Sunday, March 02, 2008

"Toronto Da Good"

The Toronto Sun: Sunday Sun.

The House of Lancaster is veiled yesterday as it undergoes a remodel that will receive $12,500 from the city's commercial facade improvement program. (Veronica Henri, Sun Media)
Toronto taxpayers are poised to shell out $12,500 to dress up the exterior of a west-end strip joint.
Municipal officials have confirmed that the House of Lancaster, on Bloor St. W. just east of Lansdowne Ave., received approval for the grant under the city's commercial facade improvement program.
Councillor Doug Holyday complained it's inappropriate for the city to be putting up cash to improve the look of a building that houses an exotic dance club.
He said it "boggles the mind" that a city, which just last summer announced service cuts to make ends meet, has money to help fix up the establishment.
"I think the average taxpayer might agree to the city trying to improve the quality of buildings in certain neighbourhoods," he said. "But, I don't think that would extend to financing the improvement of strip clubs."

He insisted the city should review its policy for issuing such grants with an eye "to putting this money in areas of business that would be supported by the taxpayers, in general."
The facade improvement program provides businesses with grants of up to $12,500 if -- like the House of Lancaster -- they're located on a corner. The minimum grant is $2,500.
Those with commercial properties in other locations are eligible for grants of up to $10,000 to fix up the public faces of their buildings.
"We're trying to improve the look of our retail strips," said Mike Major, head of business improvement areas for the city. "This grant is available to all commercial businesses in business improvement areas."
He said that the city won't cut a cheque to the House of Lancaster until the facade work is done and officials receive the appropriate receipts.
Major said plans received by the city call for the exterior to be dressed up with such things as ceramic tile, stucco, and columns.
"From our point of view, it's an eyesore now. It's an eyesore in this business improvement district," said Major, who added the strip bar met city council-approved guidelines in order to qualify.
"It's a legal use. We have no grounds to refuse it because we're giving it for buildings -- not use."
Spiro Koumoudouros, House of Lancaster owner, argued that the grant is designed to help the entire neighbourhood -- not his business.
He added he'll end up pumping as much as $70,000 of his own money into the improvement project.
"We are taxpayers; we are a legitimate business," said Koumoudouros, who is head of the area's Bloordale Business Improvement Area.
He said that his business has the same rights as any other and added the bar is a big employer, providing 75 jobs.
Mayor David Miller has publicly supported directing public funding to private property owners to help beautify the city by redesigning and restoring commercial and industrial buildings.
"The Facade Improvement Program has been extremely successful in making our city cleaner and more beautiful," he said in an article posted on the International Interior Design Association web page,
"We have helped hundreds of business owners with improvements over the past 10 years," Miller said.
"Half of the cost of eligible improvements to commercial or industrial building facades is covered by the city and will be based on the lowest contractor estimate submitted with the application."
Review committees comprised of local architects, business owners, historical experts and other community representatives review all applications and make funding recommendations to the city. Sunda Sun March 2/08

OK I gotta admit that on the surface this sounds like a Bullshit story. But it's not. Anyone who has been to Toronto in the last 15 years has to admit that the City has changed. It's infrastructure has deteriorated so bad, that it's a shadow of it's former self, say 30 years ago. I think people who live there "can't see the forest for the trees". They live in a shell. The City Of Toronto is fast becoming Hamilton, or better yet Buffalo! The highways are clogged, there is no way in a no way out, fast. Resident pay the highest taxes in North America, except for New York, but it' fast approaching New York's taxes. Restaurants are empty. Clubs, are dwindling, and the ones that are busy are barely hanging on. Shops and stores are closing at an alarming rate all over the downtown corridor. Theatres that had the best "Broadway" shows close as fast as they open. Great innovative theatre is dying. Movie theatres that once lined Yonge Street are all, but gone. Downtown bars are dead or changed to "theme restaurants". The "Hard Rock Cafe" a staple of the downtown night life. Was ripped down, without protest, and replaced with a glass structure that looks like every other "Hard Rock" in the world. To walk downtown is another feat. It's a fuck'n shooting gallery after 11pm. The City's answer to all these problems and more...? "Oh we had the SARS scare" or "the sagging American buck", or worse yet "What problem"!

