A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Urban Note’ Category

[URBAN NOTE] “Troubled Trump Tower in Toronto likely will go to owner of $301-million construction loan”

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The Financial Post carries Alastair Sharp’s Reuters report noting that debt-laden Trump Tower here in Toronto has not received any bids, and that the bank that is its main debt holder is likely to take the building.

The court-run sale of a downtown Toronto high-rise bearing the name of U.S. President Donald Trump received no initial bids and ownership will likely fall to its main debt holder, a letter from the receiver showed.

The court process only indirectly involves Trump, whose sprawling business empire licenses its brand and manages the Toronto property on behalf of the developer, Talon International Inc. But the Trump International Hotel & Tower’s new owner will need to navigate an unresolved dispute over whether they can get out of that arrangement.

No qualified bids apart from a stalking horse offer of $298 million were received for the luxury hotel and condo property by an initial deadline, the receiver, FTI Consulting, said in a letter dated Feb. 21 and seen by Reuters on Monday.

“As a result, the Receiver has determined that the Stalking Horse Bidder is the Successful Bidder,” the letter said.

With no rival bidders emerging, the hotel’s ownership will likely fall to JCF Capital ULC, which on Sept. 29 bought the $301 million owed on the tower’s construction loan, before quickly moving to initiate the sale process.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “U of T assistant prof reviving Mohawk language”

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The Toronto Star‘s Jesse Winter reports on how linguist Ryan DeCaire, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, is taking part in an ambitious revival of the Mohawk language.

When Ryan DeCaire was a kid, he couldn’t speak his own language.

Growing up in the Wahta Mohawk Territory near Bala, Ont., he’d often hear his elders speaking the mysterious tongue, but he never knew what they were saying.

“You’d hear it spoken sometimes, and you always wonder ‘oh, that’s my language but I can’t speak it,’ ” he says.

Now 29, DeCaire has not only learned to speak Kanien’kéha — the Mohawk language — but he’s leading a revival of it in the heart of downtown Toronto.

In July, DeCaire joined the University of Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and the linguistics department as an assistant professor. He’s teaching the first-ever Mohawk language classes at the university, and helping to revive a language that eight years ago he feared might die out forever.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 8:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] ““I Knew I Was Not The Only Queer Muslim in the World”: Why I Call Toronto My Home”

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Torontoist features, as part of its weekly Immigrants in Toronto feature, an interview with El-Farouk Khaki, an out queer Muslim who is also a leading refugee lawyer.

I was born in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We had to leave when I was seven because my dad had been part of the independence movement. We lived in England for three years before we came to Canada. When we first arrived in Toronto, we were put up in a homestay. It was a Jewish family. And so my first religious service in Canada was actually Purim in a synagogue, and I went to a Jewish school with one of the kids for a week and a half. And that was an amazing experience for me because I have a fairly Semitic nose, and as a Muslim kid in London in the public school system, I was always being teased about it. And so being in a Jewish school, I had nobody teasing me about my nose.

After 10 days, we went on to Vancouver, and that’s where I finished my elementary school, went to high school, university, and law school, but I came back to Toronto in 1989. I came here for work. And I stayed. I was offered a job at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Future Generations Will Foot the Bill for City Council’s Incompetence Today”

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Torontoist features John Parker’s criticism of city council for not properly budgeting expenses in the coming fiscal year.

“What’s a million?” a comment famously attributed to Canadian wartime minister C.D. Howe, is one of those lines so rich in its obvious contempt for the sensibilities of the average taxpayer that it is almost a shame that there is no record that he actually said it.

But we now know that the spirit of that remark lives on in today’s Toronto City Hall. Over the years, $1 million has increased to $2 million. And we now know that this is the premium Toronto City Council submitted for future taxpayers to pay, just so that they could bring down the curtain on a 15-hour day of kicking the same tired old issues around the floor of council on 2017 budget decision day, to the point where someone, in effect, said, “It’s late, we’re all tired, and we want to go home.”

