This neighbourhood has some of the most
intense development pressure in Canada, maybe the world. I look out my window
and can see two construction cranes swinging around. If I go up on the roof
I'll see a dozen more cranes.
Every few days a new floor is added to the condo being built a block away. Last week the nice old Anglican church of which I've enjoyed a view for two years was blocked, and soon a nice pre-war insurance building will be obscured too. I'll miss that view, but they'll be a new ones — it's hard to complain knowing the building I live in blocked somebody else's view of something.
The arc between Church and Gerrard Streets and the Yorkville border at Avenue Road has cranes in the air and, if you look at what's planned, a bunch more tall buildings to come. Tall seems not to be too much of an issue here, near the confluence of two subway lines, and tall has been a neighbourhood characteristic for nearly fifty years. New people moving in, also not a bad thing.
My worry is the character of the main streets and the potential loss of some of the messy urbanism, especially along Church Street. The messiness isn’t literal (though sometimes it is) but more about the jumble of things that makes up this street.
This is where buildings range from Victorians to contemporary, where there are shops and bars, with people sometimes living above them or next door. The expected messiness lets little shops open, and allows for social spaces like bars and cafes, the real engines of this neighbourhood.
If new developments — by this I mean condos that take up whole or half blocks — start cleaning up some of this jumble, Church Street's vitality will begin to disappear.
As we’ve seen elsewhere in the city, condo owners tend to resist noisy enterprises like bars, especially when places with dance music are located underneath their residence. People buying a unit on a main street seem to forget what main streets are for.
Keeping the sociability of this neighbourhood intact is something to watch as it changes. Or changes again, I should say. It wasn't always the centre of Toronto's LGBT community (which is now more dispersed anyway). The hope is that community will still have a strong centre here while evolving to bring new communities under this umbrella.
There should be a social contract for developers and residents when moving in; an agreement to be the caretakers of the neighbourhood’s sociability.
That's the reason we all want to be here, isn't it?
Read more entries from Shawn »
Read our Q&A with Shawn Micallef »
by Wayne Chan | May 3rd 11:55 am
My daily commute is like a small gear of mechanical time, of epicycles upon epicycles, where days turn to months and to years, and the seasons cycle through. The rhythms of time are constant, but the changes they bring are not.
by george ilsley | May 3rd 1:44 pm
The neighborhood of Broma in Vancouver (around Broadway and Main) used to have salmon streams and a temperate rainforest. Now it has hipsters.
by Brendan Harrison | Apr 12th 12:54 pm
When white supremacists moved into my neighbourhood, I was forced to reconsider what community meant to me.
by Monica Meneghetti | May 2nd 11:45 pm
Queer Banffites come in every stripe but, like other wildlife, most of us are well-camouflaged.
by Christin Geall | May 3rd 10:16 pm
In my neighborhood, houses float out to sea. Theyre jacked up from their foundations, lifted onto trucks, and barged away.
by Shawn Micallef | May 1st 2:09 pm
This neighbourhood has some of the most intense development pressure in Canada, maybe the world. There should be a social contract for developers and residents when moving in; an agreement to be the caretakers of the neighbourhoods sociability.
by Shawn Micallef | Apr 22nd 12:26 pm
We think Toronto is diverse, multicultural, and all mixed up. But this mix actually happens less than wed like. One place it really does occur is in my apartment building.
by Shawn Micallef | Apr 16th 9:25 am
Living around Yonge and Bloor means being close to dramatically different landscapes.
by Shawn Micallef | Apr 8th 2:55 pm
When you love a neighbourhood you want it to be better. Here are four ways my beloved Church Street/Yorkville area could be improved.
by Shawn Micallef | Apr 2nd 1:46 pm
Every few months for years now there have been warning signs that this balance is on shaky ground.