Daily Xtra Archive March-April 2014 Edition

Despite taking a two-week break in April to take part in the Banff Playwrights Colony, it continued to be a busy Spring for me over at my main journalism gig, DailyXtra.

In HIV/AIDS Community Organisation news, I reported on new ACT Executive Director John Maxwell’s attempts to finally control that org’s massive annual deficits through cost-cutting measures, layoffs, and presumably, some of the service rationalization he’d mentioned to me the previous month.

Also, Casey House is offering up a free 19th-century Coach House to anyone willing to move it off their property, which will soon be redeveloped into a major new HIV/AIDS service centre. This is, of course, a big publicity stunt for the organization that is still trying to raise funds for the redevelopment – while I’m sure they’d be happy to give up the building and save the demolition costs, it’s extremely impractical to move it. There aren’t many routes wide enough to carry it on, you couldn’t carry it over a bridge, and at least one passer-by pointed out to me that because the building appears to have a concrete foundation, you couldn’t very easily pick it up and move it anyway. Good luck with the redevelopment, though.

I also profiled NDP candidate for the federal Trinity—Spadina by-election Joe Cressy, a very nice young man (I can say that because he’s a year younger than me and oh my god I’m an old man who’s accomplished nothing with my life) who has a history of helping LGBT organizations in Africa (or, as I put it in the kicker, “dildo smuggling”). He’s a nice guy who’s taking the nomination seriously and seems to genuinely believe in the socialist cause, even if he does sometimes come across a bit like an undergrad who’s just had his first Political Philosophy class with a hip young professor does (that quote likely won’t appear on any NDP campaign material).


I think his odds of actually winning against Liberal candidate Adam Vaughan are better than most suggest – the NDP machine in the riding is massive and Chow won almost all the polling stations in 2011 – but I still think this will be a pick-up for the Liberals.

With WorldPride little over a month away, why not read my coverage of our (revised) expectations for what #WP2014 is going to do for local tourism. Back in 2009, serious people were throwing obviously ridiculous numbers like 2-5 million visitors for WorldPride, but the new gurus are suggesting that the tourism impact is likely going to be long-term and qualitative rather than quantitative (read, immeasurable and therefore unaccountable).

This is, unfortunately, a meme that won’t die, and earlier this week I had a conversation with someone who seriously suggested we’d be hosting more people than we would for the Pan-Am Games. No, no we won’t. We don’t even have the guest capacity for that many people in Toronto (many thousands of guests for the Pan-Ams will be staying in the temporary Athlete’s Village being built in the West Don Lands). Yes, the hotels will be fully booked for WorldPride – they’re fully booked for most weekends in the summer (especially during special events, including our regular Pride).

I’m not a doom-and-gloomer about WorldPride, but I would like our expectations to be clearer. We’re throwing massive amounts of (public) money at this event (including to bring in major headlining performers and host major events across the city), and we should know why we’re doing it.

In a little bit of actual doom-and-gloom, we found out that Fly Nightclub intends to close right after WorldPride is over. Sad news, as the only real dance club left on Church will be Buddies.

There was drama at the Church-Wellesley Village BIA this winter, with former manager David Wootton fired and replaced by a new manager, Mychol Scully, who cheerily told me he doesn’t read Xtra because he doesn’t like doom-and-gloom coverage. Scully claims to be a public relations professional, so you may wonder why he’d choose to insult a journalist and his news outlet in his first, largely friendly interview.

The BIA was also at the centre of a story about major improvements coming to the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood, including Cawthra Park renos, rainbow sidewalks, new flags, permanent gates for street fests, and the Church St murals project – although the popular parklets are not coming back. As Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam tells me, it’s a lot of attention for three little blocks of Ward 27.

I might venture to agree that it’s both disproportionate and scattershot, and often frankly ugly. Wong-Tam rarely says no to ideas that bubble up from “the community,” which is resulting in a neighbourhood that’s looking like an awful hodge-podge. From the ugly gateway markers to some hideous murals, and a distinct lack of real staging or place making for much of the above, the neighbourhood is looking quite ugly (some murals can’t get even get an unobstructed view for the placement of billboards in front of them; the gateway markers, which aren’t even “gates” are placed right next to lampposts which obstruct the view of them). I really wish Wong-Tam (and the BIA, which shares much of the blame) would do more to consider the big picture here (or maybe spend some time on more neglected areas of the Ward, like Jarvis and Sherbourne).

Oh, and Carlton St got a minor makeover with new trees and bike parking, which is definitely needed – it’s impossible to find bike parking there! The trees will be welcome when they start blooming.

ProudFM got approval to boost its signal strength so that its reach will hit more of the city and its signal will be clearer in downtown.


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