- NOW Toronto's Tammy Thorne looks at the reasons given for the lack of bike lanes on the Entertainment District's John Street.
- The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on the success of bike lanes on Bloor Street.
- The Star carries Liam Lacey's Canadian Press article on Gregory Becarich, maker of ghost bike memorials in Toronto.
blogTO's Derek Flack shares links and images of the plans for Mirvish Village in five years' time.
With the doors to Honest Ed's officially closed for good, it's time to turn our attention to the future of Mirvish Village. We now have a much better of idea of what it'll look like that thanks to the most recent planning documents filed by site developer Westbank.
The Honest Ed's and Mirvish Village project has undergone extensive revisions in response to community consultation, heritage evaluation and municipal feedback. Now in its third iteration, the plans are starting to resemble what we might see in the next few years.
Some of the highlights from the most recent renderings of the project include a sprawling public park that stretches out from Markham Street, a slick new market building that'll span 20,000-plus square feet, and a micro retail corridor roughly where Honest Ed's Alley once was.
blogTO's Amy Grief looks at the speculation in Koreatown as to what will happen to this Bloor West neighbourhood after Honest Ed's and Mirvish Village are gone.
Mirvish Village is vacant and Honest Ed's had its big goodbye party this past weekend. The end is nigh for the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst as the wrecking ball slowly swoops in.
While the intersection was lively this weekend, it's going to be pretty quiet for the next little while. That's why I spoke to some of those nearby to see what they think about living and working near a ghost town.
“I think it does feel a bit empty in this moment, but I don’t think it’s really hit a lot of us until we start to see the kind of demolition of buildings,” says Adil Dhalla, one of the organizers behind last weekend's festivities. We spoke as he was setting up the space.
Dhalla is also the executive direct of the Centre for Social Innovation, which is headquartered just south of Honest Ed's.
The CSI also has a location in Regent Park, so Dhalla knows it can be complicated to watch as a neighbourhood changes.
Natalia Manzocco writes for NOW Toronto about how Bloor Street West is going to soon host a First Nations restaurant.
When Tacos el Asador vacated their perpetually-packed corner unit on Bloor for roomier digs across the street earlier this year, it turns out they were making space for a cuisine that's hugely underrepresented in Toronto: First Nations eats. The new tenant at 607 Bloor West is NishDish, a cafe focused on Anishinaabe recipes, as well as products from First Nations and Metis producers.
At the helm of the new cafe is Anishinaabe chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, who's been catering under the NishDish banner for some time, offering dishes like wild duck and hominy corn soups, venison stew, buffalo chili, baked bannock and wild rice. Ringuette promises the "marketeria" will include "Indigenous sourced coffee, quick meals, or check out a vast selection of goods and food products sourced from First Nations, Inuit and Metis people."
Mike Smee of CBC News reports on the latest regarding Victoria University's holding of extensive amounts of Bloor Street West retail property while paying few taxes.
The head of Victoria University tried to convince Toronto councillors the school can come to a deal with the city — without involving the province — about the controversial tax-free status of the land the institution owns in an upscale Yorkville neighbourhood.
William Robins appeared before the government management committee Tuesday to answer questions as city staff want the school to pay taxes on a parcel of land it owns on the so-called mink mile; the school's tenants include names like Prada, Cartier, and Michael Kors.
"You can understand, I'm sure, that on the face of it, it looks as if some of the city's most successful and lucrative retailers are potentially getting a break while we are struggling with our revenues at the city," Coun. Janet Davis said.
While the school — better known as the University of Toronto's Victoria College — does not pay property taxes on the land, it's unclear whether it does on the buildings themselves.
"The lease arrangements are complicated," Robins told the government management committee. "But this is very much part of the ongoing negotiations with city staff, I can assure you that."
David Rider writes at the Toronto Star about how Victoria University, a component of the University of Toronto, owns a Bloor Street West address but pays no property tax owing to mid-20th century legislation. This is news to a lot of people.
The owner of top-dollar land under a swanky Yorkville mall pays zero property taxes to the city — a multimillion-dollar anomaly that infuriated councillors fighting over “scraps” to fund vital services.
Victoria University, a federated college of the University of Toronto, owns 131 Bloor St. W. in the heart of the posh “Mink Mile” shopping strip. Revenue Properties leases the land and owns The Colonnade — 71,156 square feet of apartments plus luxury shops, including Cartier, Chanel and Escada — atop it.
The 1951 Victoria University Act exempts all the college’s land but not commercial buildings. The U of T enjoys the same exemption but voluntarily pays the city about $240,000 a year in lieu of taxes for a few small commercial properties.
City staff estimate the Victoria exemption cost taxpayers $12.2 million between 2009 and 2015.
“This (tax-exempt) designation was meant for property used for education — not to have a profit centre,” said Kristyn Wong-Tam, the local councillor.
Torontoist's Nikhil Sharma reports on how locals in Bloordale have been aiming to have more say in what a new community hub, planned for the southwest corner of Bloor and Dufferin, will be like.
