New community association formed in northwest Cabbagetown

BOWW bounded by Bleecker, Ontario, Wellesley and Winchester street

By F. P. Malin –

Residents of a northwest Cabbagetown neighbourhood are throwing a party on May 8, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., celebrating the birth of the BOWW Neighbourhood Association in the area bounded by Bleecker, Ontario, Wellesley, and Winchester streets. The idea of forming the association was born out of informal conversations of area residents who met while walking their dogs in the neighbourhood’s parks. According to Beth Margolis, a member of the steering committee, “One thing led to another when we found out how much we had in common as far as our neighbourhood is concerned.”

Discovering their common neighbourhood interests was key to forming the association. “We share the same walkways, streets, and parks,” says Susan Thomas, a new community member, who is also on the steering committee. “We have a lot of the same concerns. We have so much to talk about.”

The BOWW neighbourhood has seen an influx of hundreds of new residents over the past two years, with the opening of the Star of Downtown condominium tower in 2008, and new town homes in 2009, completing a 30-year redevelopment project.

A community of semi-detached and single-family homes until the 1960s, the BOWW neighbourhood was part of the site selected for a southward expansion of the St. James Town high-rise development. A coalition of community members and “progressive” politicians stopped that plan in the 1970s. Today, BOWW is a neighbourhood with new commercial spaces, condominiums, privately-owned and co-operative housing, two parks, a playing field, and a children’s splash pad. Construction, which started in 1978, ended in 2009 with the opening of the town homes located at Wellesley and Bleecker streets.

The May 8 party will introduce the idea of a new neighbourhood association to the community. “From our first meeting, we realized what we wanted was good community relations and mutual safety,” says Ms. Margolis. “Right now, BOWW is an evolving thing, a roundtable to discuss what we need in our neighbourhood today, what we want it to be, and how we can achieve that together. The more people, long-time and new residents, who are involved, the better the dialogue between all of us.”

BOWW has received organizational assistance from MPP Glen Murray (Toronto Centre), who will be attending the party.  Mr. Murray, former director of the Urban Studies Institute, and Mayor of Winnipeg, has a deep commitment to building strong city neighbourhoods.

Also among the special guests will be MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre), City Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28), and Toronto District School Board Trustee Sheila Ward (Ward 14). Representatives from the Toronto Police Service are also expected to attend.

The family-friendly party will be held on the patio of the Star of Downtown condominium, 225 Wellesley St. E.