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  • Lisa Coxon of Toronto Life shares eleven photos tracking Toronto's queer history back more than a century.

  • Michelle McQuigge reports for the Toronto Star that the Luminous Veil does save lives. I would add that it is also beautiful.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee thinks it makes perfect sense for there to be a dedicated streetcar corridor on King Street.

  • Ben Spurr describes a new plan for a new GO Transit bus station across from Union Station.

  • Emily Mathieu reported in the Toronto Star on how some Kensington Market tenants seem to have been pushed out for an Airbnb hostel.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Irish-born John Doyle explores the new Robert Grassett Park, built in honour of the doctor who died trying to save Irish refugees in 1847.

  • Justin Ling in VICE tells the story of three gay men who went missing without a trace in Toronto just a few years ago. What happened?
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  • Caroline Alphonso reports in The Globe and Mail about how Toronto Islands students have been displaced to school on the mainland, in Regent Park.
  • Robert Benzie and Victoria Gibson describe in the Toronto Star a new waterfront park in a revitalized part of Ontario Place.
  • Torontoist's Keiran Delamont notes how Metrolinx's sharing of data with the police fits into the broader concept of the modern surveillance state.
  • Steve Munro tracks the evolution, or perhaps more properly devolution, of streetcar service from 1980 to 2016.

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  • The Atlantic's Ed Yong notes the discovery of dated Homo sapiens fossils 300k years old in Morocco. (!)

  • The Atlantic reports on Twitter-driven science that has highlighted the remarkable visual acuity of the spider.

  • The Economist notes that multilingual societies can encounter more difficulties prospering than unilingual ones.

  • Torontoist notes a Thunder Bay park devoted to the idea of First Nations reconciliation.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on how gardens grown under solar tents in Bolivia can improve nutrition in poor highland villages.

  • The Toronto Star's Christopher Hume trolls Rob Ford's supporters over the new, well-designed, Etobicoke Civic Centre.Metro Toronto calculates just how many avocado toasts would go into a mortgage in the GTA.

  • MacLean's hosts a collection of twenty photos from gritty Niagara Falls, New York.

  • The National Post shows remarkable, heartbreaking photos from the flooded Toronto Islands.

  • Edward Keenan argues that the Toronto Islands' flooding should help prompt a local discussion on climate change.

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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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    Before the Nightwalking Jane's Walk earlier this month, the last time I had visited Magwood Park by the east shore of the Humber was in 2015, when I visited in the search of old Iroquoian burial mounds. Walking around the park at night, when the only lights were the lights dimly appearing through the trees, was magical.



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    Yesterday afternoon, I had the good fortune to take a stroll through Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park on what was arguably the first day of the year. In that park, adjacent to Queen Street, are a couple dozen cherry trees. Much younger than the ones in High Park and by Robarts Library, these were in full glorious bloom when I saw them.

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 1 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 2 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 3 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 4 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 5 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 6 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 7 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

    Into the sakura #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura
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    When I went down to the Lake Ontario shoreline last month to take in Ice Breakers, the Waterfront BIA's winter public art, I should have known that the effects of the works would have needed a winter. In that the weather this winter really hasn't been very winterish, I was let down. This is not the fault on the part of the artists and architects involved: Leeward Fleet, pictured in the first two photos, remained evocative despite the cold spring weather, I can see how the zebra-striped Incognito and the Icebox at HT0 Park would have worked with a bit of snow coverage, the two waving hands of Tailored Twins have an endearing whimsy, and Winter Diamonds would have been superb surrounded by a field of snow at Music Garden Park. It's just that the weather let these works down.

    Leeward Fleet, by RAW

    Leeward Fleet, by RAW, against the condos

    Incognito, by Curio Art Consultancy and Jaspal Riyait

    Inside the Icebox, by Polymetris

    Outside the Icebox, by Polymetris

    Tailored Twins, by Ferris + Associates, across the street

    Tailored Twins, by Ferris + Associates, from the west

    Winter Diamonds, by Platant
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    The Toronto Star's Jonathan Forani recently reported about how the concerns of skateboarders are now being considered in planning for parks in the city of Toronto.

    For years, the only skate park Ariel Stagni had was the concrete and metal of the financial district.

    Its railings and stairwells transformed into the perfect space for kick flips, grinds and ollies — until, inevitably, a security guard appeared with the typical scolding.

    “There was a lot of ‘Don’t do that here’ and ‘You can’t skateboard here.’ Me and my buddies were like, ‘Where are we supposed to go?’ ” he recalls. They instead turned inward to their garages and converted plywood and junkyard finds into their own makeshift skate parks.

    “That was the experience of a lot of people skateboarding,” says Stagni, now 41 and a skateboard consultant. “A lot of it was finding a place or making a place.”

