great escape toronto

Toronto store that's more than 50 years old shocked to learn of impending development

Great Escape Books, one of the oldest bookstores in Toronto, will struggle to stay alive if newly proposed developments in the area take place.

There is currently a proposal for a 4-storey build next door extending into the back of Great Escape's property. The construction will yield two small units, two suites, and two more floors used as living space decked out with balconies and gardens.

The owner of The Great Escape, Katya Wosko, is concerned with how her business will be affected.

"It’s a beautiful idea, but there's a better spot for it. There are lots of other areas along [Kingston Road] where these buildings have gone out back, and there's lots of room on other stretches along the street. The same thing can be done without putting anybody at risk," Wosko told blogTO.

Her neighbour Allen Chin, owner of the new unit, has confirmed the construction plan but has stated that this does not put Wosko's business at any risk at all.

"We are in a position to actually add density to the local population when this is done. In all probability having more density should equate to more business," said Chin. "The intention of adding in the extra units was to help more families move into the area. Something that I thought would actually help a business like hers."

The Great Escape is the only commercial building along the stretch that has invested in the back property.

Its 1920s heritage garage has been transformed into an event space, hosting live concerts, gallery viewings and poetry readings. It also has a pollinator garden that serves as a peaceful place to get away from the busy street out front.

"People have gotten married here because it's so lovely. It's all for the community.," said Wosko.

She worries that the construction will come at a huge financial cost to her, potentially forcing her to pay damage and repair fees. However, her neighbour Chin has denied this, and has claimed that he has offered to help her business in any way that he can.

"I have offered and advised her more than once to ensure that none of this renovation will affect her financially and that any damages will be covered. I have kindly reminded her that while I cannot control all aspects of a construction, I will do everything in my power to mitigate and will accept full responsibility," said Chin.

Lead photo by

Great Escape


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