Toronto International Film Festival

Our city is about to explode with TIFF fever.  From Thursday, September 6 to Sunday, September 16, the city will be abuzz with celebrity sightings, glamorous parties and most of all, enthusiastic movie fans.  Attracting over 400,000 people each year, TIFF has become one of the most important film festivals around the world.  For all the information you need, go to the TIFF website at www.tiff.net

Park People

The public space initiative launched by Public Space Incubator, headed up by Park People, have announced the 5 finalists in a city-wide competition.  After receiving 75 applications, whittled down to 25 who were invited to submit a formal, in-depth proposal, the 5 finalists were announced.  The proposed installations are diverse in geography and scope and will transform existing vacant lots, laneways and parks into welcoming gathering places for communities to gather and enjoy.  To find out more, check out the park people website here

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Kudos to the TTC

As promised, the TTC are launching their 2 hour unlimited transfers starting this Sunday.  In an effort to boost ridership, this plan has been in the works for awhile and transit riders have been looking forward to the cost savings it brings. Get more details by clicking here.

Toronto: the Liveable City

Toronto has come in seventh place as one of the world’s most liveable cities.  Dropping from 4th to 7th place in the standing, we are still one of three Canadian cities that made the Top Ten Cut.  Read more here.

Reverse Engineering the urban core

After decades of development in which concrete, asphalt and massive areas of landfill have served to threaten our environment,  cities are embarking on a “re-wilding” process which would see the re-integration of vegetation and green spaces, back into vulnerable areas of the city footprint.  Bringing back a city’s natural landscape, even in small quantities has a huge impact on helping our shorelines regenerate and bring plant and wildlife back to the regions.

Many cities worldwide have begun to incorporate  re-wilding into their cities’ landscapes to ensure that damages from climate change may in some small way, be lessened over time.

Read more here in weburbanist.com.

 

 

 

A North American take on the Siesta

In Spain, an afternoon siesta is as much a part of the day as a morning shower.  Any respectable Spaniard will tell you that siestas are not an option in their culture – it is their culture.  Along with really great tapas.

In New York City, the Casper Mattress Company has opened it’s first “dreamery”.  A sleep lounge where guests can take 45 minute naps in a private pod equipped with fresh pj’s, sheets and all the necessary accoutrements to relax and refresh in the middle of the day.

Is it an idea whose time has come?  Read more here and decide for yourself.

 

 

The greening of a neighbourhood

A few Montreal neighbourhoods have taken the initiative in establishing “ruelles Verte” or Green Laneways where once only run-down and ill-maintained laneways existed.  The results are proving to be not only environmentally beneficial but an example of social enhancement within the neighbourhood.  Bertrand Marotte writes a great article for the Globe and Mail which gives insight into the pros (many) and the cons (few) of these beautifully community transformations.  Check out the article here.

Will the tide turn at the Beach?

As one of Toronto’s most desirable areas to live in, one would think that the retail & gastronomic offerings in the Beach would be abundant and thriving.  Such is not the case for the flailing Queen St. East.  Storefront after storefront remain empty and decrepit despite it’s booming residential population and it’s summer tourist traffic of beach lovers and volleyball players.

On July 1st, City Council removed a tax rebate program which gave landlords a tax break on unoccupied storefronts, giving the owners plenty of incentive to leave the units vacant.  With the tax rebate gone, it remains to be seen if local business owners are willing and/or able to afford the exorbitant rents that many landlords are demanding for the available spaces.  Find out more here

Sand, Water and Cinema.

What could be better on a warm summer evening than watching a movie on a large outside screen?  The answer, watching it on a large floating outside screen.  Toronto’s Sail-In Cinema is back, this year on August 10th and 11th, offering a unique experience for both boating enthusiasts and landlubbers alike.

Swing on down to Cherry Beach by boat or by land and enjoy an evening of free entertainment courtesy of Ports Toronto.

For more information, click here

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Go BIG or go home.

