When the famed urban theorist Jane Jacobs decided to leave the United States in protest against the Vietnam War, she moved to Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood. Then and now, this area to the northeast of Bloor and Bathurst has been a progressive haven for writers, students, eccentrics and queer people, with the kind of cultural and class mixing that Jacobs insisted was necessary for a healthy neighbourhood and city.
In an effort to encourage more visitors and shoppers this holiday season, the Bloor Annex Business Improvement Area is setting up 21 “kissing stations” along Bloor Street and hanging mistletoe over sidewalk signs between Spadina and Bathurst until Jan 3.
“The Annex is great for walking,” says BIA chair Wade MacCallum, “and this is a neat idea” — one he credits to planner Robin Donovan. “We were excited right away,” says MacCallum, who owns the Annex Tim Hortons. “Just grab your special someone and kiss under the mistletoe — how could we say no to that?”
Some say no, depending on who’s doing the kissing. A manager at another Tim Hortons franchise, in Blenheim, Ontario, created controversy in October 2011 when she barred a lesbian couple from her shop because they were making out there. Since not all public displays of affection are treated equally, can that “special someone” under the Annex mistletoe be of any gender?
“Absolutely!” says MacCallum, who says inclusivity is “part of the nature of the Annex.” Every kissing couple, regardless of gender, “creates a ripple effect of love and positivity. We need more of that.”