I’LL BE TAKING A MONTH OR SO OFF UNTIL MID-JULY/2021 – BE SAFE AS YOU CAN!

So much is happening these days that I’m taking some time off until mid-July. ‘torontosavvy’ will continue to be available, and I’ll be working on some new material for July. That’s the month when I’ll be getting my second dose as well. Meanwhile, stay safe and all the best, DAVE

URBAN VERSUS RURAL, ONTARIO HOUSE PRICES ARE GOING WAY UP – IS TORONTO THE FELON?

Toronto and its surroundings are getting lots of criticism for skyrocketing costs in the battle to try and secure homes in smaller towns and cities – not to forget farmers and others who depend on tourism. ‘Toronto Life’ headlines what’s going on above “a market gone berserk; over-asking hysteria; million-dollar dumps; rabid bidding wars; sight-and-unseen offers.” The big city in the south, that’s Greater Toronto, has become the cherry-on-top amongst realters, and it’s now being grilled by the press. Is the city to blame for this?  Data in the Globe and Mail puts it – “Toronto buyers are behind the uptick in house prices across Ontario.”With images like these in the back of our minds, some thoughts were forthcoming from Rachelle Younglai in a June 5th Globe story. First off, multiple offers are common now in much of Ontario. – “Torontonians are contributing to the spike in real estate prices in cottage country and smaller Ontario cities. (They are) driving up the prices . . . and have helped (increase them) on residential properties.”  It’s true that there are some higher paying jobs in Toronto, but along with those are much higher costs to afford a big city roof over our heads.  <Photo above – by Dreamstime> A Teranet Study, which analyzed mortgage activity in the provincial land registry, found that Torontonians and the rest of the province spent similar amounts if a condo was involved. The study found that a Toronto condo owner spent an average of $523,000 on a condo outside the city in 2020, compared to the provincial average of $505,000. According to the study, migrating Torontonians are busy increasing growth of the Simcoe Region and Cottage Country to the north, along with Durham to the east.

HOW GREAT IT IS WHEN CANADIAN STAGE SHARES ITS OUTDOOR AMPHITHEATRE WITH OTHERS

Canadian Stage is planning to make room for the much-anticipated return of live, in-person theatre, dance and music to Toronto this summer. It’s putting aside the normal Shakesperanean outdoor productions of the Bard – and instead share its 1,000-seat open-air Amphitheatre in High Park with a wide variety of local arts groups from the end of June/2021 into September. Most exciting will be full productions of a new Canadian musical; a new work by two-time Governor General’s Literary Award-winner Jordan Tannahill. A special performance beyond the Amphitheatre will use the entirety of High Park itself. All will be physically distanced, mask-wearing audiences up to 100 – with strict COVID-19 protocols on stage and off. Running times will be around 90 minutes. See the full Dream in High Park 2021 line-up. And there’ll be so much more.

FOR A WHILE TORONTONIANS HEADED FOR THE SUBURBS & EXURBS – PLANNING TO ESCAPE THE CITY

“The pendulum might now have swung too far”, wrote the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) economists Benjamin Tan and Royce Mendes. That was applied to Toronto when 50,400 people left the city for other parts of Ontario – Cottage Country, small towns and rural areas. As in America, some families are having second thoughts about heading back, or staying put in countryside towns. New York City is again embracing those who fled to the hinterland or the middle of nowhere when the pandemic hit really hard. Jason Kirby in the Globe and Mail’s ‘Report on Business’ writes . . .  . . . . . “In its most recent analysis of housing market imbalances and household debt, the Bank of Canada looked at markets in scores of postal codes in and around Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa. It found that the farther you went from those city centres, the hotter the market.” “A lot may depend on how accommodating employers decide to be when it comes to continuing remote work arrangements. CIBC economists found that many employers expect their workers to return to the office full time when this is over.”  The city is waiting, and daily commutes may be approaching.