It’s not as if the 2017 budget process hadn’t already gone through a long and detailed series of analytical steps and decision points long before midnight on February 15. There is a budget committee that meets regularly throughout the year. City staff had released their preliminary 2017 numbers before the end of 2016. Community information sessions had been held. Special budget committee meetings had taken place. Recommendations and proposals had been submitted, discussed, and voted on at the Executive Committee. The bulk of about $10.5 billion dollars of tax that supported operating spending in the original proposal had emerged from the process pretty much unscathed. Proposed spending lined up neatly with projected revenues, in accordance with the law that imposes at least that degree of fiscal discipline on every municipal government in the province of Ontario.

As the midnight hour approached, there was just one problem. After taking into account all the recommendations from staff in all departments, and after all the town halls, and after all the committee meetings, and deputations, and proposals, and votes, Toronto City Council decided that the budget they were about to adopt just didn’t provide for the City’s roads to be clean enough. Two million dollars in street sweeping, to be exact, had to be added to the plan. So it was added.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Yorkville’s old school malls are about to disappear”

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blogTO’s Derek Flack looks at old malls in Yorkville, like Cumberland Terrace and the Village Arcade, that are set to come down as redevelopment beckons. Plenty of nice photos are included.

Yorkville is in the midst of a paradigm shift, the scale of which hasn’t been witnessed since it transformed from a hippie hub in the 1960s to a high end shopping destination in the decade that followed.

The Yorkville that’s slipping away today can be traced back to the 1970s. While historic elements dating much further back can been seen in the converted Victorian houses that still house retail on Cumberland St., many of the neighbourhood’s larger buildings date back to this decade.

Of these, the most significant is surely Cumberland Terrace, a multi-level mall that runs adjacent to the street from which it takes its name. Opened in 1974, when you pay a visit these days, it’s like stepping into a time machine.

Picture the Galleria Mall, but nicer. There are payphones and brown tile everywhere, an eclectic mix of vendors you’d never find in a newer mall, and wayfinding signage that dates back to the first days of operation here.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “TTC confident that Bombardier can achieve its latest streetcar delivery schedule”

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The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr reports on the latest in the back-and-forth between Metrolinx and Bombardier.

The TTC says it remains confident that Bombardier will stick to its latest streetcar delivery schedule, despite allegations this week of ongoing dysfunction at the Quebec-based rail manufacturer’s plants.

Court documents filed Thursday by Metrolinx, the provincially owned transit agency, accuse Bombardier of a “persistent inability to deliver on its contractual obligations” under a 2010 deal for 182 light rail vehicles (LRVs) and claim that as recently as last month there were “chronic and ongoing” problems with the company’s manufacturing processes.

The $770-million order from Metrolinx is separate from the TTC’s 2009 purchase from Bombardier of 204 low-floor streetcars, which has also been plagued by delays. But the vehicles from the two orders are similar and Bombardier is assembling the TTC cars at the same plants that have worked on the Metrolinx project.

Metrolinx filed the affidavits in response to Bombardier’s attempt to secure an injunction to prevent the agency from cancelling the contract. The documents have not been tested in court.

Bombardier denies it has bungled the Metrolinx order and in a statement released Thursday said: “we categorically disagree” with Metrolinx’s allegations. The company stated it was “fully able to deliver” the vehicles, which Metrolinx purchased to run on the Eglinton Crosstown and the Finch LRT.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The lost streets of South Parkdale”

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Spacing Toronto’s Chris Bateman looks at the history of South Parkdale, a part of the neighbourhood of the same name that got obliterated in the mid-20th century by the construction of the Gardiner.

No Toronto neighbourhood paid for the Gardiner Expressway quite like Parkdale.

Before construction of the lakefront highway in 1958, the land south of Springhurst Avenue and the rail tracks was just like the rest of Parkdale: residential, consisting of mostly detached homes on spacious lots.

At the time, Dunn and Jameson Avenues passed over the rail tracks south to the waterfront and a tangle of smaller streets such as Laburnam and Starr Avenues, Empress Crescent, and Hawthorne Terrace intersected them.

South Parkdale was distinct enough to have its own railway station near the present-day foot of Close Avenue.

The first major road to penetrate the neighbourhood was Lake Shore Boulevard, which snaked south of Exhibition Place along the waterfront toward the Humber River in the 1920s.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm