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BIA co-chair angry with Xtra's reporting

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BIA co-chair angry with Xtra's reporting

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Letter on Church-Wellesley BIA website demands 'positive stories'
The co-chair of the Church Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) says she will not speak to Xtra until more “positive stories” are written about the BIA.

In a letter that was posted on the BIA website on Oct 9 and sent to Xtra’s general email account on Oct 10, Avery Pitcher calls coverage of a recent BIA meeting “an attack” and questions whether Xtra’s reporting is “fair, balanced or responsible.”

Before Xtra received the letter, Pitcher told Xtra intern Daniela Costa that -- depending on Xtra’s response to her letter -- the BIA will determine whether or not it will provide Xtra reporters with interviews in the future.

Former BIA chair Dennis O’Connor calls Pitcher’s actions “outrageous, unprofessional and unethical.”

“The Church and Wellesley BIA is not doing themselves any favours by attacking the media like this,” he says. “For them to personalize this is incredibly unprofessional and just doesn’t make sense. This says more about the individuals at the BIA than it does about Xtra. It’s not ethical of the BIA to do this.”


Pitcher’s letter is a response to an article published Sept 28. The story addresses criticism the BIA has faced from the community for its decision to crack down on postering on streetlamps on Church Street. This issue was one of several discussed at the BIA's Sept 24 “meet-and-greet” event. 

A separate story posted the same day reported other news from the meeting. But in her letter, Pitcher states that Xtra mostly ignored the other issues. 

“Issues addressed included: WorldPride coming in 2014, The Pan Am Games in 2015, our new gateway markers designed to mark the boundaries of The Village, new seasonal 'bump out' street patios, installation of four flagpoles at the Church/Wellesley corner, more lighting at the base of trees in the area to enhance safety and ambience, along with street power cleaning, and cleaning up of the poster-covered poles,” Pitcher writes. “Unfortunately, only the latter item was reported upon in Xtra.”

In fact, Xtra has reported extensively on the upcoming WorldPride event (examples here, here and here), the gateway markers and other beautification initiatives, including in the story Pitcher criticizes in her letter.

Pitcher goes on to say that “Xtra is a significant publication in the community and we would hope to see a more accurate reflection of the work we are engaged in.

“Being critical is easy, but we are trying to protect and enhance a village that is in need of serious attention,” she writes. “We would love to read about some of the programs that we run or enhance, whether it is Halloween celebrations, events like the AIDS Walk, or our commitment to preparing Church Street for World Pride.”

In fact, Xtra annually publishes articles about the AIDS Walk and Halloween events on Church Street.

Pitcher, who calls posters “grungy,” says the BIA is “under tremendous economic pressure” to make the area more beautiful. “It is our goal to incorporate community postering into the village in a way that enhances the area.”

O’Connor says Xtra is fair to criticize the move. He notes that postering is part of the history of the gay liberation movement and must be preserved.

“First they attack grassroots community communication, then they attack the major gay news,” O’Connor says. “Are they trying to control what’s said about the BIA? They can’t do that. She can’t decide that just because there’s been some bad press the media should be cut off.”

O’Connor compared Pitcher’s threat to similar behaviour from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who refuses to speak to the Toronto Star. Media should not face intimidation because reporting is not in the BIA’s favour, O'Connor adds.

“What she is doing is no different, and it’s really unfortunate . . . Cutting off Canada’s national gay newspaper? Are they completely mad? They should be happy to have any media coverage at all,” he says. 

This isn’t the first time Xtra has been the target of BIA outrage. Last year, Pitcher took issue with Xtra’s coverage of the BIA's cancellation of Fetish Fair, which was rebranded as the Church Street Village Fair before the BIA eventually cancelled the event.

Full disclosure: The Church Wellesley Village BIA board is made up of business representatives from within the BIA's district. Xtra held a seat on the board until it moved its offices from Church Street to its current location at 2 Carlton St, which is outside the BIA boundaries, in July 2011.

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Comments

Xtra is a significant publication????
Xtra is a significant publication????

Please!!!

Xtra stopped be significant a very long time ago. It is nothing but a rag that uses yellow journalism to promote ad revenue. They will and have written anything just for reaction and to stir up readership. All you have to do is look at who is running XTRA/Fab to figure that out. Revenue is clearly their goal and not what is best for our community!

There are MANY, MANY people in our community who refuse to comment to XTRA/Fab, as they have be burnt too many times in the past and are not willing to go there again. Don't believe me? Just ask around and you will find out just how many long standing businesses owners and community leaders will no longer give them the time of day, as after being misquoted so many times that they have lost all trust in this “significant publication”. These are just people whi could get jobs at a real newspaper and hind behind wanting to work for our communty as an excuse!

I read it for laughs... not for accuracy!

Possibly it's time for a change of management both in the BIA and XTRA / Fab (or as I call it “FIB”)..... It certainly couldn't hurt.
Hmmn? Me thinks
this may be a relevent article. http://www.boston.com/travel/destinations/2012/10/19/male-nude-posters-plaster-vienna-draw-complaints/pP6W0dismZh3p4PMF0w62J/story.html.....It is about the removable of the Gay male Imagery in Church/Wellesley. I'll bet on it. I wonder who Wong-Tam and the BIA are taking their orders from?
Xtra is fantabulous
That you Xtra for keeping tabs on the BIA. Keeping them in check so to speak. Honestly for people (BIA)who seem so smart they have such a completely narrow view of just about everything. In fact rendering comprehensive thinking out of style. As well, the BIA assume far too much power. Xtra thanks for keeping a close watch on OUR village.
HOLD THE PHONE
I just reread this article more closely as well as the complete letter from Pitcher. No-where in the letter does it state that the BIA plans to withhold interviews from X-tra. It appears that the only source of this information is an INTERN who had a conversation with Pitcher.

