The Regent Park Community Food Centre garden at 40 Oak St.
On Thursday evening the rich aroma of grilled vegetables and grilled chicken was puffing through the atrium and out the door of Regent Park’s Christian Resource Centre (CRC) during the official launch of the Regent Park Community Food Centre, an organization devoted to fighting food insecurity, ill health, and social exclusion in the vulnerable east-end neighbourhood.
The Food Centre has been rolling its programs out gradually, hiring staff and assembling resources; Thursday’s event was a chance to show the community what they’d put together. “We’re ready to say, ‘Hey community, we’re here, we’re in the neighbourhood, we’re a place for food in Regent Park, and we’re going to be doing more and more and more in the years to come,’” says Emily Martyn, the centre’s manager.
On September 9, the University of Toronto announced plans to tear down the McLaughlin Planetarium building on Queen’s Park Crescent and put in its place a complex housing a multi-disciplinary performance hall, a Centre for Jewish Studies research facility, and gallery space for a Jewish museum. University president Meric Gertler stated in a press release that the new development would “make a significant contribution to this cultural precinct and the entire city.” But not everyone is ready to raze the old planetarium. Jeff Balmer, professor of architecture at the University of North Carolina, has launched a petition to save the seemingly doomed structure.
Toronto-born and raised, Balmer helped lead a similar, and ultimately successful, campaign to save the Sam the Record Man sign. As a passionate native of the city, he wants to see the McLaughlin building saved for architectural posterity and, ideally, converted back into an operational planetarium—“a platform for science education … contributing to the discussion about ideas in science.” Balmer said the petition has received over 600 signatures so far.
From backyard gardeners to sophisticated startups to students at schools right here in Toronto, city dwellers are embracing urban agriculture in a big way. For some, though, urban farming may call to mind knitting cafés, ukulele jam sessions, and other whimsies confined mostly to hipper neighbourhoods. City gardens make for quaint community projects, but can they be viable and productive enterprises? To answer that question, the Design Trust for Public Space, a prolific New York City non-profit, has created a data collection toolkit for analyzing urban farming ventures.
In October 2013, it was announced that cultural landmark (or hard-to-believe eyesore, depending on whom you ask) Honest Ed’s, along with a number of standalone businesses nearby, had been sold to Vancouver-based Westbank Properties—and now Torontonians are getting insight into the kind of vision the developer might have for the 1.8-hectare parcel near Bloor and Bathurst streets.
Westbank, known in Toronto for its work on the Shangri-La Hotel, will reportedly be bringing B.C. architect Gregory Henriquez on board for the project (an announcement to this effect is expected later in September). In Vancouver, Henriquez and Westbank have worked together on mixed-used buildings that incorporate affordable housing. “I bring something of a left-leaning social activist component as well as a design component,” Mr. Henriquez told the Globe. “It starts to temper the economics, and it becomes something really special.”
When it was announced earlier this year that Hogtown’s last pig slaughterhouse was closing, and its operators, Quality Meat Packers and Toronto Abattoirs, were bankrupt, many were surprised that urban hog slaughtering wasn’t already a thing of the distant past. Residents near the abattoir on Tecumseth Street, meanwhile, were relieved to be free of the porcine odour that emanated from the facility.
But while the pigs may be gone, the machinery once used to process them will remain in place until it’s auctioned off Thursday (note: bidding requires a $500 deposit). The public is allowed to roam the buildings to preview the 1,100 lots. (Lot 416: Stainless Steel Loin Stuffer!)