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Issue No. 225 | March 5, 2014

1. 52 McCaul Street: Another Loss to Toronto's Arts Community
Kathryn Rowles

 Whether it’s an artist’s studio, or a hole in the wall restaurant, or the unfurnished but hopeful offices of young entrepreneurs — these are the small, bright lights of creativity and inspiration that are the real DNA of a good city. These are the little places that a city protects if it’s smart. And that it loses, along with its soul, if it’s not.

David McFarlane

Toronto is soon to lose another interesting and useful building that has been home to many creative enterprises over its history.

52 McCaul is a three storey, style-moderne building located in the Grange Park neighbourhood of Toronto. 

The building is slated for demolition in the near future, and a 15-storey condominium has been proposed for the site.

Currently, the developers Tridel and Osmington own 52 McCaul and are permitting OCAD University to utilize the space for their Student Gallery and to conduct classes on the upper levels. But that could be over any day now.

This building has evolved into an essential art hub as a result of its past and present occupants and the surrounding art-centric community. To the North there is OCAD University, Above Ground Art Supplies Shop and the Art Gallery of Ontario. To the South there is theatrical costume house, Malabar; as well as the fashion-forward Queen West strip. To the West there is Toronto’s famous Graffiti Alley.

Designed and constructed during the depression, 52 McCaul is a record of its time in a variety of ways. Architecturally, it is reminiscent of the 30’s, with subtle ornamentation, mainly carved stone, which can be noted on the facade of the building.

The building was completed in 1930 for Hanmer Burt Lloyd, owner of the Sovereign Press Publishing Company. It became the print house of choice in Toronto’s tabloid industry, printing popular magazines such as Sports Weekly and the controversial gossip magazine Hush. The Sovereign Press resided in the building until the late 1970’s. It was at this time that Flavio Belli Art Gallery became its new tenant and 52 McCaul began its evolution as a notable hub for up-and-coming artists.

It later became home for Prime Gallery, which flourished in the space from 1992-2008. The building was occupied for Toronto’s 3rd Annual Manifesto Festival in 2009, at which time the stunning mural by street artist Nunca was painted on its south exterior wall. This wall has become a destination point for tourists, especially street-art aficionados. There is also notable graffiti art by Roadsworth on the building’s north wall.

During this same period, Steve Ferrara and Lisa Martin of the grass roots organization “Well and Good” took occupancy of the building. They were also joined by curators Teresa Aversa and Charlie Irani and collaborated to create an exhibition space. Their other important service was to act as a resource for local artists and to stage artistic events to support them. This organization received accolades. Described as a “social experiment”, it acted as a “community of sorts, displaying and supporting artists at all levels of their careers…trying to find new ways and a new business model for consuming and engaging with art.”

Unfortunately, the organization encountered on-going struggles to maintain occupancy within the building. Eventually, the struggles ended and the organization left the space in 2012.

The removal of this building will be a loss for the Grange Park neighbourhood, and to the Toronto arts community.

Editor's Note:
There is more than enough here to warrant designation and preservation, but not enough municipal resources to keep all the valuable buildings out of the demolition stream. Existing buildings have utility, and create opportunities. Buildings are not Garbage. The Heritage Act is a crude tool to apply to what is essentially an environmental problem, but its all we have for now.

2. Measuring The Performance of Places to Grow
Catherine Nasmith, President of Toronto Architectural Conservancy

The Minister of Infrastructure has just announced a public consultation on the Places to Grow program with a “draft” document that sets out 12 performance indicators to evaluate the program.

Launched in 2006, designed to redirect development away from green fields and towards urban centres and public transportation networks, Places to Grow has been a bonanza for the province’s development industry.

In 2007, a resolution (full text follows) went from the Ontario Heritage Conference in Guelph expressing concern that the legislation’s only mention of heritage was “conserve where feasible”, not the “shall be conserved” language of the Provincial Policy Statement. That was a dead letter, but now is the time to write again.

