MAYOR TORY’S PLAN TO CONVERT SOME CITY-OWNED PARKING LOTS INTO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

<Surface parking lot, 3933 Keele Street; photo – MARK RICHARDSONDOWNTOWN TORONTO has very few surface parking lots, but that’s not the case in the inner and outer suburbs. There are at least eleven city-owned parking lots under consideration near transit hubs, which might become development sites.  Needless to say, there’ll be blowback to the Mayor’s Housing Now Initiative from drivers and some city councillors.

<ABOVE – one of three commuter parking lots at WILSON subway station has been declared surplus by the city, and might become an affordable housing development site – Google Maps/CBC>

Housing advocate MARK RICHARDSON “There have been councillors in the past who’ve pushed back against the closing of these parking lots. But they’re literally on top of transit stations, where dense housing needs to go.” <PHOTO – Martin Trainer, CBC News>  Mr. RICHARDSON has launched a website with a map and photos of underused parking lots that might qualify for the Mayor’s plan. Check out the map at this address –
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1ROhMQUHXmVMyeyXJcHT7eSuVLiSnwFQN&ll=43.70402728923885%2C-79.40693935000002&z=12

THE SONY CENTRE WILL BE NO MORE – AS OF SEPTEMBER/2019 IT’LL BE RENAMED ‘MERIDIAN HALL’

In the 1960’s it opened as the O’Keefe Centre for the Performing Arts <PHOTO ABOVE>, then it was called the Hummingbird Centre . . . then the Sony Centre, and now a $30.75-million deal has been made with the Meridian Credit Union to rename this newly renovated, 2,500-seat theatre Meridian Hall.

Civic Theatres TORONTO, which runs the St. Lawrence Centre, Sony Centre and the Toronto Centre for the Arts, is changing its name as well. In future, it will be called TOLive. Civic Theatres was created in 2015 to find ways to improve these three underperforming theatres.

Taken together, in 2018, there were 613 performances, with over 493,000 attendees. The 2019 budget is growing to $28.1 million — almost $4 million over 2018 — while the organizations subsidy remains $5.3 million, which is down $600,000 from 2017.

<O’KEEFE CENTRE OPENING NIGHT for ‘Camelot’, pre-Broadway, 1960’s>

THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO IS PLANNING A NEW TOWER FOR ITS ST. GEORGE CAMPUS

Designed by NEW YORK-based Weiss/Manfredi Architects and TORONTO’s Teeple Architects, the 13-storey structure will rise at 112 College Street, near Queen’s Park.

The unique building will no doubt stand out against its surroundings – some of which are already landmarks. Shaped as a truncated trapezoidal pyramid, the PIE Complex will have shared rooftop terraces, and the bottom two floors will be recessed – “lifting” the building off the ground level.

MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE METROPOLITAN OPERA, CANADIAN, MONTREALER, & HE’S GAY – NY TIMES

“A GAY CONDUCTOR: THAT MEANS SOMETHING” is an attention-grabbing headline in Sunday’s New York Times’ Arts & Leisure section.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is now the music director of the Metropolitan Opera.

<PHOTO by JEENAH MOON for the New York Times – Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the right, with his partner Pierre TourvilleZACHARY WOOLFE writes: “Despite gay pioneers like Michael Tilson Thomas (at the San Francisco Symphony) and Marin Alsop (in Baltimore), conducting remains an overwhelmingly straight (and male, and white) profession.  “Even NEW YORK, the city that gave rise to the modern gay rights movement . . . has been dominated by two conductors: Leonard Bernstein and James Levine, who both kept their sexual relationships with men hidden.”

