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If this doesn’t bring on spring weather, nothing will …

Every September, at the height of the Cabbagetown Festival, the festival organizers, the Cabbagetown BIA, sacrifice a cabbage to keep the Cabbage Gods smiling on the neighbourhood and bring good weather. Marc Michelin of St. James Town Steak and Chops has always been the “Purveyor of the One Cabbage.”

This April, the Cabbage Gods have been acting crankier than we’ve ever seen them, and the Forsythia Queens (aka Shawna Pereira and Carolyn Jarma from the Cabbagetown Residents Association) who organize the Forsythia Festival on Sunday May 6 are getting nervous. Marc, as a Festival Gold sponsor, has in the spirit of community service offered up a Brussels Sprout to appease and divert the wrath of the Cabbage Gods from their sisters the Forsythias.

The Act of Sprout was performed on Friday, April 20 by the hands of Marc himself. This better work … let’s bring on the spring weather!

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Throwback Thursday: April 8, 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse brings us the local news from April 8, 1978 courtesy 7 News.

It was a soggy spring in St James Town. The previous issue of 7 News had reported flooding in the 280 Wellesley complex, and now there are reports of flooding in 325 Bleecker. “Hot water shot out of the [third floor] pipe in a jet, missing, but only by inches, a woman sitting across the kitchen from the pipe. The force of the water splintered the bottom of the kitchen table, warped the floor, destroyed the carpet in the adjacent living room, and damaged the TV. ”

There were complaints that management had a neglectful attitude toward the necessary repairs, and that the tenants had little leverage, having tried and failed a couple of times to found a tenants’ association.

In our last Throwback Thursday, we reported on the battle over the proposed redevelopment of “South St Jamestown (sic)” (Bleecker/Wellesley/Ontario/Carlton). The developers’ proposal had headed off to OMB, and Ald. John Sewell had sworn a fight to the death.

As of this issue, hearings had just concluded and a decision was awaited. The current article summarizes the residents’ objections (“those who remain in the area – many were thrown out of their homes by Meridian several years ago”). Essentially they object to a proposed density “actually … slightly higher than even St Jamestown (sic) itself”. Objectors noted that “the very concept of dense high rise development has proven itself to be an obsolete planning and development concept”. The article goes on to note that “The St Jamestown high rises are currently known for problems with vandalism, maintenance and cockroaches, and have required their own security force to supplement the police. Critics say that these kinds of problems are almost inevitable in high rises…”

Coincidentally, last week’s Cabbagetown Neighbourhood Review notes a new proposal for development within the existing precinct of St James Town. As blogger Doug Fisher notes,  “It’s hard to say those words in one sentence – ‘expand’, ‘St James Town’?” Memories are long. But the people doing it want to be very careful and they’re holding a public consultation. It’s early days.

How will South St Jamestown come out? Stay tuned to Throwback Thursday!

In these days of bike lanes, “War on The Car”, the King Street Pilot Project, and massive condo development, the battles 40 years ago over front-yard parking seem almost quaint, but it was a burning issue in the day. Ald. John Sewell (who was opposed) writes a lengthy piece summarizing the pros and cons. He writes: “ Some on Council (I’m one of them) aren’t prepared to see more of the city turned over to the carriage and storage of cars. Toronto is known for trees … and parking on front yards will mean that fewer and fewer trees are being planted … Losing the feel of the city because of a parking problem in the 1970s isn’t a good enough reason.”

As with all these controversies of the day, we know how this one came out in the long run. But Sewell’s article also gives us a snapshot of City Council of the day, and where everyone stood on the issue.

In a sign of the times, and the social tensions inherent in a neighbourhood that was rapidly gentrifying, the Parliament Street Library announced that the Library House at 265 Gerrard, long in use as a men’s drop-in centre, was being renovated and that the drop-in centre would close. The piece notes: “The changes … have been approved by the ‘Friends of the Library’ committee. However the committee, according to a former member now consists entirely of ‘whitepainters’ who are openly hostile to the poorer residents in the area, and who were not happy to see the library house used as a drop-in.”.

In the ‘hidden ledes’ (not to be more overly critical) department, a collective signing itself “The Street Artists of Cabbagetown”, which on closer reading turns out to be a clever euphemism for ‘dogs’, writes an open letter to the residents, which on close parsing turns out to be an admonition not to put out their garbage before collection day…

And last but not least, The Parson’s Nose at 438 Parliament St., which was to become a Cabbagetown watering hole of resort at least until the early ’80s, announces its debut.

