Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yuppies looking for a rumble in Parkdale

Parkdale is in trouble.  Again.  This time the trouble comes from yuppies who want to turn Queen Street from Dufferin to Roncesvalles into a club zone, with restaurants and bars colonizing the strip.

That's what I heard tonight from a vociferous group at Parkdale's community consultation meeting put on by city councillor Gord Perks and City of Toronto planners.  The meeting was about a Queen Street West restaurant study done by City planners.  The study and ongoing community consultations were made possible because of an Interim Control By-Law putting a moratorium on new bars, restaurants and second floor expansion for one year on Queen Street West in Parkdale.

Three individuals who said they lived here for more than 20 years wanted the interim control bylaw to be rescinded.  It wasn’t clear why they wanted to get liquor licenses pushed through without community consultation other than they approved of the changes on Queen street so far.

It soon became clear that in the room of about 45 people, a swarm was forming with one thing on their mind.  Trash the regulations and controls in Parkdale and make room for what the free market wants.  The swarm descended on Perks attacking him for approving the control bylaw and not informing them before it was put in effect.  One woman, of the three self-proclaimed long-term residents, said she would never have allowed it were she informed of it first.

As Perks said, the interim control bylaw exists to allow the City to study the rapid changes in Parkdale.  And equally as important, to allow for community input about what kind of businesses Parkdale residents think would best serve their local needs.  Without the interim control bylaw, only those with the means to set up businesses in Parkdale would dictate what happens to Queen street without any community consultation at all.  Essentially, residents would be left out of the decision-making process about what happens to their own community.

Judging from the hostility of about half the room towards the control bylaw, many who attended the meeting were angry they weren't being allowed, or their friends weren't being allowed, to get their liquor licenses in Parkdale.  As if it were a right.  They seemed offended that Perks would dare support a pause on the free market from acting on Parkdale's development.

Essentially they wanted Perks and the City out of the way.  But in this case.  In this one instance, Gord Perks represented the interests of the majority of people who live in Parkdale to allow us a say about what happens along our part of the Queen street strip.

There were people in tonight’s meeting that didn’t agree with the hostile swarm.  One young woman said that as it stands, she’s already left out of the restaurants and cafes along Queen street because she just can’t afford it on welfare.

Another woman said Queen street needed small shops, groceries, bakeries and variety stores, shops that make a neighbourhood.   Not just bars and restaurants.

A man who said he lived in Parkdale for 40 years said that he didn’t understand the problem with having time to think about which shops would best serve Parkdale.  With a wife and kids, he said he also enjoys the occasional restaurant and café along Queen street but that it doesn’t make sense for any neighbourhood to have only bars and restaurants on its main strip.

At close to the end of the meeting, a woman who was adamantly against the control bylaw and the City study, was offended I was filming the public meeting.  And her in particular.

According to another woman who was watching, the woman who came up to me was close to knocking down my camera and computer.  The woman who was watching said she wanted to be a witness in case the police were called.

That’s the way it went down tonight. 

This small swarm of people if left unchecked can bring down Parkdale if they are allowed decision-making power.  If Gord Perks gets only their feedback, we may be going back in time to when Jimmy’s tavern and the Green Dolphin faced each other at Queen and Lansdowne. 

But the folks at tonight’s meeting either don't know Parkdale's history or they just don't give a damn.  They think that somehow being higher end bars and clubs means people won’t get drunk, they won’t get loud, they wont fight and they won’t piss or vomit outside of the club, bar or restaurant. 

Ask the residents around the bar area of Ossington between Queen and Dundas if they’re happy with the noise at night.  Why did the club district have to leave the downtown area?  Good times for residents?

While these people tonight largely pretended to be genteel, they are thinking like gangsters.  From the woman who wanted to shut down my recording of the meeting, to the individuals tonight with a middle-class veneer who were offended at a control bylaw that allows for community consultations, what they really meant was this:  “Dont' stand in our way!  Got it?"

No.  Too many people tonight were there to push though liquor licenses in Parkdale and were offended that the community should be consulted about development in our own neighbourhood.  

Like I told a guy after he finished pissing on my house during Nuit Blanche… we live here.  

Lady, you can try to shut down me down, but you’re not going to ram through what you want on the rest of this neighbourhood.  We live here.  We vote.  And we participate.  Whether you like it or whether you don’t.