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My attention was piqued at the end of May by Lauren Pelley's CBC report about the West End Phoenix, a new community newspaper in Toronto imagined by Dave Bidini. The Phoenix, a monthly broadsheet slated to concern itself with west-end Toronto "from the Junction Triangle to Parkdale, Christie Pits to Baby Point", will be sustained by annual subscriptions and gifts from donors.

The non-profit publication is the brainchild of Toronto writer, publisher and musician Dave Bidini, and sparked, in part, by his 2015 writing trip to the Northwest Territories, where he spent the summer working at The Yellowknifer.

"I was reinvigorated by that experience," he told CBC Toronto.

Bidini — who's beloved in Canada for his years with the Rheostatics — wondered if a hyper-local newspaper could flourish in Toronto's west end, where he's been living for 23 years in the house he bought from his grandmother.

"I've seen the west end evolve as a social organism, I suppose. It's a pretty interesting time here. You blink, and there's something new and different," he mused. "I wondered about the ability of a newspaper to sustain here, and to illuminate that evolution."

[. . .]

Bidini's vision for the newspaper is a visual and literary representation of "that feeling you get when you're wandering home one night and you find yourself up an alley you haven't traveled through before."

Already, he's joined by deputy editor Melanie Morassutti and senior editor Susan Grimbly, both formerly of The Globe and Mail, and has an advisory council assembled with notable names from the city's arts and culture scene, including Grid founder Laas Turnbull and J-Source managing editor H.G. Watson.


I am fascinated by this project. Consider this post a placeholder of sorts.
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  • blogTO suggests the Port Lands might become an artists' hu8b.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the complexities involved with managing feelings.

  • Centauri Dreams talks about different methods of near-term interstellar travel.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Nordic prime ministers have just trolled Trump's bizarre orb-based photo op.

  • Language Hat shares some interesting claims about standard Finnish as a neutral dialect.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about the latest stages of the Dawn mission to Ceres.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the end of Charlottetown's Founders' Hall.

  • Torontoist examines Ontario's impending $15 an hour minimum wage.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on the latest disputes between Russia and Ukraine on their shared history.

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  • Steve Munro calls for an honest public review of what Toronto actually does need insofar as mass transit is concerned.

  • Torontoist is justly critical of a one-stop Scarborough subway extension that will help make mass transit there worse.

  • Spacing's John Lorinc is critical of plans for mass transit expansion that do not respond to existing issues.

  • The Toronto Star notes that Union-Pearson Express ridership is up but also notes that it remains heavily subsidized.
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  • Metro Toronto's David Hains reports on a new interactive map of Trinity-Bellwoods Park designed to help users find other people in that large complex space.


  • You’ll never have to spend 20 minutes trying to find your friend in Trinity-Bellwoods Park again.

    New York-based cartographer (and former Toronto Star employee) William Davis loves Toronto, and so he knows this is one of the city’s great summer frustrations. It’s because of the geographically complicated, but very popular park, that he and Tom Weatherburn made an interactive map for Torontonians to share their location.

    All users need to do is drag and drop a “here” pin on a map of the park. It can be accessed for free at the MapTO website, a personal project with Weatherburn that features quirky and interesting maps on a variety of city subjects.

    The Trinity-Bellwoods map is overlaid with easy-to-read icons, including a dog at the dog bowl, a baseball at the baseball diamond, and beer mugs where people like to hang out.


  • The Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro describes the catastrophic state of repair of far too many of the houses of Toronto Community Housing.


  • Half of Toronto Community Housing developments will be in “critical” condition in the next five years without additional funding for repairs, according to an internal database provided to the Star.

    Already, the data shows more than 30 social-housing properties are in serious disrepair. Of 364 developments — which include houses and groupings of low-rise buildings and towers — 222 developments are ranked in “poor” condition, with dozens edging on critical condition, based on a standard ranking used by the housing corporation.

    Those critical sites are homes for more than 3,000 individuals and families.

    The data shows a pervasive problem at a time when the city is grappling with how to keep thousands of units open with a $1.73-billion funding gap.

    Of the 364 developments, more than 100 were offloaded onto the city by the province more than a decade and a half ago without money needed to cover the repairs. Of the buildings in the critical and poor categories, more than a third were downloaded by the province.


  • Back in August, Yasmine Laarsroui wrote for Torontoist about the potential for the housing co-op model to help solve the Toronto housing crisis.


  • Those affected by the lack of rent controls left young professionals, like reporter Shannon Martin, with no option but to turn to more extreme alternatives, such as couch-surfing.

