Dizzying Pace of Change

Contibuted by Duncan Fremlin,Broker, RE/MAX
As someone who has lived and worked in many of Toronto’s finest neighbourhoods, I’m often surprised at how little I know about them.  Walking to my favourite convenience store or driving around looking for a parking spot does not constitute any deep knowledge of a community.
About 47 years ago, I moved into the Regent Park community (some called it Cabbagetown) only to discover it was the most exotic place in the world…rooming houses in the old Victorian area north of Gerrard and 25 year old townhouses on the south side.   Both areas were busy with hard working families trying to live a happy and normal life.  The area was rough around the edges but then, the same could be said for most of the downtown neighbourhoods in those days.
The two sides of Gerrard Street decided at some point to grow in different directions and we all know what happened next.
The pace of change, particularly in the old Regent Park community has been dizzying.  So, to fully understand what was going on at the street level,  I recently took a walk down Parliament Street from Wellesley to the Distillery.  A beverage at Balzac’s Coffee seemed like a good idea so I set off one sunny afternoon, alert to the changes I was about to experience.
It was a very pleasant stroll indeed, but it was a shock.  My memory of this strip will always be the summer of 1972 when I worked the night shift on a city garbage truck.  Rather than hookers and drunks wandering the street, I was invited to buy something at the new and bright drug store, or Tim Horton’s.
Well, here we are in 2016 and Parliament Street is now a destination. I would never have imagined this 10 years ago. The shops north of Gerrard are diverse and as interesting as any in the city. The wasteland of poorly designed housing called Regent Park is mostly gone. The sidewalks are clean and safe. Feel like a Tim’s? Or a Starbucks?  No problem. Need a few items at a fully stocked grocery store for your gourmet dinner? No problem.
Oh, and that abandoned industrial complex called the Distillery that housed the pigeons and the homeless? Well, it’s simply become one of the most beautiful building complexes in Canada.

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