<PHOTO by JEENAH MOON for the New York Times – Mr. Nézet-Séguin on the left, with his partner Pierre Tourville>

The writeup about Yannick Nézet-Séguin and his long-time partner, violist Pierre Tourville, is an uplifting milestone for both the Opera and the LGBTQ community.  You’ll find Zachary Woolfe’s in-depth story at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/arts/music/yannick-nezet-seguin-met-opera-gay.html

TORONTO’S NOMADIC ‘WHY NOT THEATRE’ COMPANY’S MANDATE – “MAKE. SHARE. PROVOKE”

Unique because it doesn’t have a theatre building, pays its artists and staff better than most, sustains a culture of equity and inclusion, travels outside of TORONTO, and in 2018 managed to raise about $2-million. It’s become the third biggest-budget not-for-profit theatre in the city after Soulpepper and Canadian Stage. – J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail

<PHOTO by Galit Rodan, Globe and Mail – left to right – OWAIS LIGHTWALA; RAVI JAIN; KELLY READManaging Director OWAIS LIGHTWALA comments“Running a venue and the skills required to do that – and the business capacity to do that – is a very different thing from the work of making artistic products that are good and compelling.  “It would be absurd if Steven Spielberg was expected to also be a good operator of Cineplex cinemas.”

For information on the WHY NOT THEATRE Company, and their plans for the coming year, why not go to https://www.theatrewhynot.org/

SAVE YOURSELF A TRIP TO THE ART GALLERY & CHECK OUT ‘THE CANADIAN ONLINE ART BOOK PROJECT’

Founded in 2013 and going strong, the ‘Canadian Online Art Book Project’ makes full use of 21st century media to potentially reach millions. The Project is a registered non-profit research organization based at Massey College, within the University of TORONTO.

<ABOVE – Skating Carnival, Victoria Rink, Montreal, WILLIAM NOTMAN, 1870>

Authors of the online books are among Canada’s leading art historians, curators and visual experts. Their work is available on the site to anyone anywhere in both French and English.A few of the many online art books – Michael Snow, Yves Gaucher, Emily Carr, Greg Curnoe, William Kurelek, Paraskeva Clark, General Idea, Harold Town, Paul Kane, Joyce Wieland, Jack Chambers, Jean Paul Lemieux, etc.

Current Online exhibition – PARASKEVA CLARK (1898-1986), A Russian Emigre’s Eye On Canada. <SELF-PORTRAIT – ‘Paraskeva Clark with concert program’, National Gallery of Canada, OTTAWA>

<‘SNOWFALL, Paraskeva Clark, 1935>  The Canadian Online Art Book Project’ – images, documents, podcasts, stories, videos, exhibits – is available right now at http://www.aci-iac.ca

FIRST TORONTO GOT IT – EVERYBODY GETS IT NOW AS THE PC’S ‘REVIEW’ 82 TOWNS, CITIES & REGIONS

<STAR METRO TORONTO front page, January 16/2019>

From out of the blue TORONTO’s city council was cut in half by Premier DOUG FORD’s Progressive Conservative government. Now we’ll all be in the drink together (no sympathy from the capital city) as “Ford takes aim at regional reform”.  Ontario’s mayors have greeted the news from Queens Park with excitement and dread, saying the promise of consultation must be legitimate (we’ve heard that song before).  One concern is the possibility of forced amalgamation, which was once handed to TORONTO by former P.C. premier Mike Harris.

Municipal Affairs Minister STEVE CLARK announced plans to review regional governments and cut red tape in Peel, Halton, Durham, York and other municipalities. “We will be looking at ways to make better use of taxpayers’ dollars, and make it easier for residents and businesses to access important municipal services,” Clark said in Tuesday’s statement.

“The last time DOUG FORD meddled in municipal governments, (he) abruptly axed more than two dozen local elections (in TORONTO and four) regional chair elections,” observed JEFF BURCH, NDP MPP, Niagara Centre.

CANADA ONCE OFFERED “BRITISHERS” CHEAP PASSAGE ON CANADIAN PACIFIC STEAMSHIPS

To increase Canada’s population in the 1920’s and 30’s, Canadian Pacific Steamships offered a deal to residents of the United Kingdom. $15.would pay for 3rd class trans-Atlantic transport, and children under 17 could travel free-of-charge.

<CANADIAN PACIFIC’s Empress of Britain, 42,500 tons; five days crossing>  Up until the 1920’s most shipping lines were heavily reliant on immigration. The ocean liners were also used to transport cargo between Europe and North America, but following World War I many ships began marketing to tourism.