    Young people seeking more reliable housing options are turning to co-op housing—at least, those lucky enough to get a unit.

    Toronto renter Donald Robert moved into Cabbagetown’s Diane Frankling Co-operative Homes in September 2016 and speaks highly of his experience.

    Robert pays $1,300 for a large two-bedroom unit with access to an underground parking and a small gym, almost $500 cheaper than the average one-bedroom unit in Toronto. Robert explains that, “the best part though has been the community here. Everybody says ‘hi.’”


  • Also back in April, John Lorinc wrote in Spacing about the oft-overlooked musicality of the lost neighbourhood of The Ward.


  • If you try to imagine your way back into the early 20th century streets and laneways of The Ward — the dense immigrant enclave razed to make way for Toronto’s City Hall — you might pick up the sounds of newsies and peddlers hawking their wares, the clanging of the area’s junk and lumber yards, and shrieking children playing on the Elizabeth Street playground north of Dundas.

    Those streets would also reverberate day and night with a jumble of languages — Italian, Yiddish, Chinese. The dialects and accents of these newcomers were considered to be not only “foreign,” but also proof (to the keepers of Toronto’s Anglo-Saxon morality) of the area’s worrisome social and physical failings.

    But despite the fact that many mainstream Torontonians saw The Ward as an impoverished blight on the face of the city, the neighbourhood resonated with energy and culture and music — evidence of the resilience of the stigmatized newcomers who settled there in waves from the late 19th century onward.

    Photographers recorded fiddle players and organ grinders with their hurdy gurdies, playing as mesmerized children listened. After their shifts ended, one 1914 account noted, labourers whiled away their free times playing mandolins or concertinas as they sang rags and the Neapolitan songs so popular at the time.

    “When sleep in crowded rooms seems all but impossible,” journalist Emily Weaver observed in The Globe and Mail in 1910, “the people of ‘The Ward’ are astir till all hours, and the Italians amuse themselves by singing in their rich sweet voices the songs of their far-away homelands or dancing their native dances to the music of a mandolin or guitar in the open roadway beneath the stars.”


  • The Toronto Star's Azzura Lalani describes how the rapid growth of young families in Leslieville threatens to overload local schools. What will the Downtown Relief Line do?


  • As the mother of a 16-month-old boy, Michelle Usprech is looking to leave the Financial District where it’s just “suits and suits and suits,” for a more family friendly vibe, and she’s got her eye on Leslieville.

    But one of Toronto’s most family-friendly neighbourhoods may be a victim of its own success as signs from the Toronto District School Board have cropped up, warning parents in Leslieville their children may not be able to attend their local school because of possible overcrowding, school board spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed.

    Those signs warn that “due to residential growth, sufficient accommodation may not be available for all students,” despite the school board making “every effort to accommodate students at local schools.”

    [. . .]

    It’s a concern for some parents, including Kerry Sharpe, who lives in Leslieville and has a four-month-old daughter named Eisla.

    “It’s still early days for me,” she said, but, “it is a concern. Even daycare, that’s hard to get into, so I don’t see it getting any better.”
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    NOW Toronto's Joshua Sherman tells the story of a Jane's Walk organized by Shari Kasman around the parking lots of Dufferin and Dupont.

    "Thanks for coming to this beautiful parking lot on this beautiful, sunny day in Toronto.”

    Shari Kasman is speaking into a red-and-white megaphone. And it’s not sunny at all. It’s a drizzly May 6 Saturday afternoon outside the Galleria Mall at Dufferin and Dupont.

    Kasman, a local artist and author, is starting her latest guided tour, Parking Lots & Parking Spots: Galleria Mall & Beyond. It’s one of nearly 180 that took place last weekend in Toronto as part of the annual Jane’s Walk festival, named for the late urban activist Jane Jacobs.

    While other local Jane’s Walks explore the historic aspects of the city, this tour is dedicated to the unglamorous and utilitarian: where Torontonians in a small pocket of the west end park “from the perspective of a non-expert,” Kasman tells NOW ahead of the event, making it clear this tour is no joke.

    She may not be a parking authority, but Kasman, who already has two other Galleria-based Jane’s Walks under her belt, has been busy reading up on the subject for the past few weeks.
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    Last evening, I kept my computer busy by uploading the more than two hundred photos I had taken last weekend, during Jane's Walk in Toronto. At one point, I had planned to take eight, but reality and fatigue intervened so as to limit me to six, five on Saturday the 5th and one on Sunday the 6th.

