Friday, 17 April 2009

Redesigns, Revitalization and Renovations

Landscape Revitalization
Go here (and then click on the Cabbage) to see the new plan
Over the past year, the BIA Board has been studying ways to revitalize Parliament, Carlton and Gerrard within our boundaries. With the help of a grant from the City of Toronto, we commissioned David Orsini of Sunarts Design to do a review of our facilities and to make recommendations for renewal.
He’s suggested ways to enhance the identity and character of our neighbourhood, to make it more pleasant, to draw people here and to make it safer and more comfortable for them to linger. His special interest in a greener, sustainable environment has lead to new ideas for tree plantings and for places where we can sit and watch the street life around us. True to Cabbagetown’s history, he was directed to make his plans inclusive, to welcome everyone into our shops and streets.
Some of his suggestions can be undertaken immediately and some are aimed at a longer term.
When these changes happen, they will be sponsored and paid for by local businesses. Obviously, we cannot afford huge capital projects so our recommendations will also be tied into programs and projects approved by the City.
With a plan like this, we can give a vision and a sense of direction to others so we pull together to achieve a common goal.
Please review the plan. Please send us your reactions. Look especially at the places close to you which you know best. Make sure that you approve of the ideas that David is suggesting.

Renovations at 523 Parliament

The interior is being completely rebuilt
The Fair Trade Jewelry Company has been renovating their store at 523 Parliament for some time. Fair Trade’s Ryan Taylor tells us that the company is a new venture designing and producing luxury goods. It’s a great idea and the store will be a good addition to this part of Cabbagetown. For more information about the company’s plans for Cabbagetown, click on There are pictures of the renovations at

Repairs at the Ben Wicks

Robert and David - smiling through the floods
Those of us who love the Wicks (424 Parliament) have watched in horror as water from upstairs flooded into the restaurant and bar spaces (not once but twice) over the past few months. Finally, Robert and David are able to undertake the big repairs that they’ve needed after the deluge. So the Wicks will be closed on Sunday and Monday as the floors are repaired and polished.

The new Underdown
Brian and Eric Underdown have done an amazing job renovating their property at 263 Gerrard, at Gerrard and Berkeley. Upstairs, it houses the Book Bank. The future Underdown, a revival of their club that operated here several years ago, will be located downstairs. The club itself is almost ready to open. An outdoor patio has been proposed for the corner area in a space that will be lively and comfortable for customers and still provide lots of privacy for nearby residents. We’ve long wanted a good outdoor space for a drink, a meal and lots of people-watching so this is a welcome project. Watch for more news here.

Knockdowns at JavaVille

The old JavaVille building will soon disappear.
Residents have undoubtedly noticed that the hoardings are going up around the structure. The electricity and gas mains have been disconnected. The City has issued the necessary demolition permit. Plans for the site call for a new TD Canada Trust bank on the main floor and commercial offices on the two upper floors.

Welcome to Cabbagetown Carpentry
Johnny Pearl has just signed up as an associate member of the BIA. His company is a familiar feature in Cabbagetown - for the past 14 years, he’s been working on homes, decks, fences and interior work in our neighbourhood. His specialties are historic renovations, restoring Victorian features and quality finishings. This is a good time to undertake your spring fix-ups and repairs as well as your larger renovations. You’ll be eligible for the federal government’s tax rebates with savings up to $1350. Call (416) 702-3723 and visit

Gerrard Street updates

Eclectosaurus is taking part in the annual Absolutely Vintage Sale on Saturday, April 18. The sale features men and women’s clothing from the 1890s to the 1970s, antique costume jewelry, accessories, furnishing and textiles. It’s being held at the Toronto Heritage Maple Cottage at 62 Laing Street (south of Queen, two blocks east of Leslie).
Of course, this isn’t inside Cabbagetown, but we’re listing it anyway because we can’t say “no” to anything that Leslie Zysman asks us to do.

Dr Day with Princess and Patrick
Dr Jennifer Day is now the owner of the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic (239 Gerrard). She took over from Scott McClure last August when he retired. Dr Day is currently the president-elect of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and is in line to become president next year. She also serves on the Board of the Toronto Academy of Veterinary Medicine. She will be a familiar face at the clinic for many pet owners since she’s been on staff on a part-time basis since 2007.

Kids get a reading and a free book to take home.
The Children’s Book Bank (350 Berkeley at Gerrard) continues to be a success story. Kim Beatty reports that over 200 kids come to the Book Bank each day. It’s an invaluable resource for the community – the program gives kids a free book whenever they drop in. They’re encouraging literacy skills in young people from Regent Park and nearby neighbourhoods. If you have a book (or lots of books) that you can donate, please contact them at (416) 922-7323 and on the internet at A small request – please make sure that your gifts are suitable for children and gently used.

Parliament Street specials

Sharon’s (503 Parliament) has an innovative new line of Canadian-made jewelry from Montreal’s Christophe Poly. It includes three-dimensional architectural designs created in unique materials. Bracelets, rings, necklaces and earrings, starting from $29.99. For men, there are new shirts, Ts, and spring jackets.

Patty Junior at The Epicure Shop (473 Parliament) is offering the original Epicure Breakfast Bagel Melt for only $1.99. That’s right – it’s not a typo - $1.99. Only on Wednesday April 22 from 8 am to noon.

Upcoming events
Earth Week planting and cleanup at Riverdale Farm
happens on Saturday, April 18 from 9:30 to 11:30 am. In two short hours, you can make a big difference with cleanups and the annual spring plantings. Bring gloves if you have them. Volunteers are gathering at the very eastern end of Winchester Street.

St Peter's in 1868.
St Peter’s Church (188 Carlton) is holding an open-doors day on Sunday, April 26. Tours have been scheduled for 1 to 4 pm and there will be a Gregorian Evensong Service afterwards at 4:30 pm. The church has been a Cabbagetown landmark since 1863 and it’s full of windows, plaques and fascinating architectural features and it’s now a designated historic site. For more information:

The Riverdale Park Hike for Hospice is happening on Sunday, May 3 from 10 am onward. The hike features 2km or 5km walks through beautiful Cabbagetown, lunch afterward with music, face painting and games for the kids and lots of prizes. The hike is sponsored by five different hospices located across Toronto. It’s a fundraiser so it’s free for those who have pledges and $20 for those without. For more information, call Rosemarie Kenny at (416) 385-8885.