The full stories introduced above are available at http://www.connexions.org/SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume08-Number22.pdf . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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Update No. 2: DVP spring closure now on Apr. 20-23

Based on weather forecasts that we’re moving into a sunny weekend, the City of Toronto is going ahead with The Don Valley Parkway spring cleanup, between Highway 401/404 and the Gardiner Expressway, from 11 p.m. on Friday, April 20 to Monday, April 23 at 5 a.m. The DVP will be closed that entire time.

On April 11 Toronto City Hall announced that the Don Valley Parkway closure set for April 13 to 16 was cancelled due to expected unsuitable weather – a prescient move, given the ice storm and weather kaka the city endured last Saturday and Sunday.

Please plan alternate routes to and from Cabbagetown this weekend.

Posted in Local Interest, Traffic and Parking
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Give your feedback on draft waste diversion policy

Solid Waste Management Services is seeking feedback on a draft policy for accepting new materials into City of Toronto waste diversion streams (e.g. Blue Bin recycling and Green Bin organics). 

There is an online survey currently being conducted, with a deadline to complete of Monday, April 16. Comments can also be send via email to Robyn Shylit of the Public Consultation Unit: robin.shylit@toronto.ca

Visit the long-term waste strategy website to:

– read a copy of the draft policy
– view presentation slides and watch a recording of the March 21 public meeting about the new policy.

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Toronto City Council highlights, March 26 and 27

Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting. The City Clerk’s formal documentation is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Funding for non-profit housing
Council approved the provision of $2 million in funding for two new non-profit housing developments through the City’s Home Ownership Assistance Program to support a total of 80 new homes. The two developments consist of townhomes in Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River and a condominium apartment building in Ward 11 York South-Weston. The funding will provide down-payment assistance loans to help eligible low to moderate income purchasers of the new homes.

Guidelines for townhouses and low-rise apartments
Council approved guidelines for the City’s use in evaluating current and new development applications for townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings. The new guidelines replace an earlier reference document. Council also voted in support of motions for staff to report on matters involving townhouse entrances and parking requirements for low-rise apartment buildings.

Emergency shelters and supports
Council adopted a series of recommendations and motions that pertain to meeting the immediate needs of Torontonians experiencing homelessness and using the City’s emergency shelter system, and also for helping them find secure, suitable, permanent housing. A further City priority addressed by the recommendations involves efforts to prevent low-income households from falling into homelessness.

Review of winter respite services
Council received a Toronto Ombudsman’s report on the City’s respite services this winter, focusing on the identified need for better communication of information and improved conditions at winter respite sites. The sites give people experiencing homelessness a temporary place to sleep, receive a meal and obtain referrals to support services. Staff have been asked to look into possibly using sensors that measure respite facility temperature and upload the data.

Traffic in school zones
Council supported a motion calling on staff to prepare a report for May on a streamlined process to receive and process councillor and community requests for the implementation of traffic calming measures in school zones and community safety zones.

Tax on third-party signs
Council approved bylaw amendments pertaining to the City’s tax on third-party signs and decided to consider introducing an annual surcharge on unauthorized signs. The City collects between $11 million and $12 million annually from the sign tax. Third-party signs are signs advertising a business or service not situated on, or available at, the property displaying the sign.

Information technology and eCity Strategy
Council adopted various recommendations generated by an audit of the City’s information technology infrastructure and assets. The steps to be taken support the Information and Technology division’s corporate leadership in modernizing City services through the eCity Strategy and its goals of ensuring that technology enhances Toronto’s municipal services and political processes.

Development of thermal energy networks
Council authorized entering into an agreement between the City and Enwave to jointly pursue opportunities for developing low-carbon thermal energy networks. Development of low-carbon thermal energy networks as part of the broader TransformTO strategy will help the City meet its climate-change targets, attract investments that benefit the local economy, generate revenue, ensure energy does not become a limiting factor for growth, and improve local energy resilience.

Tree protection
Council adopted recommendations aimed at ensuring that applicants provide full information about pertinent tree/forestry issues for the Committee of Adjustment’s and the Toronto Local Appeal Body’s review of minor variance/consent applications such as applications for front-yard parking. Plans submitted for review need to identify trees and tree-protection zones and include photographs. The City’s tree bylaws are enforced by Urban Forestry staff.

REimagining Yonge plan for Yonge Street
Council discussed the REimagining Yonge (Sheppard to Finch) Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Study agenda item at length and ultimately decided to defer a decision on the future design of Yonge Street in North York. The deferral will give the Toronto Transit Commission time to consider the long-term implications for buses in that section of Yonge Street.

Flag-raising for Vietnamese community
Council voted to allow the Vietnamese heritage and freedom flag to be raised at Toronto City Hall. Journey to Freedom Day, observed each April 30, is a national day commemorating the thousands of Vietnamese people who perished fleeing Vietnam for freedom. The day also recognizes the Vietnamese-Canadian community’s success today. Toronto is now home to about 50,000 Vietnamese-Canadians.