  • My first was "St. Lawrence Market: Role of Public Markets in Placemaking", led by Samantha Wiles. Wiles ably took her group around St. Lawrence Market, past the archeological excavations to the market's north, around its perimeter, and to the south, introducing us to the market's very long history at the heart of Toronto. Photos are here.

  • In the afternoon, I followed urbanist Richard Longley in his "Harbord Village east side: architecture old, new, diverse, domestic, insitutional, sacred, profane", taking a large contingent through a rapidly changing neighbourhood south of the Annex. I was particularly taken by the abundance of creative graffiti in the back alleys, especially on Croft Street. Photos are here.

  • Later in the afteroon, I followed Brian Sharwood and Melinda Medley, the bloggers behind OssingtonVillage.com, on a short but information-packed stroll north in Indie Ossington, from Ossington at Queen on the CAMH grounds up to Dundas Street. Photos are here.

  • In the evening, I went down to Exhibition Place for the Ghost Walk led there by Steve Collie. As night fell, Collie took dozens of people on a stroll through some of the locales where ghost sightings have been claimed, from the stacks of the centre's archives to the barracks where soldiers sent off to war spent their last moments in Canada. The behind-the-scenes perspective it offered of Exhibition Place was a big plus. Photos are here.

  • Late at night, at 11 o'clock, I joined the Nightwalking & Secret Staircases: Baby Point walk led by Oona Fraser. My photo album includes my pre-walk, east from Old Mill station and up Jane Street to the Baby Point Gates. Walking through the wooded parks along Humber River, up and down the stairs, underneath the luminous sky, was magic.

  • Sunday afternoon, after joining a visiting Taiwanese friend for lunch and then doing some independent walking south on Roncesvalles and east on Queen Street West to Dufferin, I joined "Here's the Thing: A Creative Writing Walk (Part 2 / Downtown)" at Dufferin Station. Led by Denise Pinto and Shari Kasman, this was a guided walk, the participants being given (and providing) prompts at different moments on the walk to write different things. I enjoyed this late afternoon walk, a lot. My output tended more towards prose poetry than fiction, but it was fun regardless.


  • I'm not sure what I'll do with all of these photos. I doubt I'll post most of them to this blog, to Tumblr or Instagram. They remain on Flickr nonetheless, ready for you to peruse. (I also have uploaded them all to Facebook, too, so those of you who follow me there can see them there, too.)
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    • blogTO notes a threat to some of Liberty Village's historic buildings through development.

    • Centauri Dreams looks at planetary formation around close binary SDSS 1557, which includes a white dwarf.

    • False Steps' Paul Drye announces a new book project, They Played the Game, which looks at how different baseball players overlooked in our history might have become stars had things gone differently.

    • Language Hat looks at the linguistic differences between the two Koreas.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the exploitation of Syrian refugees by Turkish garment manufacturers.

    • The LRB Blog examines the phenomenon of myth-making regarding Sweden.
    • The Map Room Blog links to a website sharing the stories of cartographers.

    • The NYRB Daily notes the chaos that Trump will be bringing to American immigration law.

    • Peter Rukavina talks about his experience as a library hacker.

    • Supernova Condensate is optimistic about the potential of Space X to actually inaugurate an era of space tourism.

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    The Globe and Mail's Oliver Moore reports on how costs for the Scarborough subway are estimated to be spiraling up even as the numbers of potential users are falling. This Scarborough line simply makes no sense at all, apart from the political that is.

    The projected cost of redesigning Scarborough transit around a new subway extension continues to rise, even as the number of new riders the project will attract has plummeted, according to a number of reports released Tuesday.

    The latest information on the controversial project puts its cost at $3.35-billion, provided city council follows the staff recommendation for a more expensive underground bus station option that would add $187-million. The whole project was priced at only $2-billion a year ago, when the plan to go from a three-stop to a one-stop subway emerged.

    The growing subway cost reflects ongoing analysis and is likely to continue to change. A staff report said the final price is likely to be within 70 per cent and 150 per cent of the current estimate. Council will be asked in March to push the project forward, with a round of more detailed reports from staff expected late in 2018.

    Based on the most recent cost and ridership projections, the city will be spending approximately $1.45-million for each new rider the subway extension attracts.

    “It’s madness,” said midtown Councillor Josh Matlow, who has long supported an LRT instead for Scarborough and argued Tuesday that Toronto has its priorities skewed. “It’s clearly a reckless use of the limited tax dollars that the city has.”
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    In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee writes about the import of the St. Lawrence Market, present on its current location for two centuries and hopefully here for a long while to come.

