A condo-mnation (Brouhaha’s Stroll to Work, part i)

For those of you who don’t know me, I live, work and craft in Toronto (not necessarily in that order). This makes me either a Torontonian or a Tranian. Of late, however, I’ve been wondering if this should be changed to “Condolander”.

Why? It takes about ten to fifteen minutes for me to walk from the St. Andrew (the Scots are everywhere!!!) subway station to my office along King Street West. I forgot both my iPod and my crochet when coming to work yesterday – so had to entertain myself in other ways (the fellow commuters did not seem to appreciate my dancing as much as they usually do. Maybe it was the singing…).

By the time I stopped trying to play “human iPod with surround sound speaker system” and started paying attention, this was the first thing I saw en route:

Ah. And just when I had managed to forget I was in Toronto….

But what is this next to it? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No – but it shares a name with a bird and rhymes with “crane”. I’ll spare you the guesswork as to my tortured mind. It is a crane (of the sort used for construction).

Don’t tell me they’re turning the CN Tower into condominiums!!!! Sigh. It was only a matter of time, I suppose. After all, this part of town is prime Condoland.

The Toronto area has 249 projects currently being marketed or in the construction stage, representing 58,000 units, making the city the largest condo site in North America, according to consulting research firm Urbanation.

– “Condo Sales Booming”, Toronto Star, 15 November 2007 (Tony Wong, reporter)

Moving right along: when I was a young wee impressionable lassie living in Kingston, Ontario (home of more penitentiaries than any other city in Canada, by the way! and before you ask, I am not an escapee!), I looked so forward to moving to Toronto as I had heard the streets there were paved with gold.

Imagine my surprise and consternation to learn that this was all a pack of lies. Instead, the streets in Toronto are paved with…

Granite.

And, on this topic, can anyone explain to me this “Hall of Fame” phenomenon that leads to enshrining your name and signature for all eternity… on the sidewalk? For my part, when I am rich and famous I assume they will be erecting a big shrine in my honour… not some tatty stone in the ground that looks like those tombstones people buy when they can’t afford to (or otherwise don’t want to) shell out tens of thousands for an upright monument.

I mean, when did these movie stars all get together and decide “I want my name immortalised on the sidewalk in front of some theatre in Toronto so that everyone can step all over it and throw their cigarette butts and garbage on top of my signature”? I don’t get it.

Having said that, I was glad to see one of my favourite comedy troupes commemorated.

SCTV – home of Bob and Doug McKenzie!!. I do hope I haven’t stepped on them before, eh? I’m such a hosehead that I’m sure I probably have…

Anyway, it’s about time to pull in for some fuel. Shall I go here?

… or here?

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see a hot dog/sausage stand that is open at 8:00 a.m. Toronto rawks!!

Here is the all-hallowed Metro Hall.

And, in classic Toronto heavy-handed symbolic style, the hot dog cart is located right in front of Metro Hall, where our municipal politicians work (sic?) so hard to keep Toronto the Good going.

Some of them work (sic?) there, anyway – others are banished to another building up on Queen Street West which, just to make things simple, is referred to as City Hall:

Ah, that 70s architecture. Bet you didn’t know that there were aliens in Toronto! I wonder if they only send the green politicians there… heh heh heh.

I should hope, however, that none of our City Fathers have been banished to Toronto’s Old City Hall.

But, from the look of things down at Metro Hall, perhaps they are intended victims of crime instead?

And – would that be so surprising, really?

Here is the view from the Metro Hall corner:

Another blasted condo development project. I get very depressed every time I see it. I often attend work trainings at Metro Hall (because they give free space and I work for Legal Aid) and have fond memories of staring out the window at the Duke of Argyle pub with the big Keith’s banner (“Reluctantly exported from Nova Scotia”) – a beacon of light and a place to drag the colleagues after the session for the true educational component – beer, deep fried pepperoni and gossip. Here is the pub sign, already partially hidden by the construction:

Sob.

Right in front of this condo development is this sign:

As usual, my photography skills are sorely lacking (I was balancing a cup of Tim’s Finest at the time. Skipped the street meat cart). The first word, you’ve likely gathered, is meant to be “Transforming”.

Well, some of the scenery along this particular stroll certainly transforms the way I see life in Toronto these days…

… and not for the better, I might add.

(And, another (possibly stupid) question of the sort that keeps me awake at night: is there any logic in renaming a street in a major Canadian street after a baseball team?

How ’bout them Leafs, eh??)

But I digress. Here are some more shots of the awe-inspiring transformation of my city:

(Who is moving into all of these places anyway? I keep seeing in the news that every time they open sales for a new condo complex, they have to limit it to three units or less for purchases. I am a lawyer and I live with a well-paid pensioner who also continues working, and we can’t afford one, let along four!!)

And an out-and-out eyesore:

A condo sales office! In case you’re wondering what “M5Vlife” might mean – join the club. “M5V”, however, is the postal code signifier for this area. A postal code life. My father, who spent his life going ballistic whenever anyone made the mistake of asking for his postal code (because he came from a place where you could just put the person’s name and town on an envelope and it would reach the intended recipient – after, of course, the rest of the villagers had passed it around…) would not be best pleased.

So, what are the hallmarks of a “postal code life”? Apparently, according to the colourful ads, the following:

(a) Iconoclasm

“They’re not really all 500 square foot cubes – some are 800 square feet! And – you can pick either beige or off-beige or white plaster on the drywall!!!”

(a) Green and Clean Living

On a blue background, no less. Are they worried about being dinged for false advertising? Judging from the depth of the hole in which the carpark will be located, they probably should be. Unless, of course, that hole is actually going to house the movie theatre and ballroom…

They have a blog!!! I’m not going to link it as I don’t want any competition… but this will give you some idea of the prices:

M10A – 1BD+Den (747sf)

M22A – 1BD+Den (696sf)

M22B – Studio (411sf)

Your opportunity to be the first to buy at King West’s Best Designed and Best Valued Condominium! Prices starting from the low $200’s [emphasis added]!

$205,000 (just to pick a number – what’s a few thou between friends?!) for 411 square feet? Why not just rent a storage locker – $100/month and you can rent another one next door to stash all your craft gear!!!

And here’s another one I passed just down the way:

The portion to the left resembles the last slum apartment building I was in to try to organize the tenants – except I think in that building the units were bigger.

People who pass by “glas” houses shouldn’t throw stones, I suppose. Or, is that “people who live in glass houses? At $200,000 for 400 sq ft. I won’t be living in one any time soon – so, I’m good.

And finally, I reach King and Spadina, which brings to an end the first leg of my work-bound tour.


The photo was taken looking south on Spadina from the southeast corner of King. More cranes and new buildings.

This photo will give you an idea of how this intersection looked a century ago (although it is taken at Queen Street, 1 block north, looking south onto Spadina):


And to think that only 30 years or so before that photo was taken (in 1877, to be exact), Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph!!!

Ah, progress. Without it, you wouldn’t even be reading this rant (if you’re made it this far, that is). But it’s a double-edged sword.

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