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January 11, 2007 11:17 AM   Subscribe

A major Toronto film studio gets the boot. In December, Cinespace Studios was given two months' notice to leave their facility in order to make way for a long-awaited waterfront revitalization project. Cinespace, where films such as Harold and Kumar, the Saw series and Chicago were shot, has put up an online petition to ask for more time to find a new location. The petition has received nearly 5000 signatures, many from film industry professionals including George A. Romero. The city insists that "Cinespace has been on notice for two years," but the studio disputes this claim. The controversy pits two of the city's priorities against one another - the health of the Canadian film industry versus "transforming the waterfront into beautiful, sustainable new communities, parks and public spaces.".
posted by SassHat (25 comments total)

 
Construction of the waterfront's giant, glowing, island-like structure in the shape of a maple leaf (possibly visible from the moon?) should be delayed no longer.
posted by pokermonk at 11:36 AM on January 11, 2007


Good grief. There's a million empty square feet in Downsview. There's lots of other garbage space around town for a studio. Lazy. To Cinespace, I say "meh".
posted by GuyZero at 11:36 AM on January 11, 2007


C'mon you guys! Rich people need places to go too! They don't want their private little islands cluttered up with buildings where people actually work or, e gads, sweat! I mean artists are quaint and all, but they do their best work in the slums anyway, right?
posted by tkchrist at 11:45 AM on January 11, 2007


Empty and garbage space isn't studio space unless you spend lots of money and time building stuff. Cinespace is not alone in getting booted either.
posted by mkb at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2007


...the Saw series
SCENE: A filthy bathroom. Mayor David Miller is affixed to the floor with a large metal shackle.

VOICE (hoarse, off screen): "Greetings, Mayor Miller. For the longest time you've spent your life hoping to revitalize the waterfront. Today we'll see just how far you'll go to achieve that goal. Let's play a game. Revitalize or die, it's your choice."
posted by owenkun at 11:57 AM on January 11, 2007


I believe the large glowing waterfront leaf idea was kiboshed, even though its creators won the design contest.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:07 PM on January 11, 2007


I can only imagine the city's response to an online petition.
posted by smackfu at 12:14 PM on January 11, 2007


Not surprising. Creative types don't usually pay much attention to their landlords until it's time to get the boot.
posted by disgruntled at 12:15 PM on January 11, 2007


Another interesting article from this summer, when it was still up in the air.
posted by SassHat at 12:22 PM on January 11, 2007


SassHat: "Cinespace, where films such as Harold and Kumar, the Saw series and Chicago were shot..."

Surely an establishment with such deep respect for the cinematic art as to produce these works of genius can find room elsewhere, but we shouldn't overlook the real tragedy: wherever they go, they will no longer labor in the symbolically-apt environment of a grimy dockside.
posted by koeselitz at 12:24 PM on January 11, 2007


"ransforming the waterfront into beautiful, sustainable new communities, parks and public spaces condos! Condos condos condos condos! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!
posted by randomination at 1:15 PM on January 11, 2007


Add a t to that.
posted by randomination at 1:15 PM on January 11, 2007


No, disgruntled, it's in the 'news' now because of the drop dead deadline. You think the landlord is going to be letting anyone know what the details of his lease are¿

Want to scare more business away¿ That's good business¿ Back to Business101 for you.


That is a wonderful spot to work in, well, during the summer, but Toronto has had plenty of strikes against it in the past few years, starting from the dithering previous Mayor ]Lastman[ who promised a large film studio, but didn't deliver.

Furthermore, Toronto has lost a shit load of productions because of the lack of Large space. Those productions went to Vancouver and Montreal. Many.

Then yes, there was the SARS report article issue....so productions stayed away. I guess the Rolling Stones and AC/DC coundn't change their minds.

Before that, the Ontario government gave productions 17% ]I can't confirm that though[ discount on each production dollar spent in the province. It was lowered to 7% ]I believe[, so they stayed away again.

Then there's the Canadian dollar which crept up that made it less of a deal to produce in Canada. Even Czekoslovakia isn't such a bargain anymore either I'm told.

Then there was Arnold Swartzenegger, Governor of California, once he got in, said he wanted to keep productions from going to Canada. Good governing sense, but the bum shot many a film here in Toronto.

So how many hits has Toronto had¿ Plenty.

Now this. Great.

Oh, did I mention the Actra strike, actors want to discuss online and DVD type royalties and it is being avoided completely by those holding the purse strings.

Hell, even if that new studio gets finished in the portlands ]waterfront[, then how soon will productions want to come to Toronto¿

It's a bloody quagmire, I tell ya. So sure, sign the petition, you too disgruntled. lol

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Sasshat.
posted by alicesshoe at 1:30 PM on January 11, 2007


As flawed and uninspiring as the whole waterfront redevelopment process has been, it's time to get on with it.

I mean artists are quaint and all, but they do their best work in the slums anyway, right?

Cinespace is hardly the starving tenant of a ramshackle artists' co-op. However, the fact that they have failed to reach some sort of accommodation/exception for themselves before now does suggest a certain naivete, as disgruntled says; at the very least, it speaks ill of their political acumen.

beautiful, sustainable new communities, parks and public spaces condos! Condos condos condos condos!

