Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 21, because CAMH is Queen West’s hottest address
Over the last decade or so, West Queen West has transformed from actually grungy to artfully grungy, but even as designer pooches replaced discarded needles at Trinity Bellwoods Park and used appliance stores turned into boutique coffee bars, one question persisted: what to do about CAMH? Located almost exactly in the middle of the strip, the country’s largest addiction and teaching hospital loomed like a cordoned-off Castle Grayskull—an eyesore and a reminder of archaic attitudes about mental health. An ambitious redevelopment project the province launched in 2006 promised to change all of that, and now we’re finally seeing signs of significant progress: the extension of surrounding streets like Lower Ossington and Fennings onto the CAMH grounds has broken down barriers both figurative and literal; a trinity of new hospital facilities are bright and airy and designed to fit in with other buildings in the neighbourhood; and the Out of This World Café, at the corner of Lower Ossington and Stokes, will open this month and be run by CAMH patients. The goal is to eventually incorporate several independently owned buildings into the landscape. A new apartment complex (set to open this summer) will rent street-level units to restaurants, shops and galleries, just like you see along the rest of the strip, which is exactly the point.