    St. Lawrence Market is one of the two sites in Toronto (the other is nearby St. James Cathedral) that has been used for the same purpose since the city’s earliest days.

    Generations of farmers, butchers and vegetable mongers have come down to lay out their wares. Generations of shoppers have come to fill their grocery bags. In a constantly changing city, that kind of continuity is rare and precious.

    So when city hall decided to tear down and rebuild the newish market building on the north side of Front Street and replace it with something better, archeologists got a twinkle in their eyes. Here was a chance to explore the buried remnants of Toronto’s past, layer upon layer. At least five market structures have stood on the site. What traces would remain of all those years of busy commerce?

    By luck, the site had never suffered a huge excavation. The ground was covered only by a layer of concrete, the floor of the modern, 1968 market building. After that structure was torn down last fall, crews got digging.

    They haven’t found any priceless artifacts. They didn’t expect to. This was a market, not a pharaoh’s tomb. Instead, they found butchered bones, iron meat hooks, painted ceramics, a soda bottle and an 1852 Bank of Upper Canada half-penny token. More important, they found the remains of the various buildings of evolving style and size that stood there, each a marker of the city’s growth.
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    • blogTO notes that the redevelopment of Toronto's Port Lands is continuing.

    • Crooked Timber argues that climate denialism exposes the socially constructed nature of property rights.

    • D-Brief notes the reburial of Kennewick Man.

    • The Dragon's Gaze notes there is no sign of a second planet around Proxima Centauri.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at life in Texas.

    • The LRB Blog analyzes Milo's stumble.

    • Marginal Revolution considers the levels of disorderliness different societies, like Sweden, can tolerate.

    • The NYRB Daily reports on the poisoning of a Russian dissident.

    • The Planetary Society Blog suggests Voyager 1 picked up Enceladus' plumes.

    • Peter Rukavina writes of his mapping of someone's passage on the Camino Francés.

    • Supernova Condensate looks at the United Arab Emirates' plan to build a city on Mars in a century.

    • Torontoist reported on a protest demanding action on the overdose crisis.
    • Towleroad describes the plight of Mr. Gay Syria in Istanbul and reports on the progress of same-sex marriage in Finland.

    • Understanding Society considers the complexity of managing large technological projects.

    • Window on Eurasia links to one Russian writer arguing Putin should copy Trump and links to anotehr suggesting the Russian Orthodox Church is overreaching.

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    The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr describes a Metrolinx proposal I am strongly opposed to. What about people who have long commutes? What about people on low incomes? What happens to the ideal of an integrated city if cost is introduced as a disintegrating factor?

    How much should it cost to ride the TTC? According to a new policy under consideration by the province’s regional transit agency, it should depend on how far you travel.

    Metrolinx, the provincial organization that oversees transit for the GTHA, is considering a fare model for the area’s transit operators that would see all passengers on buses, streetcars, subways, and GO Transit pay by distance.

    A report on the issue will be discussed at Friday’s Metrolinx board meeting, as part of its ongoing fare integration project that aims to standardize the pricing policies of GO and the region’s nine municipal transit agencies.

    The fare-by-distance model was made public Tuesday, and joins three other proposals that were already under consideration.

    “It would be system-wide and be a very major dramatic change,” said Leslie Woo, chief planning officer for Metrolinx, “but it would enable greater consistency in fares (across the region) and it would better reflect the cost of the length of the trip.”

    Woo said more work needs to be done to determine which model is best.

    The three original options are: a modified version of the status quo that would provide discounts for riders crossing between the TTC and GO; a zone-based system that would charge riders more for crossing defined boundaries; and a hybrid that would have a flat rate for local bus travel but charge by distance or zone for subways and regional rail.
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    • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto's Wellington Street.

    • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?

    • The Dragon's Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet's disintegration.

    • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.

    • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour's Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, "misogynoir" as it is called.

    • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.

    • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump's immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.

    • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

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    In The Globe and Mail, John Lorinc notes plans for the extensive redevelopment of a stretch of Eglinton Avenue East in Scarborough.

    By suburban standards, the 7.7-hectare No Frills property on the north side of Eglinton Avenue East, between Victoria Park and Pharmacy, may not seem like the sort of real estate destined for serious mixed-use intensification.

    Situated at the western edge of Scarborough’s Golden Mile, the decades-old shopping centre, anchored by a 55,000-square-foot No Frills, is part of a long stretch of big-box malls, low-slung industrial sites and a few squat office blocks.

    But when Choice Properties REIT, Loblaw’s development spinoff, acquired the property four years ago, it identified the shopping centre as a candidate for the sort of big-bang intensification exercise that has few precedents in Toronto’s inner suburbs.

    “We looked at that site and said, ‘It’s significantly underutilized,’” Choice Properties chief executive and president John Morrison said. “We want to build a new community where people can live and shop and ideally work as well.”

    In what he predicted will be a multiphase project beginning with a redevelopment of the supermarket, Choice will add 2,500 residential units – stacked townhouses, mid-rise apartments and towers – as well as 260,000 square feet of additional retail, green space, private and public community amenities and links to the two LRT stations that will serve the 410-metre-long parcel when the Eglinton Crosstown goes into service, expected in 2023.
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    Using the census data released earlier this week, Ben Spurr writes in the Toronto Star about how the Scarborough neighbourhoods that will get the subway extension have actually been seeing falling populations in the context of strong growth in Toronto generally. Where will the ridership come from?

    The population is shrinking in more than a dozen neighbourhoods in the immediate vicinity of the planned one-stop Scarborough subway extension, raising fresh concerns about the viability of the $3.2-billion transit project.

    According to a Star analysis of 2016 census data released on Wednesday, of 31 census tracts surrounding the planned location for the subway station at Scarborough Town Centre, the population of 18 declined over the previous five years.

    Some tracts, including the one in which the station will be built, saw robust growth percentages in the double digits, and the population of Scarborough Centre, the federal riding that covers the area, grew by 3.5 per cent. But in the majority of nearby tracts the population fell, by between 1.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent.

    Eric Miller, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Transportation Engineering Research Group, warned that if the trend continued it could jeopardize the extension of the Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) subway.

    “Any subway station depends on two things: the people that are within the close distance to it that can maybe walk or take a very short bus ride, and then people who are coming in from further afield to use it,” Miller said.
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    Chris Bateman described how the Reesor family in north Scarborough remain the last farmers active within the borders of the city of Toronto.

    Dale Reesor figures he’s the last farmer in Toronto.

    Since his elderly neighbour Jim Murison passed away in December, Reesor’s family is the only one he knows of that’s still growing crops commercially in the city.

    From their 136-year-old farmhouse on the south side of Steeles Ave. E. in north Scarborough, Dale and Lois Reesor and their five kids work about 350 acres of land within the Toronto city limits under the name Sweet Ridge Farms. They grow mostly sweet corn, about 10 to 12 varieties, plus soybeans and wheat.

    It’s a way of life that stretches back more than 200 years.

    The Reesors “came to the Toronto area, Markham and Scarborough, in 1804,” Dale said. “It’s a Mennonite family. They came from Pennsylvania. They travelled up and bought land in this area. It’s been the same family ever since.”
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    • Centauri Dreams looks at ongoing research into the sizes of Alpha Centauri A and B.

    • Dangerous Minds notes Finland's introduction of a new Tom of Finland emoji.

    • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper speculating as to the fate of icy dwarf exoplanets in white dwarf systems.

    • The Dragon's Tales reports on the intensification of the war in Ukraine's Donbas.

    • The Everyday Sociology Blog asks readers how they study.

    • Language Log looks at the structure of yes-no questions in Chinese.

    • The NYRB Daily looks at the consequences of the Trump travel ban.

    • The Planetary Society Blog considers impact craters as potential abodes for life.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer does not quite understand renters' fears about new developments in their neighbourhoods.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the court ruling against Trump's refugee order.

    • Window on Eurasia suggests prospects for long-term economic growth in Russia have collapsed, and notes the sharp fall in real incomes in Asian Russia.

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    I'm inclined to agree with Shawn Micallef's argument in the Toronto Star about the NIMBYism in opposition to a Bike Share stand in Cabbagetown.

    In a Jan, 23 letter to City Councillor Pam McConnell, the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Committee expressed disappointment that a Bike Share station was installed last summer within the Cabbagetown North Heritage Conservation District (HCD) without “any regard for the truly unique character” the area presents and asked it be removed.

    An HCD protects an entire neighbourhood, not just a historic building. Bike Share, Toronto’s municipal bike lending program, installed a station with 14 bikes in the northwest corner of Riverdale Park, near the Winchester and Sumach Sts. intersection. The committee says the bikes interfere with the “character, rhythm and overall setting” of Cabbagetown and mentioned three listed heritage properties nearby, including the Toronto Necropolis chapel, that the bikes compromised.

