Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Man, 31, dead after downtown Toronto shooting

TORONTO - A man has died after being gunned down in the city’s core on Monday, according to Toronto Police.

Paramedics were called to an apartment complex at 285 Shuter St. — in the Queen-Parliament Sts. area — after 5:30 p.m and found the 31-year-old victim.

The man, who was not a resident of the building, went to the complex with a woman, police said. He was "ambushed" on the fourth floor next to the elevators and was shot in the torso. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police said they were looking for a black man in his 20s with a handgun.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Feds commit $660 million to Scarborough subway expansion

TORONTO - The federal government will give Toronto $660 million for the Scarborough subway.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the cash - the full amount the city had asked for - at a press conference in Scarborough Monday with Mayor Rob Ford.

"You have our money now let's get this subway built," Flaherty said to the city and province.

The province has yet to weigh in yet on whether it will join the feds in supporting the city-approved subway plan rather than the plan Transportation Minister Glen Murray rolled out earlier this month.

Flaherty stressed the long awaited subway is "a done deal" and hoped the provincial government would get on board.

"Our money is for real, it is within our fiscal framework, we have budgeted this money and it will flow," he said. "We keep our commitments, as you know we're a majority government - we will be there."

"People don't have to worry about the government of Canada."

Flaherty also reaffirmed the federal government's commitment to spending $333 million on the Sheppard LRT.

A jubilant Ford thanked the feds repeatedly.

"I also want to thank the many thousands and thousands of residents in the City of Toronto who have spoken loud and clear on this subject," Ford said. "They have said from day one, and they have not budged, 'we want subways, subways and more subways.' And this victory belongs to the people of this great city."

Ford argued his subway fight was exactly what the taxpayers asked him to do.

"Another promise made and another promise kept," he said.

"Residents of Scarborough have waited long enough for quality rapid transit and, folks, that wait is almost over."

Both Ford and Flaherty joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday where he came out with the surprise pledge to fund the Scarborough transit project.

TTC officials are expected to release a report later in the day on the Scarborough subway.

City council agreed in principle to a property tax hike to help fund the subway.

TTC chair Karen Stintz admitted the tax hike may have to be higher than planned if the province doesn't provide the $1.8 billion council had relied on.

"If that's what it takes to get the subway built, then that is what it takes," she said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said the federal government's participation in the Scarborough subway is a good development, but it's too soon to say what it impact that might have on the planned project.

Transportation Minister Glenn Murray has said that he is committed to the provincial plan which would not follow the route laid out by the TTC, and supported by city council and the federal government.

"I think we just need to all breathe here," Wynne said Monday, when asked if the province would change its mind on the route. "What I've said is if the federal government comes to the table then we'll have a conversation about what that means."

The Harper government would not have put its money into this project without the $1.4 billion in provincial funds already committed, she said.

"The disconcerting part is just that it's not systematic... we need that on-going partnership," the Premier said, calling for a sustained federal investment in infrastructure across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and Canada rather than an "ad hoc" funding announcement.
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Yorkville shooting at the Empire Club sends five to hospital

One man is in custody after an early-morning shooting in Yorkville Sunday sent five people to hospital.

Toronto Police officers found people running in the upscale area when they responded to a shooting call at 2:30 a.m. at the Empire nightclub at 50 Cumberland St.

The five victims had non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said officers found a man nearby with a loaded firearm.

Pedestrians went about their business several hours after the shooting, unaware of what transpired.

However, one neighbouring business owner, who wished to remain unidentified, said he was shocked to see gun violence in the area.

He added that the Empire nightclub often is rented out for private gatherings.

“I’m a little surprised to see it come here, definitely,” said the man. “It’s never happened here. It’s an elite area and if it goes on in this area, how do you put a stop to it? We need to put a stop to it no matter what.”

Police are reviewing security camera footage and appealing for witnesses to come forward.
Jermaine Morgan, 26, of Toronto, has been charged with a number of firearm-related offences and is scheduled to appear in a College Park courtroom on Monday.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

What Davenport Road used to look like in Toronto

Davenport Road History TorontoDavenport Road might lack the stature of some of the other streets we've featured in our series of Toronto history, but even if it was never developed to the same degree as nearby St. Clair Avenue or Dupont Street, it remains a fascinating thoroughfare that's unlike any other street in the city. Winding across what the old Lake Iroquois shoreline, the road originated as a First Nations trails, which at one point stretched between the Humber and Don rivers. That's why it doesn't conform to the more grid-like design of most other streets in the city. The curves are what make it interesting, of course, and it remains a favourite route for cyclists who can take shelter in the bike lane (installed in 1994) and then ride up and down the various inclines to the north.
Many of the below photos demonstrate the city trying to manage the inclines to the north of Davenport, which were virtually un-passable after heavy rains or snow prior to being paved in and around the 1920s. To do this day, cars tend to struggle approaching Davenport from Bathurst and Dufferin in heavy know thanks to above average gradients. In the case of Bathurst street, the city actually used dynamite to lessen the incline, which posed significant problems given the amount of traffic on the street.
Also worthy of note is that Davenport was home to the second electrified streetcar line in Toronto. Though it might be hard to believe given its relatively northern position at the time (most development was concentrated further south), the Davenport Railway Company ran cars along the street starting in 1892. Around the same time, a series of tolls were installed along the street to fund improvements to street, one of which serves as heritage museum at Bathurst and Davenport.
In fact, Bathurst and Davenport is a rather important intersection to the city as a whole. Home to the TTC's Hillcrest Yards, the sprawling complex has been the nerve centre for the TTC since it opened in the early 1920s. Prior to that, the area to the southwest of the intersection was actually home to Hillcrest Racetrack, one of many to dot the city back in the day. Just to the north of the TTC facility is Wychwood Park, a private community that was once founded as an artists colony.
Fall is a particularly beautiful time to take in Davenport's many delights, as the north side of the street remains well treed. Stop and have a look around next time you pass by.

Above Davenport and Bathurst, 1907
2013913-dav-east-bath-1910.jpgDavenport looking east from Bathurst, 1910
Hillcret Racetrack, Bathurst and Davenport 1911
TTC Hillcrest Yards, 1911
2013913-dav-poplar-plains-1912.jpgDavenport and Poplar Plains, 1912
Looking north on Walmer Road at Casa Loma, 1913
Dufferin north of Davenport, 1913
2013913-bathurst-north-dav-1913.jpgDavenport looking north up Bathurst, 1913
2013913-dav-west-bath-1914-mud.jpgDavenport west at Bathurst, 1914
Casa Loma, 1914
Looking north up Christie from Davenport, 1915
2013913-lansdowne-dav-1916-mud.jpgLansdowne and Davenport, 1916
Alternate angle.
2013913-dav-walmer-1916.jpgDavenport and Walmer, 1916
2013913-dav-bath-east-1916.jpgDavenport and Bathurst looking east, 1916
2013913-dav-bartlett-1921.jpgDavenport and Bartlett, 1921
Gage property at Wychwood, 1922
2013913-dav-weston-1923.jpgDavenport and (Old) Weston Rd, 1923
TTC Hillcrest Yards, 1923
2013913-dav-symington-1923.jpgDavenport and Symington, 1923
2013913-dav-east-salem-1923.jpgDavenport and Salem, 1923
GTR Crossing near Davenport and Caledonia, 1923
2013913-dav-station-caledonia-1923.jpgDavenport GTR Station at Caledonia Rd, 1923
Small house at Davenport and Albany, 1925
2013913-dav-oakwood-1927.jpgDavenport and Oakwood, 1927
2013913-sw-corner-ave-dav-1930.jpgSouthwest corner of Avenue and Davenport, 1930
306 Davenport, 1930
191-193 Davenport, 1930

