The sun is setting on the the old Alexandra Park community and the residents that remain here are keeping watch as our neighbourhood begins its massive 10-15 year planned revitilization. 

A townhouse street in Toronto's Alexandra Park, image by Jack LandauA townhouse street in Toronto's Alexandra Park, image by Jack Landau

We were told that this project will represent a new era of community cohesiveness for Toronto by demolishing an outdated concept and collectively rebuilding a new one with a focus on integration and positive growth. It all sounds very promising yet as one can expect, there are mixed emotions that come with such drastic change. 

Sonny Atkinson's community building commemorated in an Alexandra Park muralSonny Atkinson's community building commemorated in an Alexandra Park mural, image by Jack Landau

My name is Ingrid Hart and I've lived in Alexandra Park for more than 14 years, so I was grateful when early in the process it was decided that the building I live in will remain standing and instead will undergo a much needed refurbishment and face-lift. It sits at the southern most end of Alexandra Park, where the first signs of demolition have already begun.

More demolition will come to Alexandra Park, TorontoMore demolition will come to Alexandra Park, image by Jack Landau

I'm aware that with all of this construction going on right outside my front door there will be the expected street disturbances, loud drilling and other inconveniences yet still, I'm grateful that I have a front row seat. I'm glad to have this opportunity to share my thoughts and observations with UrbanToronto as the neighbourhood I live in continues to evolve and I expect that this will be an experience that will shape me and my life just as much.

The day of the official groundbreaking ceremony this past winter was frigidly cold. It took place outside under a tent, and it's the day I witnessed years of discussion and debate finally become a reality. Alongside several residents, city officials and media cameras, I watched as the bulldozers were given their cues then proceeded to demolish the very first block of Alexandra Park townhomes.

I was impressed at how the machine operators quasi-choreographed the moment; swinging their excavator booms in unison and even showing some creative skill. I stopped, took in the moment and wondered if the residents who previously lived in those condemmed townhomes came to see the 'show' as well. Amidst all of the hand shaking, photo ops and recording news bites, I couldn't tell for sure, however I did see some residents in tears for memories now broken, laying in piles of rubble. 

Demolition site of first market condos and new townhomes in Alexandra ParkThe cleared demolition site for the first market condos and new townhomes in Alexandra Park, image by Jack Landau

I met a young man while working on a community project last Summer at the Alexandra Park Community Centre and I'm proud to see him now working alongside the construction site workers, keeping guard and showing pedestrians the alternative footpath routes for their commute. Every morning as I wave to him, I think about how he is coping with his new position all the while witnessing the neighbourhood he grew up in slowly turn to dust. He'll have a first hand account of every step of the changes that are to come and when I think about it, I'm not sure how I would feel if I were in his steel-toe shoes. As a community, we are entering the first phase of real transformation which is Awareness.  The very landscape is drastically changing all around us and invariably I imagine, so too will we.

Ingrid is a life coach and community activist and has lived in the Alexandra Park community for more than 14 years. She is a self-proclaimed ambassador of Toronto. Visit www.IngridHartCoaching.ca

If you would like to know more about the Alexandra Park Revitalization, click on our dataBase file link below where you'll find lots of information on what's coming up for the community. If you would like to know about the first Tridel-built market units going into the neighbourhood, click on the SQ Spadina Queen dataBase file link. If you want to talk about the revitalization, you can join the conversation in one of the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.