    Back in November, the Cabbagetown Residents Association conducted an online survey after two residents launched the first historic petards at the bikes, with complaints that stated, in part, “the park should not be dumping grounds for the latest trend from city hall.” Of the 739 who responded to the survey, 721 were in favour of the current location, with only 16 wanting the bike station removed, and two people choosing somewhere else entirely. Undaunted by the survey results, the heritage committee, made up of Cabbagetown residents, launched another volley.

    Should the committee be successful in removing the Bike Share station from the park, can we expect them to then work on removing the on-street parking found throughout historic Cabbagetown? While the Bike Share station took up just one small pocket, the entire park and necropolis are surrounded by Hondas, Volkswagens and Volvos, many of them closer to the heritage properties than the bike share is.
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    The Globe and Mail's Brad Wheeler reports from Queen and Broadview, where the closure of hamburger restaurant Dangerous Dan's signals the impending transformation of this Riverdale intersection.

    The news this week that Dangerous Dan’s will close at the end of May hit Riversiders like a ton of ground beef. But while the venerable burger joint’s demise is a blow to the meat-loving masses, the restaurant’s passing is just another sign of the changing times at the junction of Queen and Broadview. For 18 years, from his window seat at the front of his bustling diner, Dangerous Dan’s owner James McKinnon has watched the corner gentrify, literally in front of his eyes. We got his grill-hot take on the morphing intersection.

    NORTHEAST

    Dangerous Dan’s (named after owner McKinnon’s grandfather) opened in 1999. Early in 2015, McKinnon put his business and lease up for sale. Corporate fast-food chain Pizza Nova bought the whole building, and now, after failing to come to a new lease agreement, McKinnon and his outrageous burger inventions (including such meat monstrosities as the Big Kevorkian and the Colossal Colon Clogger Combo) are leaving. Nearby, a new Korean fried chicken restaurant has opened. Kaboom Chicken attracts a crowd more hip than the blue-collar clientele of Dangerous Dan’s, but Mr. McKinnon never saw the eatery as competition. “The chains have half the market,” he says. “Little guys like me and Kaboom Chicken are just nibbling on the edges.” Speaking of chains, Pizza Nova released a statement this week saying it hadn’t decided on future plans for the corner location.


    The other corners are covered, too.
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    The Globe and Mail's Oliver Moore looks at how the booming real estate market is set to ensure longer commute times for people in the Greater Toronto Area.

    Frank Quinto wakes each work day at 5:30 a.m. He’s “suited and booted” by 6 a.m. and at the VIA station near his Brantford home by 7 a.m. By the time his train arrives at Union Station at 8:40 a.m. he’s read his e-mail, prepped for meetings and put on his self-titled professional “game face.” He transfers to the TTC for the 10-minute trip to his government office at Yonge and Bloor and arrives at his desk just before 9 a.m.

    He leaves at 4:55 p.m. to catch the 5:30 VIA train home. There’s no GO train to Brantford, just the option of a bus from the Aldershot station in Burlington. He’s back home by 7 p.m.

    Four hours a day commuting, five days a week. “Rinse and repeat for nearly seven years,” he says. It’s a daily grind, but one that lets him keep his downtown-based job while staying in the community in which he grew up, where the average price of a home sold in December was barely $300,000.

    Toronto’s escalating housing market – up 22.3 per cent in January from a year earlier – is challenging not only buyers, but also the region’s infrastructure. Growth is being forced farther afield and lengthy commutes seem increasingly the norm. Where Hamilton used to seem far, communities even farther away are seeing new interest from buyers.

    It’s no longer unthinkable that masses of workers will be travelling daily from Niagara Falls or Cobourg. And predicting if and when that will happen is the challenge for transportation and city planners trying to calculate how the Golden Horseshoe will grow and move in the coming decades.
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    Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reflects on his experience of being a flâneur, and the problems of said.

    Introduced to the concept by a friend, there was a time when I was a most dedicated flaneur. Then I drifted away a little, although I introduced a remarkable number of people to the concept.

    I think one of the reasons for my decline in flaneuring is that I started walking for exercise. This may be healthy, but it tends to defeats the point, the discoveries that can come from random idling.

    I find that when walking for exercise I have in mind distance and time, two things in direct conflict with the art of flânerie. What's worse, I tend to get very bored and thus stop walking! Even the desire to achieve a minimum number of paces (10,000 per day appears to have become an almost universal target) provides insufficient incentive.

    The irony, of course, is that I actually walked more as a flaneur than as an exerciser because I was simply more interested, was inclined to keep moving.

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