    But now, as the public park movement grows to become more inclusive of varying demographics and cultures, Stagni and his community are seeing more spaces for themselves. There are now over a dozen skate parks spanning from Etobicoke to Scarborough.

    The movement has gathered steam in recent months, with the city’s October unveiling of a Skateboard Strategy, which outlines how the city can transform spaces into a skater’s paradise. One of the key features is the inclusion and consultation of groups such as the Toronto Skateboarding Committee, of which Stagni is a founding member.
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    Monument Octave Crémazie

    The monument to 19th century Québec poet Octave Crémazie stands near the eastern end of the Square Saint-Louis.
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    The Saint-Louis Square on rue Saint-Denis must be incredibly lively in summer, and living.

    Towards the park

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    Spacing's Jake Tobin Garrett has an interview with Jay Pitter looking at how parks can be critical bits of public space, especially in a multicultural community.

    Jake Tobin Garrett: The vision of the organization you work for, the Inspirit Foundation, is to create a more inclusive and pluralist Canada where differences are valued and engaged. How do you see that vision relating to parks and public spaces?

    Jay Pitter: In addition to acknowledging and addressing systemic inequities, we believe that encouraging an inclusive and pluralist Canada is predicated on encouraging people to engage each other across difference. The public realm plays a large role in that. The Inspirit Foundation supports many projects that leverage the public realm to bring people together to address issues that are paramount within their local context.

    For instance, we funded an Edmonton-based project called iHuman. The project provides supports for Indigenous youth, many of whom are street-involved, to engage with the broader community in the public realm. Last year they hosted a block party and there were performances and workshops led by Indigenous youth who are street-involved engaging the wider community. What’s really exciting about this project is it really recast Indigenous youth who are experiencing homelessness from being a vulnerable to powerful. The project demonstrates their capacity not just their struggles; the public realm plays an integral role in amplifying this respectful approach to youth engagement and addressing systemic exclusion.
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    blogTO's Derek Flack blogs about how the Green Line, a proposed chain of parks in my neighbourhood built along a hydro corridor, is set to take off. Last year, I photoblogged my Jane's Walk along the proposed route. I'm excited this is coming to pass!

    A proposal for a new park system connecting various green spaces along a hydro corridor on the west side of Toronto has taken a major step forward at the outset of 2017. The idea for the Green Line, which takes inspiration from New York's High Line, dates back to 2012, but now there's finally a budget and design team in place to realize the vision.

    The corridor in question spans from Lansdowne to Spadina where there's already a series of mostly uninspired green spaces that lack cohesion. When you look at an aerial view of the area in question, it's easy to understand why officially connecting them makes so much sense.

    Since Park People started advocating for the project in 2014, a number of steps have been made toward bringing the concept to life, but developments on the horizon are set to be the most significant yet.

    Design firm DTAH has been brought on to work with the city and Park People on the Green Line Implementation plan, which will "identify opportunities for connections, new green spaces, and creating a continuous trail."

    As of yet, there's no master vision for the linear park system, but DTAH will be tasked with putting one together in conjunction with community consultation that will determine what users want most from the new green space.
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    blogTO's Amy Grief describes how the institution of the community land trust, organized by neighbourhood organizations to buy up available land in different places with the goal of ensuring it will be used for affordable housing and the like, is starting to appear in Toronto.

    [O]rganizations in both Parkdale and Kensington Market are trying to use the community land trust model in order to fight neighbourhood gentrification and rent increases (in both commercial and residential properties).

    Like other community land trusts - located in the United States and other parts of Canada, including in Hamilton - the ones in Parkdale and Kensington Market seek to own land and then lease it like-minded organizations who can help secure affordable housing and green space.

    "We want to own real parcels of land, own the deed to them and we want to determine collectively how that land is used to meet community needs," says Joshua Barndt, the development coordinator at the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust.

    He grew up in the west side neighbourhood and joined the PNLT after the non-profit organization got a Trillium Grant in 2014, which allowed it to hire staff. He says anyone who lives or works in Parkdale can become a PNLT member, but the group's governed by an elected board of directors.

    Barndt explains that the PNLT wants to focus on securing affordable housing as commercial spaces as well as projects to protect food security in the neighbourhood. Fittingly, the organization's in the process of getting its first piece of land: the Milky Way Garden behind the Parkdale Library.

    “The land trust’s role is to hold and secure the site and make it affordably available,” says Barndt. The PNLT hopes to use the Milky Way plot for urban agriculture initiatives operated by the non-profit Greenest City.
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    The Toronto Star's San Grewal looks at how an early 19th century land grant in Mississauga is going to be the basis for a massive new park in Mississauga.

    Smack in the middle of Mississauga, just north of its shimmering new skyline, sits 200 acres of fenced-in, desolate land entrusted to the local education system in 1833 by King William IV of England.

