Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The parking lot is paved, and now Adam is going to meet with us

Our community meeting with *the* Adam Giambrone is being held at Casa dos Acores. This community centre, which serves alcohol, is at 1136 College Street, just west of Dufferin. This photo above shows how bleak the "community centre" looks from the back... a boring old patch of pavement will match it perfectly, don't you think?

Be there at 6:30pm, even though the parking lot was paved this morning. :(

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our parking lot is bordered by busy and scary College and Dufferin Streets

The photo beside this is taken at about 2pm. Not rush hour but definitely busy... you can imagine how scary it is to walk here around 4 and 5pm when all sorts of big trucks and such are moving through.

How would you like this to be your front yard?

Today was a great day. The pavement has happily not been laid yet, and we enjoyed putting our feet and connecting with our Mother Earth without any ashphalt or fences getting in our way. We went out and connected with beautiful children, teenagers, and adults who all care about what happens in their back yards.

Not one person walking through Dragon Alley during the busy rush hour after school and work was able to tell us that they had received any information about this parking lot project.
Our location for our community meeting has not yet been set, and it happens at 6:30pm tomorrow! Is it really going to happen? Councillor Giambrone's office suggested that we meet at the community centre/restaurant that stands to gain the most from 30+ new parking spaces.
If you're looking for free parking, the site is not monitored at this point. Tons of children walk through these alleys during their jaunt to and from school, and there is no increased signage or speed bumps to ensure that these children are going to be safe from cars vying for a free parking spot.
Let's ensure that not one child ends up seriously injured or dead because we've got too many cars and no safety measures in a small, overcrowded space that is right on the edge of St. Helen's School.

Stay tuned, more to come....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The pavement is coming

Many residents in front of Dragon Alley were feeling sick to their stomach this evening when they came home from work/school to find a bunch of paving equipment parked inside the vacant lot.

Gwyn Thomas, president of the Toronto Parking Authority, had assured us by telephone that NO PAVEMENT would be laid until:

1. We consult the community

2. The spring comes

Interesting that Adam Giambrone has not yet even scheduled a location for our meeting on Tuesday. Residents aren't sure what to do... it is clear that the steps are being taken to pave the lot TOMORROW!!

One resident plans to set up a tent and camp out. Others are calling Adam and visiting his office. Still, others are making direct calls to Gwyn Thomas to stop the madness. We don't want anything else to happen before our meeting on the 16th.

Also interesting... we tried to copy the site plans for the parking lot, but were denied. "We don't own them," said the staffer at Giambrone's office.

Please call to help us stop the pavement... once that goes in it seems there will be no turning back.



Anyone wanna discuss our parking lot?

Jonathan from Toronto Public Space is going to be on Goldhawk Live, an hourlong phone-in show about local issues, from 7-8 this evening.

He is joining Rami Tabello of IllegalSigns.ca and Councillor Howard Moscoe (Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence) in discussing the new billboard bylaw. The last time the program dealt with billboards, a large portion of the callers were people from the industry posing as concerned citizens in favour of advertising, and I would not be surprised if the same happened tonight.

Please call in to the show (the number will be onscreen) if you believe that the callers aren't reflecting your own views.The show airs live at 7pm and repeats tomorrow morning at 4pm and 9pm on cable channel 10 in most of Toronto and 63 in Scarborough.
Read Jackson's take on the parking lot.

Parents know that streets are indeed for people

Last night we attended a meeting with local parents who are working to develop an awesome new learning place for children called The Grove School.

This alternative school will have social justice and environmentalism as it's focus (along with academic excellence), and there is no school like this here in Toronto. It's encouraging to be a part of this work and it's great to have the support of other parents who want their children to grow up thinking about and experiencing the things that are the most important (ie; nature and community).

The Grove School will be a neighbour to the new parking lot. The parents at the meeting discussed the recent outcry against the proposed parking lot at the Matador (at College and Dovercourt). It was funny how the Toronto Parking Authority and Adam Giambrone would discuss the issue... there was some "blame" on the West End YMCA, another important community hub. The "blame" was that the YMCA was responsible for urging the creation of a new parking lot. The YMCA responded by explaining that it encourages its members to walk, ride bikes, and take public transit to their facilities--they had NEVER asked for a parking lot! The community rallied together and the parking lot never became a reality. The legendary Matador still stands!

It's winter now and the Matador parking lot is a distant memory to some. The winter blues tend to set in for a lot of people during this time. It's cold out there, and there's not a lot of sunshine. Many of us live in cramped apartments and dream of sunnier shores. There are not many people in the alley now. Where are all the people? Are they coming to the meeting? Do they care?

Sure, they do care, but they feel defeated. This lack of consultation and common sense about this space has got mixed up with never ending rhetoric that we hear each time we contact someone different from the City of Toronto. There are also language barriers. Whenever people have low English literacy (and this is our major working language here), they become discouraged and disempowered. Some don't want to say anything because they're afraid it will all come out the wrong way.

All those people in their apartments--put a big red circle on your calendar for Tuesday, December 16th. Adam Giambrone's office still has not set a location, so let's hear if you're attending so we know if we need a large space. AND in the good news, Adam's office is making site plans available. Go down to his office and check them out:

1232 College St. W. (at Margueretta)

Office hours:
Monday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
(Other times are available by appointment)

Stay tuned. We're planning a community party in the parking lot to remind you that the streets are for people (and fun).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Show us the plans, Councillor Giambrone!

We've been working hard to try and get some site plans for the new parking lot. We have talked with the president of the Toronto Parking Authority, who pretends to know something but truly doesn't know anything.

Our concerns about the parking lot are numerous. We have been asking the TPA president about the flow of cars, and when he answers us it is clear that there are no clear plans that he is aware of. This is discouraging... there are plenty of hidden angles and children walking around in Dragon Alley. It is already scary to walk down there because you never know if cars will see you when they're turning off of Dufferin. A poorly planned parking lot will just make things more frightful.

We have received the following email today from the mayor's office. Let's see the plans Giambrone!!

Thank you for writing. We have spoken with Councillor Giambrone's office and ascertained that they have a copy of the site plan which they are more than willing to share with you. As you know, the land is owned by and construction co-ordinated by, the Parking Authority of Toronto, the Mayor does not have plans for the lot.

Please contact Councillor Giambrone's office to arrange a meeting and view the site plan.
Thanks again for writing,

Chris Phibbs, Senior Advisor
Office of Mayor David Miller
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, M5H 2N2
p: 416 338 7106