A fantastic “zipper” pavilion designed for a 2016 architectural program by The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG),  will have a temporary home in Toronto this summer before permanently moving to  Vancouver.   Formerly set up at Kensington Gardens in London as an interactive art installation, the structure has been purchased by Westbank Corp and will be on display here before moving on.   The installation at King and Portland is underway and we can’t wait to visit the finished product.  For more info read the story at blog.to, or click here

Kensington Market

Kensington Market has been enjoying some exciting changes within the neighbourhood and the transformation of the former Fairland Grocery store will be no exception.

Opening this summer within the former grocery store space will be an interactive art/music installation which pairs local artists and musicians in a collaborative mash-up of talent.  Find out more by clicking here.

Digging up the past

An unprecedented excavation site in Amsterdam revealed hundreds of years of artifacts dating from the early 1300’s to present day.  The site of a new metro line which saw a portion of the Amstel River being drained,  uncovered over 17,000 objects which have been photographed and catalogued by archaelogists.  From a boat hook circa 1300 – 1625,  to 21st century items such as ID cards, coins, dentures and yes, even lost marbles, all can be viewed in the Below the Surface website here. 

 

A walk through time

If you are looking for a fun way to learn more about our great city, check out Heritage Toronto’s walking tours.   Some of the upcoming tours include George Brown Downtown, Campus and Cosmos, Gravestones and Greenery as well as a diverse selection of neighbourhoods.  For a full list, check out their site here

Heritage plaque district

June 17th saw the launch of the first Toronto Heritage Plaque District.  The Dundas + Carlaw Heritage District is the first community to officially tell the story of the people, industry and landscape that shaped this area by recognizing each achievement, through a series of 10 plaques. Revealing the history of the area, each plaque describes the achievements and timelines of the people who lived and worked in this community.  The plaques can be viewed on a self guided tour at any time.   To read more on this click here.

 

Union Station Market

Union Station’s Summer Market is open for business.  An eclectic addition to the Union Station makeover, this is well worth the visit to sample some of our city’s finest culinary treats.  Click on the link to find out more.

The CN Tower gets a facelift

Toronto’s most iconic landmark has undergone an extensive facelift just in time for its 42nd birthday.  Placing accessibility at the forefront, the renovations have included window walls along with a vast array of other upgrades to allow visitors with restricted abilities to enjoy the views and the observation level.  Go to the CN Tower’s website or click here for more info.

 

A setback for Sidewalk Labs

The proposal deadline  for  Quayside District, a joint venture between Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto has been postponed until next spring.  Plans for the ambitious project which is touted to be a city within a city encompassing 12 acres of a former industrial site at the waterfront, has been delayed to give the partners additional time to more accurately reflect the consultants findings and to give careful consideration of the public’s feedback.  Details can be found here

 

Summer fun under the stars

Looking for something cheap and wholesome to do during our warm summer evenings?  Why not check out one of the free outdoor movie locales. Find the list here.

Along for the Ride

Love them or hate them, the momentum for barrier protected bicycle lanes on congested thruways is gaining ground.  In a city where rush hour traffic seems to run 20 hours a day,  the desire of commuters who favour two wheels instead of four is reasonable, however those commuters who choose and/or require the use of a vehicle for their daily responsibilities may argue the unfairness of taking away what was previously dedicated for their sole usage.  It appears finding happy ground in this urban debate is still a long way off.  Read more here about the permanent bicycle tract proposed for the Prince Edward Viaduct as well as Richard Florida’s article entitled “Toronto’s Deadly Car Crisis” in a recent issue of Medium.

 

 

Within Striking Distance

Certain topics re-appear in this blog as their importance and significance to the city ebbs and flows.  One such subject matter is City Council’s debate over the issue of allowing Laneway Housing to proceed from wishful thinking to rubber-stamping.  As Edward Keenan of the Toronto Star reported on June 6, 2018, it would appear that the city is within striking distance of council approval and, as the motion has been put forward the anticipation is building.

While not a cure-all for the rental crisis, it is a step in the right direction allowing homeowners to renovate and re-purpose dilapidated and unused sheds and garages into viable rental units.    Not only does this benefit the owners in gaining income to help pay their own living expenses, but offers diverse options to mid-income renters in search of a neighborhood dynamic.  Breathing new life into often times run-down garages and out-buildings, seems to be a win-win situation for owners and prospective tenants alike.  And thankfully, City Council appears poised to push the button. Read more here