Corktown group’s numbers up: conduct code debuts

By Joshua Bailie –

At the Corktown Residents and Business Association’s May public meeting, some Corktowners found themselves in fascinating seats: pews. Yes, church pews.

In the dusty back room of the Dominion on Queen beer parlour, there are chairs, booths and benches fit for the altar. Simply peculiar at first, one eventually realizes how appropriate it is: Corktown is a community in transition from civically reticent to reverent.

With the 2015 Pan Am games vaulting closer, Corktown is also one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in Canada. And as guest speaker and Toronto-Centre MPP Glen Murray would later testify, Corktown’s voter turnout has ballooned from 12 per cent to more than 60 during recent federal elections.

The CRBA’s meetings have begun to project this burgeoning intensity—even between elections, and not just the usual suspects. As the two scores of attendees assembled for the May 1 meeting, @CorktownTO tweets: “Lots of new faces at the public meeting today!”

As the first item of business, CRBA president Larry Webb outlined a revised code of conduct for participants, resulting from the sparks that reportedly flew at last month’s powwow.

The code met with an immediate challenge when one woman called out to interrupt Webb, asking for the code to be tossed in the name of free speech. “I guess we know who I’m addressing this to, then,” he responded.

Once the challenge passed, Downtown’s most freshly intriguing community group heard guest speaker and Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray, who paused to put down a pint before addressing the room.

He talked extensively about his community action plan, with one detail setting the room abuzz: Parliament St. could potentially be the vein for a Queen’s Quay E. LRT.

Murray was noncommittal with specifics, however, because of the convoluted state of Toronto’s municipal politics. “The mayor has been a particularly challenging person to work with,” Murray lamented.

Murray also shared his commitment to the commemoration of Corktown’s historical sites. He is investigating the possibility of designating Queen St. E. as a heritage conservation district, which would ensure its conversation in future generations, while continuing his work on behalf of the First Parliament site.

Neighbourhood history will also be the focus of a new mural.

The city has approved $5,000 for mural to go on the south side of King St. facing east, likely facing Sackville Park. The cost of the mural will be covered by the city, with additional money coming from fundraising and money left over from last year’s “gateway” mural at Queen and River streets.

While the gateway mural was straightforwardly representational—contrasting Corktown’s famous history with the new energy of the neighbourhood—Webb said the CRBA aims for this mural to be a “freer” work.

Finally, in response to residents’ concerns, the CRBA will be fetching more information about out-of-neighbourhood professional dog walkers abusing Corktown’s off-leash parkette at Power St. between Adelaide and Richmond.

Said one resident: “We pay for space we don’t actually get to use.”

The walkers allegedly drive their doggie droves over—with as many as 11 pups per person—and set the hounds loose, deterring locals and potentially breaking a city bylaw that states commercial dog walkers can control maximum six dogs while in a park.