Saturday, 29 September 2007

A Great Week

Our Thanks to the Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has decided to continue its work at the Warehouse Mission near Parliament and Wellesley and not to pursue their plans to open at the old Flamingo site.
This decision is a result of the Salvation Army’s desire to fit into the Cabbagetown community in a positive and beneficial way. Their staff talked to residents, the BIA and Councillor McConnell over the past month. Many businesses and residents worried that a fragile part of Parliament Street would become even more vulnerable if the Salvation Army located in the middle of this block. The Salvation Army investigated these worries and concluded that they were right.
Thanks first and foremost to the Salvation Army. They listened to our discussions with an open mind and were sensitive to our community’s concerns. Local staff and officials from the Ontario Central Division came to our meetings and talked frankly and openly about their plans and the needs of people in Cabbagetown.
Thanks, as well, to Councillor Pam McConnell. She made this project a priority and kept everything in focus. She made sure that both the Salvation Army and the community understood that these services are needed but that Parliament Street was not the right place for them.
Paul Dineen from the BIA, Patricia Smith from Cabbagetown South and Klaus Schirmer from Don Vale represented the community. They spoke from our perspective and made sure that accurate information flowed both ways.
Finally, Ron and Linda Farr represent the local Salvation Army on a daily basis in our midst. They work with TCHC tenants in the Warehouse Mission and they have constructive plans for new programs within a Cabbagetown congregation. Businesses and residents regard them as friends and speak highly of their contributions.

Congratulations and Best Wishes…

Tania Waldock and Beau Opperman became proud parents of their second child, Charlotte on Monday. Both Mom and Charlotte are doing well and are expected to return to the House on Parliament (456 Parliament St) ASAP.

More congratulations, this time to all of us who live and work here. In its annual survey, Xtra magazine has polled its readership and found that Cabbagetown is “the best neighbourhood for a home.” Thanks, everyone. This is a special honour indeed.

At long last, we can welcome a newsstand to our neighbourhood. International News has opened a boutique at 533A Parliament Street beside Tim Hortons. Many avid readers in Cabbagetown (and they certainly include the people who plow through this Newsletter) have long wanted a good source for newspapers and magazines.
This is an added attraction to the Winchester. Owner John Bernardo keeps ringing up his successes: first with his remarkable restoration of this beautiful building and then by bringing interesting tenants to this corner – International News, The Cobourg, the Stonegrill, the Laurentian Room, and of course Tim Horton’s.

New Building
The southwest corner of Aberdeen and Parliament is slated for a major redevelopment. Architects have unveiled plans for a small four storey complex that will house a Starbucks on the main floor (at 492 Parliament St) and apartments above it. The Board of Management at the BIA, the Aberdeen Avenue residents and the Cabbagetown Preservation Association have reviewed the plans and their recommendations have gone to the architects. A demolition permit has been issued by the City of Toronto for the current structure and the new building will start once several issues have been cleared by the Committee of Adjustment.

Saigon Hot Pot
Saigon Hotpot (568 Parliament) is downtown Toronto’s only hot pot restaurant. Also known as Mongolian hot pot, this dish is the Chinese version of steamboat stew. It’s made with a simmering pot of broth and small side dishes offering individual ingredients. “Weilu” which means to circle a hot pot, has a deep and profound meaning to the Chinese people stemming from traditional Confucian ideals emphasizing family, friends and unity. Diners can enjoy a special introductory 10% discount on their meals. Delivery is also available. Licenced.

Weekly calendar
Friday, September 28 – the Whitney Smith trio plays downstairs in the Anabella Lounge at Piccolo. (224 Carlton St). RSVP at 416-944-3738
Sunday, September 30, 3 pm – Community Blessing of the Animals at St Peter’s Anglican Church (185 Carlton St). A warm welcome for all creatures, big and small.
Sunday, September 30, noon to 3 pm - jazz for brunch at the Stonegrill on Winchester (51B Winchester Street). We’ve been there and can assure you that the both the brunch and the music are outstanding.
Sunday, September 30, 9 pm - ,Jazz at The Cobourg (533 Parliament St) features John Alcorn. Owner John Jay (freshly back from a dizzying round of deeply researched television advertisements) confirms that his Sunday night jazz series is now a permanent fixture at Cobourg. Both the musicians and then audience agree that this is a great room for their music. No cover charge.
Wednesday, October 3, 9 pm – Errol Fisher begins a weekly appearance at the Piccolo (224 Carlton St). The Anabella Lounge is a lovely downstairs room and his music will fill the place. He was featured by Piccolo during the Cabbagetown Festival and we think he’s great.