Just for fun, open the performance indicators document and do a word search for heritage, or historic, or impact on small businesses, or any of the things that support the creative city or urban diversity. You won’t find those. There are lots of nice pictures of historic urban centres, which I understood to be the objective of Places to Grow, but instead of creating a modest re-urbanization, Places to Grow is obliterating traditional urban fabric. Ask Al Carbone about the impact on Toronto's restaurant row.

If Places to Grow has cost your community a treasured landmark or small business let the Minister know. Alternately, if your community has been able to successfully direct development energy where it will be helpful it would be good to know that too. Guelph and Oakville have put in place planning to direct development away from heritage environments, has that worked?

The program's over achievment in central Toronto is evident in all the diagrams, but driving out of Toronto it is hard to see any slow down in sprawl.

If you have ever gritted your teeth through an OMB hearing listening to arguments suggesting that intensification trumps all other planning considerations, whether it’s ugly architecture, overwhelming existing transportation systems, a monoculture of development types, poor recreation facilities, shadow impacts, wind impacts, horrid public realm or immolation of heritage buildings, you won’t find much comfort in the proposed evaluation measures. As bureaucrats are prone to do, the measures are set with the applause meter all ready cranked up to “We’re doing great!”

For example, “Build Compact and Efficient Communities” which seems a good goal, is being measured by the number of new housing starts in various communities, a measure that fails to record what makes great communities livable or interesting, and what is being lost as it is replaced by monoculture redevelopment.

But perhaps I am war weary writing from downtown Toronto where the endless condo boom is resulting in hardly a street without several cranes, blocked roads, howling winds, snow-drifts against plywood hoardings and chain link fences where main street buildings used to be. When the hoardings come down…no surprises…another tower only the rich can afford, with the requisite Shopper’s Drug Mart, or papered up retail space replacing the former Mom and Pop local businesses. The latest small business casualty was a personal favourite, the Cookbook Store on Yonge Street.

The Ministry of Infrastructure is asking the public if they have the performance indicators right. If the performance indicators don’t include small business start ups, conservation of built fabric, preservation of diverse urban environments, or supply of affordable housing, then we are not getting a full picture of how this program has impacted our communities.

Resolution from 2007 Ontario Heritage Conference

4. Places to Grow: Protection for Heritage Resources in Identified Communities

 Whereas the valued built heritage resources within the 25 growth centres identified in the 2006 Places to Grow Act  and other potentially identified growth centres are at significant risk due to the requirements of this Act, that the Ontario Government immediately commit $6.5 million for the preparation of Heritage Master Plans and the preparation of Official Plan Heritage Conservation Policies for each centre.

Whereas the conservation objectives in the Growth Plan require conserving cultural heritage only “where feasible” and this is not consistent with the public policy statement which requires that significant built heritage resources be conserved, and whereas  “where feasible” is not defined in the Growth Plan, that the Ontario Government remove the words “where feasible” from section 4.2.4 (e) of the Growth Plan.

3. Coming Soon--Updated Ontario Provincial Policy Statement
Catherine Nasmith

Bala Citizens Arguing for Protection of A Significant Landscape and its Views
The kind of study needed to consider the impact of development on heritage views

Now that's a dry title....but wait, there are important gains for heritage in the new Provincial Policy Statement which comes into force on April 30, 2014.

It has taken four years to do a five year update of the 2005 PPS but the long awaited new Statement makes it possible to better preserve the context around a heritage property, with consideration of views to and from, as well as the impact of development on adjacent properties. It will also deal better with intangible heritage values in the planning system.

The section with most relevance for heritage is section 2.6. Cultural Heritage and Archaeology, which now has five statements instead of three. There is new emphasis on cultural planning, aboriginal consultation and archaeological conservation.

The biggest changes are in the definitions, cultural heritage landscape has been expanded to more explicitly include emphasis on aboriginal communities and places with special cultural meaning or association. Heritage attributes may include the property’s built or manufactured elements, as well as natural landforms, vegetation, water features, and its visual setting (including significant views or vistas to or from a protected heritage property).

To fully protect such heritage attributes they will need to be identified as such in heritage planning processes along with companion statements in Official Plans. Many communities are already putting in place the necessary measures to do this, but there is no doubt much more can and should be done to preserve Ontario's important places.

The good news is we will soon have a few more tools to do just that.

Editor's Note:
In the CRB hearing regarding Bala Falls a year ago, I argued for protecting the views identified in the Designation Statement from the property, however the CRB decision was moot on whether views to and from could be protected. Now it is clear they can be.

4. New Film Released: Regeneration on Main Street
Heritage Canada The National Trust Release

February 27, 2014 -- Heritage Canada The National Trust (HCNT) is pleased to announce the release of its new film, Regeneration on Main Street, which highlights the accomplishments of four Saskatchewan communities participating in the province’s Main Street Saskatchewan Demonstration Program.

The film, directed by Saskatchewan film-maker Jack Walton, illustrates how the towns of Indian Head, Maple Creek and Wolseley and the City of Prince Albert are successfully implementing a dynamic and energizing program that leverages local heritage and cultural assets to generate economic, social and cultural activity and improved quality of life.

“Regeneration on Main Street showcases our proven Main Street approach,” said Natalie Bull, HCNT executive director. “But the real stars are the townspeople – from school children to newcomers to long-time residents – whose grass roots energy and volunteer efforts are transforming their communities.”

Over the years, HCNT’s Main Street® program has benefited hundreds of Canadian communities, and generated longstanding active programs in Alberta and Quebec. Since 2009, HCNT has been working with the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport to bring the Main Street® approach to that province.

Regeneration on Main Street had its Canadian premiere in Saskatoon at the Heritage Saskatchewan Forum 2014. The film was made possible by support from the Government of Saskatchewan, SaskCulture, Main Street Wolseley and Main Street Indian Head.

To view Regeneration on Main Street, click

Main Street® is a registered trademark of Heritage Canada The National Trust.

Interested in starting a Main Street program or learning more about the Main Street approach? HCNT can provide coaching, training, tools and resources on a fee-for-service basis.

For more information contact:
Jim Mountain
Director of Regeneration Projects
613-237-1066 ext. 226

Editor's Note:
As governor for Ontario, I can say how excited I am about the possible launch of a similar program in Ontario. Watch this space.

5. Canadian Architect- Grange Park Redesign

Donor and landscape architect for AGO's Grange Park revitalization project announced

The Grange

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is pleased to announce that W. Galen Weston, Chairman and President of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, has committed financial support to help restore and revitalize Grange Park, located in the heart of downtown Toronto.

This commitment provides a catalyst for the AGO to collaborate with the City of Toronto and the local community to develop a design that will make Grange Park green, beautiful, resilient, sustainable and accessible. The AGO is working with the City to finalize the terms of its contribution to the project.

Grange Park is an integral part of the AGO’s history and Toronto’s heritage. While this two-hectare green space is the AGO’s property, it has been operated as a public park since 1911 through an agreement established between the Gallery and the City.

"Grange Park has a cherished place in my family’s history. It is just steps away from the original Weston Bakery where my grandfather lived and worked both baking and delivering the bread. While the neighbourhood has changed, the park has been a constant over all these years. I am delighted that this support will ensure its beauty can be enjoyed for generations to come," said W. Galen Weston.

Click here for Link

6. CBC: Demolition of Historic School in Toronto

Vintage neon signs come to life again

Some of Edmonton's vintage neon signs are once again lighting up the night. The signs are now glowing in all their past glory on the exterior of the Telus Building at 104th Avenue and 104th Street. The project is a collaboration between Alberta Sign Association, the City of Edmonton, Telus, the Downtown Business Association and The Places.

Click here for Link

7. Globe and Mail: Death of Janet Fayle, Richmond Hill's First Heritage Planner

FAYLE, Janet Elizabeth, BA(Hon.) December 27, 1935 - February 23, 2014 Peacefully at home, surrounded by family.

Janet was predeceased by her husband of 56 years, David, her daughter Marilyn and her parents, Urda and Marguerite, and survived by her brother Bud Evans and sister Sally Schreiber.

