A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘gentrification

[URBAN NOTE] Ten Montréal links

  • The Map Room Blog links to some old maps of Montréal.
  • Major English-language newspapers in Montréal, including the Montreal Gazette, are no longer being distributed to Québec City clients. CBC reports.
  • Radio-Canada employees’ union is concerned over cost overruns in the construction of a new headquarters for the French-language chain. CTV NEws reports.
  • La Presse notes how the to-be-demolished Champlain Bridge is a home for, among others, falcons.
  • The Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice, after the latest delay, will have been closed for nearly two decades. La Presse reports.
  • The Montreal Children’s Library is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a fundraiser. CBC reports.
  • CBC Montreal looks at how, even without a stadium, legendary mayor Jean Drapeau brought major league baseball to his city.
  • The anti-gentrification University of the Streets group has some interesting ideas. CBC reports.
  • The city government of Montréal is looking into the issue of the high retail vacancy rates in parts of the city. CBC reports.
  • At CBC Montreal, Ontario-born Jessica Brown writes about her struggles with employment in her adopted city.

[URBAN NOTE] Five notes about cities: parks, productivity, suburbs, borders, libraries

  • CityLab looks at a new study examining the relationship between gentrification and new city parks.
  • Guardian Cities looks at the hardest-working cities in the world, and wonders if that duration of work is a good idea.
  • The Conversation looks at how population growth in Canada is increasingly concentrated in car-dependent suburbs.
  • VICE looks at how arbitrary municipal borders in built-up areas can have nasty effects on the lives of people caught up by them.
  • Rabble reports on how Canadian libraries are handling the opioid crisis.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven Toronto links: floods, Vegandale, Seduction, marijuana, TTC, Coffin Factory

  • CBC notes that the federal government has given the Greater Toronto Area $C 150 million for flood mitigation measures.
  • blogTO notes that the Vegandale controversy in Parkdale is continuing, with allegations new restaurants in the area have hidden links to unpopular Vegandale business proprietors.
  • The nigh-iconic main location of sex shop Seduction on Yonge Street is closing down. blogTO reports.
  • Why are all of the legal marijuana shops in Toronto concentrated in the downtown? The Toronto Star reports.
  • Global News reports on the different problems with recycling material in Toronto.
  • What would the Downtown Relief Line look like if the TTC was brought thoroughly under provincial control? The Toronto Star reports.
  • Samantha Edwards at NOW Toronto writes about the end of the Coffin Factory as a haven for artists, victim to the forces of gentrification undermining much of the physical base of the artistic culture of the city.

[URBAN NOTE] On the closure of Statler’s and the fate of cities

Last night, a link I tweeted to blogTO’s report on the sudden closure of Church Street’s Statler’s went viral in a minor way. Massive rent increases were too much for this Village bar, notable for its performance spaces and its links to the theatre community to bear, leaving Statler’s fans bereft.

The former Statler's #toronto #churchandwellesley #churchstreet #statlers #nightclubbing #closed

Statler’s closure leaves me concerned for the future of Church and Wellesley as a LGBTQ district. Given the dire economics of nightclubbing generally and rising rents on Church Street particularly, how long can this neighbourhood and its institutions persist? Condo towers, like Vox Condominiums just east of Wellesley station, have been steadily advancing on the heart of the Village from the north and the south over the past few years, and I can imagine a collapse. Will there end up being a new Village elsewhere, in Parkdale or on Weston Road or in Etobicoke? Or will nothing follow Church and Wellesley?

Looking up, Vox Condos #toronto #night #voxcondos #lights #towers #wellesleystreeteast #churchandwellesley #yongeandwellesley

I am also more concerned for Toronto generally. That note about Statler’s was one of three I shared that day noting the closure of other Toronto institutions on New Year’s. Ten Edition Books on Spadina Avenue collapsed on New Year’s after nearly three and a half decades, driven out by the desire of the University of Toronto to redevelop this stretch into student housing. On the east side, meanwhile, the famed Coffee Time restaurant at Coxwell and Gerrard, an affordable coffee place’s connections to locals, has closed down permanently. (There was even a great documentary filmed about this place.)

Where are the replacements? Where are the new shops and restaurants and clubs, the new community institutions, the new neighbourhoods, to replace the old ones made increasingly unaffordable? Am I missing out on the regeneration of Toronto, or is a new monoculture taking over? And is Toronto alone in these trends among world cities. I surely think not.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: governance, housing bubbles, monuments, fiction, Brooklyn

  • Wayne Roberts at NOW Toronto makes the point that, in the wake of the Doug Ford government, cities in Canada need to get solid grounds for autonomy.
  • Toronto and Vancouver rank alongside world cities including Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, and Munich as being at risk of housing bubbles. CBC reports.
  • Guardian Cities takes a look at what cities around the world are doing with regards to contentious public monuments, here.
  • CityLab has an interesting roundup of recent online fiction about cities, here.
  • Justin Fox at Bloomberg View makes the case that Brooklyn is setting a general good standard for the atmosphere of American cities generally, notwithstanding issues. (I’d add that the influence of the Brooklyn model is not limited to the United States.)