And a sad announcement
A good friend of the BIA has passed away. Houston loved his walks along Parliament Street, especially his visits to St Jamestown Steak & Chops (516 Parliament) which always featured a free hot dog from Terry Michelin and then from Mark. In fact, we had to stop taking him past this spot whenever the store was closed – he would simply sit down and refuse to move if he didn’t get his treats. Our sympathies as well to both Menagerie and Pet Valu who’re going to feel a drastic drop in their treat sales now that he isn’t here. He was a great friend and he’ll be sorely missed.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Fraud Squad TV
Watch for it next Tuesday, September 25 at 8 pm on CLT. It's an entertaining profile of scams, cons and the people who commit them. (None of it happens here in Cabbagetown, of course, but it's good to know what others are experiencing.) Chris Kiraly, James Woollatt, Mary Spence Thomas and a whole raft of others at the Soup building (603-1/2 Parliament Street) have been busily working on production, post-production and web site production for this new television documentary.

Thanks Lindsey
Lindsey Reidt worked at the BIA office over the summer and concentrated on organizing the Cabbagetown Festival. She contacted people who were street vendors, selected the design for our T-shirt, did the detailed legwork for the parade, worked with restaurants and pubs on the legal requirements for their patios and helped on a host of other issues. Our best wishes to her for her studies in her final year at Ryerson.

Salvation Army on Parliament Street
A second meeting has been held in the BIA offices about the proposed new church planned by the Salvation Army for the old Flamingo Restaurant site. One of the participants, Patricia Smith from the Cabbagetown South Association, has noted that our discussions are very frank. No one is making any promises or changing their plans as yet, but as Patricia says, our “concerns are being heard and understood.”
Councillor Pam McConnell joined us and again lends her voice to the view that this facility is simply not appropriate for this neighbourhood. Paul Dineen made it clear that at least one business has already decided to close and relocate elsewhere.
Last week, four alternative locations in Cabbagetown were put forward and each of them was carefully considered by Lieutenant Ron Farr. Our next meeting will include a professional from the Salvation Army’s property division who can assess the ideas floating around the table.

Last week at the election debate sponsored by the residents and the BIA, Paul Dineen asked each candidate a straightforward question. How can we allow a person like Francis, our “change please” lady, to kill herself right in front of our eyes and do nothing about it? Is there no facility that can help her and the hundreds of others like her across Toronto who cannot claim to be responsible for themselves any longer?
Francis lives on Dundas Street West – she’s not homeless. She commutes daily into Cabbagetown by TTC because this is her spot to beg and this is the place where people are willing to give her money. Over the summer, she has often stayed on the sidewalks well past midnight. She’s a crack addict. When her voice and manner become frantic, she’s in bad need of her fix.
People in the stores along Parliament Street are always amazed and distressed when passers-by give her money. Their donations are spent immediately on her terrible drug habit. It’s not a kindness – it’s a killer.
If anyone feels compelled to support her, please give her food instead of money – she is apparently fond of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
In the meantime, perhaps our elected officials can reopen their efforts on the panhandling issue. As a start, they can recognize that some people have drifted so deeply into their addictions that they are no longer reasonable, self-supporting adults They need active intervention.

Election events
Ontario's provincial election is gaining some speed and letting off some steam.
Last Monday, the Don Vale Cabbagetown Residents Association and the BIA put together an all-candidates’ debate featuring four provincial candidates. First, we have to wish the Green candidate Mike McLean a speedy recovery – on that afternoon he was struck by a car and required medical attention. His colleague Chris Tindal substituted for him admirably.
Our meeting included (in alphabetical order), Sandra Gonzalez (NDP), George Smitherman (Liberal), Pamela Taylor (PC) and Chris Tindal (on behalf of the Greens.) As usual, the debate was lively and the four of them conducted themselves well. This is the third such cooperative event held by the residents and businesses in our area – each meeting has given everyone a good chance to size up the candidates as well as a chance to hear them defend the issues.

New businesses
Welcome to the neighbourhood to Dr Katherine Spiewak. She’s joined the staff at the Cabbagetown Chiropractic Clinic (214 Carlton Street). She’s a native of Port Hope and a graduate of both the University of Guelph (BSc) and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (DC). She has further studies at McMaster in their Contemporary Medical Acupuncture course.
The editorial staff at your Newsletter has assured Dr Spiewak that being located on Carlton Street has big advantages for Chiropractors – you’re surrounded by lawyers who are regularly getting bent out of shape!

