the Children’s Storefront housed in the building to his immediate south, burned to the ground in October of 2009. In fighting the fire, Heinrich’s gallery was drenched with water, the south wall destroyed and the recently renovated ceilings, floors, and electrical wiring ruined. A struggle with his insurer–still not resolved–meant Heinrich wasn’t able to complete the restoration of the interior of the property until late summer of 2010. The exterior still awaits final repairs, so the gallery can be easily missed from the street.

But the gallery is well worth a visit, as are the neighbouring shops and cafes in the amazing, gentrifying upper West Annex.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For more on the ascendance of the upper West Annex at Bathurst and Dupont, read Karen van Hahn’s Bathurst and Dupont is the newest style mecca” in thestar.com.

The Weekly Wrap for Friday, February 4, 2011

In Heritage & History, This week in the neighbourhood on February 4, 2011 at 8:29 AM

A new condo for Bathurst and Bloor? The former Loretto College property at 783 Bathurst Street has been sold for $6.97 million by the Catholic District School Board  to H & R Developments. [Urban Toronto]
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
A new strip mall for Dupont? Bert Archer reports on an application to rezone Leal Rentals at 555 Dupont, across the street from Loblaws . [YongeStreet]
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

A visual history of Yonge and Bloor. Derek Flack looks the changes to this intersection through historic photographs dating from the 1920s to today. [blogTO]
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The new owner of 69 Albany Avenue talks about his house. [Town Crier.ca, h/t to Ring Around the City]
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Who you gonna call? Lisa Day profiles Ward 20 councillor Adam Vaughan’s office staff. [InsideToronto.com]
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Urbanism in the the age of climate change. An excerpt from Peter Calthorpe’s new book. [SF.Streetsblog.org]
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Annex Shul aka the cool shul welcomes its first full-time spiritual leader, with a celebration Shabbat Saturday, February 12th. [Jewish in Toronto]
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Every Friday, the Weekly Wrap collects articles from around the web about or of interest to residents of the West Annex.

For previous weeks’ columns, visit the Weekly Wrap archive.

Royal St. George’s construction imminent, Councillor Vaughan to host community meeting February 16, 2011

In Coming events, Royal St. George's construction on January 19, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Historic See House at 112 Howland Avenue is to be partially demolished and a large addition built on the back. Built in 1887, it was the home of all Anglican Archbishops of Toronto until 1937.

By Louise Morin | According to Andrew Whiteley, Assistant Headmaster at Royal St. George’s College, initial work on Phase II of RSGC’s OMB-approved construction plans–the underground garage and the addition to the back of the See House–is scheduled to begin in March 2011.

The March work will involve two weeks of shoring the perimeter of the future underground garage. So long as RSGC gets its final approvals from City Hall or the OMB, the work will take place during RSGC’s spring break from Monday March 14 t0 Friday March 25 (weekends excepted, or at least so Whiteley has promised; RSGC’s track record for observing bylaws and guidelines about days and hours of construction is not impressive).

Shoring involves excavation, driving steel support beams into the ground, and pouring concrete. Whiteley described this work as “noisy and disruptive” and “lots of work, lots of traffic and cement trucks”.

In mid-June of 2011, the balance of the work on the new underground garage and the large addition to the back of the historic See House on Howland Avenue begins. Whiteley said this too will be noisy and disruptive work. How disruptive? Whiteley suggested at least some neighbours should plan to spend the summer of 2011 at their cottages. RSGC hopes to complete the exterior work in September or October of 2011, and the interior work by the fall of 2012.

While the construction is ongoing, RSGC needs to route more than 500 construction vehicles, including about 200 tandem dump trucks through narrow West Annex streets. RSGC proposed three route options City Transportation Services in December 2010:

  • Option 1: Enter from Dupont, then south on Howland to RSGC; exit RSGC south on Albany, then west on Barton to Bathurst Street;
  • Option 2: Enter from Bathurst, then east on Barton, then north on Albany to RSGC; exit RSGC south on Albany, then west on Barton to Bathurst Street;
  • Option 3: Enter from Bathurst, then east on Wells, then south on Albany to RSGC; exit RSGC south on Albany, then west on Barton to Bathurst Street.

Thanks to the intervention of Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park Inc.–the de facto residents’ association of the West Annex–Councillor Vaughan will consult the neighbourhood about these options in a community meeting he’ll host, probably the evening of Wednesday February 16, 2011.

Also on the agenda:

  • protocol for RSGC to interrupt essential services (hydro, water, gas, telephones, Internet). RSGC wants to be able to interrupt services for up to six hours at a time, at various times over the summer. Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park has pressed RSGC to provide a schedule of the interruptions in advance. Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park has also requested answers to other questions about service interruptions, including details of RSGC’s plan to pay compensation to those financially inconvenienced.
  • RSGC’s breaches of bylaws and construction management guidelines in 2007 and again in 2010, particularly those concerning hours of construction, weekend construction, and dust, mud, and noise control. Also to be addressed is RSGC’s failure to establish the OMB-mandated community consultation committee where neighbours can take problems and complaints as they arise during the construction;
  • the removal or relocation of the portables. In 1996, RSGC promised to remove the two portable from their property in return for a variance to permit them to build an addition.  The addition was built but the portables stayed. In December 2010, without the necessary permission, RSGC moved the two portables and pushed them up near the back fences of adjoining residential properties on the east side of Albany and the west side of Howland. RSGC must move at least one of the portables. The city will not allow it to stay. Neighbours of St. Alban’s Park have asked that the portable–which is used only as a judo studio–be removed entirely from the site now. RSGC is considering the request, but may ask to move the portable to the tarmac facing Albany Avenue until construction is completed. Then both portables must be removed entirely, which Whiteley promises RSGC will do–this time.

Further information about the community meeting will be posted here as it becomes available, and watch for a flyer from Royal St. George’s College.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For further articles about Royal St. George’s College construction, visit the RSGC Construction home page and RSGC Construction Archive.

The Weekly Wrap for January 14, 2011

In This week in the neighbourhood on January 14, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Koreatown is getting less Korean. Cathy Conway looks at how cheap rents are attracting new business that are changing the face of the Bloor strip west of Bathurst. [Open File Toronto]

__________________________________________________________________________________

Honest Edwardianisms. The Dominion Modern Gallery puts on a show devoted to the art of Honest Ed’s hand painted signs and sign painters. [Dominion Modern]

________________________________________________________________________________

Look around in an urban Whole Foods, and you will see people who came from the suburbs and will head back eventually to live.” Alex Bozidovic likes Witold Rybczynski’s latest book Makeshift Metropolis. [The Globe and Mail]

_________________________________________________________________________________

“Enough wicked humour and touching moments to make for a worthwhile evening.” Jon Kaplan reviews Tarragon’s current Mainstage show The Misanthrope. [NOW]

________________________________________________________________________________

Ford balances his 2011 budget by deploying the entire Miller surplus of $346 million in a single year. Daniel Dale on the new mayor’s unconservative approach to the budget. [thestar.com]

________________________________________________________________________________

Every Friday, the Weekly Wrap collects articles from around the web about or of interest to residents of the West Annex.

For columns from previous weeks, visit the Weekly Wrap archive.