359 Davenport, 1931
2013913-dav-bedford-1933.jpgDavenport and Bedford, 1933
2013913-dav-toward-duop-1938.jpgDavenport towards Dupont, 1938
2013013-dav-dover-1947.jpgDavenport and Dovercourt, 1947
2013913-bedford-dav-1947.jpgDavenport and Bedford, 1947
The Sign of the Steer restaurant at Davenport and Dupont, 1955
Looking west on Davenport at Howland, 1956
2013913-dav-east-to-osler-1958.jpgDavenport looking eat from Osler, 1958
Looking towards Davenport and Yonge, 1959
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mashup project blends a century of Toronto streets

toronto now then
Change rarely comes quickly in cities. Buildings come and go, businesses open and close, and styles change, but it often takes years to notice the endlessly shifting landscape. That's where Toronto's vast collection of archival photos - the city's collective memory bank - plays a vital role.
A new collection of "re-photography" by Toronto photographer Harry Enchin has found a way to link the city of of the early to mid 1900s with present day by blending black and white photos with crisp colour originals, producing a tantalizing and sometimes incongruous blend of old and new.
Dusty workers in caps and suspenders lay streetcar track on Dundas as a bright red modern streetcar approaches; monochrome women in straw hats stroll past Old City Hall unaware a woman in a short blue dress is cutting past.
toronto now then
"About 10 or 15 years ago I went for a drive with my mother to the Junction," says Enchin. "Dundas and Runnymede specifically is where she grew up, she's the ninth of ten children. When we went there for the drive of course her family home was long gone and that got me thinking about changes to the city"
"I wanted to do a project that would combine the old with the new and evoke memory through photography. In recent years my mother developed some memory loss, and that furthered by interest."
toronto now then
Enchin visits the city archives at Dupont and Spadina, selects a high-quality image from the collection - something evocative, like a newsstand or a newsboy - and takes a copy on location to help line up his shot. The two images are then carefully spliced together using digital imaging software.
Enchin's favourite is the one at the top of the page, of the workers laying streetcar tracks just east of Osssington. "There's a social commentary there ... even though they're hamming it up for the camera, you can sense the pride in their work to look in their faces, and that's very interesting to me. But look a little closer and you'll see there's no protective gear, no safety gloves, no safety helmet, and they're working with shovels and a jackhammer."
toronto now then"It's a very interesting commentary on how things have changed over time. They can be really proud they're building the infrastructure for decades to come for the city of Toronto but little do they know behind them, coming down the rails, is the newer version of the streetcar."
Enchin's show, Toronto Time, runs until October 26 at Akasha Art Projects on Church Street. Next up, New York City, he says.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The time when Eaton's planned the tallest tower in the world

toronto john maryon
Toronto has had its fair share of aborted construction projects and big development ideas brought low - enough to fill two fascinating books, in fact - but Eaton's John Maryon Tower, a giant precursor the the CN Tower, is perhaps the biggest project (literally) to never get off the ground.
Planned to replace Eaton's College Street store, the tower would have bested even the World Trade Center towers in New York for height and would still be the fifth tallest building in the world (if like the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat you exclude the likes of the CN Tower, which has few real floors.)
It's perhaps fortunate for fans of College Park that the giant triangular monster never seriously got going.

