The COVID-19 pandemic has affected each of us, as well as the collective lives of our Village, our city and our country. As you know, social distancing and self isolation are the key to reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths. As we battle the epidemic, it's important to remind ourselves that this too shall pass. Until then, please refer to the COVID-19 information resources below.
Toronto.ca COVID-19 - The City's website provides daily updates on the current health situation and links to health advice, affected city services and available social support services.
Ward 13 COVID-19 Updates - Daily dispatches from Councillor Wong-Tam's office, with a local focus. Also available by e-mail.
Ontario.ca Novel Corona Virus - The province's webpage provides a daily update on the number and status of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, self assessments, practical information and links to daily news releases.
Ontario Public Health - Fact sheets on various aspects of protecting yourself and others, available in several languages.
Canada Public Health - Information on COVID-19 at the national level.
Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan - financial support for individuals and businesses, including the Emergency Response Benefit.
506 to 516 Church Street, which is now occupied by Crews & Tangos, Boutique Bar and a Target Park parking lot, will be radically transformed in the coming years.
The properties are owned by Graywood Group, a Toronto-based real estate developer. Graywood is undertaking preliminary consultations with community stakeholders, a precursor to a development proposal that will likely be submitted to the City later this year.
According to a representative for Graywood, "the vision for this site is to introduce a mix of uses, including retail and residential. The development proposal is early in the process and Graywood is committed to working closely with the community as this proposal progresses through the development application process."
In meetings with Graywood, Councillor Wong-Tam has strongly advocated for the Village's character, safe spaces and LGBTQ2S+ communities. According to her office, she in particular requested that Graywood meet with Crews & Tangos and Boutique Bar to discuss extending their leases as well as the possibility of returning to the space post-development. Graywood agreed to a two-year lease extension so that the businesses can continue to operate during the planning stage.
On March 17, Greywood and Crews / Tangos released a joint statement outlining an agreement to keep the bars in the new development. The full text is below:
Statement re: Church Street development on behalf of Graywood Developments and Michael Ramawad of Crews & Tangos
As many are aware, Graywood Developments has recently acquired the 506-516 Church St. properties. Part of this development site includes the location of Toronto’s beloved drag bar, Crews & Tangos. Since acquiring the property, Graywood has been in dialogue with business owner Michael Ramawad, as well as local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam regarding the future of the business.
While the spread of COVID-19 and the immediate safety of our friends, patrons and community members remains top of mind, Michael and the team at Graywood Developments felt it was important to address the long term viability of Crews & Tangos. The significant challenges before us do not diminish the fact that the future of Crews & Tangos remains a vital concern for many.
Though the development process has just started, it has always been Graywood’s intention to continue working collaboratively with the community to respect and honour the fabric of Toronto’s Gay Village. Graywood and Michael have been in constant, productive dialogue since Graywood acquired the property. To ensure the Church-Wellesley and LGBTQ2S+ community do not lose an inclusive, safe space, the Crews & Tangos lease has been extended for two years during which time regular operations will continue (notwithstanding any potential interruptions due to the impact of COVID-19).
We are also happy to announce that Graywood Developments and Michael Ramawad are exploring a joint plan aimed at maintaining a presence for Crews & Tangos in the future, new development. In the coming weeks Michael Ramawad will join Graywood in meetings with key neighbourhood and community organizations in an effort to solidify the community engagement process. Any and all meetings will follow protocols set forth by local health authorities amidst the spread of COVID-19.
“Over the past few weeks, the outpouring of emotion towards Crews & Tangos has been incredibly heartwarming. Crews & Tangos has been a home to me for more than 10 years now,” says Michael Ramawad, Owner, Crews & Tangos.
“It was the first place I was comfortable enough to come out and to live my truth. I’ve witnessed proposals, weddings, and people’s journeys as they discovered a place where they felt safe and accepted. Crews & Tangos means as much to me as it does to you, and together, with Graywood, we are committed to finding a solution to maintain this crucial space for the LGBTQ2S+ community.”
“Since the beginning of this process, we’ve been very fortunate to listen to and learn from Michael. While we understood the significance of this venue, Michael has deepened our appreciation about how valuable this space is for LGBTQ2S+ community members,” says Christine Yee, Director of Development, Graywood. “Though we are still early in the process we are committed to working with Michael and the community to preserve and maintain the cultural heritage and legacy of Crews & Tangos.”
The Graywood project is still in the pre-application stage. Further discussions with the City and stakeholder groups, including the CWNA, will take place before Graywood submits a development application. At that point, community consultations will be undertaken and City staff will report on how the application fits with the City's Official Plan and urban design guidelines, which call for low- to mid-rise buildings along Church Street.
CWNA's lane naming project continues, adding character and history to previously anonymous alleys.
Dapper Lane at 66 Wellesley E. - The intersection of Church and Wellesley is a hub for barbers whose skills are well known throughout the city. For decades barbers have practiced their trade here, ensuring decades of loyal customers. What better way to recognize their talent and dedication than with a lane named in their honour.
Anvil Alley at 511 Church St. celebrates the long tradition of small businesses in the Village. Dudley's Hardware, founded in 1934, continues to provide an invaluable service to the community. Dudley's exemplifies the positive attitude and commitment of small business owners in our Village.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam officiated the naming ceremony on January 24.
