Developing a neighbourhood: Oakburn-Avondale (North York)

After the crunching stress of client-based studios, attending networking events I had committed to, and exams, I’d finally caught a break from the whirlwind of third year. My job applications to  “info@developer.ca”s had been in vain (in addition to a sub-par, pre-reviewed resume, there was also skewed competition with seasoned grad students) and I was suddenly left with something foreign and long-lost: time.

After 60+ outgoing e-mails within three weeks, it had become a nauseating process that I needed to take a breather from. My twitter had been flooded with news articles on condo developments in downtown Toronto and I got to wondering about the original condo hub – North York (aka my old ‘hood).

As if that wasn’t enough to get my nostalgia working, I accidentally stumbled upon DTAH’s secondary plan for the area as the solution to Tridel planning to expand Eastward, the critical demand for increasing school capacity, and generally sub-par physical qualities of the area.

Oakburn-Avondale secondary plan area, taken off DTAH's website.

Oakburn-Avondale secondary plan, taken off DTAH’s website.

It had been eight years since I’d last wandered into the old Oakburn-Avondale area – (just East of Yonge St. at Highway 401 – location, location, location!), and I’d heard stories from my parents who’d visited the area while I was downtown during the school year about how much it had changed. The staff report for the sale of the properties surfaced with a quick Google search.

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Our Coffee Shop

A lovely article came out a few days ago about coffee shops and their role in fostering a creative class in a neighbourhood. There are two main types: large franchises and locally-owned coffee shops. The former includes Starbucks, Tim Hortons, McDonald’s McCafe, Second Cup, etc, and the latter, Bulldog’s (Toronto) and CoverNotes (Richmond Hill). Of course there are some mid-sized franchises like Aroma Espresso Bar which are scattered in malls and plazas.

Large or small, they serve as a gathering area for communities. Especially in the 905 suburbs, you may have to pay $3.50 for it, but it’s still as close as you’ll get to “public space“.

Nowadays, with Wi-Fi being an increasingly popular staple of coffee shops, people are inclined to stay longer, provided that they have a laptop. These people are typically students and professionals between ages 20-50. This is the creative class.

“The fusion of professional and personal lives are related to the fact that businesses and individual professionals are becoming more and more footloose”

The article goes on to say that coffee shops revitalize and shape our city by bringing the community together. It becomes a meeting place for professionals, students, and retired seniors. It brings people out of their homes and gathers a (local) “public”.

Hitting it Home

The article came on my twitter feed on the same day that I found out our local Williams Coffee Pub had closed down. Alas, irony is a cruel mother.

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