September 4, 2014
Toronto’s Village - Village no more?

Toronto’s Gay Village (the Village), or Gaybourhood, is about to get a whole lot bigger, or smaller - depending on which side of the coin you fall on. In any case one thing is certain, it is going to become a lot more populated. 

Development in the Village isn’t anything new. The village has been constantly changing. While I personally cannot recall a time when Woody’s or Crews and Tangos weren’t neighbourhood fixtures, there are many who can. Beyond the ebb and flow of storefronts (mostly due to increasing rent, a topic for another time), the Village has recently seen the completion of a number of condo developments; the Verve, 22 Wellesley East, 555 Sherbourne and 500 Sherbourne in the village centre. To the north the X condos on Jarvis and Casa Condomio on Charles and to the south the Met Condos at College and Yonge.

Those condos alone have added a total of 2297 units, which at an average of 1.25 people per unit amounts to 2871 people. The influx of people in the area has been apparent not only in the rise of residential property values and rent for businesses, but also in the types of businesses entering the area. Restaurants and small boutiques are beginning to take the place of dollar and novelty stores. 

That is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Currently there are several projects under construction and even more that have been proposed.

image

image

Above: Chaz on Charles (top), Karma (bottom).  

Under construction there are the Chaz on Charles (511 units), Casa 2 (478 units), X2 (552 units), FIVE - formerly a gay club (412 units), Karma (495 units), and the 66 Isabella addition (212 units). 

2660 units, translating to about 3325 more people who will be living in the village area in the next 3 years. 

image

image

Above: 70/72 Carlton (top), Wellesley on the Park (bottom).

Proposed you have; 159 Wellesley East (286 units), 50 Wellesley East (365 units), Wellesley on the Park (742 units), YC condominiums (636 units), Casa 3 (626 units), 501 Yonge st. South & North (776 units), 592 Sherbourne (441), 308 Jarvis (590 units),  70 & 72 Carlton (600 units), 599 Yonge (514 units), 637 Yonge (326 units), 565 Sherbourne (369 units), Vox Condominiums (330 units), Gloucester Mews (232 units), Alter Condominiums (355 units), and 412 Church (Ryerson residence 532 beds). 

If even half of those condos are built that will be about an extra 5000 people living in the village area, and that doesn’t include the many proposals in Yorkville and around Parliament and Bloor. 

So what would the addition of at least 8000 people do to an area? A boon for local businesses, especially for bars and restaurants in the area to start. For the Village itself though it may mean there will be a lot more straight people mixing in with what has historically been a predominantly Queer neighbourhood. Not to say that this is bad though. It is likely the people who would be moving into the area will know about its demographics and will either delight in it or simply not care. Afterall the Rob Ford’s of the world tend to keep to their suburban fantasies. It just means that the area might not appear to be as gay as it once did. 

It also means the area will require additional services, like child care, medical centres, schools, libraries, and community centres. The 519 community centre has already expanded recently and another community centre at Sherbourne and Wellesley was completed a few years ago. This will certainly help with some of the influx, but they will no doubt become much busier than they are now. 

More homeowners in the area also means more property taxes for the city, and we all know that money talks - you need only visit the pristine streets of Rosedale and Foresthill to see how much. This is good for being fixing up streets and other city run infrastructure in the area. 

One thing very clear in these proposals is that while a number of them are mixed use the “mix” is mostly retail at street level. Office space to be found is little to none. These people, for the most part, will be commuting to other areas of the city for work. While some will have jobs within walking distance the majority will likely be taking transit or cars, meaning already crowded stations like College and Bloor are set to be even more so. Wellesley station itself will see its use increase dramatically. Oh and most of these projects would be completed before even John Tory’s transit plan would be implemented - brace yourselves.

Densification isn’t all bad though. Transit issues won’t last forever, a relief line of some sort will be built, as will the necessary infrastructure to support the added population. There may be a couple of dicey years in between those points but during that time shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars, will get an uptick in business. Local arts (theatre, galleries, dance companies) can only benefit from an influx of potential patrons. And perhaps most important for some you, Grindr and Scruff will have many more faces (or torsos) to choose from. 