After the unveiling of the new signs, Dudley's Hardware hosted a community social.
There are many reasons the CWNA has been proactive in getting alleys in our neighbourhood named. The Laneway Project, a Toronto not-for-profit dedicated to improving and activating laneways, summarizes them as:
Safety and Security - A laneway with a name helps police, fire and paramedic services find it in the event of an emergency;
Commemorating History - Naming a laneway after a noteworthy person, place, event, etc. is encouraged under Toronto’s street naming policy, and it helps preserve history;
Placemaking - Naming a laneway gives the lane an identity, and creates a sense of place, which also serves to invite more pedestrian traffic, making it safer;
Community Building - The collaborative process of naming a laneway helps build community connections, good will, and a feeling of neighbourhood pride;
Laneway Improvements - A laneway with a name opens the door to further laneway improvements, such as beautification and community events.
Since its founding in 2010, the CWNA has taken the lead in naming ten lanes in our neighbourhood. The next one, located just east of Church, running south from Isabella.
The Independent Civilian Review into Missing Persons Investigations, led by former Court of Appeal Judge Gloria Epstein, was formed to address concerns about the way the Toronto Police Service conducts missing persons investigations, particularly when the missing people belong to vulnerable or marginalized communities or communities that have legacy issues with the Toronto Police Service.
The Review was established following the conviction of serial killer Bruce McArthur for the murder of eight men who had connections to Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community.
One of the Review’s most recent initiatives was to launch an anonymous online survey to allow for anyone with experience or perspectives on the issue of policing in Toronto to be heard. This means that you can participate and have your opinion considered in the final determination on what recommendations the Review should make for the Toronto Police Service going forward.
The anonymous survey can be found at: https://missingpersonsurvey.ca/
In December, Manulife Investment Management submitted a development application for a 59 storey rental tower at Church and Charles, where the 7 storey Traders Building presently stands.
Manulife had held two community consultations in the preceeding months. At the second community consultation on October 2, Manulife polled community members as to whether they would choose to preserve the current building's facade or to have the building demolished in exchange for more green space.
Subsequent to that meeting, Manulife submitted its proposal to the City. The development would be a 59-storey mixed-use building, inclusive of a 6-storey podium which preserves the facade of the Traders Building. The building will house commercial tenants on the lower levels, with 651 residential units in the tower.
For more information, see the City's Development Application page, and consult our Inteactive Map. https://tinyurl.com/vgkmfjj
Downtown has experienced huge growth over the past decade, making the sidewalks on Yonge Street busy -- and crowded.
The City of Toronto is carrying out Phase 1 of a study that focusses on the section of Yonge Street from Queen Street to College / Carlton Street. (Phase 2, continuing north to Davenport, will follow upon completion of Phase 1.) A number of opportunities will be considered to increase pedestrian space and improve the way people experience Yonge Street.
A second public information session about the project was held on November 21, but in case you missed it, check out the online version of the display boards, which map out the process and illustrate various redesign options. The main decision: how much of the street to dedicate to vehicles, pedestrians and bikes.
The study is in the environmental assessment stage; stakeholders are being consulted via an Advisory Group. We will update you as more details are made public.
There is also more information on the City of Toronto YongeTOmorrow pages.
PlazaCorp has proposed a 45-storey condominium tower at 20 to 26 Maitland Street, where the former Catholic Children's Aid headquarters and a Victorian house now stand.
A more ambitious project, for which a community consultation was held in April 2017, has been dropped. That concept plan envisioned two towers on Maitland Street of 50 and 29 storeys, with about two-thirds of the previous Green P parking lot designated public park. The new proposal does not include any of the Green P parking lot.
PlazaCorp's Planning and Urban Design Rationale
City Staff Preliminary Report
The report identifies numerous issues with the proposal, some of which are:
• The height, massing, and scale of the proposal in relation to the existing and planned context;
• Transition in height and massing to adjacent lands;
• Proposed location of the tower and transition and separation distance to the adjacent low-rise built form;
• Potential shadowing impacts on the adjacent open spaces, public realm and neighbouring properties;
• Interface of the proposed built form with the adjacent public realm;
• Potential wind impacts on the adjacent properties and public realm.
Local residents will be notified of a community consultation once it is scheduled.
For links to further and updated information, see our Interactive Map.
e CWNA's lane naming project continues, adding character and history to previously anonymous alleys.
Anvil Alley, just north of Wellesley extending easterly from Church, pays homage to Dudley's Hardware, the long serving hardware store next door.
Dapper Lane, west of Church Street extending northerly from Wellesley Street, reflects the historic presence of several barbers at Church and Wellesley.
The names were approved by Toronto and East York Community Council on October 10, 2109.
You're invited to join CWNA and Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam for the naming ceremony on:
Friday, January 24, 10 a.m.
60 Wellesley Street E.
After the unveiling of the new signs, Dudley's Hardware will host a community social.
With Halloween on the way, there are two events, sponsored by the Church Wellesley Village BIA, to look forward to.
Pumpkins in the Park takes place on Saturday, October 2, from 3:30 to 7:30 in Barbara Hall Park.
Halloween falls on Thursday, October 31. Church Street will be for pedestrians only from 6 pm onwards, but the best costumes will come out later on. Whether you dress up on not, it's always a fun time on Church Street on Halloween.