Monday, May 24, 2021

Mounted police and anti-lockdown protests in Toronto

Large gatherings protesting lockdown restrictions, masks, vaccines and probably a few other things seems to be a weekly event in Toronto. Crowds began to congregate near the north end of the park on Saturday, May 22, 2021 listening to speakers, getting their signs ready before heading down Yonge Street and to Yonge-Dundas Square.

Both mounted police and bicycle cops were out in force at Queen's Park and throughout the downtown core, waiting for the protestors to make their way down Yonge Street.
Mounted police make their way south on Yonge Street

This sign says "forced vaccination is rape" which seems wrong on a few levels
Waiting at Queen's Park
Bicycle police shelter from the rain under the elevated structure at Yonge-Dundas Square 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Spring Stations in the Distillery District

Toronto's international architectural design contest has relocated from the water's edge and from around the lifeguard stations along Woodbine and Kew Beaches for 2021. Usually the Winter Station installations are exhibited beginning Family Day in February when the beach is solid ice, however Covid restrictions pushed the event further into spring until the lifeguard stations are required for their intended purpose. In order to show the winning pieces they decided to move them into one of Toronto's greatest neighbourhoods - the historic Distillery District and called them Spring Stations.
The annual Winter Stations competition requires entrants to design temporary art installations built around and incorporating the utilitarian, red lifeguard structures. In this case the lifeguard stations are ignored so you just have to imagine them for 2021. Four winning proposals are chosen for the exhibition with funding provided to build their designs.

Spring Stations started on May 21 and will continue until sometime in late June. There are three within the Distillery District: ARc de Blob, From Small Beginnings and The Epitonium. Just south of the district is the final piece at 33 Parliament Street, sitting in a parking lot: THROBBER. In July ARc de Blob will be placed somewhere in the Beach Village BIA and the installation will become Summer Stations.

ARc de Blob
Design Team: iheartblob: Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum

From Small Beginnings
Design Team: Jack Leather and Charlie Leather
you can see where the lifeguard station would fit
The Epitonium
Design Team: M. Yengiabad - Shahed M. Yengiabad, Elaheh M. Yengiabad, Alemeh M. Yengiabad and Mojtaba Anoosha

Design Team: Heidundgriess – Alexandra GrieƟ and Jorel Heid

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Toronto working to reopen the great outdoors

Woo Hoo! Something positive is happening as Premier Doug Ford today announced a roadmap to reopening the province based on the rate of vaccinations. Before the steps begin Doug has lifted the restrictions on outdoor sports beginning Saturday, May 22, 2021 and you will be allowed to play golf, tennis, get in the skateboard parks, sports fields and the like. Pictured at top: the sun will come out TO installation at City Hall during Toronto Nuit Blanche 2016.

From the Premier's office "Roadmap to Reopen is a cautious three-step plan that will guide a safe and gradual reopening of the province and the lifting of public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health system indicators. The province will remain in each of the steps for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the vaccination thresholds have been met, alongside positive trends of other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move forward."

The City of Toronto in response to the announcement has started the process to remove locks and signs on the outdoor facilities and basketball nets. Mayor John Tory - you know the guy with that hair thing going on right now, says "I want to thank Premier Ford and the cabinet for opening outdoor recreation amenities starting this weekend. City staff are working now to open those amenities for this weekend. The announcement today from the Ontario government recognizes the progress we have all made in stopping the spread of COVID-19 by following the public health measures. It is also a testament to the tremendous work being done to get as many people as possible vaccinated with the available vaccine supply. The fight against COVID-19 continues along with our immunization efforts but today we have the kind of clear roadmap forward we were seeking, so we could get on with safely and cautiously reopening."

The city advises people to social distance (2m) from those outside your household. And although the fields will be open, team sports will not be allowed and other services and options within the parks will remain closed - like clubhouse, change areas, pavilions and lockers.