[URBAN NOTE] TTC Line 1, Dufferin Street, Bloordale, #TheManWhoSoldParkdale, PR voting

  • blogTO notes a closure this weekend of Line 1 between St. Clair and Lawrence for Metrolinx construction. Still, at least their post uses my photo!
  • Urban Toronto notes that, the studios at 390 through 444 Dufferin Street being demolished, new construction is begin. I remember those studios from when I first moved to Toronto.
  • Urban Toronto looks at the latest revision to plans to redevelop the southwest corner of Bloor and Dufferin, one intended to install a more human scale to the streetscape and skyline.
  • NOW Toronto takes an extended look at the #TheManWhoSoldParkdale campaign against gentrification in Parkdale.
  • CBC shares the argument in favour of giving permanent residents voting rights in municipal elections in the City of Toronto.

[URBAN NOTE] On the end of Coffee Time at Dupont and Lansdowne and Toronto gentrification

I’ve lived five minutes’ walk from the Coffee Time restaurant at 1005 Lansdowne Avenue, on the northeastern corner of Lansdowne and Dupont, for more than a decade, but I would be surprised if I went there as many as a half-dozen times. It never happened to be on any of my corridors, for TTC buses or for walking, and if I really wanted to go out for coffee locally then the McDonald’s at Dupont and Dufferin would have been much closer.

The location’s reputation may, perhaps, have entered my thinking. The restaurant’s lone reviewer at Yelp back in July rated it only one star, noting that the crowd hanging out here, in a traditionally poor neighbourhood of Wallace Emerson close to apartment towers once linked to crime including drugs and prositution, is “interesting.” See, also, the passing mentions in archived discussion threads here and here.

Coffee Time, Dupont and Lansdowne #toronto #wallaceemerson #dupontstreet #lansdowneave #coffeetime

As I noted when I blogged about it back in July of 2017, this Coffee Time’s location was limited. The transformation of the neighbourhood into one populated by tall condos and relatively affordable rentals is ongoing, and substantial: the towers at St. Clarens are no longer the only towers in the area. Approaching from the east, along Dupont from the direction of Dufferin, the Coffee Time stands right in front of a Food Basics grocery store that plays an outsized role in this transforming neighbourhood’s mythology.

Coffee Time by the towers (and Food Basics) #toronto #dupontstreet #wallaceemerson #coffeetime #foodbasics #condos #towers

This Food Basics is location is anchor store for the Fuse Condos development, on the northwest of Dupont and Lansdowne. This new grocery store opening was welcome by some, who saw no reason this store could not co-exist with the FreshCo in the Galleria Mall just a few minutes east at Dupont and Dufferin. To some, this was a betrayal: Fuse Condos had produced a Metro grocery store, a higher-end grocery store with more selection, and some buyers were quite upset. There was even a petition calling for a Metro.

All this was satirized in The Beaverton, and aptly analyzed in the Toronto Star by Edward Keenan. Keenan pointed out that this behaviour was wildly out of place given the decidedly working-class nature of Wallace Emerson. Food Basics, obviously, got installed regardless.

The Coffee Time, though, is now closed. I learned of this from a post at blogTO on Thursday, a post that made use of the first photo I posted above. I walked by Saturday morning in the light of day, and I saw the doors closed, signs thanking customers for their patronage, chairs on tables ready for movers, and someone working at packing away the equipment behind the counter and below the emptied menu display.

Coffee time, closed (1) #toronto #coffeetime #wallaceemerson #dupontstreet #lansdowneave #closed

Coffee Time, closed (8) #toronto #coffeetime #wallaceemerson #dupontstreet #lansdowneave #window #closed

Coffee Time, closed (7) #toronto #coffeetime #wallaceemerson #dupontstreet #lansdowneave #window #reflection #closed

Chelsea Lofts, on the southeast corner of Dupont and Lansdowne, is visible reflected in the Coffee Time window in the last photograph above.

This Coffee Time was far from being an undiscovered gem in the rough in west-end Toronto. It was utilitarian, catering competently to its working- and lower-class demographic in what had been until a bit more than a decade ago a consistently relatively poor area of Toronto. It’s gone. What will happen to its clientele? It may never have been very busy, but there were consistently people there, making use of a relatively affordable restaurant in their community as a meeting space. Where will these people go now?
(The r/toronto thread considers the possibility of a migration down Lansdowne towards Bloor.) There was a public-access computer available for use, presumably for people who lacked home Internet. What will the people who used this computer do now?

I don’t doubt, myself, that there is going to be condo construction on the emptied site on the northeast corner of Dupont and Lansdowne, just as there has been on every other corner there. Nothing has been filed yet, blogTO reported, but that’s only a matter of time. Dupont and Lansdowne is the hub of a rising neighbourhood, blocks and towers reaching into the sky, and all the space that can be freed up for further density in this portion of midtown Toronto so close to downtown Toronto is desperately needed. Wallace Emerson will transition towards a new equilibrium, one where–among other things–the coffee shops will have a rather nicer ambiance.

