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Liberty Village


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May 1, 2007
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The Junction, Toronto
Liberty Village has some great projects and some cringe-worthy ones as well. The parking lots and strip mall result in messy urbanism, which is arguably holding back the historic neighbourhood.

Liberty Village highlights poor planning
Mar 08, 2008 04:30 AM
Christopher Hume

It is the best of neighbourhoods; it is the worst of neighbourhoods. Despite its successes, Liberty Village illustrates everything that's wrong with planning in Toronto.

The former industrial district, which then became a favoured area for artist studios, is now being gentrified at a fast and furious rate. Although some of the individual projects are excellent, the city has failed to ensure that they add up to a genuine neighbourhood.

Wandering the streets of Liberty Village, one is saddened to encounter one huge parking lot after another; they suck the life out of the precinct and give that hardscrabble look you might expect in an industrial park.

Speaking of parks, there is virtually no green space anywhere here; perhaps the city should finally grapple with the issue of Lamport Stadium, which is so rarely used it could easily be demolished to make way for a park.

But to add insult to injury, one of the Liberty Village developers has built a strip mall in the area. What can be said about such rank stupidity? In the 21st century there's no excuse; why the city would let it happen is beyond comprehension. To make matters worse, the mall sits beside a one-storey Dominion that could be anywhere, let alone in a downtown neighbourhood. So what chance does Liberty Village have in the face of such ignorance and thoughtlessness on the part of the city and developers?

Sad to say, but it's already clear that Liberty Village will never become the neighbourhood some hoped for. And what could have been a model of urban renewal has instead been turned into a bit of a mishmash, nothing that need be taken seriously.

On the other hand, there are wonderful examples of warehouses and factories that have found new life as residential and commercial buildings.

None rates as an architectural masterpiece, but recycling these old structures ensures a level of integrity and sustainability vital in an age of global warming. Certainly these former industrial buildings stand head and shoulders above their modern counterparts, which in Liberty Village tend to be even worse than the usual.

Though there are instances of excellence in Liberty Village, it's becoming an example of how out-of-control developers are laying waste to the now-desirable inner city. Is it any wonder the development industry is so widely mistrusted? Toronto desperately needs tougher planning rules before the damage is irreversible. Civic propaganda would have us believe Liberty Village is a shining example of urban vitality; if that's true, for the most part it's in spite of what has been allowed to happen here.
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Toronto's Yorkville, in the late 60's and early 70's, was a Bohemian village. Artists, musicians, etc. Over a period of many years, the neighbourhood changed, adapted and grew to meet whatever demographic fit. Now, you need $40 to park your Jaguar for an hour at Escada.

The same will be true of King West. It will become whatever the area and people dictate. But what I appreciate about it, is that is is being restored, rather than torn down. The old warehouses are gorgeous.

That said, everyone needs groceries. And really, even Little Italy, an established, character neighbourhood, has a Dominion, with a parking lot. Been there.

Also, I have been to Brampton, and Mississauga. Liberty Village - King West bears no resemblance to either, despite the boom there.

The walk from King to the lake is approx 8 minutes. It`s beautiful. The tracks are the only negative. imho.

first picture post

Took the following pic in Liberty Village on 17 March 2009. There is a sign saying the owners are looking for interested tenants for either business or cafe ideas.
The old women's chapel in the little Liberty park has a Liquor License notice posted for indoor and outdoor seating. Hopefully it will be a resto/bar.
I like Liberty Village. Sure, some of the developments there make me cringe a bit but, overall, it's a wonderful place.

I used to walk around it all the time when I lived in Parkdale two years ago and I still spend a bit of time there when I'm visiting Parkdalian friends and going to football matches at BMO Field.

The one thing that killed me was when they tore down the old warehouse on the south side of Liberty. The art in there was amazing and it was a great party venue. Luckily, I went on a photography tour of the place a month before it came down so it'll live on in my life as memory and photo.
I did some urban exploration in that building, and I'm glad I experienced that side of Liberty before it disappeared. There was an abandoned BMW inside at the time, as well as a prop car for a film. It was part of a larger Inglis plant.
Yup, the Beemer was there when I was inside for the last time. Lovely place!

I think that was in the spring of 2006 when I was last there.

Edit: I wasn't there a month before it came down; I was last there a month before the last party was thrown inside.
I used to live in Liberty Village a few years back, when development was really pushing through. It was a nice spot to live in, however, the transit situation was horrible. Waiting for the eastbound streetcar in the morning was an exercise in frustration, and I'm sure it increased my blood pressure.

The City/TTC really need to get the transit situation sorted out before they push more development in that area, as they'll just be promoting car culture.
The TTC have rerouted the Ossington bus and it now goes down Strachan, then west along East Liberty and then up Atlantic to King West. Gets you to the Bloor Subway in 10 minutes. There is also the Lakeshore Streetcar which, depending where in LV you live might be just as close as the King Streetcar.
The Ossington bus re-routing has helped, but was long overdue. This does nothing, however, to address people trying to find a route to the financial district.

Catching the Bathurst or Queen's Quay cars from Exhibition place is an option, however imperfect.

Queen St isn't even an option, either, because of the unreliable nature of the service.
The Ossington bus re-routing has helped, but was long overdue. This does nothing, however, to address people trying to find a route to the financial district.

But it does help people trying to find a route to midtown and uptown office locations. (Then again, it might overcrowd the subway while doing so...)
Best way to get to the financial district is to catch the 509 at Manitoba/Strachan. It takes you right to Union. And the 509 at Manitoba is generally empty first thing in the morning. a GREAT alternative to the crowded King car.
I have often thought a great thing for the village would be a GO Train station on the tracks that cross King at, roughly, Atlantic.....two different GO lines cross that bridge (Milton and Georgetown) so the frequencies (relative to other GO stations) would be great and if you charge a TTC type fare (+/-) there you might attract a lot of riders for the very short trip to Union.

It would have the added advantage of greatly increasing the number of people who would have direct tranist links to the area (BMO Field, Ricoh, the Ex, Ontario Place, Libery Village itself).