Loved by her children Elizabeth (Marc), Robert (Wendy) and Alexander (Raul), grandchildren Erin (Joshua), Emma (Mike), Cameron, Madeleine and Maxwell, as well as her nieces and nephews.

Janet, born and raised in Port Credit, Ontario, attended the University of Toronto for Home Economics. After receiving her degree, she and husband David moved to Ottawa where she worked as a therapeutic dietitian in the Ottawa General Hospital. In 1961, they moved to Richmond Hill, Ontario, which they made their family home for almost 35 years.

Click here for Link

8. Toronto Star: Brunswick Avenue Porches Star in Play about First Black Postman
Isabel Teotonio

Porch-side play to tell tale of Toronto

Former Brunswick Avenue home of Albert Jackson, with Jackson's grand-daughter

David Ferry plans to take the story of Albert Jackson to the city's front porches in 2015.

Lawrence Jackson sits in the front row, leaning forward on his cane, never taking his eyes off the stage.
A group of Toronto artists is bringing to life the story of his grandfather, Albert Jackson, a child slave who fled to Canada on the Underground Railroad and overcame racial prejudice to become the city’s first black letter carrier in 1882.

The 81-year-old watches as they read scenes created during a two-week workshop for a new play called The Postman, intended for production in the summer of 2015 as a promenade piece that will take place on 12 porches along Brunswick Ave.

He’s among 50 people at this east-end church, invited to see the work in progress and provide feedback to writers, composers, musicians and actors. Scenes include white postmen refusing to show Albert Jackson his route and reassigning him to the menial job of hall porter; the indignation of Toronto’s black community, which launched petitions and letter-writing campaigns to local newspapers; and the intervention of then prime-minister John A. Macdonald to ensure he was given his route.

Click here for Link

9. Toronto Star: Canada's Modern Image
Alfred Holden

Modern gems under-represented in Toronto's traditional image

Lord Lansdowne School, Spadina Avenue Toronto

Canadian mythology has long held onto the popular notion of the one-room schoolhouse from a time when this country was largely rural. That wasn’t so long ago though; my own Baby Boomer mom attended a two-room school heated by a wood stove in the tiny Nova Scotia fishing village where she grew up. The experience in Canadian cities, however, was often a very modern one, though it hasn’t been celebrated nearly as much.

Toronto Boomers may have been schooled at mod gems like Lord Lansdowne on the west side of Spadina Cres. Built in 1961, the school looks like a giant crown made of brick, glass, and concrete, a counterpoint to the Gothic glory of One Spadina Cres . across the street. Imagine what it was like catching a glimpse of Lord Lansdowne when it first appeared at the meeting point of a few traditional Toronto neighbourhoods: a shock of inexplicable newness a few years before even New City Hall and the TD Centre made their big, city-changing, modern statements.

Click here for Link

10. Waterloo Region Record: Program Aims at Downtown's Second Floors
Brent Davis, forwarded by Brian Dietrich

Kitchener to spend $1M to encourage startup ventures downtown

KITCHENER — The City of Kitchener wants to make sure fledgling startups have a soft place to land.

Councillors agreed this week to spend up to $1 million over the next five years to help downtown property owners fix up underused upper-storey space for new startup companies.

The landing pad program could be launched by mid-summer, pending a provincial review and official council approval. "This is really a regional economic development opportunity," said Cory Bluhm, Kitchener's manager of downtown development.

"It's about keeping these high-growth potential companies in the region."

When startups emerge from local business incubators it can be hard for them to find a suitable space in the area — raising the concern that these firms will go elsewhere. This program has "the potential to create all kinds of high-tech jobs," Coun. Frank Etherington said.

These landing pads are hopefully only interim spaces for the startups, as they leave business incubators and begin to expand and grow. "These are going to be improvements that are going to be applicable to any company," Bluhm said. "If a company grows out of it fast, a new company can move right in."

Eligible property owners within the downtown community improvement plan area could receive up to $20,000 in matching funds for renovations per floor, and up to $40,000 in matching funds for accessibility improvements like elevators in common areas.

