file: 2020 09 10 Burying Hydro Lines
The Globe and Mail (1936 – 2016); Apr 10, 1999
Law and by-laws are a reflection of a culture’s acceptable behavior. Over time changes in communities lead to the changes of by-laws. In this case the presence of hard working nomadic herders, those that supplied beasts to the stockyards, brought with them the troubles of venting in a stable community. With that industry gone the community is now looking to change itself such as burying hydro lines and once again allowing restaurants to serve alcohol.
Burying hydro lines first step in sprucing up Junction
To lure developers, tourists to depressed west-end Toronto area, beautification helps, and so does lifting prohibition
Municipal Affairs Report, Toronto
In a modest ceremony in a westend parking lot, a depressed neighbourhood set yesterday to recover something of its glorious past by interring some of its ugly present.
The first step in the revival of the Junction will be the burying of the unsightly power lines that obscure the view of the tattered but still-elegant 19th and early-20th-century commercial buildings of a once-thriving neighbourhood that was the heart of the village of West Toronto.
Toronto Hydro, the city-owned utility, will spend $19-million over the next three years to take down the hydro poles, overhead wires and transformers on the area’s main streets and replace them with new street lights and underground cable and transformers, Toronto Hydro President John Brooks said.
Local councillor David Miller said at the ceremony, which marked the start of the project, that the rundown area used to be the heart and soul of West Toronto and taking down the power lines “will allow the natural beauty of the Junction to shine through. The start of this project is the start of natural revitalization of this area.”
When people can see clearly what the Junction – the area from St. Clair Ave. down to Bloor Street, between Runnymede Road on the west and the intersection of Dundas and Annette Streets on the est – is like, investment will be pulled back into the area, the committee planning the revitalization expects.
“There are going to be major-league developers we are attracting into the area which are going to be giving us a lot of private investment into the area,” said Henry Caldrerone, the project director of the West Toronto Junction team. “Basically what we are doing right now is creating the infrastructure for them to come into the area.”
After the lines are buried, the team, which represents various Junction community groups, businesses and residents, well work on a $2-million streetscape improvement program, Mr. Calderone said.
“There’s going to major changes to the facades of each individual building. The city right now is contributing an average of $20,000 per building [to be matched by the owner], depending on the size of the building.”
Other improvements are also planned for the area, including more parking, improved traffic flow, upgrading local parks and more community policing.
While no one was saying much about it yesterday, the hoped-for influx of trendy stores and restaurants – and residents and visitors bearing credit cards – along the streets of the Junction would not have been in the works without a sociological transformation that took place last spring.
For the first time since the area south of the old stockyards went “dry” in 1904, people have been able to get a legal drink in a Junction restaurant after the area – at least that part of it west of Keel Street – voted wet in a referendum at the time of the last municipal election.
Ironically, the area was made dry because the farmers and workers who brought cattle to the stockyards, which were located just to the north of the Canadian Pacific Railway junction that gave the area its moniker, tended to carouse too much when they hit town, but being dry did not keep latter-day undesirables out.
As the area declined, it experienced high commercial vacancy rates, crime problems and prostitution.