This plan certainly won't stop the spread of the "condo wall", but it might perhaps be kept to a reasonable height, with the odd chink in the plaster here and there to let in a few feeble rays of light.
posted by Urban Hermit at 1:38 PM on January 11, 2007


Toronto's waterfront would be a lot easier to fix up if it hadn't been so thoroughly botched the the first time. When I visited Melbourne a few years back I was struck by the similarities between the two cities (approximately three million people, located on the shore of a large body of water, with a river running through them) and how differently they'd approached their waterfront development. Melbourne set up kilometres of parks and gardens. Toronto built condos and a freeway. What a waste.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:10 PM on January 11, 2007


The Card Cheat - it's not the Don Valley that is killing the waterfront, as bad as it is - it's the Gardiner. The waterfront in Toronto will always be cut off from the city, until they get rid of that.
posted by jb at 4:28 PM on January 11, 2007


I know the Don Valley isn't the waterfront, per se...I just lumped it in with the rest because every time I take the Queen streetcar home from work and pass over the river, I get a little depressed, thinking about what might have been. But yeah, the Gardiner is probably the main reason you could live in Toronto your whole life and never know you lived on the shore of a lake if you didn't actively seek it out.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:09 PM on January 11, 2007


Oh god, the Gardiner needs to go, yesterday.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:27 PM on January 11, 2007


Hello, big dig!

I don't mind, bury the gardiner, take 15 years to do it. I'm married to the Lakeshore Go line.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:49 PM on January 11, 2007


The DVP pollutes the Don, which feeds in to the lake. Any area where river meets lake tends to be ecologically sensitive and significant. So, the Gardiner may be hideous, but the DVP ain't exactly innocent (not to mention that it feeds the Gardiner).

And for those fearing this means no more film shops on the waterfront, the city plans otherwise, however much that's worth. TEDCO's record is spotty.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:04 PM on January 11, 2007


The Gardiner is a hideous mess and it's amazing that it's still there, etc. etc., but I don't think it's quite as big an obstacle to the waterfront as is (and I'm searching for the proper name here and not coming up with anything) that valley with the train tracks that's just south of Front. The way it is right now, the only access to the waterfront is via a handful of major arteries (like Spadina and Bathurst), and the fact the interesting stores and stuff along these arteries have long since petered out by the time you get to the tracks means that there's not really any incentive for foot traffic and, with all the boredom or sketchiness of the border areas, a lot to actively drive it away.

Improving public transit to the lake shore, especially streetcars, would probably be more important to revitalizing the area than anything else you could do, but even then, I'm not too enthusiastic --- living and working in the downtown core has made me a horrible snob about this, but I bristle at having to pay that $2.75 for the TTC to go somewhere that's theoretically close enough to walk. More and more, it's like, if I can't walk somewhere, I don't wanna go, and if I don't wanna walk there, well, forget about it. But maybe that's just me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tearing down the Gardiner and building up the Waterfront, but I just can't see it becoming an active and attractive place without some other pretty major overhauls to the city's infrastructure.

And in fact, given the history of this project, I can't see this particular initiative becoming much at all. What I can see happening is this: after a years long battle, the city finally buys the studio's land, nothing happens for 2 years and then somebody builds a condo on it. And then the city has another debate about the best way to revitalize the waterfront. And so on, and so forth.
posted by Tiresias at 11:53 PM on January 11, 2007


You're right, Tiresias, the train tracks are a big problem. I guess I think of the tracks and the Gardiner as one great tangled mess between King St and the lake (like over by Spadina - does Front St go that far?).

You can walk to the lake from the downtown core, and I have many, many times; it's just butt ugly south of Union Station.

But $2.75? I know I've been away for a few years, but don't tell me tokens are that much these days? That's insane. I thought Miller was suppose to be a pro-transit mayor? (I alway metropassed it though, since I already had to come down from Rexdale everyday. The pass was so good - in and out of the subway, not even thinking about it.)
posted by jb at 3:54 AM on January 12, 2007


Seems to me there's a lot more money to be put back into the community by developing a waterfront district than a studio brings in. Regardless of whether you like the rich or not, homeowners and retail tenants are a lot more likely to put money back into the locale.
posted by avriette at 7:55 AM on January 12, 2007


Yeah, the tracks are pretty ugly, but, I'd say, pretty necessary - any diversion of traffic from the Gardiner (and any diversion of plans for a Front Street Extension) relies in part on expanded GO train service.

It's Lakeshore Blvd. that's the real (current) barrier. Crossing it at York St. is effin' suicidal.

The real future barrier is the fact that all the plans for waterfront development just look like a playground for the rich. And yeah, avriette, the rich do put money in to the economy, but it's a matter of where in the economy their money's going to go. There's a difference between a boon for local independent merchants generally and a boon for local indedpendent dog groomers specifically.

And jb, tokens are $2.10 if you buy 'em bulk. Still obscene, I know.

Oh, and I meant TWRC when I wrote TEDCO up above.

posted by poweredbybeard at 10:50 AM on January 12, 2007


Tiresias writes "What I can see happening is this: after a years long battle, the city finally buys the studio's land, nothing happens for 2 years and then somebody builds a condo on it. And then the city has another debate about the best way to revitalize the waterfront. And so on, and so forth."

Ssssssssssh, you're not supposed to tell the truth like that.

And jb.. $2.75 is cash fare. Tickets/tokens (adult) work out to $2.10 per. Miller is very much pro-transit, but years of chronic underfunding for the TTC have led to ridiculous fare increases. Of course, leads to fewer riders leads to less money etc etc.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2007


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