A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

leave a comment »

  • Language Hat reports on the Wenzhounese of Italy.
  • Language Log writes about the tones of Cantonese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money writes about the costs of law school. (They are significant, and escalating hugely.)
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the problems facing the Brazilian pension system, perhaps overgenerous for a relatively poor country facing rapid aging.
  • Neuroskeptic reports on the latest re: the crisis of scientists not being able to replicate evidence, now even their own work being problematic.
  • Personal Reflections considers the questions of how to preserve the dignity of people facing Alzheimer’s.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a Financial Times article looking at the impact of aging on global real estate.
  • Spacing Toronto talks about the campaign to name a school after Jean Earle Geeson, a teacher and activist who helped save Fort York.
  • At Wave Without A Shore, C.J. Cherryh shares photos of her goldfish.
  • Window on Eurasia notes growing instability in Daghestan, looks at the latest in Georgian historical memory, and shares an article arguing that Putin’s actions have worsened Russia’s reputation catastrophically.

[PHOTO] Five photos from Woodbine Beach, Toronto

leave a comment »

Friday afternoon, I visited Woodbine Beach for the latest iteration of Winter Stations. I found myself paying as much attention to the beach. On that day of what I suppose is now late spring, the foggy sky melded with the cold Lake Ontario waters and the moist sandy. The horizons were endless.

On Woodbine Beach (1)

On Woodbine Beach (2)

On Woodbine Beach (3)

On Woodbine Beach (4)

On Woodbine Beach (5)

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Honest Ed’s redevelopment shows what it takes to make a Village”

leave a comment »

The Globe and Mail‘s Alex Bozikovic really quite likes the proposed redevelopment of the area of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village.

Mirvish Village is dead. Long live Mirvish Village. In the area near Honest Ed’s this week, workers had put up fences around a string of Victorian houses on Markham Street, preparing to gut them, while creatives assembled an “Art Maze” inside the old Honest Ed’s store for a festival and sendoff, An Honest Farewell, this weekend.

It’s the end of an age at Bloor and Bathurst Streets: the loveable shambles of Honest Ed’s is gone forever. But as this weekend’s events suggest, the past will continue to have a presence on the site.

The new development at Mirvish Village, after two years of conversation between developers Westbank, locals and the city, is inching closer to approval, with a new proposal submitted in January to the city. Westbank paid $72-million for the site, a big number, and yet the result is as good as private development gets in Toronto. It features meaningful preservation of heritage buildings, a serious sustainability agenda, and affordable housing – not to mention an architectural and leasing strategy geared at making the place as lively as possible, even a bit weird.

That’s all because the developers have been ready to engage in meaningful discussion: The city and the community have made this proposal better through talking and listening.

When the first Westbank proposal emerged in early 2015, “I think [the City of Toronto] were surprised by how much we were offering,” the main architect, Vancouver’s Gregory Henriquez, told me last week. “That’s how we deal in Vancouver: We come with our best offer.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto Housing Market May Need Vancouver-Style Cooling, RBC Says”

leave a comment »

Doug Alexander and Katia Dmitrieva write for Bloomberg about the statement by the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief executive officer that Toronto’s housing market needs to be slowed down like Vancouver’s

Toronto may require measures to cool its red-hot housing market similar to moves taken in Vancouver if interest rates don’t increase, said Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Officer David McKay.

The head of Canada’s largest lender said Toronto housing is “running hot” and is fueled by a “concerning mix of drivers” that include lack of supply, continued low rates, rising foreign money and speculative activity. Similar circumstances in Vancouver prompted British Columbia’s government last year to impose a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers.

“In the absence of being able to use higher rates to reduce that, I do think we’re going to at some point have to consider similar measures to slow down the housing price growth,” McKay said Friday in a telephone interview.

The comments from the bank CEO come as frustration grows over the unaffordability of properties in Canada’s biggest city. The average home price in Toronto jumped 22 percent in January from the previous year, the fifth straight month of gains topping 20 percent. Listings have dropped off, down by half from last year, squeezing prices further.

The CEOs of Canada’s other big banks last year called on the government to increase housing regulation amid skyrocketing prices in Vancouver and Toronto. National Bank of Canada CEO Louis Vachon said that minimum downpayments should return to 10 percent from 5 percent, while Bank of Nova Scotia head Brian Porter suggested his company was pulling back on mortgage lending due to concern about high home prices in those two cities.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Yonge Loves Pedestrians”

leave a comment »

Torontoist’s Stephanie DePetrillo describes a recent meeting about making Yonge Street more pedestrian-friendly.

It’s finally time for a “big, bold, and beautiful” plan for Yonge Street that would allocate large parts strictly for pedestrians.

At the Yonge Love meet-up Wednesday night, some big ideas were presented to a packed atrium at the Ryerson City Building Institute. The goal is to attract people back to the area with space for foot traffic, street-level shops, and a focus on making side streets and laneways more vibrant.

“Evolving cities need to go through this kind of a process,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, the chief planner for the City of Toronto. “Yonge Street is going to function in a very different way in the future than how it has functioned in the past and, as a result, the alignment of the street needs to shift and change.”

During the discussion, panellists weighed in on some tricky issues like safety and transportation, a potential pilot project along King Street, and failed attempts in the past to make Yonge Street pedestrian friendly. Even autonomous vehicles were brought up by a member of the crowd to add to the list of things to consider for a project this bold.

“It really feels like déjà vu all over again,” said urban designer Ken Greenberg, referring to the previous Yonge Street project that was kiboshed by City Council.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Landmark Toronto building listed for sale at $1”

leave a comment »

blogTO’s Derek Flack notes that 205 Yonge Street has been put up on the market for the initial asking price of $C 1.

One of Toronto’s most beautiful buildings has hit the market for the grand sum of $1. Just don’t expect the former Bank of Toronto at 205 Yonge St., to sell for anywhere near that price.

Designed by landmark Toronto architect E.J. Lennox in 1905, the bank was built in the neo-classical style with a remarkable domed roof, terrazzo floors, marble walls, and striking Corinthian columns that face Yonge Street.

It’s one of two glorious old bank buildings that’ll be injected with new life as the Massey Tower rises above them. Nearby 197 Yonge St. is also one of Toronto’s iconic historical structures.

As for the listing price, it’s basically an auction. Real estate agent Shawn Abramovitz argues that this pricing strategy also hints at the difficulty of putting a value on such a unique property.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “City’s stomach offers perennial access point to Toronto’s soul”

leave a comment »

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.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 6:30 pm