News   Mar 01, 2024
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The decay of downtown Queen Street East

Now Toronto recently published an article about the recent development on the east side.

https://nowtoronto.com/news/downtown-east-sides-balancing-act/

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the proposed amendment to the city's official plan requiring that 10 per cent of all new units built in the downtown east be affordable housing... Why just the downtown east...

Probably because downtown east has historically housed lower/no income individuals, as the video in that Now article you sourced pointed out.

Now whether or not this policy is just is up to debate
 
Hard to believe that I opened this thread 7 years ago and still nothing has happened at Sherbourne and Queen Streets. In fact it’s gotten much worse. Blog TO recently published the following. https://www.blogto.com/city/2019/02/moss-park-toronto/
This intersection is a blight and city hall should be ashamed that it still exists, especially considering its proximity to the downtown core. It is not a good look.

Moss Park may only span the entirety of two blocks, but the neighbourhood’s name is known citywide.
It’s not the good kind of recognition: this rundown area in and around its namesake park—a barren piece of green space which runs between Jarvis and Parliament from Dundas down to Queen—is known to be a hotbed for crime.
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The Moss Park neighbourhood spans the areas between Jarvis and Parliament between Dundas and Queen.
If you’re heading west toward Schnitzel Queen or Enat Buna, you’re more than likely to witness an illicit lunchtime drug deal as you pass the corner of Queen and Sherbourne, where groups gather day and night, in all temperatures, outside the Moss Park Discount Store.
Further north past the Followers Mission just steps from the giant Dollarama, the Salvation Army-run men’s shelter Maxwell Meighen Centre is sure to be fronted by at least several people lingering in the doorway, trying their luck for the services offered there.
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The neighbourhood is largely consists of low-income residents and shelters.
With the cold lines of the Moss Park Armoury making up its backdrop, there’s no pretence around the stark divide between this part of town and Toronto’s flourishing Garden District, just further west closer to Church, where students and new businesses abound.
It’s a different story for the majority of businesses on this end. Longtime businesses like Woven Treasures, which has been selling Persian rugs for over 24 years, is slated to close sometime soon due to rising rent and diminishing business, says the owner.
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Longtime Persian rug purveyor Woven Treasures will soon close due to rising rents.
It wasn’t always like this: according to some longtime residents, the area has degraded noticeably over the past decade. The increase of drug litter, open drug use, and more recently, the introduction of deadly bootleg fentanyl in street heroin, sparked the creation of the unsanctioned Moss Park Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in 2017.
But the decline can even be dated back to the construction of the Armoury in the 1960s, which saw an entire strip of shops torn down to make way for the Canadian Forces facility, along with housing run by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
This massive City-led change solidified, probably intentionally, Moss Park’s identity as Toronto’s carefully quarantined area of social inequities.
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The Armoury was built in the 1960s.
Meanwhile, a few shops like Longboard Haven and the apothecary Leaves of Trees have carved out spaces for themselves as niche purveyors facing Moss Park directly, creating a surprisingly sturdy frontier of local businesses trying to make it in an area with low foot traffic and a bad reputation.
“Once we moved into the location we started to see how amazing the neighbours are,” says Randy Spearing, owner of the newest store on the strip, Department Store. “Everyone is really committed to the neighbourhood and seeing it thrive.”
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Department Store opened in late 2018.
Opened in late 2018, Spearing’s pop up-turned shop specializes in locally-made goods like printed city maps, accessories, and stationery that seem more fitting for West Queen West than Moss Park.
Perusing through its stylish stock of neighbourhood mugs and calf leather wallets, there’s an obvious disconnect between the store selling home goods and the street it sits on.
1549187067-20190131-moss-park-7.jpg
 
With Moss Park being redeveloped and quite a few developments coming to the immediate area, it may be a completely different placed by 2029
 
There have been numerous developments proposed for this area for over a decade. Seems to me that nothing will happen until Moss Park is rebuilt and the Maxwell Meighen flop house is removed which will take many years. It would also be nice if the Feds donated the armoury land to the city but I’m doubtful that will ever happen. My former ward councilor Pam McConnel tried to get the feds to listen for years to no avail. I’m not optimistic that any significant change will happen to this area any time soon.
 
