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.

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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.