IT WAS A LONG TIME COMING, BUT TORONTO’S ALEXANDRA PARK IS PUTTING ON A BRAND NEW FACE

After 20 years or more, REGENT PARK, <Photos Above> a massive redevelopment on the Downtown East Side is now a great success, thanks in large part to private developers, the city, the province and people who live there. On the Downtown West Side, ALEXANDRA PARK (foreground above) is now heading in the same direction. It will feature 1,540 market-price condominiums mixed in with a supply of rental-geared-to-income units. Several streets will be re-opened, eliminating dead-ends and dark nooks and crannies. This former hard scrabble neighbourhood will soon be transformed into one that’s safe and in demand. ALEXANDRA PARK, named after Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, occupies a large swath of prime downtown real estate, south of Kensington Market. It couldn’t be better placed to show off spectacular views, and it’s just around the corner from Spadina Avenue, Chinatown West, the streetcar network and the subway.There’ll be new public parks and retail outlets, just as there are now in Regent Park.  This will be another much-improved neighbourhood.  ONWARD & UPWARD!

F.Y.I. – ARRANGING FOR HOME REPAIR DURING THE PANDEMIC – FROM JEN TRIPP’S NEWSLETTER

1. Ask the repairman or technician before arrival if they’ll be wearing a face mask. Don’t assume this.
2. Ask in advance if they will keep their distance.
3. Ask if they’ve been screened for COVID-19 symptoms or been exposed to the virus.
4. Keep your distance when they’re working, and refrain from engaging in conversation.
5. Avoid hand shakes, wear a mask as long as the repairman is there; give them space to work.
6. Before the technician or repairman arrives, disinfect the work area.
7. Before arrival, disinfect areas they may touch – door knobs, bathrooms, and sink faucets.
8. Repeat #7 once the technician or repairman has left.“Life happens, even during a pandemic. The washing machine breaks, the sink leaks, the stove goes cold. For months, you’ve been limiting house guests. But this is different: You need a service technician. Having someone breach your safe space is not without risk, so it needs to be done carefully. Something else you can do: Open doors and windows. The fresh air may dilute any virus that might have hitched a ride with the service tech. Running a central A/C may also help. Herb Weisbaum, The Washington Post.>

DESPITE COVID-19, CANADA’S PROPERTY MARKET NUMBERS ARE REACHING NEW HEIGHTS

From May onward property markets have been reeling in record prices and record sales. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the national home price index calculated a typical home sale at 3.3% to $637,600 from January to July. In Montreal the index rose 7.7% to $401,200 . . . . Ottawa jumped 9.4% to $502,500 . . . . in the Toronto Region it increased 4% to $876,100 . . . .  and in the Vancouver area $1,023,100.For renters with secure jobs, the situation is not dire. In tight markets such as TORONTO, supply is up and demand is down. A large number of new apartments and condos will soon be on the market, both in, and outside the city. – Report On Business, Globe and Mail, August 22/2020

THE CANADA-US BORDER IS SHUT TO NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL UNTIL AT LEAST SEPTEMBER 21ST

Canada is not ready yet to allow non-essential travel from the United States into Canada and vice versa. Canadians have been watching COVID-19 spread across America, and after negotiations the restrictions on recreational travel will remain in place until at least September 21st.This is the fifth renewal of border restrictions since the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic.  One Canadian challenge is the Alaska Loophole, an American state easily reachable by driving through Canada.  Traveling Americans sometimes cross into Canada, and spend their holidays here. Several have been caught and fined under the Quarantine Act.The Canadian government now requires foreigners entering Canada en route to Alaska to stop at one of five approved border crossings. They’re prohibited from visiting tourist sites or stopping to get food anywhere other than drive-thru restaurants along the way. Pass through visitors will be issued a ‘hang tag’ to attach to rear-view mirrors to make them identifiable. The tags include the date by which they must leave Canada.

FIRST REPORTED HERE ON FEBRUARY 22/2019, U OF T’S PLAN FOR ‘GATEWAY’ JUST MIGHT HAPPEN – UH, OH!

February 22, 2019 – The University of TORONTO plans a ‘gateway’ addition to Downtown’s Cultural Corridor. It’s under consideration by U of T’s governance, and could replace the former McLaughlin Planetarium, closed in 1995.The architects are Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who were behind New York City’s High Line & the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.The project will be home to the School of Cities, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, the Institute of Islamic Studies, the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and the Archaeology Centre. It will also provide facilities for the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Music.A recital hall with a large window will look out on the Toronto skyline. Above the hall – there’ll be a 400-seat event space with similar skyline views. A café will be opened on the ground floor and the designers will include a multi-storey atrium leading up to the recital hall.  <Renderings by bloomimages, courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro>OBJECTIONS are piling up, now that development is a real possibility. One of them comes from Ross Winter, B.Arch, M.Arch, MCP – “The Robarts Library (aka ‘Fort Book’) was a notable example of an inappropriate building thrust upon the community by the University of Toronto – inappropriate in form, scale, and materials.  Efforts are only now being made to humanize or better integrate it with its surroundings . . . “This proposal is fronted by Queen’s Park and backed by Philosopher’s Walk, meaning it will stand out like a sore thumb and not be absorbed into adjacent streetscapes.    The design here is overwrought and the site overbuilt. I urge the decision makers, at all levels, to reject the proposal.”

WE MADE THE LIST – CANADA IS ON THE PRELIMINARY LIST FOR NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO EUROPE

From The Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver – “From today, Wednesday, July 1st, Canadians will be allowed to go on European vacations. The European Union is expected to approve business and leisure travel from 14 countries, excluding the United States.“On the preliminary list – Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. The United States, Russia, Brazil & India did not make the EU list.”  The four of them had the most confirmed cases of COVID-19.>

SPEED DEMONS BEWARE – TORONTO IS ON YOUR TAIL, ARMED WITH PHOTO RADAR, FROM JUNE 29TH

We had photo radar once, but then Progressive Conservative premier, Mike Harris, cancelled it, saying it was a cash grab. Well folks, it’s back tomorrow (Monday, June 29) at 50 locations around TORONTO. The cameras will capture an image of speeding vehicles, and the owners will get a ticket in the mail. Anyone driving over 49km/hour will be hit with a whopping fine of $718.Indirectly, the coronavirus can be thanked for this. The virus cleared traffic off TORONTO’s major streets and boulevards – which seemed to be an open invitation to drive as fast as you can. Do it this coming week, and the city will reach deep into your wallet. It’s about time.

BUILDINGS ON QUEEN’S PARK GOV’T CAMPUS ARE BEING RENOVATED – PHOTOS BY ROSS WINTER

With warm weather upon us, and much of the city shut down, what better time than now to do some renovating? The Ontario government is doing precisely that at Queen’s Park. One thing about our federal and provincial governments – they preserve their aging hand-me-downs when it comes to buildings.

TORONTO’S BIKE SHARE PGM. IS GROWING TO 6,850 BIKES; 625 STATIONS; 12,000 DOCKING STATIONS

Now the Bike Share system is getting much bigger, expanding into 30 new neighbourhoods. Adding 160 stations and 1,850 bikes to the system, it will span 200 km2 in TORONTO. As well, more bike lanes will soon be put into place.After years of debate, the powers-that-be are now paying attention to cyclists, their needs and the city’s needs. This is at least one positive outcome from the coronavirus.