It’s Jane’s Walk weekend. Lots to see, for sure, but here’s my favourite: Margaret Zeidler and Paul Bedford touring around King and Spadina. Zeidler owns 401 Richmond in the area. Bedford is, of course, the city’s former chief planner, and he led the Kings initiative in the old City of Toronto, opening up the King-Spadina and King-Parliament districts to looser zoning.
If you never visited those areas before 2000, it’s hard to imagine how far they’ve come: both were moribund manufacturing neighbourhoods, unpopulated, free of retail, filled with (some) beautiful but (mostly) crumbling buildings. Zoning laws, designed to keep the existing manufacturing and garment industries in place, closed the doors to nearly everything else.
Now, they are densely populated mixed-use neighbourhoods. In King West, where I have worked for years, the biggest challenge is overdevelopment: the city is working to protect its historic buildings from being levelled in favour of 50-storey condo towers. This transition hasn’t been painless and the new urban form there isn’t perfect, but it is still an incredible success. I’ll look forward to hearing Bedford and Zeidler address the past and the possibly problematic future.