I am fine with all of this. It’s just that I think a place that has been a landmark in the area where I’ve lived, and that has been a reasonably prominent features for innumerable tens of thousands of people, deserves some commemoration. The Coffee Time at Dupont and Lansdowne was here, was open, was recognizable, and served its purpose. What better can be said of any public space than that? (I just gave it three stars on Yelp!. That seems fair.)

[URBAN NOTE] “Moss Park Gentrification a Cause for Concern”

NOW Toronto‘s Helen Jefferson Lenskyj writes about gentrification in Moss Park, and how it may yet drive out locals.

Gentrification by any other name is still gentrification. The seemingly benign language of “revitalization,” “vibrant public spaces,” “exciting opportunities,” “community resiliency,” “inclusion model” and “diversity” only disguises the reality that poor and homeless people will be displaced and the policing of poverty will escalate where gentrification takes place.

In Toronto’s Downtown East (DTE), the proposed LGBTQ-focused sport centre at Moss Park’s John Innes Community Centre, a joint venture of the 519 Community Centre and the city, is a concern for anti-gentrification activists, as is the closely related nearby George Street revitalization project, which is promising to “deinstitutionalize” that neighbourhood by consolidating most homeless services and individuals under one roof.

In January, Queer Trans Community Defence (QTCD) – formed in the summer of 2015 to address the DTE development – attended two meetings with the 519’s executive director, Maura Lawless, and senior director, Becky McFarlane. In March, QTCD met with local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

[. . .]

While making passing references to “fairness in balancing interests” and “recognition of diversity,” DTE condo owners’ stated top priority – safety – means working “closely” with police “to advance law and order,” according to one residents’ association website.

To the same end, the city’s George Street plan promises to discourage “illicit behaviour” by incorporating principles of “crime prevention through environmental design.” User-unfriendly park benches and transit shelters that don’t provide shelter, for example?

Written by Randy McDonald

April 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Beware, countryfolk: the rural hipster may soon be among you”

Writing for The Guardian‘s Comment is Free, one Deborah Orr argues only somewhat jokingly that high prices in London might drive hipsters deep into the British countryside. (New Yorkers to New Orleans are also mentioned, so clearly this is something she thinks could be a global phenomenon.)

Hipsters, one assumes, are the Trustafarians de nos jours.How can young people afford to live in London at all, to pay rent or have a mortgage, let alone Shoreditch? It’s a mystery. Why aren’t they so worried about billsand the future that membership of somehappening tribe is neither here or there? Family money. Has to be. Spoilt brats, wanting it all – to be rich and alternative, with their humanities degrees and their entrepreneurial cereal cafes, their ability to paddle along on their raft of aspiration, seemingly unaware of the hardships of those they displace?

But even the hipsters can only manage the capital for a while. The young middle classes are moving out of London like they haven’t done since the 1960s and 70s, when “white flight” was seen as a problem. Cities like Birmingham are already noting the arrival of people with more money than sense, who will attract other people with more money than sense, until the people with more sense than money start finding that this isn’t Kansas any more.

Kansas may be choc-a-block with hipsters too, for all I know. But the most hipster place I’ve even been to is Magazine Street in New Orleans, a long shopping street lined with perfect pastel-painted clapboard, little boutiques and brocante. Post-Katrina, the white middle classes are moving to New Orleans in large numbers, lured by lovely old houses at prices that are cheap to them and ludicrously expensive to the local population. Pick up any edition of the local paper and you’ll find some former New Yorker who moved to New Orleans prior to this influx, making some tortured argument about the great integrity of his own move to the city. I’ve heard it all before.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 24, 2015 at 4:58 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Ask A Native New Yorker: Is Queens Doomed To Be The Next Brooklyn?”

Gothamist’s Jake Dobson writes about the homogenizing effect of gentrification, in New York City’s boroughs and in the wider world.

Have you ever noticed that all gentrified neighborhoods are alike, but each ungentrified neighborhood is cool in its own way? Like I could drop you in any hipster area anywhere in the world—Brooklyn, Austin, Portland, Berlin, Tokyo—and you’d be surrounded by the same scene: coffee bars with people tapping away at Macbooks, an upscale dive bar filled with guys with beards, a bunch of restaurants selling farm-to-table food. Even the graffiti would look the same!

Why is that? Why doesn’t gentrification look different everywhere? Maybe it’s because it has the same basic ingredients in each place: students and artists and gays looking for an affordable place to live, and the small business owners they attract who cater to their tastes. Or more likely, because a lot of gentrification is engineered by property owners and banks working from the same template, and it’s a lot easier to copy a place which has produced investment returns, like Williamsburg, than it is to try a new idea. Or, ultimately because capitalism is all about commodification, even when the commodity that’s being sold is authenticity. That’s some next-level post-modern Marxist critique right there!

Media plays a sad role in this. But they have a good excuse: they do it for the money! Allow me to explain: the New York Times is not a monolithic business. In reality, it is composed of many important bastions of journalism, like the international section, the Metro desk, Science, etc. These are valuable and very important for our democracy. But these sections are expensive to run and often lose money, so they must be supported by more advertiser-friendly areas of the paper, like Style and Real Estate, or the odious billionaire ball-cupping that gets done at DealBook.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 16, 2014 at 11:05 pm