Work on utilities at night
Council supported a motion to re-affirm that non-emergency utility work should not take place overnight in the downtown area. When overnight work is necessary, advance consultation with the ward councillor and notification of local residents/stakeholders are required. The City is trying to balance addressing the needs of a busy downtown core and the needs of downtown communities.

Amendments to purchasing bylaw
Proposed amendments to the City of Toronto’s purchasing bylaw received Council’s approval. The amendments pertain primarily to the supplier code of conduct and to the responsibilities of City division heads and project leads in managing purchase contracts.

Interim City Manager appointed
Council appointed Giuliana Carbone the City’s Interim City Manager, effective April 4. Peter Wallace, the former City Manager, earlier announced his resignation effective April 3. In addition, with the retirement of Deputy City Manager John Livey, Council appointed Lou Di Gironimo the Interim Deputy City Manager for Cluster B effective April 5 and until City Council appoints a new Deputy City Manager for the City of Toronto’s Cluster B divisions.

Appointment to the Police Services Board
Council appointed Councillor Jim Hart (Ward 44 Scarborough East) to the Toronto Police Services Board for the term of office that ends November 30, 2018 and until a successor is appointed. The appointment was made as Councillor Shelley Carroll (Ward 33 Don Valley East) resigned from the board effective March 26.

Special City Council meeting

City’s budgets for 2018
At a meeting held on February 12 to consider the City’s budgets for this year, City Council approved a 2018 tax-supported operating budget of $11.12 billion and a 10-year capital budget and plan of $25.98 billion. The 2018 budgets maintain or improve all service levels and make major investments in social infrastructure and housing. Overall, the 2018 budget tax increase after assessment growth is 1.47 per cent, with a 2.1 per cent increase for residential properties, a 1.05 per cent increase for commercial properties and a 0.70 per cent increase for industrial properties.

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Update on proposed development at 461 Sackville St.

As shared by the Cabbagetowner on January 26, 2018, owners of the property at 461 Sackville St. (at the southeast corner with Amelia) have applied for a minor variance to alter the existing building so it could be used as a day nursery. This story includes plans provided by the developer to the city.

It has since been clarified that the application to be licensed as a day nursery, which is a provincial designation granted through the Ministry of Education, is a further step in this process: what is at hand right now are physical changes to the property that would allow the site to be considered for such a use. Some of those changes require variances from the official plan, which is why the proposal is going to the city’s Committee of Adjustment on April 11, 2018, 1:30 p.m., Committee Room 2, Toronto City Hall. Please note that this is a different, earlier date than originally had been scheduled.

There has been significant commentary online about this issue, both from neighbours concerned about these physical changes and from Cabbagetowners who believe these changes are not detrimental and will make possible what they see as a needed day-care facility within our neighbourhood.

In the past two months, the property owner met with the CRA board of directors, as did a delegation of neighbours who oppose the variance and who have undertaken a petition to present to the city and the Committee of Adjustment. Beyond the physical changes proposed to the property, this group is also concerned about how such a use of this property, currently zoned as five apartments and two ground-floor commercial units, would cause traffic congestion and issues with parking, given there would be employees and parents dropping off and picking up children. The Cabbagetown District Heritage Committee is also reviewing the variance application through a heritage lens.

The CRA board encourages all members to express your opinions and observations.

Residents can attend the Committee of Adjustment meeting hearing on April 11 and speak to the item, or they can submit comments to the application technician, Daniel De Moissac, Daniel.demoissac@toronto.ca (comments cannot be registered by phone, only mail or email). Comments must be submitted by Thursday, April 5.

You can also connect with Peter Lovering, constituency assistant for Ward 2 Councillor Lucy Troisi, peter.lovering@toronto.ca .

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“Clean Toronto Together” Cabbagetown edition is Sat. April 21

The City of Toronto sponsors an annual spring cleanup, Clean Toronto Together, over April 20-22 that, so far, has more than 100,000 volunteers from neighbourhoods, schools, and businesses signed up to help their corner of Toronto recover from the dreck and garbage of winter.

Cabbagetown resident and volunteer Sherry Peters is leading a cleanup with the Cabbagetown Residents Association, so mark your calendar for Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. The Cabbagetown contingent will meet at the corner of Sumach and Winchester streets and will begin with a clean-up of Riverdale Park West.

If there is enough time and volunteers, a second identified clean-up area is Parliament around Wellesley and Amelia Streets, where a winter’s worth of takeout food wrappers have accumulated. The city provides free litter and recycling bags as part of Clean Toronto Together.

Please consider joining forces with your neighbours to make our parks and streets better for everyone.

