Yonge Street west to Jarvis. Bloor Street south to Gerrard
Church Street and Wellesely Street
LGBTQ+ megacentre, large condos, central location, very walkable
DID YOU KNOW?:
The Church Wellesley Village is about as gay as it gets in Toronto. Even back in the late 70s, this neighbourhoods packed enough LGBTQ+ power to impact the voting patterns in this riding. If you were not down with the LGBTQ+ folks then, you’re chances of obtaining office was pretty much impossible.
In the 70s, 80s and even into the 90s, this neighbourhood was a magnet for many LGBTQ+ community members. They would move here from small Canadian towns and countries far away to meet one another, fall in love, go to bars, and dance. Before their arrival this area was largely in decline during the 1970s when downtown neighbourhoods were often neglected and largely left to gay and immigrant populations to live. During that time, there was enough variety in housing stock and rental stock to cater to different income levels.
Today, the gay village is almost a victim of it’s own success. It has gone the way of many immigrant-centred neighbourhoods of the past like Little Italy and Little India. Like these neighbourhoods, it’s not just a place where LGBTQ+ live any more. With it’s close proximity to the Yonge and Bloor line it is a great place for anyone who needs to access the city easily. It’s also incredibly walkable for those who like to be within walking distance of work, entertainment and conveniences like the country’s arguably best Loblaws in the old Maple Leaf Gardens.
Though the bars along Church Street do cater to a gay population, the gay population, in great numbers, has moved to other parts of the city to live. No longer does the LGBTQ+ Torontonians feel the must live among their brethren in one neighbourhood. LGBTQ+ members may come to visit the main commercial strip, but it does not mean they live there. In terms of living, the flavour of the neighbourhood remains LGBTQ+, but it is pretty mixed in with the straight everybody else.
With that said, it’s still the gayest neighbourhood in town, but it’s also a place where intensive densification is taking place. With Toronto’s official plan, this is one of the few neighbourhoods where developers will have the easiest time building as high as they want. So, the casual yet vibrant neighbourhood of decades past is becoming a denser, more urban part of the city. Some like to use the term Brooklynification or Manhattanization when it comes to neighbourhoods becoming hip and cool, but with this area I would use the term Hong Kongification to describe the increased density.
Houses are few and far between, but most of the ones that are here are big and Victorian. Due to their central location, houses often carry a pretty healthy price tag, though the properties closer to Bloor likely cost more than ones closer to Gerrard. Most of the dwellers in this neighbourhood, however, are large condo dwellers in such condos as Verve, X Condos and The One.
The good news is that these added condos don’t seem to be fully taking away from the neighbourhood, but they will change it. More people, different businesses, and more diverse population. Some of the smaller Pop and Pop shops are closing to make way for larger chain stores that can afford the steep commercial rates for buildings in this area.
For those who still love and appreciate the gay businesses along Church Street, many will survive the increased rents. Like Little Italy or Little India, the main Church Street strip will keep it’s historic LGBTQ+ flavour. Though some of the smaller businesses may not survive, more Torontonians who are both LGBTQ+ and otherwise will move in and enjoy this central location and urban hub.