From NOW Magazine – BUILDINGS THAT WILL CHANGE TORONTO’S FUTURE CITYSCAPE

By JULIA MASTROIANNNI – “Some of the most interesting buildings and developments are slated to go up in the next few years and will transform how we experience the cityscape – for better or for worse. From developments billed as sustainable to future skyline icons and hyped neighbourhood game-changers, we looked at projects that will alter the city in environmental and aesthetic ways, impact the city’s heritage buildings and attempt to address the affordable housing crisis.” 1 – The One, 1 Bloor West – Foster + Partners, Core Architects. This condominium tower will become a skyline icon – and the tallest building in Canada. and the second-tallest man-made structure in the country after the CN Tower. 2 – St. Lawrence Market North, 92 Front Street East, City of Toronto, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Adamson Associates Architects. Much-anticipated St. Lawrence Market North building has been over 10 years in the making. The development will combine courtrooms, offices and a large market in the open hall that will continue to operate as a covered, outdoor marketplace that can be adjusted to the seasons. 3 – The Arbour – 185 Queens Quay East, One of Toronto’s first large span mass wood structures will also make a mark on the skyline. Who is involved: George Brown College, Moriyama & Teshima, Acton Ostry Architects. 4 – One Delisle – 1 Delisle (St. Clair), Studio Gang Architects, WZMH Architects, Creating a new green-focused model for future residential buildings. Studio Gang is designing the unique structure of this 47-storey condo building, which is billed as a sustainability first for the city. One Delisle meets Tier 1 of the Toronto Green Standard, a set of sustainability requirements for new private and city-owned developments proposed after 2018. 5 – Mirvish Village – 581 Bloor West.  Those involved – City of Toronto, federal government, Mirvish Village BIA, neighbouring resident associations, Henriquez Partners Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects. Many residents were sad to see discount store Honest Ed’s go in 2017, and years of work and community consultation went into the planning of the current development, which will include heritage elements, retail, residential, green space and affordable housing. 6 – The ORCA Project – 433 Front Street West, Who is involved: Moshe Safdie, PWP Landscape Architecture, Sweeney & Co Architects,  City of Toronto. The most complex construction would create a skybridge fortress. Mayor John Tory has been aiming for this since 2016 in favour of the ORCA Project (which stands for Over Rail Corridor Area). A Rail Deck Park would have transformed the 21-acre space above a central rail corridor into a massive park, covering Bathurst to Blue Jays Way West along Front. Now, the proposed $5 billion ORCA Project, a private developer’s plan to turn the space above the rail corridor into a sky community, will become the most complex construction in the history of Canada – that is, if it actually gets built. For an additional five buildings go to the NOW magazine website. The address is https://nowtoronto.com/

THE CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS PRESENTS “IMPOSTOR CITIES” IN VENICE – UNTIL NOV. 21/2021

<PHOTO – The Canada Pavilion in Venice, transforming into movie mode> For a long time I’ve been watching Canadian cities stand-in for other places and cities across the United States and in many parts of Europe. We’ve been happily faking it, and filmgoers can seldom tell the difference from the real thing. Toronto often portrays parts of New York City, occasionally Tokyo, and was featured in the Academy Award winner ‘The Shape of Water’, parts of which were also shot in Hamilton, Ontario. Vancouver and Montreal masquerade as Moscow, Paris, and New York.  Alberta has helped depict the American West. ‘Impostor Cities’ celebrates Canada’s cities by being cinematic impostors, bringing attention to how our architecture is able to make appearances worldwide on the silver screen. ‘Impostor Cities’ poses the question: why are Canada’s buildings so good at doubling somewhere else in feature films? There’ll be fun to immerse visitors in this “impostor” experience – allowing visitors to consider what makes distinct Canadian architecture capable of blending into Paris and/or New York on the movie screen. This exhibition, the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, makes people aware that many film-famous buildings and spaces are really Canadian. It’s about our movie-making identity – we love it.

COUNCILLOR KRISTYN WONG-TAM TRIES HARD TO SAVE DOWNTOWN INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

These century-old heritage buildings at 153-185 Eastern Avenue in the West Don Lands are important parts of Canada’s industrial railway history.  Councillor Wong-Tram is trying to save them.The structures owned by the Province of Ontario, were recently being demolished without any community consultation nor a formal notice to the City of Toronto. Councillor Wong-Tam successfully stopped demolition until a formal hearing could be put into place. City Council adopted her motion for the City Solicitor to seek court enforcement of the Ontario Heritage Act, along with an additional Plan of Subdivision with the City. Negotiations are underway and updates will be posted at this address – kristynwongtam.ca/respectlocalplanning

WHY IS VICTORIA DAY ON MONDAY, MAY 24TH NAMED AFTER QUEEN VICTORIA?

Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, May 24th was made to be known as Victoria Day, By law the 24th is a date to remember the late queen, who was deemed the ‘Mother of Confederation’. And in 1904, the same date by Imperial Decree was made Empire Day throughout the British Empire – of which Canada was a member.  <Above – Queen Victoria’s sculpture in Queen’s Park, 1910, Toronto> Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day and in 1977 it was moved to the second Monday in March, leaving the Monday before May 25th as both Victoria Day and the Queen’s Birthday. That’s where we are in 2021. <Above – Her Majesty Queen Victoria on her Coronation Day, painted by George Hayter.> Queen Victoria appreciated his merits and appointed Mr. Hayter her Principal Painter and also awarded him a Knighthood in 1841. – Information from Wikipedia.

HELPING KEEP TORONTO’S ARTS, DANCE, MUSEUMS, THEATRE, ETC. ALIVE DURING COVID-19

J. Kelly Nestruck and Kate Taylor on Saturday, May 15th, examined some of Canada’s biggest art endowments and why they haven’t been making full use of them. There are funding restrictions, investment policies and the up-and-down health of the stock market – key roles in decision-making as what and where to Draw from the Endowments. A few of the Endowments below – Toronto Symphony Orchestra – $41.1-million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. The Art Gallery of Ontario, $84.4-million endowments along with another $23.5-million in assets. The Stratford Festival – a $93.9-million market value as of February 28, 2021, along with about half in restricted funds for areas such as training, new play development and maintaining gardens. A much more complete story is in The Globe and Mail edition, Saturday, May 15, 2021.