Friday, 22 June 2007

Another round of Thank-you’s to the Green Party
Our efforts to raise money for our Cabbagetown Festival Parade have really been supported by the Green Party. This time around, it’s Mike McLean who has responded so generously with a gift of $100.
Mike is seeking election to the Ontario Legislature in the coming Fall campaign. He’ll be representing the Green Party of Ontario. A graphic designer, he moved to Toronto in 2005 from his native British Columbia and he’s quickly made his mark here.
We can see why. He saw a good cause and he supported us. Watch for Mike in the Cabbagetown Parade on September 8 and be sure to thank him for his help.

Babies wanted …
Take your baby for a stroll in our Parade. If you’re stopped on the sidewalk on Parliament Street and asked if your baby is a Cabbagetowner, don’t be surprised – we’re recruiting kids, moms and dads for the Festival Parade on September 8. What could be more festive than hundreds of babies all massed together in the middle of the street? Just ask Zoe – who’s out getting dinner at Daniel et Daniel.

Great reviews for St Jamestown Steak & Chops
City Bites magazine (Summer 2007) has just completed a survey of the best rib-eye steaks from Toronto’s leading local butchers. Our own St Jamestown Steak & Chops (516 Parliament Street) has earned high praise:
“St Jamestown Steak & Chops
(His) southern Ontario beef is wet and dry-aged for 60-80 days, resulting in a yielding texture our tasters loved. Very nice trim butchering (looks like a big filet mignon) and mild-medium beefy flavour.”
Congratulations to Mark Michelin and his staff for another success.

Vinyl lovers have a new Cabbagetown Home
The Record Shoppe (458 Parliament Street – on the upper balcony above the House on Parliament) has just opened its door. This trendy retro store is focused on vintage vinyl records. They also sell CDs featuring local bands and Cabbagetown musicians. Guitar strings, instruments and music supplies round out their offerings. Amanda Lorberg manages the store.

Music on Parliament Street
Saturday, June 22 is the last day for our annual Spring musical presentation. This week, Jim Heineman brings jazz to Winchester and Parliament. Michael Kaplan, a regular favourite at Grasshopper Bar, is playing his brand of country music at Carlton and Parliament.
Last week, Sady T of Sax & the City played Forties and Fifties swing and Caribbean songs at Winchester Street. Dan McDonald brought Nova Scotia fiddle tunes to Spruce and Parliament. Both were warmly received.
Our artists are also busking and Cabbagetown shoppers have rewarded them for their talents. This is very highly appreciated and, on behalf of the artists and the BIA, we want to thank everyone who tossed in a few coins or bought a CD to take home.

There’s jazz everywhere at Winchester Street
A reminder that The Cobourg (533 Parliament Street) continues to present amazing jazz musicians every Sunday evening. This week, it's John Alcorn (vocals) with Reg Schwager and Dave Young on Sunday at 9:00 pm

The Stonegrill on Winchester (51B Winchester Street) has introduced a Sunday Brunch Jazz Series with jazz legend Archie Alleyne. Brunch itself is a knockout – eggs benedict with trout and artichokes, homemade buttermilk scones and a host of other irresistible goodies. Every Sunday, noon to 3 pm.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Cabbagetown Salutes Its Finest...

Every year, BIA members present their Chairman’s Awards to those businesses who have done exceptionally well in the past twelve months. Some awards recognize business successes. Some winners have renovated their stores and improved the area all around them. Some have undertaken special community causes.

It’s a tough evening – full of eloquent speeches, door prizes, delicious food and drink and the charming company of Cabbagetown friends. Our 2007 event was held in the new Stonegrill on Winchester.

