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August 16, 2005

Late summer bits: The Railpath, roadwork and a “culturally influenced festival.”

Filed under: Railpath, Street Life — NorthRonces @ 2:57 pm

North Roncesvalles, like most of Toronto, slows down in August. The body numbing heat, Ontario’s cottage culture, and our meditative preparation for the increased fall and winter workload lighten street traffic and bring a relative quiet to the neighbourhood. While business owners do not really appreciate this late summer lull it is a defining attribute of this city and is not immune. Despite some light travel and heavy lethargy I have come across a few quick hit items that may be of interest:

Picture the Railpath

An early posting on highlighted the wonderful plan to establish a bike path along the Go Train corridor that cuts diagonally across the city just east of Roncesvalles. has recently posted a number of architectural drawings and other images of the proposed route from the Junction, past north Roncesvalles and ending just beyond Strachan and King. The image reproduced here shows a representation of the path as it goes past the Nestle factory as seen from the Dundas West bridge.

The Railpath looking north from the Dundas Street West bridge.

The Railpath looking north from the Dundas Street West bridge.

Road work ahead in 2006

Another issue I have been looking into has been road work that will takeover Roncesvalles Avenue in 2006. The TTC will be rebuilding the streetcar tracks along Roncesavlles and I am sure we can look forward to much noise, traffic, dust–all a challenge to restaurant, pubs and retail businesses of the neighbourhood. The good news is that the Roncesvalles Business Improvement Area (RBIA) Beautification Committee is working with the city with hopes of integrating a series of street improvements with the general upheaval. According to RBIA chair Tony Cauch, these improvements may include “the introduction of decorative paving in a single elevation sidewalk”, “Gateway Entry Markers and new benches and planters”. The RBIA hopes that by working in consultation with the city (including Councillor Watson and members of TTC Design) that the overall street improvement strategy maybe reduced from 5 to 3 years. I am currently trying to get schedules for the actual roadwork but, as of this posting, I have had little success.

The Roncesvalles Polish Festival

Finally, the annual Roncesvalles Village street festival will be soon upon us. By renaming the more ecumenical “Harvest Festival” the “Roncesvalles Polish Festival”, RBIA organizers hope to capitalize on the sentiment (and the crowd) that was displayed after Pope John Paul II’s death earlier this year.

This issue is somewhat contentious as many North Ronces residents and business owners wonder if the Polish Festival will represent the real diversity of the neighbourhood and, perhaps, attract a demographic that may not fully appreciate the new, non-Polish businesses that are now driving the street to new heights of popularity and interest. The purpose of the festival is, after all, to create an image of Roncesvalles that will stick with Torontonians year round and draw them back again and again.

A positive sign is that organizer Andrew Chomentowski conceives the Polish Festival as “a culturally influenced festival and not one which is exclusive to people of Polish ethnicity.” He envisions the event along the lines of the “Taste of the Danforth” street festival, a celebration that has its roots in Toronto’s Greek culture and has subsequently developed a strong, city wide appeal. If this broad inclusive vision is maintained in the selection of entertainment, as well as through actively consulting the non-Polish businesses in the neighbourhood, the festival could be the highlight of the year. We will revisit this issue again. The Roncesvalles Polish Festival will be held on Sept 17-18.

1 Comment »

  1. Why the “Polish Festival”? Last time I checked the Poles do not live in this neighbourhood, they own stores here and then go to their homes in Mississauga. If it is to be a cultural festival maybe it should be the Portuguese, or Somalian festival, as those are amongst the larger demeographis in the area. Boo to the Polish Festival.

    Comment by Mark — May 23, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

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