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Toronto celebrates Lunar Fest

June 14th, 2014 · Comments Off

 

Sergeant Leanne Jones on Major, and P.C. Shane Syms riding Viscount, of Toronto Police Mounted Unit made a surprise appearance at the launch of the Year of the Horse. Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

 

With red lanterns and dumplings 2014 welcomes the Year of the Horse

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June 14th, 2014 · Comments Off

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau inspects the innovative Market 707 at Scadding Court Community Centre on April 23rd. The market allows start-ups to set up shop right on the sidewalk from within converted shipping containers.

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau inspects the innovative Market 707 at Scadding Court Community Centre on April 23rd. The market allows start-ups to set up shop right on the sidewalk from within converted shipping containers. Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

 

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Trinity Bellwoods Park renews strategies for alcohol crackdown

June 14th, 2014 · Comments Off

Park users face $125 fine for popping a cold one

By Samina Esha

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New plans for a new Ontario Place

June 14th, 2014 · Comments Off

Imagining a green space in the heart of the city

By Samina Esha

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Realtor turns 42

June 4th, 2014 · Comments Off

Freeman finds support of community events a key success

By Chantilly Post

Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

Located at 2 Vermont Ave., this is a very early Annex dwelling, the homestead of Patrick McGregor, who owned a large tract of land here in 1870. Learn more on the Annex Historical Walk on June 8. Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

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Shop shows passion for pasteries

June 4th, 2014 · Comments Off

New business owner turns trauma into dream fulfilled

By Chantilly Post

 

Sugary Swirl's owner Sonia Esteves displays just a very small sample of the rich variety of her baked goods crafted exclusively on site. The shop is located just south of Dupont on the east side of Bathurst Street.

Sugary Swirl’s owner Sonia Esteves displays just a very small sample of the rich variety of her baked goods crafted exclusively on site. The shop is located just south of Dupont on the east side of Bathurst Street. Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

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Catching up with history

May 27th, 2014 · Comments Off

Once completed, One Spadina Crescent will be a gateway that not only bridges the university to the community but the past to the future.  COURTESY?THE?DANIELS?CORPORATION

Once completed, One Spadina Crescent will be a gateway that not only bridges the university to the community but the past to the future.
COURTESY THE DANIELS CORPORATION

One Spadina Crescent embraces the past and welcomes the future
By Annemarie Brissenden
With its grey facade looming eerily behind a chain-link fence, One Spadina Crescent seemed destined to become the ramshackle province of ghosts. Instead, the nineteenth-century Gothic revival building is undergoing an ambitious renovation that will transform it into the new home of the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.
The transformation will occur in two phases. The first, scheduled for completion at the end of this year, is the renovation of the existing building, once home to Knox College and Connaught Laboratories. An irregularly-shaped contemporary wing with a multi-storey north-facing glass facade will be added to the building in the second phase, for which construction is scheduled to begin in the fall. Completion is expected in the 2015/2016 academic year. The design by Boston architect Nader Tehrani, principal of NADAAA, and his collaborator Katie Faulkner, is marked for openness to the surrounding neighbourhood, sustainable urban design, and preservation of the historic building’s heritage aspect.
Neil Wright, chair of the Harbord Street Business Improvement Area, characterizes the design as a “stunning mixture of heritage conservation and modern architecture” that creates an essential link between the community and the university. “It’s an opening where people will know they are coming into an academic and heritage area.”
“We see this project as literally designed as a crossroads. The structure is meant to link to the community in the west and the university in the east,” said Professor Richard Sommer, dean of the Daniels Faculty.
Tom Dutton, senior vice president of the Daniels Corporation, echoes this sentiment. The company, together with University of Toronto graduate John H. Daniels and his wife, Myrna Daniels, has donated $25 million towards the $50 million project.
“We see this circle in the middle of Spadina as being a bridge between the university community and the rest of the community,” said Dutton. “It will be an inviting pathway and a reason to cross Spadina.”
“It should contribute to the transformation of the entire area,” said Sommer, explaining that the original building dates to a time when the university was on the north edge of the city.
“When [Knox College] was built, all the city’s institutions faced south,” said Sommer. The university then found itself at the centre of the city and, preparing for a highway artery, “turned its back on Spadina.”
Now, with the Spadina Expressway long since defeated, the university is “catching up with history.”
In this way, the project is also a gateway between the city’s built heritage and its physical future, something that attracted both the Faculty of Architecture and the Daniels Corporation.
“We’re tying into the broader discussion regarding the future of built design in Toronto,” said Dutton. The Daniels Corporation is responsible for some of the city’s most visible mixed-use buildings, such as the TIFF Bell Lightbox on King Street West and the revitalization of Regent Park.
They’re also helping to produce the urban designers and architects of the future, added Dutton. “We now have the opportunity within the University of Toronto to create a state-of-the-art architecture and landscape faculty that’s up till now been working out of an inadequate facility.”
The faculty’s new home is also much needed following its own transformation from a very small fledging faculty into a new centre for visually-based thinking that now includes the department of visual studies.
“The building is a way to claim and have a physical setting that is an appropriate expression of our work and ambition,” said Dean Sommer.
For his part, Neil Wright is delighted that this “lovely orphan heritage building” is finally being adopted after so many years. “It’s something that everyone will be proud of, and it will be there for another 200 years.”

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Westbank solicits ideas for Ed’s site

May 27th, 2014 · Comments Off

Mirvish Villagers stress link between affordability and character
By Annemarie Brissenden
Mirvish Villagers accustomed to battling real estate developers greeted an unexpected overture from Westbank Projects Corp. on April 30 at the Randolph Academy with polite skepticism. It was one of a series of introductory meetings hosted by the company, which last fall purchased a 3.47-acre site that includes Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village.
“We do things differently,” said Ian Duke of Westbank to the approximately 60 people in attendance. “We don’t see ourselves as a developer, we see ourselves as city builders.”
Duke explained that Westbank currently doesn’t have a plan for the site, and hasn’t even hired an architecture firm. The sole dictate at this point is that the future site will be a mixed-use development of some sort, and it is unlikely that it would be a hotel.
Westbank’s goal for the meeting, then, was to introduce its representatives to the community and gain an understanding of what makes Mirvish Village special to those who live and work in the area.
Duke opened the discussion by presenting Westbank’s guiding ideas for creating what it terms a “community vision” for the site. The nine points included mixed use, sharing economy (for example, co-op daycare, car share, farmers’ market), heritage, community space, and urban mobility.
In response, those attending the meeting asked practical questions, suggested some guiding principles of their own, and shared their misgivings about developers in general.
On the practical side, business owners wanted to know when work would begin on the project (not until 2017 at the earliest) and how long it would take to complete (as long as two to three years).
With regard to suggested guiding principles, chief among them was affordability.
One speaker said “low rents provide an opportunity for certain kinds of businesses and artists [to] exist here.”
Another speaker related that Mirvish Village was thought to be the legacy of Ed Mirvish’s wife, Anne Mirvish, who had wanted to create a space for artists.
“Rent control is a boon to us. Moving 100 metres—rent would be four times what we pay,” added a third.
Duke admitted that affordability is “going to be one of our biggest challenges. We’ll obviously need to apply a lot of creativity to that.”
The participants kept returning to affordability, arguing that it is inextricably linked to something else they hold dear: Mirvish Village’s heritage and character.
“People come here because it’s not the same, because it’s different,” said one business owner.
“That will be a yardstick we apply to the final project,” answered Duke.
While the participants were cautiously optimistic about Westbank’s approach, they did express some cynicism about developers in general.
As one speaker commented, “It may not be like this in Vancouver, but in Toronto, developers don’t have a good reputation,” adding, “To what degree are you going to deliver on this excellent list?”
“We want to find out what things really hit the mark with people. What are must-haves, what resonates, what doesn’t,” said Duke. “One hundred people will have 100 different ideas. We want to distill a hierarchy of what’s important to get out of the process.”
“Just know that a lot of people will be watching that list,” responded a participant.
In addition to the Randolph Academy meeting, Westbank’s representatives met with four business improvement associations (BIAs) and four residents’ associations. The groups they spoke to included the Bloor-Annex BIA, the Harbord Street BIA, and the Palmerston Area and Seaton Village residents’ associations. It also held a similar introductory session with 45 members of the Centre for Social Innovation Annex on Bathurst Street, and is exploring how best to communicate with local residents and business owners, be it through a project website, twitter, or even a community kiosk.
Duke said Westbank anticipates presenting the results of these meetings at an open house in June, when there will be another opportunity to discuss the guiding ideas and get input from the community. He expects the company to hire an architectural firm in late summer or early fall and to present the first iteration of the plan for the area in December or January.
But he stresses that the timeline is a preliminary one, and Westbank could easily fall behind.
“We would rather do things right than quickly,” Duke said.

