A year after its not-so-grand opening, Dundas Square, sitting plunk in the commercial capital of the country, is a lonely, lonely place. We know because we visited it every hour on the half-hour for a whole week. Who will save this concrete plateau from its grey and grating unpleasantness?
The square in still life
The lowdown on Dundas
The good news
Security doesn't seem as anal about harassing skateboarders who happen to be rolling through - although we witnessed a few placard-toting protestors being told to vamoose.
The bad news
The "build it and they will come" promise hasn't happened. In the week that we scoped the square, there were no more than a few dozen people at one time making use of the space, even during peak hours. The square only was full once, on a Thursday at lunch hour, because of a free BBQ giveaway. The fire-eating juggler and jazz band that played another afternoon were not so lucky in attracting crowds.
Besides people, a focal point. The one the square has now - a stage - usually sits empty and is too foreboding to function as a natural gathering place, despite several rows of steps.
Is it a café or a square?
The metal chairs, tables placed in the centre and hot dog vendor at stage left seem to suggest the former. But there are no umbrellas. So unless you're willing to bake in the hot sun, not the most inviting space to hang or people watch.
Except for the canopy to the north, there's no escape from the sun here. Unfortunately, the small shaded area's completely cut off and disconnected from the centre of what little action there is.
The bad muzak they're pumping in over speakers, when what people want is a respite from the hurly-burly.
Most interesting feature
Fountains lining the south side along Dundas Square Street. Great for kids to cool off on muggy days.
The wrench in the waterworks
The fountains take up way too much of the square. And unless your idea of fun is getting sprayed, fountains render the most inviting spot - those benches lining the south side - useless on windy days.
Most striking characteristic
The starkness and complete lack of any semblance of a "natural" setting. Only six trees - one is dead and the rest look like they're one dry summer away from getting the axe.
Messing with the bad mood
The recent addition of arching light towers on south and east sides seem a little over the top for a square that's already hard on the eyes and could do with some ambient toning down.
The weird thing
Not even the pigeons seem interested.