"[I]t's become a destination for over-drinking."

Last year I commented on a Dooney’s Cafe article about the decline of a great Toronto neighbourhood: The Annex. The article was focused on the strip of Bloor between Spadina and Bathurst, and about how banal it had become.

Really, what’s happened to that piece of Bloor is studentification (admittedly, that’s not a word, but it’s as valid as “un-gentrification”) which had been fairly constrained to the Madison in years past. Like it or not, U of T is getting a retail ghetto, and Bloor Street from the JCC to Honest Ed’s is it. I don’t have a particular problem with this — neighbourhoods change all the time, and every time the people lived there before turn up their noses at the interlopers — except that blandness should never be something for a neighbourhood to aspire to.

It seems, though, that the strip of Bloor is becoming somewhat more violent, with a recent shooting outside the Brunswick House and a stabbing in one of the omnipresent sushi joints.  This past weekend the Globe and Mail collected opinions from some prominent residents on the spate of violence. A sample:

“I walked up to Bloor and Brunswick and saw a guy lying in a pool of blood in a café doorway. All the people eating and drinking on the patio of Future Bakery just carried on like this was entirely normal. It used to be the most violence you’d see around here was when two professors would argue over which NDP candidate to support, but there was a rape and a murder in the alley near my house last year.”

The Brunny seems to be the target of most of the anger, even if only city councilor Adam Vaughan calls it out by name. Deservedly so: it’s a little piece of clubland transported up to a neighbourhood which should have more character.

It’s a little sad for me. This used to be our neighbourhood, more or less, and we’d visit it often. By the sound of things it’s gone from being bland (which is a shame) to bring rather dangerous (which is tragic). I haven’t been up on that strip since Hot Docs in May, but I’ll be able to check it out up close this weekend. We’re seeing the Rural Alberta Advantage at Lee’s Palace Friday.

So here’s the question: just how badly stabbed would I have to be not to walk down to Spadina and get a scoop of roasted marshmallow from Greg’s?

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