Jane's Walk Toronto 2012

5 Toronto Jane's Walks worth checking out in 2012

There are few better ways to get a crash course on a street or neighbourhood than by heading out on one of the many Jane's Walk offered each year in early May. Led by knowledgable folk who range from urban planning experts and local councillors to engaged neighbourhood residents, if exploring Toronto is your thing, this weekend (May 5 and 6) has some action in store for you.

In an effort to avoid repetition, I'll keep this subjective list of recommendations fresh by not repeating any walks we highlighted last year. But if you haven't been out for one, Himy Syed's walk, Retracing Stop Spadina, is a good intro to how these things work and also highly informative. Also worth checking out if you havent already done so is Jason Kucherawy's Toronto graffiti walk, which'll take you to some of the best street art pieces in the city.

Most of the walks on offer each year are quite strong, but in an effort to trim the list, here are five that have caught my eye this year. For the full list and additional details, have a look at the list of all Toronto walks.

St. Clair Disaster: Seeing Is Believing — John Lorinc
What better way to cut through all the rhetoric than by heading up to the putative disaster site itself? Spacing Editor and Globe contributor, John Lorinc will lead the group on an investigation of a street that's somehow played a significant role in the LRT vs. subways debate in Toronto (despite the fact that it has neither). Saturday, 2:00 p.m.

King and Spadina: One of the Two Kings — Paul Bedford and Margie Zeidler
For those looking to get as much Jane Jacobs as possible from their walk experience, this is the ticket. Led by former Chief Planner of Toronto, Paul Bedford, and 401 Richmond founder and president, Margie Zeidler, this tour will examine the impact of zoning changes made in 1997 with the endorsement of Jacobs that led to the revitalization of the area. Also under discussion will be the future of the neighbourhood, which is currently under immense pressure from developers. Sunday, 12:00 p.m.

The Future Streetscape of Queen West — Chris Hardwicke, Fung Lee and Laura Schaefer
What does the future hold for Queen West, and will the street have any of its former character left when its all said and done? This walk will give participants a sneak peek at the BIA's streetscape masterplan, which will be implemented in the coming years. The best part? You can give the planners feedback! Saturday, 2:00 p.m.

The Jarvis Cultural Corridor — Kristyn Wong-Tam and Michael McClleland
Oh, Jarvis — how beautiful you once were. Can it happen again? City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Michael McClelland of ERA Architects will take up just that question in this walk along what was once one of Toronto's most grand streets. There might even be mention of a bike lane or two... Sunday, 9:00 a.m.

A Poor People's History of East Downtown Toronto — Gaetan Heroux
How does an area become poor? What historical factors have shaped Toronto's least prosperous areas? Focusing on the east downtown, anti-poverty activist Gaetan Heroux will help shed some light on this crucial bit of Toronto history and track its contemporary legacy in what he calls the city's "skid rows." Saturday, 10:00 a.m.


Photo by Brian Labelle in the blogTO Flickr pool

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