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Mulcair, Cressy against island airport expansion, support transit funding

May 27th, 2014 · Comments Off

 

Leader of the Opposition and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and federal by-election candidate Joe Cressy walk the walk with the Gleaner recently in Little Italy. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

Leader of the Opposition and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and federal by-election candidate Joe Cressy walk the walk with the Gleaner recently in Little Italy. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

 

By Annemarie Brissenden

Thomas Mulcair leaves his hockey hoodie at home in Montreal when he visits Toronto.
“When I went for my run this morning, I had on a great big Habs hoodie, and I thought…maybe I should bring this to Toronto, and then I thought…nah,” joked the official opposition and New Democratic Party (NDP) leader over an exclusive and wide-ranging conversation with the Gleaner last month. Accompanied by Joe Cressy, the NDP candidate for Trinity-Spadina, the gentlemen spoke over coffee at Il Gatto Nero, where nothing, not the Central Technical School field, the proposed island airport expansion, or the mayoral race, was off the menu.
It seems appropriate, given that a diversity of taste is what defines the area for Mulcair.
“We’re in an Italian café, I can see the Portuguese flag across the street, you’re in an area where you’ve got the best to celebrate every bit of Canadian diversity, which is magnified tenfold here in Trinity-Spadina,” said Mulcair.
For Cressy, it’s the parks that give the area its special flavour.
“This is a riding where our neighbourhoods define [themselves] by their parks. Christie Pits to Trinity-Bellwood…Bickford Park to Jean Sibelius. You talk about building a community, and with the condominiums in the south, the park is home,” said Cressy, who has keenly followed the Toronto District School Board’s attempt to bring a championship field to Central Technical School at Harbord and Bathurst streets.
A resident of Albany Avenue, he plays soccer on the field in the summer, so “I’ve been very involved, as have many, as I value Central Tech as a pillar in our community as a place to do recreation and come together.” And, he recognizes the concerns of the local neighbourhood about the proposal to bring in the dome.
“It’s not just around congestion and parking,” explained Cressy, “but access to our greenspace and our field.”
He is equally opposed to expanding the island airport, and defined the debate as a choice between “a large, diverse, and vibrant waterfront that happens to have a small airport” and “a large airport that happens to have a small waterfront.”
Mulcair agreed, noting that the tripartite agreement must be the starting point, and that any change would need broader support.
“The project that’s there now was controversial in its time,” commented Mulcair. “With the tripartite agreement in place, everyone has made their peace with the current situation, but [expanding the island airport] would be a huge change. We would never consider something like that without very widespread social adhesion, which doesn’t seem to be the case right now.”
The only mayoral candidate clearly opposed to expanding the island airport is Olivia Chow. Unsurprisingly, she is also the candidate that both Cressy and Mulcair support.
“I am an active supporter, and was an early encourager for Olivia to run,” said Cressy, who was the campaign chair for Olivia Chow and Mike Layton, and the president of the Trinity-Spadina federal NDP riding association. “Our city deserves better than our current mayor.”
“Rob Ford has been an embarrassment to Canada’s most important city,” added Mulcair. “I don’t enjoy the fact that the only time Toronto gets referred to in the American press is when his most recent video of his appalling behaviour is on display. I think Torontonians deserve better, and that with Olivia Chow they’ll have much better.”
Mulcair and Cressy admitted that it can be difficult to champion Toronto in the federal arena, but they are both committed to pursuing an urban agenda in Ottawa.
“We are a highly urbanized country. People tend to overlook the fact that we’ve stopped investing federally in those areas,” said Mulcair. “We’re asking municipalities to form the impossible. We’re giving them 8% of the tax base and we’re asking them to take care of 60% of the infrastructure. That is just a mathematical impossibility.”
“I am running to proudly champion downtown Toronto,” said Cressy. “Here in the GTA we’re losing $6 billion a year because of gridlock, in lost productivity. And so it’s a quality of life issue. It’s an environmental issue, and it’s also about economic productivity. If we’re going to get Torontonians moving again, we need stable, predictable, and permanent funding for transit. That’s the key. Not just for the next generation, but supporting existing transit to alleviate congestion.”
While for Cressy, then, transit is the most critical issue facing Trinity-Spadina, for Mulcair it is income inequality.
“For the past 35 years, the average Canadian family has actually seen their revenue drop. It’s the first time that’s ever happened in our history,” explained Mulcair. “Whether it’s a social program, or a social service, there are, from a social democratic view, things that you can do to create opportunity, but the fundamental role is to reduce income inequality in our society. That’s my number one job as a national leader.”

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Raucous meeting on CTS field

April 8th, 2014 · Comments Off

Community dismayed by lack of dialogue

By: Annemarie Brissenden

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