Sunday, June 28, 2009

Liberty Village - Benchmark Explained

I have blogged about my neighbourhood many times before in my "Highways Blog", see here.
I have not really done a proper blog about the area I live in and what makes it so special. As an introduction to my new topic series of short blogs titled "Benchmark", I will first spend a few minutes giving you some info about Liberty Village and the LVBIA.

One way the City of Toronto improves the communities within its borders is by identifying and promoting "BIAs" and Business Improvement Area Associations. The objective is to revitalize local communities through partnerships with the City and local businesses who share geography. The City has now designated 68 local BIA areas and each have an association. Ours is the LVBIA. Almost all of the City's BIAs are focused on Retail Business Improvements, however ours is not since retail does not make up the bulk of the businesses in our village. We are unique in the city of Toronto in that way I think (corrections welcomed Toronto readers).

You can go to Wiki and read about Liberty Village, but better to go to the Liberty Village Business Improvement Area site which provides a wealth of information about the area, its history, the events planned and best yet, a bunch of historical photos of the buildings within our boundaries.

The LVBIA works hard to make our little triangle in the Downtown area of the City of Toronto distinctive, vibrant and a cohesive amalgam of the residents, artists and businesses who are located in the area. The businesses (463 in the LVBIA directory as of today) are and we desire to continue to be, a mix of artistic related and residence related services and commercial businesses which mix high tech (.com) and design commercial, etc. with decades old companies of various sorts. When one walks the neighbourhood you can't help but notice that the names of the companies, such as Sirius and Sony along with other firms related to arts and other creative callings which predominate.

Both residents and those employed by all the companies appreciate the efforts made with regard to our community by the LVBIA. In particular, :) we appreciate the annual "Give Me Liberty After Work Party, which is always on the 3rd Thursday in June (future blog).

As stated in the "Facts"' section in the LVBIA site:
As the first non-retail BIA in Canada, the LVBIA represents the more than 400 businesses and 5000 employees located in a campus-style community at King and Dufferin. Some of Toronto’s leading creative thinkers and companies in the high tech, arts, design, entertainment and media businesses are located in Liberty Village.
Liberty Village is actually a very small sliver of a triangle of land (.15 sq mile or .38 sq kilometer) located between a railway track on the south and on the north, both of which are heading to the train station just a couple of kilometers to the east in the heart of the downtown. For a Map of the area see here. There used to be a couple of very large industrial buildings on the east side of Liberty Village (the Inglis appliance manufacturer being the main one), which have been knocked down in the last few decades to build high density housing. There is a tract of very nice stacked townhouses to the most north easterly section of the village (these have really nice roof top gardens) and they have been here maybe 4 or 5 years. That left room for the numerous condominium apartments now planned or under construction. I think the plan calls for about 10 or 12 high rise buildings of which 2 have been built and occupied at present. You can bet your bottom dollar that these will be upscale and in keeping with the community. This new residential area might be a third of Liberty Village in size.

The rest of Liberty Village retains its early warehouse look as the buildings have been retained, some with artist live/work space, or condo residence lofts added, others have been converted into up scale commercial which house the creative businesses located in the area. Of course, given the gentrification of the area, we now have a wonderful selection of restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs in the area also.

One other business located in Liberty Village is worth mentioning. We have the large scale commercial bakery, Canada Bread, located in our Village and they sends the wonderful aroma of baking bread out to all us residents. I am happy when the wind blows from the south west. :)

That was a long introduction into the LVBIA's "Benchmark" program. One way the LVBIA keeps our area distinctive is by commissioning artist decorated public benches which are placed on our streets. Go here to find out the details of the program.

To read the next in the Benchmark Series go here.

In the coming blogs (in keeping with trying not to spend a lot of time blogging, but still keeping myself "out there" and connected with my blog readers), I will be presenting this bench art most of which is very interesting and makes a statement.

Each bench can be located on this map. They are numbered and I will note in each post which bench I am featuring. There are 15 benches, so with your kind indulgence, I will post them one in each of 15 blogs to come.

Incidentally, the LVBIA is commissioning 4 more art benches, so there will actually be 19 of these "Liberty Benchmark" blogs in the series at some point. If you are an artist who might consider submitting a proposal go here. The closing for submissions is July 20, 2009.

Listening to Roxanne Potvin singing "Its a Perfect Day". Really nice tune!

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