Canada's Condominium Magazine

Budget money for Massey Hall expansion is good news

As always happens when a government brings down a budget, some are pleased with the contents (the ones who get what they wanted) and others are not (“There’s nothing in this budget for X”). So it is with yesterday’s effort from Jim Flaherty, which the government—make that “the Harper government”—prefers to call an “economic action plan.” We’ll just stick with government budget.

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Federal budget makes money available for infrastructure. Toronto hopes to get a piece of it for a new subway downtown relief line.

The city of Toronto will be eligible to apply for some of the infrastructure money being made available in a $53-billion fund, over ten years. That’s not a lot of money when you consider it’s for every municipality in the country, but the mayor of Toronto said the funding was “welcome news,” and the chair of the TTC, Karen Stintz, said she would be applying for some of it to put toward a new downtown relief line for the subway. Toronto’s public works man, Denzil Minnan-Wong, said he understands that money is tight and we have to be “practical.”

But the New Democrats’ Olivia Chow, who is the party’s transportation critic, is disappointed in the lack of commitment by the Conservative government to Toronto’s particular infrastructure needs. She did approve of the plan to increase municipalities’ share of the gas tax, though.

As for the government, it sent one of its ministers, Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, to speak to the Toronto Region Board of Trade today, and he extolled the budget for its more long-term plans. Rather than talk specifically about how much money this or that organization will get, he highlighted the budget’s intentions, such as helping Canadians improve their qualifications for employment, helping businesses and manufacturers succeed “by enhancing the conditions for creating and growing businesses” (?) and investing in R&D.

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Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street. The same architectural firm, KPMB, is working on plans for a renewed Massey Hall. The latest federal budget makes $8 million available for the project.

One of the specific Toronto-centric items in the budget that will make the performing arts community happy is the provision of $8 million to help refurbish and expand Massey Hall. Many in Toronto have been waiting a long time for this to happen. The building is, after all, a designated National Historic Site. The “grand old lady of Shuter Street” has occupied the site just off Yonge Street since 1894. Everybody who is anybody has performed there in its 119 years, and let’s hope the same can still be said a century from now.

The expansion of the building only became possible when the developer who plans to build a condo tower next door gave up some land to the hall. The land consists of a laneway between Massey Hall and the developer’s site. There will be a sixty-story tower on the site, named fittingly, Massey Tower. Maybe the best news of all is that Massey Hall has retained the architectural firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) to prepare concepts for the refurbishment. This is the firm that did such stunning work on the Royal Conservator of Music on Bloor Street, another of Toronto’s Victorian gems. That work gave us Koerner Hall, one of the best concert music venues anywhere on earth, IOHO

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