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Bank of Montreal and condo residents remove Alexander St benches

Bank of Montreal and condo residents remove Alexander St benches

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Complaints that Church/Alexander corner had become hub for drugs, hustling
Four benches at the corner of Church and Alexander streets were removed Nov 15 following complaints from residents and business owners in the Alexus condo building on that corner.
 
The generous sidewalk space, statue of Alexander Wood and benches had made the area in front of the Alexus's entrance on Alexander a popular hangout at all hours of the day and night. Residents complained that drug dealers and sex workers were frequenting the corner at night.
 
In a letter to business owners and residents (included below), Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam writes that residents complained of “noise disturbances and drug dealing in congregating crowds, particularly during the evening.”
 
She notes that the Greenwin Corporation, which manages the Alexus, and the Bank of Montreal own the benches and had agreed to remove them in response to the concerns.
 
“The proposal put forward has been to implement a community-led planning process to animate the public area at the corner to be a more positive, safe and welcoming space in the community,” she writes.
 
Not all of the businesses are happy to lose the outdoor seating. Duncan Minnis, who owns the Timothy’s coffee shop next door to the Bank of Montreal, says removing the benches may be bad for business.
 
“I’m not particularly in favour. I lose seating for my customers who hang out there,” he says.
 
But Minnis also says that residents had valid concerns about safety on the corner.
 
“It’s getting kind of rough out there at night,” he says. He says the area has become safer since he began working with the police and calling whenever he noticed undesirable people hanging out near his café.
 
“In the last one and a half months, it’s cleared up quite a bit,” he says. “I think we need more police presence.”
 
Minnis says he hopes the benches will come back in the spring when the new design for the space is revealed.

"It makes the neighbourhood more inviting if there are places to sit," he says.
 
There are plans for the Alexus to install wall sconces by the end of November to improve lighting, and the Bank of Montreal is investigating ways to improve lighting from its windows as a way to deter illicit activity and improve safety.

The Church St strip will change dramatically when the construction at Maple Leaf Gardens at Carlton St finishes later this year. The building will become a new source of pedestrian and retail activity when it reopens with a Loblaws, an LCBO store and the Ryerson athletic centre, meaning the strip won't end abruptly at Alexander St as it does currently.

Comments

Church Street has more power than Homewood Avenue
Measures were taken against loitering by male hustlers and druggies at the Second Cup on Church Street in the 1990s and the corner of Church and Alexander in 2011. Yet, measures are not taken against loitering by trans sex trade workers on Homewood Avenue. It would appear that businesses and residents on Church Street have more clout with the authorities than residents on Homewood Avenue. Alternatively, for reasons of political correctness, maybe the authorities are more willing to take actions against loitering by male hustlers than trans sex trade workers.
grow a pair girls
I was not a part of that crowd, but did observe the gay community when it was forced off the infamous Steps of the old Second Cup. In the nineties, a very small group of young, skinny, little drugged up young losers, forced dozens and dozens of queers (including the big, butch bear crowd) away from that much loved hang out....it was pathetic. If we cannot help ourselves by the force of sheer numbers in our own community, we are indeed a bunch of doomed wimpy little fags just waitin for the big bad bullies once again to let us know where we can live. Dealing with the problem by removing seating?...what a cowardly decision.
Long overdue
As a resident of the alexus, I welcome the change to remove the benches, even though the space is sparce right now. Many nights there were dealers, underage kids drinking, and people fighting. If you lived close to all of this, i think you'd appreciate the change as well. It dealt with the situation quicker than the police would.
Thanks Kristyn
The community saw a problem, got together, made a plan, submitted a request and the city responded. That corner was getting out of control, with drug dealers commandeering the benches as their own private storefront night and day. The police were called several times every weekend. Groups of thugs partying every night until 3 am. But the fact is, the police can't station a patrol car there 24/7 and that's what it would have taken, the problem had become so entrenched. It's just a shame the bank couldn't have shown more pride in their community by hiring proper security. The only alternative was to remove the catalyst to the problem, which was undoubtably the benches. Improved lighting is coming, and folks can continue to use the outdoor seating available in the many village patios. This is most definitely an improvement. Thank you Kristyn!
Neighbour...of whom?
Neighbour: I was assaulted near that corner over twenty years ago by four skinhead street youth who wanted my money. They didn't get it, but they tried. I have no time for that sort of behaviour. (There were no benches to contribute to it, then). Please make a connection between benches and bashing, I don't see it. There are problems in the park by Buddies, but I'm not aware of a lot of problems with violence at that corner. And your remarks about gay men not fighting back are just lame. And queer theory? Not on your life. Ms Wong-Tam is much more likely to spout that stuff than me. I'm more of the Jane Jabobs school. Healthy street life is good for everyone. And that parkette is at the other end of Alexander.
Fascists!
Hey that WONG-TAM is really turning out to be something ain't she?
Turn Church Street into a MALL all Summer long
More than ever Church St needs to be designated a “MALL” and closed of between Wellesley and Alexander, all summer, everyday. NO CARS ONLY PEDESTRIANS. They did it in Montreal on a larger scale. Then restaurants can have better patios, stores can get creative, licensed street vendors can sell novelties. There can be a small permanent stage on the street for special events or impromptu performances. Greenery can be installed in large pots to beautify the street. And clean up the buildings so some of them don't look so ratty. Make it a real cosy place to hang out for locals and tourists. Advertise it in other LGBT publications around the world. Bring back the street life to Church Street.
Village?
What Village? Didn't you get the memo the government, cops and Old Troll Condo Owners made fun, noise and nightlife extinct eight years ago. Bruce LaBruce's article on Gay Culture is Dead in Vice Magazine sums it up pretty much. While we were all busy becoming "normal" and "acceptable" like the breeders we lost vision as to who we were. Back to Montreal for me, the Village there is much more vibrant and exciting.
In from the Cold
The picture says it all; The Village has a cold dead look like a barren Bay St on a Sunday morning at 6 am. Not very inviting. I never understood why the statue (which I still consider a folk myth) wasn't place by the BIA in Cawthra Park, in from the cold. Queer Park behind the Ontario Legislature has dozens of monuments including a central one of Edward VII mounted on a horse, surrounded by benches. A favourite cruising spot for all sorts of people, day and night. It's my belief that when the new twin towers are built on Yonge St,the Village will be under even more pressure to conform to Condo owners wishes.
Oh Alejandro, Squwak, Babble, Squwak
You're talking “QUEER THEORY” babble. If it was your head that had been split open by drug dealers last year, on the 1st bench at Alexander and Church, then you would have a different story. The huge blood stains 18'' diameter, are still there on the pavement. Obviously you don't live near the Parkette, but I do. There have been rough rowdy straight street people who come to the parkette to buy drugs and they have fights. They scare away the sissy gays. They rob the sissy Gays because the sissy Gays don't fight back. In any other neighbourhood they would be chased away with baseball bats. In the sissy Gaybourhood they close down coffee shops like the Second Cup that closed because of the straight street people who pushed out the Gays. It has not been safe. If there are environmental ways of controlling who sits in the Parkette, then let's try it. Cruising, chatting, drinking is good. More lighting, or different arrangement of seating, trees, flowers, security cameras, whatever it takes to make that place hospitable to residents and keep out the crackheads and rowdies. Oh, Thankyou Councillor Kristyn.

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