Keewatin creep debate inspires a walk

s-o-sNews about neighbourhood resistance to rezoning has revealed strong feelings about change in the city, so I walked along Keewatin Avenue to form an impression.

The north side of the street is lined with nice, single family homes as expected, but there are also a number of lowrise multiple dwelling buildings along that side. That surprised me (A) because those are the kinds of buildings being objected to and (B) because they seemed to fit the street quite well and unobtrusively, tucked in behind the trees.

keewatin

The northsiders look across the street at highrise apartment buildings that are quite nicely landscaped and fenced, so density isn’t unusual along here. Height restrictions are different on the south side. I wasn’t understanding why a zoning change for the north side would be so bad.

Paved front yard parking was one of the least attractive sights on the north side, and it fronted single family homes. Sensitivities are unpredictable.

front-yard-parking

Anyway, zoning rules are the issue and a new proposed townhouse development would require zoning changes. They would look something like this.

townhouses

I left the street feeling some sympathy for those who will have to put up with construction, but also feeling that their protests would be in vain. The whole city is changing and many call increases in local population “urban intensification”, not “density creep”. Isn’t it better to keep people living close to work rather than pushing them away, creating more sprawl and more commuter congestion? Don’t we want a variety of accommodation types for people at different stages of life? Young families, empty-nesters and middling income earners?

It’s true that something is being lost on Keewatin … some of the peace and quiet of the good old days … but there are offsetting gains. Businesses and services along the local Yonge main street look much healthier, more varied and interesting. Greater density will support more of this. Property values will climb, too. That’s some compensation, even if not wanted.

I think Keewatin is a very pleasant street that will continue to be a very pleasant street for a long time to come. When the zoning-change resisters lose their struggle, I hope they will be relieved to find it so. And they will have met some of their neighbours at rallies for civic action. That’s not a bad thing.

Signs relieve my ignorance of Vietnamese

First up, a pronunciation lesson. Like many of us who have discovered that we like the Vietnamese noodle soup, I have pronounced “pho” as “foe”. This is wrong, I have been told. Pho sounds more like “fuh”. The sign provides a reminder that I am unlikely to forget.

pho-king

The Pho King Fabulous restaurant is located on the east side of Yonge, just north of Eglinton.

Next up, this sign on a shelf inside Indigo Books (across the pho-king street) piqued my curiosity. What the heck was Thich Nhat Hanh and why was it in the back?

thich-nhat

Turns out it’s a he; a famous Vietnamese zen monk that you probably know about but I didn’t. The sign was in the religion section and I had gone to check for books on Islam. There were a few … and out front, not “in the back”.

There was a special display table of books at the Indigo entrance under a sign saying “Jewish Interest”, so I wondered if the store might also carry books of “Muslim Interest”. Yes, it does. Other religions are represented as well, including Zen. Only Thich Nhat Hanh seems to be kept in the back. Why remains a mystery. I lacked the mindfulness to ask.

Flying Pony attracts birds, bees, butterflies

A David Suzuki-inspired initiative, executed by volunteers, has been given space for a garden canoe alongside Andrew Horne’s Flying Pony Gallery Café on Lower Gerrard. The idea is to provide a little green haven for birds, butterflies and bees.

bee-garden

We recognized the milkweed for the Monarch butterflies because we have planted some of that ourselves. There are also service berry plants, native strawberries and goldenrod in the mix.

Another welcome addition to Gerrard East

We’ve been watching the Coming Soon sign in the shop window for a while, so it’s nice to see the doors open at the Pitchfork Company.

pitchfork-company

The Facebook “About” describes the business: Purveyors of small-batch, local, field-to-table goods and workshops brought to you by the founder of The Fairmount Neighbourhood Farm Market.

The Pitchfork workshops look like foodie fun.

The strip popularly called “Little India” is coming to life. The business mix is expanding, too, so that South Asian shops and stores have a variety of new neighbours. Victoria Whole Foods opened not long ago, The Pantry cheese shop seems to be attracting a following, the Gerrard Art Space collective has moved into a new location, closer to the Coxwell intersection, and Andrew Horne’s Flying Pony Gallery/Café is a popular hangout.

Danica finds neat toys at the Swag Sisters, The Lazy Daisy Café seems to be catering to the stroller set and there are art and photography classes going on at Lenswork. I have been getting my hair cut at Ula’s for years and our closest public library branch is a couple of blocks along. Add the good South Asian shopping at places like BJ’s Supermarket and lots of Indian restaurants and the strip is very useful. More is sure to come.

Pleasant surprise on Queen East

Noting the new sign on the old Lion on the Beach restaurant, we looked in the open door. What a change! The place is bright and airy, with higher ceilings and all new everything. The old Lion was dark and I don’t think they could ever get the cigarette and stale beer smell out of the carpeting. The new Stone Lion looks inviting, so we stayed for beer, burger and coffee.

stone-lion

The burger was good and the patio (which was the only place we’d sit before) is still in use if you want to sit outside and people-watch. Service was good and servers pleasant. May you live long and prosper, Stone Lion!

Beautiful Beach Hill

new-plantings

Sure, the new plantings in all of the Gerrard Street sidewalk beds are lovely but what’s really beautiful is the squad of volunteers who put them it. It wasn’t SUPPOSED to thunder shower, let alone hit at precisely the start of planting time. Undeterred, a large number of dedicated locals showed up, got drenched to the skin and planted hundreds of flowers. They were good-natured and cheerful about it, too. As rivers ran down the gutters, they noted that no watering in would be needed.

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