toronto college park
Despite its grand, imposing presence, the Eaton's Art Moderne College Street store was never quite as impressive as the company had once hoped. The original proposal for the the company's second major Toronto store called for a 36-storey, 204 metre tower that would have risen from the centre of a sprawling store covering the entire block bound by College, Yonge, Bay, and Hayter.
As Mark Osbaldeston notes in Unbuilt Toronto, the building would have been second in height only to New York's Rockefeller Center, then still in the concept phase and one of the largest private enterprises ever undertaken.
T. Eaton Co. had spent the early part of the 20th century gobbling up land on the east side of Yonge, north of Carlton, west of Church, in anticipation of Toronto's commercial district shifting north to what was then midtown. The land grab was kept top secret, leading to speculation CPR was planning to build a massive new train station and run tracks underground to Davisville.
In the end, Eaton's opted to build its new flagship store on a second plot of land it had bought around the same time on the southwest corner of Yonge and College. The ambitious set of blueprints were drawn up by Ross and MacDonald and Sproatt and Rolph, two architectural firms that had previously teamed up to produce the Royal York Hotel.
toronto eatons college
It would have been the largest department store, maybe even the largest building in the world, but just as the Depression put paid to grand plans for University Avenue, the financial downtown similarly decapitated Eaton's skyward development. The planned main tower was shifted around on drawings until it was lopped off entirely, along with several floors.
The Eaton's store that was finished in 1928 was only seven stories, though it did manage to retain much of its grandeur and some of its finest design touches, including the top-floor event space now known as The Carlu.
Perhaps in the hope of reviving the tower, Eaton's had the foundations sunk into the bedrock behind the store just in case.
toronto eatons college
Though its first attempt had come a cropper through lack of money, Eaton's clearly never gave up on its high-rise dream for College Street. In October 1971, the company announced it wanted to build a new office tower - the tallest in the world, no less - and knock down its College Street outpost.
The John Maryon Tower, as it would later be known, was to be 503 metres and 140-storeys high - taller than Malaysia's Petronas Towers, finished in 1998, the Willis Tower in Chicago, and New York's original World Trade Center towers.
The department store had been itching to redevelop its downtown holdings since the 1960s when it first pitched the Eaton Centre as a cluster of separate towers. That original proposal assumed the demolition of the Church of the Holy Trinity and Old City Hall, though it later revised its proposal to include the clock tower of Toronto's former civic heart.
toronto john maryon
A model of the triangular concrete, steel, and glass John Maryon Tower was officially unveiled by its engineer namesake at the CNE's International Building Exhibition that year. Maryon was an expert in tall buildings and and President of John Maryon & Partners Ltd., the company behind the Bell Aliant Tower in Moncton.
The tower he designed would have been built on the vacant lot behind the Eaton's store and the original demolished to create an expansive approach from the north. Its unusual shape would deflect winds of up to 200 km/h, Maryon said, and help it stand for "1,000 years." Two small pavilions, in a similar shape, were drawn just to the north.
Office workers would have been tapping away on Selectric typewriters in the building's 265,000 square metre interior while a 183-metre rooftop radio mast ensured TV viewers in Toronto received a crystal clear picture. One of the benefits to the CN Tower, built two years later, was the ability of its antenna to transmit UHF, FM, and AM signals over new downtown skyscrapers.
In the Toronto Star write-up of the announcement, it was noted the Maryon Tower would have been more than twice as tall as Commerce Court, then under construction at King and Bay on its way to becoming the Commonwealth's tallest building.
toronto eaton centre
As revealed at the time, the development was dependent on T. Eaton Co. receiving permission to demolish its original store, the Eaton's Annex, and its other buildings north of Queen Street for the Eaton Centre.
The revised proposal that offered to leave the clock tower of Old City Hall marooned in the centre of a concrete plaza was panned by Toronto residents and the company was forced back to the drawing board again, delaying construction on the centre for several years.
The company would eventually get its mall but the John Maryon Tower was less fortunate. Interest in the development petered out not long after it was proposed as demand for new office space dwindled. The handful of public drawings released in 1971 were filed away for good in the dusty drawer reserved for lost Toronto developments.
Despite its dormant status, the company confirmed it was still weighing the project next year in 1972. Announcing the news, Toronto Star columnist Alexander Ross called the prospect of the monumental tower "insane urban planning."
toronto john maryon
A series of financial setbacks in the late 1970s severely hobbled the nationwide company. A spin-off chain of smaller department stores named Horizon failed and was closed down while several other Eaton Centres in cities like Sarnia, Guelph, and Peterborough struggled with low occupancy rates.
The company finally went bankrupt in 1999 and was bought by rival Sears for $50 million. Serendipitously, the plot of land that was to be used for the John Maryon Tower is now the site of the Aura condo, which will be a whopping 272 metres tall when it's finished next year - barely half what Eaton's had once planned.
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