Outdoor recreation areas to open include golf courses, disc golf courses, sports courts and fields (i.e. basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, lawn bowling greens), BMX and skate parks, picnic tables and shelters, outdoor fitness equipment and dry pads located at outdoor artificial ice rinks.

Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee states that "Access to outdoor recreational amenities is critical to the physical and mental health of all Torontonians. With over 1,500 public parks in our City, we are excited to reopen the outdoor recreational amenities for residents to enjoy, while maintaining continued health measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Toronto at full stop until after Labour Day 2021

Open, closed, take the 2nd dose soon, don't take the second dose soon, don't mix vaccines, okay mix vaccines; it's really hard to know what to do as the experts change their minds and crazy people throw their two cents in, what we do know is that as the Province has extended the lockdown until June 2nd and the City of Toronto has cancelled all major in-person events till September 6. 
Elton John in concert, done for now in Toronto
Street festivals, done for now

I thought we were supposed to be vaccinated by July, however I checked and the Government of Canada thinks that won't be till September, "COVID-19 vaccines will be available to everyone in Canada who are recommended to get the vaccine by federal, provincial and territorial public health bodies. Doses of the vaccines will be distributed in Canada in phases, which began in December 2020. Assuming the continued supply of safe and effective vaccines, it's expected there will be enough vaccines to immunize everyone for whom vaccines are approved and recommended. We anticipate this will be accomplished by September of 2021."
Charity events like the Ride for Event have gone virtual or have been cancelled
Red Bull fleet has gone silent

The two level of governments don't want you to even think of sports right now, or sports and pops, or pops and outdoor fun. Trinity-Bellwoods Park is all circled up again but people are still crammed into public transit. Get the vaccines out and hopefully life in the great outdoors and the busy cities will come back to normal. And I don't even care if we have to continue to wear masks in certain circumstances, heck many people are glad not to have caught a few colds in the past year - saved by face coverings. Luckily large quantities of vaccines are coming into Canada and this weekend there will be almost 50 vaccination clinics in Toronto. At this time Toronto has poked over 1.6 million people with doses of the various vaccines.

"The Team Toronto effort is focused on getting as many residents vaccinated as quickly as possible based on available supply. It is also expanding mobile vaccination efforts across Toronto to bring vaccine to the neighbourhoods most in need. This weekend, Team Toronto Mobile Sprint Strategy will vaccinate 19,994 people age 18 years and older."
Fort York historic site, closed until further notice
Cosplay conventions, done for now

Here is the City's news release on the cancellations. City of Toronto extends cancellation of in-person major participatory events to Labour Day:

"To continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help provide predictability to major event organizers, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted outdoor events to September 6.

Today's announcement includes festivals and other large, in-person gatherings, held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares.

The City understands the importance of these events to Toronto's vitality, liveability and prosperity. City staff are working in close collaboration with event organizers, who in every instance possible have been consulted on this approach and given advance notice of this decision. The City is committed to working closely with event organizers to help them manage through 2021 and come back stronger in 2022.

Mass participation festivals and events require long lead times for planning, rely on City sites, supports or permissions, and present higher public health risks given limits to physical distancing and exposure to attendees from outside of the area. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to support third-party event organizers.

Event organizers have asked the City for as much advance notification as possible to enable them to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, accessing insurance, supporting impacted employees, managing sponsors and developing alternative approaches, such as virtual events. Providing this cancellation notice will allow many events to avoid incurring unnecessary costs and access insurance and other supports.

This decision, made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service and mass participation event organizers, follows the previous cancellation of all such events up to July 1 and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The following is a list of major in-person events impacted by this decision. This list has been provided by permitting divisions and event status may be subject to change. Many of these events will be offered virtually. For the most up-to-date status of an event, please contact the event organizer directly.