September 4, 2014
Toronto Election 2014 - Transit Map

Here’s a really interesting map of the Toronto mayoral candidates proposed transit plans. 

robonto:

I’ve made this map in order to get out of the realm of out-of-scale line diagrams that Mayoral candidates keep releasing and see where their proposed transit options actually go in Toronto.

Note: Some of the proposed lines by many candidates do not have funding models behind them.

Click on…

August 23, 2014
Playing the John Tory Waiting Game

John Tory, mayoral candidate for Toronto, had released an ambitious transit plan for Toronto. While the general idea is great it remains vague on exactly what the cost would be for the riders or whether it would have seamless transfer from the TTC to it. 

I had sent the below letter to the Tory campaign in hopes to receive clarification back on July 10th but have received nothing back. 

"To whom it concerns, 

When John Tory first declared he was going to be running for mayor I was absolutely thrilled. I believe a centrist is what the city needs in order to unite the divide between left and right and restore order and working politics to the city. 
I was however confused when he released his transit plan for the city running along existing GO Train lines, adding several stations. It was stated that you could transfer seamlessly from those lines to the TTC but it wasn’t made clear if you could transfer seamlessly from the TTC to those lines. If you cannot I have to ask what the advantage of such a plan would be. Currently people can already board at Main St., Exhibition Place, Scarborough, and Longbranch however the cost in comparison to a metropass or one way $3 TTC fare makes that prohibitive. The Union-Pearson (UP) Express is slated to be around the $15 mark one way* - clearly something people are not going to spend on rather than the $3 TTC fare. 
With the Eglinton crosstown line slated to come into effect by 2020 and the University-Spadina line expansion opening in the next 2 years and adding thousands of more people to an already over crowded Yonge / University-Spadina line how does he intended to ease this crowding if it will cost more to use his proposed transit line and if he has no intention to create a downtown relief line (or commuter relief line)? 
It would be great to have clarification as to whether or not you could transfer seamlessly from the TTC to his proposed transit lines with a metropass and if not what the cost would look like to use his proposal and why people would be more apt to spending more on such a line versus taking the relief line (as most people who commute from further distances on the TTC tend to be lower to mid income earners). Unless of course this is all postering with the understanding that councilors will vote towards a downtown relief line instead of his proposal. 
I will say I think his proposal is quite sound fiscally, however it has to be completely integrated with the TTC fare system otherwise nothing will be done to relieve congestion. 
I look forward to your reply and thank you for your attention.”
*It is now estimated to be $25-30 one way for the UP Express

July 24, 2014

Some shots of the rainbow that graced the Toronto skyline at the end of WorldPride

April 2, 2014
The Sport of Courting LGBTQ Sporting Organizations

image
Image courtesy of revolked2.blogspot.com

There are a number of LGBTQ sporting organizations within Toronto. From soccer, to water polo, to dodge ball. Teams and organizations range in their competitiveness from friendly to intense or “fierce”, They range in size from teams of half a dozen to leagues of over 500. For a city that only had a handful of LGBTQ sporting organizations in 2000 Toronto has seen an explosion with now close to 50 teams and organizations for people to choose from, and it isn’t alone, cities across the continent have experienced a growth in LGBTQ sports. Why?

First and foremost are the numbers. With greater acceptance more people have come out of the closet. The HIV-AIDS epidemic that decimated the gay and bisexual male community has become more manageable and infection rates have decreased with safe sex practices and awareness. This means there are a lot more people within the community. More people means more interests and more people to join teams and build out new sporting organizations. 

As the queer community has gained greater acceptance within society the fringe aspect and counter culture that thrived within it, while still there, is no longer as prominent as it once was. People, younger people in particular, don’t particularly identify themselves by their sexual orientation, it is simply a small part of them. Being gay doesn’t make someone as “different” as it once did. Joining a sports organization before might have been seen as an attempt to appear macho, or pay lip service to the oppressive societal norms that so many had rejected and is no longer the case for many. 

Community, love, and friends. It can be hard finding people to date, whether you’re Queer or Straight. While there are bars, clubs, dating sites, and applications like Grindr or Scruff, they often leave a little to be desired. Sporting organizations have allowed people to interact with other Queer people, expand their friendship circle and explore another, more organic, way to meet potential partners. When I first came to Toronto joining a sporting organization was where I met most of the friends i have today and I continue to recommend joining a team or organization to anyone new to this city or any other. 

