12 ways Toronto's landscape changed in 2015

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With $2.4 billion invested to accommodate visitors for the Pan Am Games and a seemingly never-ending condo boom, 2015 gave Toronto’s infrastructure a considerable boost. There were some sad goodbyes, but also welcome changes to the city’s infrastructure.

Farewell to:

Captain John’s

The M.S. Jadran was a former Adriatic passenger ship, that sat in Toronto’s harbour at Yonge St. since 1975. Run by Captain John Letnick, who arrived in Toronto from Yugoslavia as a refugee in 1957, the seafood restaurant was a destination for diners and seasonal corporate parties for decades but suffered financial woes and closure orders from the health department in 2008. The boat sat in the harbour until May 2015 when the ship was sold for scrap metal. (Note: The M. S. Jadran was a replacement to the S.S. Normac, the original floating restaurant, a former Detroit ferry, that sank after being hit by another ferry in Toronto’s harbour in 1981.)

Toronto’s condo industry is booming and an entire block of businesses, including The Papaya Hut and NYC Apparel, between Maitland St. and Grosvenor St. on Yonge St have been shuttered. http://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2015/09/25/two-ends-of-a-boom-town.html END The next victim might be men-only strip club Remington’s, but its fate won’t be known until October 2018.

The Guvernment Entertainment Complex

It was the end of an era. After an over 20 year run, the music stopped at the Guvernment Entertainment Complex with a massive sendoff party. Demolition crews were already picking the 22,000-square-foot warehouse apart just hours after Deadmaus played his last song of the early morning.The Velvet Underground

A favourite haunt for Queen West’s Goth and Alternative crowd since the 1990s. According to its website, the rock bar was known for its "ultracool décor" including "sculptures of angels created from found metal that added to the lush atmosphere." Liberty Entertainment Group shut down the venue in September, but in December 2015, concert promoters Embrace Entertainment made a surprise announcement stating that it will renovate, adding the space to its roster of venues.

Humber River Hospital

The Humber was one of Canada’s largest regional acute care hospitals, with 549 beds, 700 doctors and 3,000 staff at three sites in the GTA. It was decommissioned in October and is currently being considered as a housing space for Syrian refugees.

Union Station’s Bay concourse closes until 2017

If you’re not a regular at Union Station, you may be shocked to find the cloying odour from franchises like Cinnabon, Mmmuffins and McDonalds coffee gone (although a new McCafe has just opened in the nearby York councourse). In fact, the entire Bay concourse, the key hub for GO train travelers, was closed off in August and will be under construction for the next two years. The $796-million city-managed reno is scheduled to be completed by 2017.

The Atlantic

After glowing praise from international press, Nathan Isberg closed down the innovative Atlantic eatery on Aug. 25. Starting as a traditional seafood spot on Dundas West in 2010, Isberg turned the food service model on its head by removing alcohol from the bar, creating his own custom daily menu of whatever he felt like cooking and allowing customers to pay what they wanted.

Hello to:

The Toronto sign

At first, it was unclear whether the colourful $100,000 "Toronto" sign installed at Nathan Phillips Square for the Pan Am Games was meant to be a permanent structure, but tourists, citizens and selfie-takers would have been sad to see it go. Toronto Mayor John Tory said in September the sign will remain outside of city hall at least until the end of its estimated lifespan of 2016. The city will also consider making a more portable version of the sign that could travel to events across The Six.

The barebones condos built to house Pan Am Games athletes will become homes for folks who bought them in the pre-construction phase as far back as 2012. Retailers will take over with new storefronts next January. About 135 units in the east of the Distillery District are still for sale, some of them two-storey, 1,300-square-foot townhome units.

Queens Quay bike path revitalization trail

According to Waterfront Toronto, nearly 600 cyclists an hour are using the new red-granite paved Queens Quay waterfront trail during the weekday rush. While there has been some traffic confusion among bipeds, the path that stretches between Bay St. and Spadina Ave. is also a thoroughfare for everyone from cyclists and rollerbladers to parents pushing babies in strollers. Bike-only lanes were also added to major arteries downtown including Adelaide St., Richmond St., Simcoe St. and Wellesley St. E.

Union Station makeover

While the Bay concourse and food court are closed, Union Station has experienced a massive facelift after a four-year wait. Downtown Toronto has welcomed the new development with flagstone paths for cars and bikes, local food vendors, a seasonal Christmas market and sandblasting to restore the station’s façade.

Tunnel to Billy Bishop airport

Passengers who were formerly stuck riding a ferry to Billy Bishop Airport now have the more reliable alternative of descending 30 metres underground and travelling under the Western Channel on sidewalks moving at about 2.3 kilometres an hour. The entire journey should take less than six minutes and passengers can cross to the airport whenever they want.

UPX

The UPX direct rail train from Union Station to Pearson International Airport opened in June. Six months later, Metrolinx is taking feedback about high prices into consideration, and will make changes such as allowing children 12 and under to ride free — up from 6 years of age — and a reduced return adult fare of $44 rather than the initial $53. New family fares and long layover fares of $55 will also be introduced. Airport workers will see a fare reduction of $50 off the regular $300 price.

31/12/2015 07:01  By: TORONTO STAR

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