• Taste of the Middle East
• Taste of Lawrence
• Honda Indy
• Toronto Outdoor Art Fair
• Afrofest
• Salsa in Toronto
• 49th Annual Festival of India
• Bloor West StreetFest
• Beaches Jazz Festival
• Oss Fest
• Caribbean Junior Carnival
• Scarborough Ribfest
• Caribbean Carnival, King and Queen Competition, Pan Alive and Grand Parade
• Taste of the Danforth
• Vegandale Food Drink Festival
• Bollywood Film Fair
• Waterfront Night Market
• Canadian National Exhibition
• Mabuhay Philippines Festival
• Toronto Chinatown Festival
• Labour Day Parade"
Sex shows, cancelled for now

Mayor John Tory says "The City and the vast majority of Toronto residents are doing everything we can right now to stop the spread of COVID-19 and get vaccinated. Following the public health measures and getting vaccinated as soon as you're eligible will help us bring this pandemic to an end so that we can safely gather together once again. We will continue to support the City's major events through these tough times and will do everything we can to make sure they come back stronger in 2022."
Buskerfest, cancelled for 2021
Nuit Blanche 2021 - is still a go!

There is good news from the NB website: "Nuit Blanche Toronto will return on Saturday, October 2, 2021. This will mark the 16th Edition of Toronto's free, city-wide sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art." UPDATE 2021 NB Cancelled.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Upscale Casa Loma in Toronto

Situated on a large hill overlooking downtown Toronto with views from turrets that probably rival those from the CN Tower, the mansion on the hill known as Casa Loma is certainly formidable. Finished in 1914 as a private residence, the building has had a varied purpose over the years and is now owned by the City and leased out by an entertainment company. Interestingly the sharp hill was the edge of the former Iroquois Lake which was a glacial lake which created an enlarged Lake Ontario. So not only is Casa Loma a massive mansion, it is also a lake front property - just 13,000 years too late.

Casa Loma Stables from the Casa Loma Parkette
Spadina Museum
Spadina Museum greenhouse
Stone fence and round, rock pillars at Spadina Museum

Right next door is the also impressive Spadina Museum and grounds, separated by the old road allowance for Spadina Road that has a beautiful stairways and platforms that run between the Spadina Road sections and named the the Baldwin Steps.

Baldwin Steps leading to Spadina Road
Baldwin Family Spadina plaque
More of Baldwin Steps overlooking downtown Toronto - see the CN Tower?

The earliest buildings in the residential neighbourhood north of the castle date from the early 1900's and the homes on the tree lined lots are certainly grand. We parked on a road (Ardwold Gate) with more recent homes, though none the less grand than their neighbours.

A few small homes on Ardwold Gate road

Cutting through the north end of the ritzy area is Nordheimer Ravine and the adjacent park Sir Winston Churchill Park. The ravine follows the path of an old stream whose source of water have been diverted. Now the ravines are used for recreational and park purposes while sewers run under the ground. You can look up the hill and see two above ground structures (valve house and the lower portal building) associated with the City's St. Clair Reservoir built in 1930.

Spadina Bridge over Nordheimer Ravine
Some graffiti under the bridge deck
Valve House and Portal Building (lower) of the St. Clair Reservoir

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Niagara-on-the-Lake is at Peak Blossom

NOTL has been a little behind Toronto in the development of cherry blossoms, which was opposite to what we thought would happen. The orchards and groves of cherry trees have slowly been perking up over the last three weeks. You could see the blossoms starting but no big explosions of colour except for the occasional magnolia trees.

McFarland House blossoms

Then we went on the trip into the St Catherines area and further southwest into the Niagara area we started to see colours in the orchards and in the many parks along Lakeshore and the Niagara Parkway. You can find plenty of pink blossoms at such locations as the Niagara Parks Horticultural School and McFarland House. For easy to access orchards one of the best locations is along Lakeshore just past the Welland Canal where you can park at MJ's Own Munchies restaurant, pick up lunch or dinner and take pictures along the edge of the orchard.

Orchards along Lakeshore Road

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square