The 2007 Chairman’s Awards went to an amazing group of Cabbagetown businesses and individuals:

Volunteer of the Year - Eric Murphy
Exterior Facade Improvements - Barracuda
Interior Renovations - Stonegrill on Winchester
Outstanding Customer Service - Staff at the LCBO Store
Neighbourhood Business Improvement - Foxy's Boutique
Neighbourhood Business Improvement - Eclectisaurus
Neighbourhood Business Improvement - Circus Books & Music
Business Improvement - Joe's No Frills
Outstanding New Business - The Cobourg
Outstanding New Business - Ginger
Outstanding Success Story - Free the Children

Eric Murphy is our Volunteer of the Year. His struggle to clean up the corner of Spruce and Parliament has finally paid dividends. Criminals, drug addicts and drunks have left this area. Eric lead the fight to strip a liquor license from the old Cabbagetown Restaurant and it has closed. A new business is now appearing on this site and there’s a new optimism about the future of this corner.

Barracuda receives our 2007 award for Outstanding Exterior Fa├žade Improvements. It’s been renovating its storefront for a couple of years. Its new sign is the finishing touch on this renewal. New garden products have been introduced and the business has been drawing city-wide attention. They’ve been chosen as a great model of the way that an established business can grow and improve.

The Winchester has long been called the “heart of Cabbagetown” and with the arrival of the Stonegrill, it can again claim that title. The building now has four great business destinations – Tim Hortons, The Cobourg, the Laurentian Room and the Stonegrill on Winchester. The Stonegrill’s restaurant space is beautiful. And by all reports, their menu, their kitchen and their meals all live up to the promise of this wonderful room.
Congratulations to Frank Bernardo and his staff for a well-deserved 2007 award for Outstanding Interior Renovations.

We’re told that our LCBO store is one of the most successful locations for the LCBO in Ontario. A great deal of that success happens because the staff do a great job. They’re professional and calm when dealing with their customers. They’re knowledgeable about their products and they’re always ready to offer their advice in a friendly, helpful way. The BIA is pleased to give the LCBO staff the 2007 award for Outstanding Customer Service.

Three businesses – Circus Books & Music, Foxy’s Boutique and Eclectisaurus – have received an award for improving their entire neighbourhood. This is often a challenging part of our BIA. These three businesses have faced those problems and not only overcome them, they’ve added charm and character to their street.

The No Frills store is another Cabbagetown favourite. The staff are friendly. The produce is fresh and inviting. The range of items is amazing. Joe Novak is constantly looking for ways to improve his business. His success is important to all of us. His store is a flagship in our BIA and his improvements bring customers for everyone into our neighbourhood. We’re proud to present our 2007 award for Outstanding Business Improvements to Joe Novak and his No Frills store.

Two new businesses – The Cobourg and Ginger - have arrived here with a big splash and we’re awarding both of them our 2007 Outstanding New Business award.

Last summer, The Cobourg opened just in time for the Cabbagetown Festival. We knew that they’d be special when they decorated their outdoor patio with a rug and potted plants. Ever since, they’ve wowed people in Cabbagetown, Toronto and even New York City. Their first year has been marvelous and we wish them many more to come.

Ginger is the other newcomer to make a huge difference in our community. The corner at Carlton and Parliament is a special location in our BIA and they’ve turned it into an exciting place to visit. And their food is terrific. To them, we offer our congratulations for a great start and all our best wishes for many more years.

Free the Children, winner of our 2007 Outstanding Success Story, is the world’s largest network of children helping other children. Based here in Cabbagetown, its reach is world-wide. Free the Children has built more than 450 primary schools that educate over 40,000 students daily. It has distributed more than 200,000 school and health kits to children in need and has worked on projects to provide clean water, essential medical supplies and sanitation. In North America, Free the Children operates educational campaigns to teach youth how to create positive change in the world. Over 1000 youth groups raise 65% of the organization’s funds and out of that, 93% goes directly to programs for children. Free the Children has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. They have a marvelous track record across the world.

Coming next week ...

More on the 2007 Cabbagetown Festival parade, three great business reviews and another thought on panhandling.

Friday, 1 June 2007

June 1 – Panhandling, lots of music and more…

Another loud and heartfelt “thanks” to a BIA member who’s helping the Cabbagetown parade.
This time, we’ve been given a $50 gift by a man who knows the value of money and how to spend it wisely.
Bill McDiarmid is one of our Gerrard Street BIA members. He offers full accountancy services for individuals and corporations including financial accounting and statements, corporate and personal tax filings, business plans and financing, and internal controls. As if all of this isn’t enough, he’s also the author of a series of successful training manuals.

