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.
Above: Chaz on Charles (top), Karma (bottom).
2660 units, translating to about 3325 more people who will be living in the village area in the next 3 years.
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.