Toronto is a future Ghost Town! When the automobile industry collapses in Ontario, and it will because of us, the City's corporate companies will move west to follow the oil. What will be left in the city of Toronto will be liberal leftest thinkers, and rightest puritanical hobgoblins feeding on the once full trough, fighting to stay alive. To keep a community alive is to push forward and not leave our past in the dust. To destroy history and not preserve it is to destroy our future. I'm all for new building, not at our historic past. To not put our best foot forward to clean up the infrastructure in this city is to give up on our future. I know this is just a strip club. But don't residents still see it daily and so do the tourists and visitors. I see the decay of Toronto from the outside now. It's become a pathetic pig pen of greed, violence, and mediocrity.
"The House Of Lancaster Gentlemen's Club" more than pays for itself. I'd say it pays for the city block around it in Municipal, Provincial, and Federal taxes. To deny it a grant for a simple facelift just because it's a strip club is crazy. What do they want it to look dilapidated, or grimy? It makes no sense. Please don't give up on this city just because of ideology and spite.

In the future I plan on writing again about "marketing our death". How we have as North Americans have given up on ourselves. How insecurity, and narcissism have led us to a path of ruin. Our future is bleak if we keep spending to keep corporations and cheap labour (slavery) alive.

6 Don't Just Sit There Say Sumthin !:

The Phosgene Kid said...

Support your local Strip joint!!

wallycrawler said...

Hey Kid. Ya that was funny!

Anyway I've haven't been to Toronto for over a year and then only to see a musical. That city is a dark hole of nothingness. I haven't been to The House Of Lancaster for over 10 years. This story was just an excuse to write about what's actually go'n on in that city. Ya know what? I've been to Miami and Key West more than Toronto in the last 10-15 years. Each time I go downtown I say to myself never to return. It's a frig'n mess! The highways are a mess, the streets are full of holes, the cops are lazy, civil servants are on the take... Shit it's a fuck'n hell hole lets face it.
To make a big deal about fix'n a build'n facade is purely a Toronto puritanical thing that only it's former city dwellers could understand. I've never seen a more Liberal city that's more controlled religious ideology.

It's like Nero when Rome was burn'n. The whole city is fall'n apart and media complains when it's be'n fixed, cause it's not the "right" building. How dare they try to fix that building with "Our" money! Totally ridiculous.

wisdomstuff said...

Oh heavens, not Buffalo!

It's actually been probably 15 yrs since I've been to TO. Seems like alot of big cities go through that, it's reminiscent of New York, which I hear is so much nicer these days.

wallycrawler said...

Oh Wise One: Yes your right New York did go through a tough time in the late 70's to the early 90's. Rudy really did a great job clean'n up New York. I haven't been for a long time. My wife just came back and she said it was great!
Toronto has never gone through anything like this before and I don't think the city has the wherefore to get out this rut.

As you know Buffalo was a thriving city in the 40's, 50's and 60's. A working class city with blue collar jobs, it was a great working place. Much like Flint Mich. or Gary Ind. When the factories started to close these cities became what they are today. Violent ghost towns. A shell of their former selves. Toronto is becoming one of those kind of cites. Without the factories around the city working and making goods, there's no good reason to have head offices in Toronto. There is movement of this happen'n daily in Toronto all go'n West. When the banks and insurance offices move that will be the end of it. And believe me they are. I have family in the banking and credit industry and they confirm my statements.

Montreal was the banking and insurance capital of Canada in the 70's. When the separatist government took control of Quebec they all moved to Toronto. That city has never quite recovered. Toronto never will. The city is being controlled by a freak-show of city councilors and the head clown is da mayor.

All ya have'ta do is take a look down Yonge Street . It's a pretty desperate place!

wisdomstuff said...

Kinda sad because Toronto was so awesome. My ex is from Buffalo, so I know all about it. My ex..... well, we'll save that for another time. XO XO, Wally.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Could be worse, could be living in El Mirage