Witnessing the Beginning of Change


I once went on a few dates with a man who told me a true story about himself that was the stuff of nightmares.

One time he was being chased by a group of guys, and every turn he took lead him to a brick wall and yet another turn. He was stuck within a maze of brick and concrete that he could not escape, and eventually ended up getting stuck in a corner. The gang caught up and he was badly beaten. He was lucky not to have been killed and was left with a scar to remind him of the terrifying experience.

The reason we were talking about it years later was that there was a bright side to his story, as the event had been a life-changing occurrence for him, which had caused him to make major changes in the way he had been living. The scar was a daily reminder to appreciate being alive, and to work hard to make the most of his abilities. By the time I met him he had a good job and was in a very happy place.

These pictures were taken from the outer perimeter surrounding the very maze that my friend had been caught inside. It is an 18 acre part of town called Alexandra Park, (located north of Queen Street West, going up to Dundas Street, between Bathurst and Spadina.) and is a self contained neighbourhood built by the government in the 60s to provide low-cost public housing.

The result of designing it as a shut-off area, homing more than a thousand people in close quarters (I can’t find the actual population but there are 800 homes in there), with no streets for outside traffic to come and go, resulted in it becoming a dangerous, crime ridden, enclosed place.

The model for housing the city’s lower-income residents was deemed a failure and there has been talk of changing it for years. No doubt this would be a huge undertaking, with an inevitable displacement of the people who lived there, a fact which became a big issue. But the planners and residents came together and agreed on a solution together.

And so in February 2014 began the demolition of the old to make room for the new and (hopefully) improved. From what I’ve read, the ultimate goal is to integrate this area with the surrounding part of the city, providing mixed housing and a better place for many to live.

FOLLOW UP:  Here is the outline of the plans for this large part of downtown Toronto, entitled “Alexandra Park Social Development Plan”.







The revitalization project will take 15 years to complete, and these shots were taken on day two of the demolition.

Thank you for dropping over.
xo loulou