Posted in Events

Throwback Thursday: March 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse takes us back to March 1978 to look at the news in and around Cabbagetown.

A critical stage was reached in the redevelopment of “South St James Town” (Bleecker, Wellesley, Ontario, Carlton, now forming part of the Winchester Park Residents’ Association) by Meridian Properties; Council approved sweeping redevelopment to include highrises which would have housed 3,000 people, plus 15,000 square feet of commercial space. Ald. John Sewell swore to carry the fight to the OMB.

Remember the patio at The Isabella? It makes its debut for spring 1978 with a $3.75 brunch.

The debate over the Don Jail continues; George Rust d’Eye delivers a stiff riposte to Bob Innes’s letter of the previous issue and is supported by Stanley Wilson.

Somebody ’s legal department had too much time on their hands. The Dow was down, right on the editors’ heads, as Dow Chemical waxed minatory over the alleged misuse of the word styrofoam in an issue from 1977. It would seem that the corporate legal beagles had never in their lives Xeroxed a Kleenex. The paper shot back hard. Remember napalm, anyone?

The Hon. Donald “Thumper” MacDonald, who had announced his retirement the previous fall, stepped down as MP for Rosedale.  A byelection was called for October 16. U of T President John Evans threw his hat in the ring against Ann Cools and won the Liberal nomination handily as the establishment candidate but the nomination battle was unexpectedly fierce.

The National Film Board made a moving documentary of Cools’s nomination, which is well worth watching: the NFB describes the contest as “one of the most innovative and fascinating in the history of Canadian politics”. The documentary memorably describes the south end of the riding as containing “The fragments discarded from the [urban] mosaic”. Spoiler: Tiny Perfect Mayor David Crombie won the PC nomination handily and flattened Evans in the byelection. MacDonald would have run for the leadership of the Liberals in place of Pierre Trudeau in 1980, had Trudeau not un-resigned. Ann Cools won the Liberal nomination in 1979 and 1980, but lost (narrowly in 1980) to Crombie. She was appointed to the Senate in 1984.

And finally, the eternal note on an eternal theme.

The full stories introduced above are available at http://www.connexions.org /SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume08-Number20.pdf . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collectivededicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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Another Cabbagetown heritage district under consideration

The city heritage study of what’s being called “Cabbagetown Southwest” in launching in April.

The Cabbagetown Southwest Heritage Conservation District Study was prioritized by City Council in March 2015. The study, run under the auspices of the City Planning Division, will “provide an overall understanding of the area’s history and heritage character and to determine if designation as a heritage conservation district would be an appropriate heritage planning tool for the area.”

The area is bound by Sherbourne Street to the west, Carlton Street to the north, Parliament Street to the east and Shuter Street to the south.

The study is being undertaken by a project team led by EVOQ Architecture (heritage architects) with Urban Strategies Inc. (planning consultants) and LURA (facilitators) to prepare the study report.

The study will include a comprehensive property inventory, historical research, character analysis, evaluation of the area’s heritage value, and review of the area’s existing planning framework. The study process includes two public meetings, as well as the convening of a community advisory group to provide specific and detailed feedback on research, analysis and recommendations.

Read all the details about the project and learn how you can participate.

Posted in Local Interest, Politics
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Throwback Thursday: the DIY version

Your Cabbagetowner for many years has known what a treasure-trove of historic photos are preserved through the City of Toronto Archives.

And now, you can peruse photos block-by-block around the city, from 1850 to today, using an online tool called Old Toronto: Mapping Historic Photos.

We found the above photo from 1934 of the northwest corner of Parliament and Gerrard streets. And there are hundreds more from Cabbagetown, and thousands upon thousands over the rest of the city.

Old Toronto is an open-source map tool “that provides block-by-block browsing of historic Toronto photographs,” according its creator, Sidewalk Labs,  a start-up owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet. This is the company that won a competition in October 2017 to partner with Waterfront Toronto to develop the Quayside neighbourhood. The plan, according to a recent Global News Report, will map this development “from the Internet up with features including roads designed for driverless cars, environmentally friendly design and innovative infrastructure.”

But never mind the future: this is a journey back to the past. The tool maps more than 30,000 historic city photographs from the Toronto Archives, which holds more than 1.7 million photographs dating back to 1856.

“Our goal is to help Torontonians discover something new about their street or city,” the Sidewalk Labs site states. “We think Old Toronto provides a powerful way to visualize the changes that have taken place on a given city block over time.”

Get a look at this photo of a pharmacy at the corner of Gerrard and Parliament from 1947 – complete with huge cigarette advertisements on the side.

We’ll share more Cabbagetown gems in future but, in the meantime, follow this link to Old Toronto yourself to explore favourite streets around the city.

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