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Dundas and Sherbourne
The elegant All Saints Church flies high in its social efforts, but from an aesthetic point of view not much else works, despite the fact that this is a well-travelled hub for poor people. The city's first affordable housing project is on the northeast corner, and a third-rate strip mall on the southwest edge. While homeowners, desperate for a facelift, are pushing condos, we'd prefer mixed development - some market, some co-op and social housing. In any case, torpedo the strip mall.
Gerrard and Pape
The decision to put Gerrard Square, a suburban-style mall, on the northeast corner killed the mom-and-pop operations that gave the area its spice. Was everyone asleep when the developers were allowed to plunk the parking lot right on the corner? To turn it around, the area needs more than another cosmetic or big-box fix (there are plans for a Home Depot in a renovated Gerrard Square). As a gateway to Little India, grander strokes are required. Tear down the mall disaster that's killed pedestrian street traffic and cluttered the corner with parked cars and start over.
Danforth and Warden
Like a scene out of a bad B movie. Think of sun-baked pavement, weeds and lots of wind. This supposed bridge to old Scarborough caps a dismal stretch from Vic Park that's slated for new roads, sidewalks and landscaping. Adding green space, like the recently created Kenworthy Park further south, is never a bad idea, but this area needs economic revitalization - anything besides the empty cafés and watering holes that currently line the strip malls - to attract street action. Let's hope a large-scale study of Warden north to Eglinton, where lands have been assembled, will opt for mixed commercial use over big-box retailers.
Oakwood and Eglinton
Great hopes for Little Jamaica, an area with great "cool" potential, were all but destroyed when the CIBC on the southwest corner lost faith in local businesses and pulled up stakes. It's going to take more imaginative solutions than converting the bank into a bigger and better Pizza Pizza (there's already one on the southeast corner) or Councillor Howard Moscoe's gift of brooms to business owners to keep their walks clean to lift the area out of its doldrums. Pricey townhouse developments being built further east might provide a spark, but this hood isn't really in the business of attracting a chi-chi clientele. Arts-focused lofts might work for the culturally attuned community.
Dufferin and Queen
Plans to straighten out the disastrous jog at this intersection - you have to travel along Queen to get back on Dufferin - have been in the works since 1992 but were put off again and again because of financial constraints. Poor planning, though, is the real problem here. Outside of the landmark Gladstone Hotel, undistinguished industrial pockets and a strip mall are the features of what's supposed to be the eastern gate to Parkdale. A section of Gladstone Avenue is being narrowed to add grass and trees, which will help provide a more naturalized gateway to the Ex grounds further south. What happens to vacant lands in that direction will make or break the area. Two massive condos that currently anchor the section are a bad omen.
Dufferin and Dupont
This heavily industrialized section of the west end ranks among the city's most vulnerable socio-economically. Underused industrial buildings offering affordable rent are beginning to attract artists, but available tracts of land have given way to higher-density development with questionable benefits for or integration into the neighbourhood, like the condos further west at Lansdowne. The Galleria shopping mall on the southwest corner is an example of bad 70s planning, but there are fears that townhouse and apartment development slated for the lot (some 1,6oo units) may end up overwhelming the area and removing one of the few shopping locations. Back to the drawing board. Start by adding green space and, as some locals have proposed, making abandoned train tracks into bike trails. Some city corners sing with vibrancy, elegance and a sense of proportion - but others, the dismal victims of junk planning, are an affront to the senses. Here are six and what we would do to fix them.
Research by Candice Debi