Are you telling me that Houston couldn't take it upon herself to verify this statement with Pitcher herself? That she relied on the hearsay of an intern?

No wonder Xtra has the reputation that it does.

I am very distrustful of Xtra's reporting and read every line they print with a huge helping of (pink) salt.

It *is* sad they are doing damage to the community they purport to represent.

And no, I'm not a member of the BIA. But I am a member of the Church Wellesley community.
Sure Joe
Pony up the money and convince the asshats currently running City Hall (our councillor excluded) to turn Chruch into a pedestrian mall, and I'm sure the BIA would love to take your suggestions.

People have no idea of the amount of money and number of political hoops that have to be jumped through just to install a flower pot on Church. Folks should do some research before jumping to criticism. In fact, Xtra should themselves be doing this research, rather than stoking the fires of controversy in order to sell papers and create drama.

The BIA is under enormous pressure, have limited funds, and simply are responding to the trends they see before them. If the gay community actually supported the businesses along Church Street, then maybe the latter would cater to the community more. The reason the fetish fair was shut down is that 300 petulant leather men cannot sustain a day-long street shut-down, which in itself costs upwards of 12 thousand dollars paid to the City. The economics are just not viable. Where is it that Xtra told this side of the story?

As for the BIA somehow damaging the gay rights movement by supposedly clamping down on postering... Really? the BIA has actually invested money to create attractive poster boards for the neighbourhood. We should be thanking them, not vilifying them.

I do agree that Xtra has a distinctively anti-BIA slant in their reporting. The BIA chair's response is regrettable, but I've long since realized that reporting in Xtra is at times very sketchy. Pity.
Canada’s national gay newspaper?
Yeah, right.
The BIA doesn't advertise in Xtra
It’s not surprising that Xtra regularly attacks the BIA. After all, very few members of the BIA actually advertise in Xtra on a regular basis. The only Church Street area businesses that regularly advertise in Xtra seem to be bathhouses. Most advertisers in Xtra seem to be (1) large corporate brands (e.g., Canada Trust) and businesses located outside the gay ghetto (e.g., Mirvish Theatres), (2) professionals like dentists, lawyers and real estate agents, (3) gay sex phone lines, and (4) publicly-funded organizations that use some of their taxpayer grants to put large ads in Xtra (e.g., AIDS organizations that place ads promoting themselves, rather than safer sex ads).
Piecemeal Band-Aid Solutions to a Bigger Problem
The Church/Wellesley BIA has no unifying vision for our Village. They are doing piecemeal dinky little attempts here and there to mark territory with phallic structures. Why not hire a Landscape Architect to develop a single unifying vision for our Village? Ms. Pitcher's amateurish publicist, Poly Kleitos, does not mention whether Ms. Pitcher is professionally qualified to re-design our Village. By the looks of it NOT... Montreal's LGBT Village got their businesses going by hiring a landscape architect to envision a unifying theme for their Village. Why can't our Toronto LGBT Village do that? They made their Village into a no-cars, pedestrians only mall --all summer-long-- which is what helped improve their businesses. Why can't our Toronto LGBT Village do that? They are reaching out to artists to enliven their Village with interesting installations. Why can't our Toronto LGBT Village do that? There is enough LGBT talent, skill and leadership to make our Church/Wellesley Village into a spectacular place. What is holding us back ?? !! Is it the BIA? The BIA should hire a Landscape Architect to beautify the area as a unified theme. These piecemeal little efforts are “band-aid solutions” to a bigger problem. Check-out Montreal's “Gay Village.” Why Can't the Toronto LGBT Village do something as spectacular? They hired a landscape architect to create a unified theme. Why can't we do that in Toronto? http://www.adelto.co.uk/aires-libres-and-montreals-gay-village-anniversary-canada/
High Rents
and a distinctly Un-friendly to Gays atmosphere has infected the village. Xtra's reporting is not the problem dear. Get it? Tear down the community all you want, Gay posters, Gay Friendly Fetish Fairs and anything Gay unless of course the Gays are pathologised with AIDS. That's NOT going to bring in people and business. Thanks for your..um...efforts dear, but I think it's time to move on. I'm wondering who put you up to sending such a letter? Did you consult with Wong-Tam before you did this? What on earth possessed you to send off such a thing? It doesn't make any sense? I'm wondering if your medication levels need to be checked? If that's the case we'll understand, truly, we will.
nuff said
Avery Pitcher brings her entrepreneurial vision to her position as owner and founder of Hair ’n After, a fashionable full-service hair salon in Toronto, Canada. Ms. Pitcher started the salon in 1994 and has steadily made it a success.

Ms. Pitcher handles every aspect of her business, including hiring and training staff, managing, budgeting and finances, and placing orders for her all-natural hair products. In addition to coloring, cutting and styling her clients’ hair, Ms. Pitcher carries out marketing and promotional campaigns.

Along with her salon, Ms. Pitcher has owned and operated Lenz on Art Photography since 2000. In this undertaking, she provides clients with headshots, promotional and portrait shots, stock photographs and object images. An accomplished photographer, Ms. Pitcher has hosted multiple exhibitions and photographed cover images for books including Sky Gilbert’s An English Gentleman, Britt Holmstrom’s The Wrong Madonna and Tim Lilburn’s Thinking and Singing.

Ms. Pitcher's advanced training includes a bachelor’s degree in sociology from York University. She attributes her success to her work ethic and her experience, and her goals for the future involve continuing to grow her salon.

Active in her community, Ms. Pitcher co-chairs the Church Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area.
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