The program could fund about 30 floors, providing a home for 30 to 60 startups and upwards of 600 employees. Office towers, shopping malls and hotels aren't eligible. The program is designed to remake under-utilized upper floor space in buildings with ground-floor commercial tenants.

That old, brick and beam atmosphere is just the kind of place these startups want, Bluhm said.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:This program recognizes the potential of existing buildings as homes for new business!

11. Peterborough Examiner: Y for sale, not so cheap
Galen Eagle, forwarded by Erik Hanson

Former YMCA building up for sale

The city's former YMCA building, purchased from the city by Dr. Jenny Ingram for $1 in 2007, is now up for sale for $1,475,000.

The architectural gem that sits at the northern gateway to the downtown on the corner of George and Murray streets with more than 107,600 square feet has been listed on DTZ Eastern Ontario.

The building, with its distinctive tower, is a heritage structure under the Ontario Heritage Act, with the original section built in 1892 and an addition to the south built in 1930.

It housed the YMCA until 2007 when the organization moved to a brand new building at its current location on Aylmer St. and Ingram, a geriatrician, purchased the old building for a buck with ambitious plans to convert it into a community centre for seniors with commercial and residential space.

The city turned down other offers on the building, including a bid by a Toronto developer for $2.5 million, choosing instead to support Ingram’s plans for redevelopment seen as a major potential boon and revitalization project for the downtown.

But since its purchase in 2007, Ingram’s attempts to redevelop the property have lagged and changed numerous times.

“I want to assure you that I look forward to rejuvenating this beautiful old building into something that will serve this community very well,” Ingram said during a ceremonial key presentation in January 2007.

In May of that year Ingram unveiled a concept called Re* that included a proposed 10- to 14-storey condominium, retail and commercial space, spa, fitness centre and boutique hotel.

Click here for Link

12. Azure Magazine: Women Only University Ryahd

A Groundbreaking Womens University in Saudi Arabia

Stunning Architecture

Working with local firm Dar Al-Handasah (Shair and Partners), also known as Dar Group, Perkins + Will executed the design of this 3 million square metre campus, providing state of the art learning facilities to a student body of 60,000 undergrads and making it the largest women’s-only university on earth. The structures were all built concurrently over only three years.

“The major challenges we faced were the sheer size of the project and the extremely abbreviated time line for the tasks required,” says design director David Hansen. “Every task had to be extremely streamlined while also overlapping in fast track mode.” To keep things on track, they first carefully structured the employee teams from Perkins + Will and Dar to ensure frictionless chain of command and problem solving. “After Dar developed a working master plan,” Hansen says, “we created individual teams involving approximately 150 P+W employees from five offices, integrating multiple disciplines from architecture and interiors to branded environments and wayfinding.”

Click here for Link

13. New York Times Travel: Concert Venue in former Granary, Marseille
Ondine Cohane

Marseille, On the Mediterranean, Art and Plenty of it

The European Capital of Culture designation (two cities get the title annually) often spotlights a destination that has become an up-and-comer on its own merits in the last few years, which is certainly the case with this ancient port town on the Mediterranean. A vibrant ethnic melting pot, Marseille is also home to an increasing number of contemporary art and avant-garde performances. Exhibition spaces include the 2,000-seat Le Silo, a landmark granary that’s been transformed into a theater; the Panorama, an ex-tobacco factory now home to modern installations; and J1, a hangar on the old port that will host a number of events. While in town, book into a stylish hotel like the four-bedroom Casa Honoré or the new cheap chic Mama Shelter Marseille.

