Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Monday, June 12, 2006

Parkdale changes

Okay, so we all know change is constant, but the change in Parkdale is so drastic that you can't talk about Parkdale today like it was just two years ago.

Take a look at Parkdale's most popular corners. Brock and Queen for instance. Once surrounded by a gutted building, empty stores and an assortment of folks asking for spare change, the corner is now a fabric centre with specialty shops and even a cafe.

The bars across the street from each other at Parkdale's most populous corner, Lansdowne and Queen, are gone.

For those of us who have lived at this corner for more than 5 years, this is monumental. Imagine a corner where drug dealers and their dependents haunt the streets from sun up to sun down, day in and day out, year after year.

Living just 4 houses up from Queen on Lansdowne, these folks were technically my neighbours.

Jimmy's and the Green Dolphin, both Lansdowne and Queen bars, were places where these folks hung around. They would linger outside these places all day and night.

With the closure of Jimmy's this past winter, my neighbours were left without a hang-out or fixed location to do business.

I know that Jimmy's like the Green Dolphin have been pushed out by the same forces that are exstatic to see the transformation of Queen West just east of Dufferin.

We've all see the new Gladstone Hotel and the Drake's multimillion dollar face lift. The Dufferin and Queen area is now a yuppie hipster haven.

Could the same happen to Lansdowne and Queen? Given the tremendous growth of Toronto, Parkdale, once a Toronto suburb, is now considered a downtown neighbourhood. And prices for real-estate in the downtown core and red hot. This means that any property in Parkdale, even near LQ, is increasing in price and desirability.

While the past was nothing to be nostalgic about, the present isn't a bedof roses either.

You know what drug dealers, junkies, yuppies and dinks all have in common? They're all socially exclusive. They are tight-knit groups with little interest in anything else but their own exclusive world. All incur costs on folks like me that I really can't afford.

I moved out of Lansdowne and Queen last winter, just before Jimmy's closed down. I'd been there since 1999. I didn't move very far though, I'm now living near Jameson and King, just two blocks south of my previous home.

My neighbours have changed, their incomes have gone up somewhat and many seem like they're just trying to pay down the mortgage.

Harry's bar and grill just up the street is the last not-so-fond memory of the way Parkdale used to be.