by carl wilson

Guest Post: A Matador Regains Her Cape

By now you may have heard the happy news that the planned expropriation of the venerable Matador club site for a parking lot was defeated yesterday at a parking-authority meeting where community members came out pro and con. The news stories all quoted the pro-expropriation neighbour who kept repeating "it's a booze can!" but it won't be a booze can much longer, I suspect. Supporters were largely organized, it's worth noting, via multiple "Save the Matador" web and Facebook groups. Zoilus associate Erella Ganon, who worked on the Committee to Save the Matador, provides an inside view of a case when the city was forced to admit it was wrong. If only the Ontario Municipal Board were so responsive on issues like the Queen West West condo towers. - Carl W.

by Erella Ganon

As though we had planned it, my colleague Gayle Hermuses, my daughter Celeste and I arrived for the meeting at the city hall, dressed in red and black, just like Matador sign. Gayle said these were the "listen to me" colours to greet the Toronto parking authority. We shared the elevator with city councillor Adam Giambrone's new Executive Assistant, Pat Chastang. She introduced herself, saying the councillor had some good news for us. Not quite sure what that meant, we proceeded to the holding area for the meeting room. [...]

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People started to assemble, at first only arriving in small groups. Familiar Facebook friends, music buddies, artists, YMCA members, musicians, people I know from the Dufferin Grove market, and a lot of neighbours cheerfully greeted one another. I was glad to see that Vicki (who lives above the Matador) made it there on her crutches. Michael Ondaatje greeted her, as did Kitty, who’s likely been the most consistent, long-time employee at the club. The numbers were swelling and the excitement level was intensifying. My thought that it would only be my colleague and my daughter there with me were disappearing as the room got more crowded.

Simon Wookey arrived with spectacular "Save the Matador" buttons that were quickly snapped up and pinned on. Marla Good, of the Hello Josephine blog arrived with her young daughter. The age range and variety of people was remarkable. We talked about the Matador, and how it has changed since Ann bought the place in the mid-1960s. She raised her five kids there while running the place all these years. A champion for Canadian music, she also made sure women had their voices heard on stage at a time when this was unusual.

A couple arrived. She was wearing a hand painted white T-shirt with "STOP the Matador" scrawled on and her husband had the similar one with "CLOSE the Booze Can" on it. I recognized them. George and Diane, they run a store on College Street that I have used in the past. They install super-loud audio systems into cars. They oppose the Matador and want a parking lot in its place? Go figure. I understand their anger about finding used condoms and needles behind their place. I feel the same way when I find similar debris. These things are found in back alleys all over the city. Their frustration is misdirected and unrelated to the issue at hand with the Matador.

We were ushered into the meeting room when they were ready for us. Kyle Rae asked for the matter to be reopened and it was. He then asked to take into consideration a letter that everyone had before them from Adam Giambrone stating that he no longer was asking for that property be appropriated. It was that simple, since the councillor changed his mind, everything changed. The TPA agreed not to pursue the property for parking and it was all over. We were thanked for our time. This all happened so quickly. After so much work, we got the result we wanted and now it was over.

We thanked the council. As we were ready to leave, George, the lone dissenter, addressed the council with questions about finding used condoms and needles. Passionate and out of order comments escalated until he was asked to leave. He started to perform for the many news cameras. Microphones in our faces as we left the meeting room, we were asked what we wanted for the space. I replied that it wasn't my business. This is a moment for the Matador's owners to dream. I was glad they have time to decide what is appropriate for their space. This is a right that all property and business owners take for granted. I was horrified that the city was taking this away from them and now it was rescinded. There is no question in my mind that the process is wrong in a situation like this. Expropriation is an extreme action that should only be undertaken when no other option exists. Of course, I want the space to be used for musical pursuits, but that isn't up to me. I was just happy that flexibility is possible and that the expropriation process was halted.

Johnny Dovercourt was walking beside me. I introduced him to several reporters as a person that I would like to see doing programming there. So much excitement, so many options ahead. I was very pleased for my part in this process and the huge number of supporters that took time to be there in solidarity in person, and on line, in letters as well as in spirit. There was a huge group that worked together despite differing socio-political backgrounds and we assembled, making it happen. I was so grateful for every person there in any form.

For this, I thank you.

Read More | Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, October 17 at 12:29 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)



I live directly across the street from the Matador, and saw the news crews interviewing Mr. "Booze Can."

Being a neighbor of the Matador myself, and the father of a small child with an interest in civic order, I can say that I've seen my share of public drunkenness, fighting, and disruptive behavior-- in front of the seedy Portuguese sports bar on the corner, that is-- never outside the Matador.

Posted by Newman on October 18, 2007 6:22 PM



Imagine the mat as the new Music Gallery space...

Posted by andrew on October 18, 2007 2:22 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson