Toronto laneway to become reggae hot spot (once again)
Reggae Lane has seen much better days in Toronto, but some new developments spell changes for the historic alley, beginning this weekend and carrying on through the summer and beyond.
EngageTO is part of two Toronto area cleanups scheduled for Saturday, April 18 at Reggae Lane (and Sunday, April 19 at Jean Augustine Park). The Reggae Lane clean up campaign is lead by former mayoral candidate and Dewitt Lee and JuLion King of Canadian Reggae World and starts at Rap's Restaurant.
Reggae Lane itself can found at Eglinton and Oakwood behind local storefronts. Today the laneway is bad shape and used mostly for delivery trucks, but once upon a time it was the "hub of everything reggae," with record stores, jam sessions, and an artist hangout. Until the fall of 2014, the lane remained unnamed.
Ward 15 City Councillor Josh Colle was instrumental in nominating "Reggae Lane" for an official title. Colle, who lived in the area, wanted to help recognize the rich history of Little Jamaica and the music of the '70s and '80s in the area.
Colle is also TTC chair. The Commission is in the midst of a major infrastructure project along Eglinton in the form of the Crosstown LRT, which has some local residents concerned that the expansion and eventual rise of condos will jeopardize the Little Jamaica's strong ties to reggae culture. It remains to be seen what changes are in store for the long-time mom and pop shops in the area.
"Reggae Lane is the only one of its kind in the world. It's already starting to [become a landmark]," he remarked in an interview with G98FM.
The York-Eglinton BIA with the Laneway Project have selected Reggae Lane as a key space for improvement. They envision the conversion of the currently empty laneway into a place that will host community gatherings, business, patios, or even artist spaces.
On July 11, 2015, the BIA will host the celebration of the Reggae Lane name with live music and more.
Both EngageTO clean up events start at 12 noon and run until 2pm this weekend.
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