Andrea Nann is a homeowner in Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood and the parent of a Grade 12 student at Bloor Collegiate Institute. There’s a lot at stake in planning changes to her neighbourhood. Nann is a member of the Building a Better Bloordale Community Group, a collective of people concerned with the sale and redevelopment of Toronto District School Board property at the southwest corner of Bloor Street West and Dufferin Street.
A 30,000-square-foot community hub with a licensed child-care centre, as well as a new secondary school, is slated for the site. Ontario’s provincial government has also committed $20 million to the project. Last month, the City, Province, and the TDSB announced that Capital Developments purchased for $121.5 million the 7.3-acre site that was declared surplus by the TDSB in 2013.
Several schools in addition to Bloor CI used to operate on the site, but Kent Senior Public School closed in 2012 after the Board of Trustees voted in June 2010 to shut it down due to decreasing enrolment in the area. Brockton High School has been closed since 1995, but the building has been leased by many organizations over the years, including the TDSB’s Aboriginal Education Centre, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and non-profit food security organization FoodShare. About 900 students from Bloor CI and Alpha II Senior Alternative School—which currently operate under the same roof—will relocate to a new secondary school when it’s built.
Nann said members of her community group have been meeting regularly since November 2014, when the TDSB announced plans to sell the public land at Bloor and Dufferin.
NOW Toronto's Steve Fisher reports on the closure, at the end of this month, of Toronto's Storefront Theatre, located on Bloor just west of Ossington. A nice venue that hosted shows I enjoyed, apparently the theatre's hold on its property was too tenuous to justify staying there. I hope they can find a place in this neighbourhood to stay.
Storefront Theatre, the Bloor and Delaware venue where award-winning work has been cultivated and produced for the past four years, has until the end of the month to vacate the premises.
The news was first delivered Monday night from the Storefront stage by company member Scott Garland, outgoing producer and co-host of the Sing For Your Supper playreading series (which co-hosts/producers Kat Letwin and Cameron Wyllie plan to continue, nomadically), and was confirmed this morning in a press release put out by Storefront.
The news may seem sudden, and is a definite blow to the six remaining shows in Storefront's 2016-2017 season (some of which may still be presented at alternate venues). But as Storefront Arts Initative's managing director Claire Burns says, a move has been in the planning stages for some time.
"The tenancy has always been shaky," says Burns. "We had a lease, but after the flood [in 2014], we moved to a verbal month to month agreement. For the past year, we really wanted to sign a multi-year lease, so we could invest in the space."
Storefront ran a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2016 to renovate, which would have included soundproofing to mollify the neighbours. But there was no point in beginning those renovations and bringing the space up to code (a necessary step towards a full liquor licence for the venue, which has until now made do with special event permits) if there was no lease to protect their investments, and said lease never materialized.
"So we have some money to start with elsewhere," says Burns, referring to the renovation campaign coffers, "though we're hoping to build on that."
On Saturday the 31st of December, 2016, I visited Honest Ed's on its last day of operation. There was very little merchandise available for sale, tattered shopping bags and old signs and (odddly enough) 2016 Sunday missals aside. There were plenty of other fellow sightseers, even photographers. It was a nice shared experience, bidding goodbye to an institution that had been around for generations.
All of my photos are hosted on my Flickr account, and are also viewable in this Facebook album.
All of my photos are hosted on my Flickr account, and are also viewable in this Facebook album.
- blogTO notes that retail space on Bloor Street in Yorkville is not only the priciest in Canada, but among the priciest in the world.
- Centauri Dreams notes how fast radio bursts, a natural phenomenon, can be used to understand the universe.
- Dangerous Minds looks at a Kate Bush music performance on Dutch television in 1978.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to an analysis of the asteroids disintegrating in orbit of WD 1145+017.
- The Dragon's Tales notes evidence from meteorites that Mars has been dry and inhospitable for eons.
- The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the way we construct time.
- Language Log highlights a 1943 phrasebook for English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Hokkien.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the resistance of the Tohono O'odham, a border people of Arizona and Sonora, to a wall.
- The LRB Blog looks at a curious painting claiming to depict the cause of England's greatness.
- Marginal Revolution notes the sheer scale of mass tourism in Iceland.
- Strange Maps shares an interesting map depicting support for Clinton and Trump, showing one as a continental landmass and the other as an archipelago.
- Towleroad praises the musical Falsettos for its LGBT content (among other things).
- Window on Eurasia looks at controversy over ethnonyms in Russian, and argues Putinism is a bigger threat to the West than Communism.
In The Globe and Mail, John Lorinc reports on the return of the Annex's Country Style Hungarian restaurant to operation.
When Country Style Hungarian Restaurant, a venerable schnitzel house on Bloor Street West, shut its doors earlier this summer, rumours quickly began circulating in Toronto’s food-o-sphere about its demise.
Which wouldn’t have been such a surprise. After all, the 54-year-old Annex institution is the last survivor in a stretch once known as the goulash archipelago, with eateries such as The Coffee Mill, Marika’s, Csarda House, The Blue Danube Room, Continental and Korona. The owners have mostly retired or died.