Lucky 13th – The annual Slaw Festival of short, original works
Sometimes, it seems forever between Slaw Festivals! For those of us who are serious addicts, Slaw’s return is great news. It’s held at 8 pm at the Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre (454 Parliament St) on June 7 to 9 and again on June 13 to 16. These short plays are a real treat. $15. Call 416-921-3406 for more information.

Panhandlers in Cabbagetown – Who are they?
This issue has been ranked as the # 1 concern of local residents who want improvements on Parliament Street. Business people in the area will agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.
The BIA has worked closely with the police and city staff to identify these people and to work on some answers for the nuisance and threats that they cause.
Most of our street people are NOT homeless.
The City of Toronto has a program called Streets-to-Homes aimed directly at homeless people. Staff from this group have looked closely at our street people and they’ve located only a small number who are actually homeless. These homeless people, especially women, are often very shy and certainly almost never create a scene on the street. This observation is firmly supported by police officers who patrol the area.
Despite their pleas and the stories that they tell you, the people on our streets do indeed have a place to sleep and food to eat. They may still be very poor, but they are not abandoned and stricken.
They may simply be people who want more money to spend. Or they may have a severe handicap or emotional difficulties that make regular employment hard to find. A lot of them have big addiction problems with drugs and alcohol.
Whatever reason that they have for begging, these people are doing it for the money and not for a night’s shelter, a meal or a bus ticket back home. People who watch street beggars are virtually unanimous on this point. They have a simple test: offer the panhandler a cup of coffee or a sandwich instead of the money and you’ll quickly see how uninterested they are.
Our area has an abundance of social services. Meals, clothing and housing are available in both city facilities and private ones. The staff at these agencies are experienced; they can identify basic problems and work with the person to overcome these issues. If we really want to help people get back on their feet, these agencies are the best places for our donations.
On the other hand, if we contribute cash to a panhandler, we’re continuing the cycle of sidewalk begging. We’re rewarding people who just want cash and we’re encouraging them to return to our neighbourhood to beg for more.
More opinions to come next week: what’s being done and what are the obstacles.

Please use the reply spaces at the bottom of this page to register your views.

Music on Parliament Street
The kick-off event for our June music series happens on Saturday. We’re welcoming Vicente Carbonel back to Cabbagetown. His music is a pleasant addition to our street life and a popular choice for many of our street’s visitors and shoppers. You can hear him at Carlton & Parliament from noon to 5 pm on Saturday, June 2.
Vicente will be busking and selling his CDs. Your support will be welcome.

The Cobourg continues its phenomenal jazz series.
The Cobourg (533 Parliament Street) continues to host outstanding music in its Sunday jazz series. On Sunday June 3 at 9 pm, Mike Murley is back and playing with Neil Swainson and Reg Shwager. No cover charge.

Karma Craft Fair
The Union (242 Carlton Street) is holding its Karma Craft Fair on Saturday, June 2 from 9 am to 7 pm. Proceeds will go to local artists, community yoga programming and the Women Against Poverty Collective.

Monthly Yoga Program
Renaissance Yoga & Ayurveda (Gerrard & Ontario Streets) has issued its monthly email of up-and-coming events. Get your copy at

Language Instruction in Cabbagetown
Languages Plus (386 Ontario Street) is now holding French classes in the evening for those of us who live nearby. Spanish is scheduled for the autumn. For more information, contact

Centre Shift
At Winchester Dance Theatre (80 Winchester Street)
It happens this weekend. On Friday (at 8 pm), Saturday (at 8 pm) and Sunday (at 2 pm). If you’re a dance fan, you won’t want to miss Centre Shift by the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre. Works by Deborah Lundmark, Robert Glumbek and Sasha Ivanochko are featured on this year’s program. Centre Shift is the CCDT’s end-of-season production showcasing the company’s young dancers. Tickets are $15 and $25, reservations at 416-924-5657.