Central Neighbourhood House has left their Parliament Street office but they haven’t forgotten us. They’re now at 365 Bloor Street East, Suite 1807 with their main office still at 349 Ontario Street and they can be reached at (416) 966-8595.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Wow, what a week.

Coming events --

Saturday and Sunday. The Tour of Homes happens throughout Cabbagetown. Get last minute tickets at 237 Carlton Street from noon to 2 pm each day. $30/each.

Monday night. All Candidates Meeting. Meet the major candidates in the provincial election and hear them debate. Sprucecourt School, Spruce Street (between Sackville and Sumach), 7 pm, free event.

Reflections on the Festival

We enjoyed a terrific weekend. From Wednesday’s Wine Tasting to “last call” in the pubs on Sunday, our neighbourhood was hopping, the weather was fantastic, the patios were full of life and the music was marvelous.
It’s always dangerous to pick one favourite moment – but I can’t resist.
My most moving experience of the weekend involved Frances, our “change please” lady. She was operating outside Jet Fuel on Saturday afternoon when Vicente Carbonel began to play his pan flute nearby. She stood up, walked right in front of him and listened to him, completely captured. The music seemed to carry her out of herself. For the past two years, I’ve watched her squatting on the sidewalk, often with her lunch spread out in front of her on the pavement, begging desperately for money for her next drug hit. On Saturday, Vicente’s flute took her away from that life and briefly gave her some dignity and real pleasure.

Another great time happened on Sunday afternoon when Danny Marks performed and shared the stage with other Cabbagetown artists. John Jay from Cobourg caught Danny’s impromptu ballad about Parliament Street on video. It’s posted here.
Enough said – it was a wonderful celebration of our neighbourhood and our friends.

Salvation Army Comes To Parliament Street

The proposed move by the Salvation Army into a Parliament Street site has caused a massive uproar among residents and business people along the street. Everyone is objecting to this prospect.
What are the facts? The Salvation Army already has a small mission located in a laneway at Wellesley and Parliament, serving TCHC tenants. They need more space and want a chance to set up a church. They emphasize that their new location will continue their current low-keyed work with added opportunities for worship services. They’ve rented the storefront at the old Flamingo Restaurant site near Spruce Street. The BIA, Councillor Pam McConnell, and the three residents’ associations have all objected. Everyone of us knows that they help a lot of people and we support their work. But, as Councillor Pam McConnell says, “It’s the right service in the wrong spot.”
Paul Dineen, the BIA Chairman, gathered community representatives at the BIA office for over an hour and a half on Thursday to talk about these feelings with staff from the Salvation Army. We made it clear that our objections will increase, not subside.
At this time, everyone has agreed to look for another, more suitable spot in Cabbagetown. We understand the Salvation Army’s needs and we’re seeking a place that can properly house them in harmony with the neighbourhood.
In the meantime, speak up about the Flamingo site. Tell the Salvation Army that it really isn’t the place to go. This pressure has really helped us to convince the Salvation Army to look for a different location. There are a lot of hurdles to cross and we need to hear from you.
You can call the BIA at (416) 921-0857 or email us at You can also contact Pam McConnell at City Hall at (416) 392-7916. You can contact the Salvation Army at .
To those who have already spoken up – thanks. To everyone else – please tell us your views.

Jazz at the Piccolo, at Stonegrill and at Cobourg

So, let me trumpet the news …

The Piccolo (226 Carlton St) now features Whitney Smith on Fridays at 9:30 pm. They’re offering his music in their downstairs room, the Anabella Lounge. Say hello to Angelo while you’re there. Great guy.

The Stonegrill on Winchester (51B Winchester St) still has its jazz at brunch on Sunday. I went there a couple of weeks ago - it’s amazing. Archie Alleyne is featured from noon to 3 pm..

And, of course, the Cobourg (533 Parliament St). Beautiful music in an intimate setting. Their jazz series has packed the place all summer long. On Sunday, Perry White will return along with Reg Schwager and Neil Swainson. From 9 pm, no cover charge.

Welcome new businesses

JAM CafĂ© (195 Carlton Street) is here. Chef Av Atikian opened his doors officially on August 21. He’s kept the two great outdoor patios and renovated inside to make this a very comfortable restaurant. The menu offers appetizers at $7, salads at $4, main courses at $14 and desserts at $5. My own personal research has revealed that the French fries are priceless! Try them for yourself. (416) 921-1255

If you need to perk up your appearance before dashing off to JAM, drop in on Renee Marshall. She’s called her new hair styling shop Salon Bijou (211 Carlton St) because it’s a real gem, located inside a beautiful little courtyard. (416) 657-4365.

There’s lots more, but I’m outta here.