    Almost two centuries later, after developers and golf course planners and former mayor Hazel McCallion tried unsuccessfully to get their hands on it, the Peel District School Board and the city are about to launch a historic project — Mississauga’s very own Central Park. But don’t call it a park, it’s an urban farm.

    “I was looking at the land around there and asked some people, ‘what’s this farm?’,” recalls Mississauga Councillor George Carlson, reminiscing about his election as a school trustee in 1985, when he first heard about the massive tract of land owned by the board. “I got some vague answers about 200 acres that we owned and it was given to us by the king.”

    At the time, Carlson says much of the area surrounding what is known as Britannia Farm, was also agricultural land, as Mississauga was at the epoch of its transformation from a collection of rural townships into Canada’s sixth largest city.
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    Spacing's Jake Tobin Garrett interviews one Adrian Benepe on how parks work in the 21st century city.

    JTG: Your work at the Trust for Public Land really takes you across the United States. What are some of the inspiring actions you’ve come across that may not get as much media attention as the High Line and other high-profile park projects?

    AB: What I’m seeing is a lot of community-based, small-scale, often even pop-up, interventions. Particularly in crowded cities where real estate acquisition costs are high. Maximizing the use of public spaces by creating multiple benefit public spaces.

    In many cities, you’re seeing people converting part-time schoolyards into fulltime community playgrounds. And that’s particularly important in cities that are very densely developed, where you don’t have any more open land to develop into parks. In the conventional model, schoolyards were only used by students during the school day and were locked up in the afternoons, weekends, and holidays. In the new model—something the Trust for Public Land has been doing in a number of cities—you upgrade the schoolyard with the proviso that it must be open to the public anytime it’s not used by the school. So that gives you a very quick and inexpensive ability to create more and better public space.

    The other thing you’re seeing is the adapted reuse of marginal lands, of brownfields, former factories, abandoned rail lines, abandoned piers. That’s something that’s common across America. And, in fact, as you know, is common in Canada as well.
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    Grace Toronto Church, from the rear

    After visiting Allan Gardens late Tuesday afternoon, I passed by the adjacent building of Grace Toronto Church, on the southeast corner of Jarvis and Carlton. The building was all aglow, warmly lit against the background of the descending night and the cold-looking towers.
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    The first snowfall of winter inspired me to dash off yesterday to the Allan Gardens Conservatory, where I spent a half-hour before it closed at 5 o'clock. It was nice to spend time in the greenhouse complex, among the green and living things prepared for Christmas. The relatively late hour was a new time for me, casting shadows and complicating shots.

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter

    Allan Gardens, Toronto #toronto #allangardens #greenhouse #winter
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    Cloud Gardens (1)

    Cloud Gardens (2)

    Cloud Gardens (3)

    Cloud Gardens (4)

    Cloud Gardens (5)

    I'd been to the Cloud Gardens Conservatory before on Nuit Blanche, but it was only Wednesday that I actually visited this unique urban greenhouse. Embedded in a park built on land given to the city in the 1980s as part of the process that led to the construction of the Bay-Adelaide Centre, this greenhouse is a unique enclave of the tropical in the middle of a city that's cold in winter. I think I'll come by here again.
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    Steven Maynard's article in Daily Xtra offers some interesting arguments about the police crackdown in Marie Curtis Park and its wider import. Are there things we are forgetting, I wonder, traditions or entire populations?

    Marie Curtis Park has its own history. Even the police know this, with one officer noting that “we’ve really got our work cut out for us. This has been something that has been so ingrained in the area for decades.”

    When it comes to policing and public sex, it’s the same as it ever was. Or is it?

    I detect some subtle but significant shifts in the way police are framing their practices in “Project Marie.” In particular, I’m struck by how the police are at pains to point out this is not about “sexual orientation,” to use their phrase. As the spokesperson for Toronto police put it, “I don’t think this has anything to do with the sexual orientation of those involved.” Rather, she says it’s a “type of behaviour that is not welcome in our public spaces.” Another officer said, “I want to make it very clear that the purpose of this project is not to target any one specific orientation or anything like that.”

    In a certain way, the police are right. Men who cruise parks for sex, then and now, have a range of erotic identifications, not all of them gay. But I’m fairly certain the police aren’t offering a primer on the non-identitarian notion of MSM, or “men who have sex with men.” Rather, the police are anxious to reassure us this is not about sexual orientation in order to avoid accusations of homophobia and harassment.

    According to police, it’s about “lewd behaviour” and “sexual activity in public,” irrespective of the erotic preferences of those engaged in such activities. Activists have countered that this is a smokescreen designed to obscure “an old-school queer-catching crackdown.” This is undoubtedly true, but if our analysis stops here, I worry we may be missing something important.


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