Click here for Link

14. New York Times: 36 Hours in Toronto and no mention of RoFo
Sarah Wildman

36 Hours in Toronto

THERE’S something happening in Toronto. While so many cities lament the global economic crisis and the dulling effects of globalization, boutiques and restaurants seem to open every week in Toronto, and immigrant neighborhoods still feel linguistically, gastronomically, gloriously, distinct. The cultural diversity and urbanity seem limitless. But it’s hardly an urban jungle. Toronto is filled with lush, insistent greenery and an abundance of parks. It’s hard to imagine a better city to explore in summer.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:BHN comes to you from the heart of Kensington Market, fun even on sub-zero days

15. New York Times: Detroit and New Orleans Planning and Race Issues
Campbell Roberston

A Lesson for Detroit in Efforts to Aid a New Orleans Devastated by Katrina

Planning tangled up with race issues


NEW ORLEANS — As Detroit confronts some of the most intractable challenges of any city in America, with an array of civic leaders and urban planners offering solutions and ideas, it may be helpful to consider Harvey Bender.

Mr. Bender gained a degree of fame for his brief remarks at a meeting in January 2006, five months after Hurricane Katrina, when most of New Orleans was still a ruined landscape. Before a tense crowd in a hotel conference room, a city-appointed urban planning committee presented a proposal for putting the city back together. The plan would have temporarily banned rebuilding in the most damaged neighborhoods. If the viability of a neighborhood was deemed questionable after four months of resident opinions and discussion, the residents would be bought out and the area consolidated or potentially left as open space.

Mr. Bender, a city employee whose house was flooded with seven feet of water in one of the “neighborhood planning areas,” took the floor and faced the head of the committee, a developer named Joseph C. Canizaro. “I don’t know you,” he said, “but, Mr. Canizaro, I hate you.”

The proposal was politically dead after that meeting and has never been seriously revived, at least not here.

A plan for Detroit’s future released on Friday did not address questions of whether that 139-square-mile city should shrink by consolidating or limiting services to certain neighborhoods. Former Mayor Dave Bing at one point explored this as his strategy, but it met a cold reception. No city leader has explicitly raised it since. Yet while Mike Duggan, the current mayor, has said every Detroit neighborhood has a future, the idea of shrinking lingers, implied to a degree in some urban planning ideas or openly discussed by experts.

If any city can speak about the difficult politics of downsizing, it is New Orleans, where a group of planners and business leaders proposed the idea as the best way to bring back the city after it was devastated by the flooding after Katrina in 2005 — and were instantly met with a level of citizen anger that killed the plan on the spot.

Click here for Link

16. New York Times: Pompeii Dissolve
Elisabetta Povoledo

Parts of Pompeii Crumble Under Heavy Rains

ROME — Heavy rains over the weekend provoked several collapses at the archaeological site of Pompeii, highlighting once again the fragility of one of the world’s most famous open-air museums.

A section of a wall of a shop on one of the ancient city’s principal streets gave way on Monday, spilling down mud and debris. A note from the Culture Ministry office that manages the site said that the wall – which had been restored in recent years – abutted an unexcavated area of the site and had been unable to withstand the weight of the water-packed earth.

Several stones from a support arch in the Temple of Venus fell Saturday afternoon, while the wall of a tomb in the necropolis near Porta Nocera, one of the principal entrances to the site, crumbled on Sunday. Both areas were subsequently closed to the public.

The new culture minister, Dario Franceschini, called for an emergency meeting with Pompeii archaeological officials in Rome on Tuesday morning to assess the situation.

Click here for Link

17. New York Times: Regeneration Detroit
Randy Kennedy

Culture Lab Detroit to Focus on Regenerative Design

Culture Lab Detroit, which began last year as a program to recruit well-known designers and artists to collaborate with their peers in Detroit, announced a series of events for its second year, which will feature the British architect David Adjaye; the Chicago artist and community activist Theaster Gates; and the Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana.

The lab, which runs from April 24 to April 26, will focus on “regenerative design in urban areas,” and will take place against the backdrop of Detroit’s federal bankruptcy and the city’s threats to sell pieces from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts to help pay municipal debts.

The lab, organized by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and the College for Creative Studies, will conduct classes, lectures and portfolio reviews for local designers and artists, among other events. Jane Schulak, the lab’s founder and creative director, described this year’s invitees as “all socially conscious artists with enormous respect for Detroit and its residents – each of them wants to be a part of what comes next in our city.”

Click here for Link