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‘Cruising columns’ coming to Church and Alexander corner

Benches were removed from the corner in 2011

"Cruising columns" will soon replace four benches that were removed from the corner of Church and Alexander streets. Credit: Xtra file photo

The City of Toronto will soon install “cruising columns” in place of four benches that were removed from the corner of Church and Alexander streets, says Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

The benches were removed Nov 15, 2011, following complaints from some residents of the Alexus condo and local business owners who complained about noise on that corner.

Wong-Tam says she cannot describe the columns because they are still in the design stage. “They were called ‘leaning posts,’ but we decided to rebrand them for Church Street by calling them ‘cruising columns.’ They are really just leaning posts.”

“We see them as street furniture that allows people to come together, lean, have a rest, put their coffee cup down, just hang out and chat. So it becomes a catalyst for community conversation,” she says.

Wong-Tam does not know when the new posts will be installed. The artist’s sketch is not yet ready to be released, she says. “I think they will be pretty innovative . . . They will be illuminated and custom-made for the Village.”

The surprise removal of the benches angered some community members who enjoyed sitting at the corner and socializing during the day, while others used the benches for cruising and people-watching at night. At the time, Wong-Tam promised that the corner would undergo a redesign as part of a larger Church Street beautification project. One proposal replaced the seating with two small mini-golf greens.

“We are trying to think about new urban designs with new types of street furniture,” she says, noting there are more surprises planned for the corner of Church and Alexander. She plans to work with the organizers of the Inspire Awards to use the corner to create a “walk of fame.” Pink Pages publisher Antoine Elhashem launched the awards three years ago.

“One thing we want to do is use the space to double as a cruising area and commemorate achievement amongst leaders, which would go through a nomination process,” she says. “We are designing with some consideration in mind that the community has expressed through the Inspire Awards organizers that they want to have some public space to create a walk of fame.”