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Sunday Supplement: How Toronto renames its streets, weighing adverts on city ferries, and Osgoode Hall facts

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 13, 2013

toronto king streetIt would be practically impossible to count all the Toronto streets named in honour of a local do-gooder or titled to butter up some colonial leader in the hope of currying personal favour. So when city leaders decide to rename a street, as was proposed this week with Jack Layton Way, there are strict protocols that ensure history is preserved an no-one gets away with anything iffy. Some of the highlights of Toronto's naming procedure are featured in this week's post.

Also, ad creep, the encroachment of advertising in public spaces, is a constant concern for those interested in maintaining the quality of Toronto's streets. A possible resurrection of ad wraps on city ferries raises important questions about where we draw the line with advertisers and whether money should ever be a deciding factor in these sorts of decisions. Below is a brief primer on the issue.

REMEMBERING JACKtoronto jack laytonThis week, officials at Bridgepoint Health, the health centre at Broadview and Gerrard currently undergoing major renovations, revealed they are considering naming a new street on the complex after late NDP leader Jack Layton. The road, which could form part of the old Don Jail Roadway, will likely be named Jack Layton Way.

Because it's partially on private property, it isn't clear if the road will be subject to the same naming conventions as regular city streets that receive honourific names for local worthies. The city is actually pretty strict about how its roads are named and there are a short collection of rules any name changes must abide by. Here are some highlights:

  • "Honourific names shall normally be awarded posthumously to those individuals who have been deceased for at least two years, with exceptions to be approved by City Council."
  • "Named parties are prohibited from implying that their products, services or ideas are sanctioned by the City."
  • "In line with current practice, for the naming of ward-specific properties and streets, division staff shall only recommend names that .... do not lend themselves to inappropriate abbreviations or acronyms;"
  • "Only a person's last name should be used as a street name unless additional identification is necessary to prevent a duplication with an existing street name in Toronto and surrounding municipalities."
  • "Corrupted or modified names, or names which are discriminatory or derogatory from the point of view of race, sex, colour, creed, political affiliation or other social factors shall not be considered."
  • "Similar sounding names such as Beach Avenue and Peach Avenue, or Apple Hill Road and Apple Road shall be avoided."

WRAPPING THE FERRIEStoronto island ferryThe perennially cash-strapped TTC has long offered a variety of advertising solutions, including subway station panels, vehicle interior signage, and most noticeably, full wraps of its streetcars. This week, plans to coat the city-owned ferry fleet in adverts made headlines.

Back in 1999, the city briefly covered the Sam McBride in a red-and-blue Kool-Aid livery only for Heritage Toronto to cancel the pilot scheme over fears pasting Toronto's stately fleet with promotions for soft drinks would make the city look sort of dumb.

Coating a vehicle in an ad doesn't come cheap if the TTC's pricing policy is anything to go by. In 2010, a full double streetcar wrap cost in the region of $46,000 for a period of four weeks. Single streetcars cost $31,500 and busses $21,500.

That sort of revenue is nothing to sneeze at. Using those figures as a very rough guide, the city could net in the region $100,000 a month, minus the cost of installing the advert. Back in 1999, the city received $60,000 for both sides of the Sam McBride.

In fact, it made something of a media event out of the whole thing. A press release ahead of the Victoria Day weekend that year read "The Sam McBride, newly decked-out with wacky, colourful Kool-Aid smile banners, will be christened with Kool-Aid and launched with a rainbow of Kool-Aid smile boats. The event will kick off a summer of fun at the Toronto Islands."

Except it didn't. Residents hated the tacky marketing scheme and despised the painted faces grinning goofily from the side of the boat even more. When it finally nixed the ad, Heritage Toronto noted that "advertising on the sides of the ferry should be considered with caution" in future as the boats have historically been marketing-free zones.

The entire debate raises questions about what sort of cash value we place on our public spaces. Defending the Kool-Aid idea in 1999, a rep from the parks department said the wrap struck the right tone because it emphasized summer fun, not alcohol or cigarettes. Should appropriate ads be permitted on the side of Toronto's ferries for the right price?

OSGOODE FACTStoronto osgoode hallRob Ford's appeal hearing in courtroom three of Osgoode Hall this week gave many city hall watchers and members of the public their first glimpse inside the ornate historic building. One of Toronto's first major construction projects, the east wing of Osgoode was built on the northwest corner of York at Lot and College streets, the former names of Queen and University respectively, in 1829.

The building was expanded and modified at several times until it reached its present form in 1857.

Here are some other tidbits about Osgoode Hall:

  • The structure was named for William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of Upper Canada
  • There are two disused jail cells in the basement.
  • A private tunnel links Osgoode Hall with the larger courthouse to the north.
  • Despite persistent rumours, the awkwardly tight gates weren't designed to keep out cows.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: Chris Bateman/blogTO, "Just A Ferry Ride Away" by syncros from the blogTO Flickr pool.



McRib / January 13, 2013 at 04:54 am
Osgoode Hall was built in 1829, not 1929.

Mizmite / January 13, 2013 at 06:40 am
its the gates that were the talk of being able to keep cows out and not the rails.
steve / January 13, 2013 at 08:34 am
Osgoode hall is open every year for doors open. That includes the ornate court rooms.
nate / January 13, 2013 at 09:15 am
@steve: Isn't Osgoode Hall is open to the public year round?

@Mizmite There was (still is?) an exhibit this past summer at Osgoode Hall that (spoiler) pretty well debunked the myth. The gates certainly resemble cow catchers, but at the time of installation their surroundings were decidedly urban...
David / January 13, 2013 at 11:44 am
There's also a very nice restaurant in Osgoode Hall, open from Sept to June for lunch only.
Billy osgoode / January 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Yeah, the courts at osgoode hall are open to the public. Anyone can sit in on an appeal or a judicial review there. Lists of the day's proceedings are posted by the entrance. I warn you the substance of these proceedings is usually pretty boring.

The law society part, which is quite beautiful, is not open to the public but is accessible during doors open. The library is apparently only for law society members but I've never seen them check ID or enforce that rule. The main room in the library is breathtaking and has been called the most beautiful room in Canada. There is a restaurant that is very nice that anyone can go to. The food is actually reasonably priced and very good.

steve replying to a comment from nate / January 13, 2013 at 01:14 pm
Yes it is open year round, more during doors open. i was just commenting since the article indicated that the court case was allowing the public its first glimpse which is not the case
brianna d / January 13, 2013 at 01:38 pm
"...the wrap struck the right tone because it emphasized summer fun, not alcohol or cigarettes."
my idea of summer fun is not a cup of sugar in a litre of water, obesity and diabetes.

also, if you think about it, the trip to the islands is really one of the only unpolluted by advertising experiences you can get in the city. I've always thought of the ferries as a sort of portal to the past/innocence.
Let's not junk it up and make it ugly like the rest of the city.
King Candy replying to a comment from brianna d / January 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm
My idea of life is not a glass of water, barley, malt, and hops that causes drunkenness, the same obesity AND the pickling of your liver, but I have to put up with people wanting that ALL of the time, and ads for it, too.

If I have t put up with beer and the people wanting access to it day and night, you most certainly can put up with Kool-Aid (which doesn't always require sugar; I guess that you've never heard of a thing called sweetener?)
Simon replying to a comment from King Candy / January 18, 2013 at 11:44 am
Sweetener? In Kool-Aid? Could you get anymore tacky? Do you want the ferries to advertise hot dogs and lottery tickets too?
zvbsvwomxhkw / March 16, 2013 at 01:27 pm
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