This particular closure turned out to be not only temporary, but a kind of reboot. The interlude allowed owner Katalin Koltai to do a stem-to-stern renovation, the first real overhaul since 1975. The restaurant reopened late last month.
[. . .]
The facelift cost her more than $150,000 and is meant to secure the business so that Ms. Koltai’s daughter, also named Katalin, can take over when she retires. The work included new kitchen equipment, counters, chairs, bathroom fixtures and even a digital cash register to replace the restaurant’s antiquarian push-button version.
CBC News' Amara McLaughlin tells of a local story of some concern to me.
People living near Bloordale Village have launched a petition hoping to secure a community hub in the 30,000-square metre redevelopment at Bloor and Dufferin streets.
The land is one of 21 properties the Toronto District School Board is looking to sell in an effort to take some pressure off of its $3.3 billion-maintenance backlog. The three hectares for sale include the former Kent Public School and a portion of the Bloor Collegiate Institute site.
Neither school is currently occupied by the board's students. Kent Public School is being leased to other community organizations, including a German school and a daycare.
Residents are demanding that any redevelopment include community facilities, affordable housing and reinvestment in Bloor Collegiate. They say they're concerned the school board's open call for proposals overlooks vital community space.
Steve De Quintal has been living in the area since he was a child, and now uses the area's green space to play with his five kids. His is one of 1,200 signatures on the petition to ask the board to impose a mandatory clause creating a community hub.
There were a lot of interesting posts made around the web from Sunday evening on.
- blogTO takes issue with the poor design of the buildings on Bloor Street West east of Dundas West.
- Crooked Timber notes the tragedy inherent in the life of Phyllis Schlafly.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that two of the worlds in the TRAPPIST-1 system may have Venus-like environments.
- The Dragon's Tales looks at the fate of Planet Nine at the end of the sun's life.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at good music from the past.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer has two questions about the SpaceX explosion.
- Savage Minds has its own blog roundup.
- Strange Maps considers the Icelandic letter that reached its destination with a map of its destination.
- The Volokh Conspiracy wonders if people of recent immigrant stock are less nativist.
- Window on Eurasia looks at school crowding in Dagestan, notes the popularity of Arabic in the highlands, worries about changes to Russian census-taking methodology, and suggests the number of Jews in Russia has been underestimated.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the demographics of the Brexit referendum.
I was off work yesterday evening early enough to catch the last hours of the Bloorcourt Arts & Crafts Fair, on Bloor Street West east from Dufferin. Even at 6 o'clock, there was still a healthy crowd on the streets, looking at the vendors' displays or eating and drinking on the patios or just hanging out. They only began putting away the inevitable bouncy castle by 7.
Torontoist reports on the Bloor bike lanes.
In May, Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the installation of a Bloor Street bike lanes pilot project, much to the joy of Toronto cyclists. The street is an active artery for more than 3,000 cyclists daily, and the fight for a safer ride from Shaw Street to Avenue Road has been 40 years in the making.
The bike lanes are under construction, and while the flexipost bollards haven’t been installed yet, cyclists can test-ride the newly painted lines. Some commuters, however, are not yet accustomed to sharing the road.
Torontoist‘s Corbin Smith took his bike out for a spin yesterday, and found that—to little surprise—being a cyclist isn’t easy in Toronto, even with new bike lanes.
Smith rode from just west of Shaw past Avenue Road, where the the pilot project begins and ends. He ended his commute around Church Street.
At first, it was smooth sailing: the streets were fairly empty, and he had the lanes to himself on the west end.
The Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro notes that construction of the Bloor Street bike lanes is impending.
Construction for a bike lanes pilot project on Bloor St. will start next week.
A construction notice from the city says work between Shaw St. and Avenue Rd. will begin Aug. 2 after council approved the pilot this May after years-long advocacy from the cycling community.
The city says all on-street parking will be removed beginning Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. with traffic temporarily reduced to one lane in each direction so workers can install new painted bike lanes and flexi-post bollards. The city will also install new signs with updated parking rules.
Once the bike lanes are installed, parking will be available on at least one side of the street with at one lane of traffic in each direction and dedicated turn lanes at major intersections.
The Globe and Mail's Simon Houpt reports.
Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival is becoming the master of its own domain, announcing on Thursday morning that a large charitable gift had enabled it to buy the Annex neighbourhood cinema it has long called home.
The $4-million donation from the Rogers Foundation will see the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema renamed the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
The former repertory cinema had been the festival’s on-and-off home base for many years until 2012, when Blue Ice Group, a Toronto-based film and TV production and distribution outfit, purchased, renovated and then leased it to Hot Docs on what were described as generous terms.
At a press conference on Thursday, Hot Docs president Chris McDonald praised Blue Ice co-founder Neil Tabatznik for his stewardship. “Developers had their eyes on this property for years, and Neil saved it from becoming a big-box store,” he said. “The Tabatzniks and the Rogers are the Medicis of the documentary renaissance in Canada.”
In a later interview with The Globe, McDonald explained that the purchase “gives us a permanent home, and further guarantees that this will remain a) a cinema; and b) a documentary cinema long past all of our lives. We are now in control of our fate and our future.”