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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One Response to Throwback Thursday: April 8, 1978

  1. Bob Marlow says:

    We were renting 162 Winchester St. but looking for a house to buy. Found it in June 1978 and still live in it. Parsons Nose was a lovely pub. Our local, within easy walking distance. Spent many happy hours there with the guys who were taking our house apart and rebuilding it with an extra floor and all sorts of Victorian reproductions and genuine bits.

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