This is a little like what it must feel like at Ground Zero in New York. Only it’s Queen West two days after a six-alarm blaze shot a burning flame through the city’s heart. Passersby and tourists loiter at the fence that’s been set up along the north sidewalk, gawking, snapping photos. The procession’s non-stop.
“Hey, buddy, I’m trying to run a business here.” A strange air has descended on a Queen suddenly unsure of herself.
Further east, between Spadina and University, high rents and retail chains have choked the sexy subculture appeal. Big-box monsters creep around every corner.
The Hug Me tree at Queen and Soho asks, “Are we full in this feast?”
But there may be a silver lining for heritage. Hopefully.The buildings that burned stood on the site of the former Bathurst Street Barracks of Fort York.
It’s likely, says city archaeologist David Spittal, that the stone foundations of the barracks and artifacts of archaeological importance are buried beneath Perry Lane and in the back yards of the buildings that burned.
Future developers will have to accommodate heritage considerations before their projects can move forward. The area’s Heritage District designation adds another layer of protection against rebuilders with questionable designs.
Preservation services has put the city’s planning department on notice.
What will rise from the ashes? Queen holds its breath.