There have been numerous developments proposed for this area for over a decade. Seems to me that nothing will happen until Moss Park is rebuilt and the Maxwell Meighen flop house is removed which will take many years. It would also be nice if the Feds donated the armoury land to the city but I’m doubtful that will ever happen. My former ward councilor Pam McConnel tried to get the feds to listen for years to no avail. I’m not optimistic that any significant change will happen to this area any time soon.
There is a large development reaching City approval on Queen East just east of Sherbourne, See: http://urbantoronto.ca/database/projects/245-queen-street-east
The plans for the new sports centre are moving ahead. See: https://urbantoronto.ca/forum/threa...jma-west-8-public-studio-lga-svn.21431/page-4

I think the area IS changing. Yes, it would be good if the Maxwell Meighan was moved or fixed up (and if its residents were not forced outside every day.). Getting the Armoury back (I think the feds lease it from the City) is not going to happen soon; I agree that it creates a dead zone..
 
While it’s nice to see middle class residential projects being built east of Church, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s an enormous concentration of rooming houses, shelters, public housing and agencies offering services to the homeless in the neighbourhood.
 
I get the need for a downtown-ish location for the Armoury, but I'd like to see it somewhere more out of the way, and Moss Park completely opened up. Perhaps the eastern end of the Portlands, near Leslie Street, would be a good spot for a relocated armoury, near Leslie Barns and the sewage treatment plant. That won't affect plans for the western Portlands, which are closer to redevelopment.

The concentration of social services and shelters in the area will always be a factor (not just the Maxwell Meighan, but also Seaton House, Fred Victor, and the agencies at Dundas and Sherbourne) but the influx of new residents in the area has changed things quite a bit. The downside (and what many are forgetting) is that the privately-owned affordable housing (rooming houses, SROs, and older apartments) in the area are disappearing, even if the publicly-owned affordable housing and supporting institutions are not.
 
...the influx of new residents in the area has changed things quite a bit.
Apologies for the necromancy, but I was just thinking this as I walked the city this weekend, that the influx of market priced condos has really changed the downtown east area. For the first time in a decade my wife and I walked from Cabbagetown through Moss Park, down behind athletic centre - I didn't even know there was a baseball field there. The area is so different than it was in the late 1990s when I arrived. Now you see young families and young, seemingly employed and housed adults walking to the cafes and shops, where twenty years ago it was basically urban blight. The big difference is seen at Allan Gardens where there as as many seemingly sane and regular folk enjoying the park on a summer day as there are addicted and mentally ill. It's the balance and intermingling that I like to see.
 
Apologies for the necromancy, but I was just thinking this as I walked the city this weekend, that the influx of market priced condos has really changed the downtown east area. For the first time in a decade my wife and I walked from Cabbagetown through Moss Park, down behind athletic centre - I didn't even know there was a baseball field there. The area is so different than it was in the late 1990s when I arrived. Now you see young families and young, seemingly employed and housed adults walking to the cafes and shops, where twenty years ago it was basically urban blight. The big difference is seen at Allan Gardens where there as as many seemingly sane and regular folk enjoying the park on a summer day as there are addicted and mentally ill. It's the balance and intermingling that I like to see.
It's better but I'd still consider it urban blight. Once more of the developments complete in the area that should change. More street level retail and activity will refresh the area.
 
It's better but I'd still consider it urban blight. Once more of the developments complete in the area that should change. More street level retail and activity will refresh the area.
I agree. Downtown east is probably about 15 years away from reaching a level of real civility and pleasantness. Once the Ontario line is open and the ratio of market priced condos to shelters, rooming houses and TCHC units flips I expect we’ll be impressed. I’d like to see Moss Park Armoury demolished and replaced with park space and market priced, multiple bedroom housing.
 
Really the big issue for downtown east is the inequitable distribution of the emergency shelters and TCHC housing.

Just look here, https://www.google.com/maps/search/emergency+shelter+toronto/@43.6579016,-79.3732443,15.75z and you can see the homeless industrial complex (HIC) focused on downtown east. Same goes for TCHC, with much of their housing concentrated in downtown east, https://www.torontohousing.ca/our-housing

To make this area more livable, the HIC needs to be broken up and the shelters and TCHC housing distributed across the city, with no NIMBY exceptions. I don't see why, for example Maxwell Meighen Centres can't be built in quiet residential areas near Bayview and Lawrence, and near Keele and Wilson. There's Sunnybrook and Humber River hospitals right there for those needing medical, addiction or mental health help. And shelters aside, what we need is supportive housing across the city that includes young adults who with support may be able to work or live more independent, stable lives. I would gladly pay a 50% property tax hike if I knew we'd see equitable distribution across this city of a much larger network of shelters and supportive housing.
 
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