While I believe that the increase in numbers, and greater acceptance has allowed for a greater burgeoning of sports organization within the Queer community, I feel it is the desire to meet new people, develop new relationships (romantic and platonic) that has been the key contributor to the growth,

Do you think there are any other contributing factors to this growth I haven’t mentioned or feel one of the others is more important? 

February 7, 2014
Rob Ford says he will skip World Pride in Toronto

Well it looks like Rob Ford will be missing the biggest event Toronto has hosted since he was elected mayor. You know, because that’s what mayors of cities do, they don’t attend their cities largest events right?

Not that the LGBTQ community is really going to miss him though. The man has never been a friend of the community and has refused to apologize for the homophobic comments he has made in at least two videos now, because apparently when you’re the mayor of a cosmopolitan city like Toronto with a huge LGBTQ community that’s what you do as well. 

Time for another mayor who will represent all of the citizens of this great city, instead of excluding the ones who rub him the wrong way (er… or don’t want to rub at all, ugh). 

January 22, 2014
"C*ck Sucker" - Mayor Rob Ford

After a video surfaced yesterday of Mayor Rob Ford at an Etobicoke eatery (the Steak Queen) in the early hours of Tuesday Jan. 21st, visually intoxicated, speaking at times in Jamaican patois and calling Toronto police chief Bill Blair a “c*ck sucker”, Mayor Ford responded to video:

I said I was there, I met some friends. If I speak that way that’s how I speak with some of my friends. I don’t think it’s discriminative at all. It’s my own time, it’s my own time," (source)

Perhaps Rob Ford was so drunk that he doesn’t remember what he said, one of his blackouts #inadrunkenstupor. Perhaps he hadn’t seen the video that he was speaking to the press about. Or perhaps Mayor Ford simply doesn’t understand that calling someone a “c*ck sucker” is offensive and homophobic. 

Maybe Ford is just so stupid that he doesn’t understand how that can be seen as homophobic. If trying to belittle another man by saying that he engages in oral sex with other men as an insult in his mind is not offensive and homophobic then he’s seriously on crack. 

What truly gets me though is that Mayor Ford was irate when a reporter called him a “fat f*ck”. He clearly took great offense to that, as shown in the video below. But yet he can call someone homophobic slurs and that’s supposed to be okay?

I also take great offense to the fact that the media has not made a bigger deal about this. If a politician of a major US city made that comment the media outlets south of the border would be raking him over the coals right now. There would be outcry and demands for an apology to the Queer community. Yet here so little has been mentioned regarding it and I have heard only one reporter pose a question about it. Passive homophobia, allowing these comments to go unchecked, can be just as bad as the person making the comments.

The media outlets in Toronto should be ashamed of themselves, as should Rob Ford.

The Queer community deserves an apology both from Rob Ford for his comments and from the media outlets for ignoring them. 

January 21, 2014
Toronto Drops Out of 2024 Olympic Bid

Mixed feelings about Toronto not going for the 2024 Olympic bid. I’m not sure how competitive the city will be in 2028 or 2032 compared to others. If a North American city gets 2024 it won’t be worth putting in a bid until 2036.

Then I think “do I even want a homophobic organization like the IOC involved in my city anyway?”

The IOC doesn’t even have the guts to just release a statement saying what’s happening in Russia is wrong and they disagree with it. In fact they have said they will punish any athletes who they deem protesting the law (and they refuse to spell out what that means, it could be kissing or even mentioning their partner, it could be wearing a rainbow pin). Their complacency might as well have been approval.

Perhaps Toronto dropping their bid for 2024 is a blessing in disguise. A city whose greatest strength is it’s acceptance (not tolerance) and celebration of others no matter where they are from, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender, physical ability or religion should not be vying for something that clearly does not hold the same value in equality as it does. 

January 20, 2014
Home grown diva Deborah Cox will be opening and performing at WorldPride 2014 Toronto. A little taste to get you in the mood. 

Home grown diva Deborah Cox will be opening and performing at WorldPride 2014 Toronto. A little taste to get you in the mood. 

December 19, 2013
Toronto moves forward on LGBTQ positive athletic centre