Month: August 2019

Spotlight: Relax and Refresh at Chi Spa

We sat down with Chi Spa, one of the rare boutique spas in the neighbourhood, and explored the ways they’ve been bringing relaxation, rejuvenation, and well-being to their clientele for close to two decades. If you’re familiar with the busy Yonge + St. Clair intersection, you’ll be happy to learn that your new favorite oasis, and escape from your busy schedule is just steps away at 1 Balmoral Ave (entrance on Yonge St.).

Yonge + St. Clair: Can you tell us what Chi Spa is all about?

Chi Spa: Chi Spa has been around 18 + years, and we’re one of the only boutique day spas in the midtown area.  We have not strayed from traditional personalized care, where we take our time with our clients and stay present in the moment. We refuse to give in to the hustle of city life and truly want our clients to wind down & turn off when they’re here with us.



Y+S: Stepping into Chi Spa is like entering a cozy oasis that’s so different from the urban hustle of the Yonge + St. Clair intersection, can you tell us more about the philosophy or thought process that guided this design and experience?

CS: Although Chi Spa is small, our service is huge, and what I mean by that is when a client enters, they are the super star of the show. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer care, provide a very calm & quiet environment and hope that each client leaves ultra pampered & appreciated.  The end goal is truly Zen.



Y+S: From your professional perspective and working with people from all walks of life, what are some of your best tips for maintaining and improving mind, body and soul?

CS: Our staff are like family, and we’re always looking out for each other’s well-being. We’re constantly learning & sharing the latest tricks & tips with each other, which then we pass along to our clients. Our clients appreciate our knowledge & belief in total wellness, as we lead by example.

So the best tips I can share are : Making time for yourself for “self care” such as meditation, staying active, eating well & hydrating and being grateful & kind. The mind, body & soul are one so you cannot neglect any of them. Treating yourself to a facial or a spa day at Chi Spa, will help definitely get you started in the right wellness direction.



Y+S: For people who are new to the Chi Spa experience, what should they expect to find on their first visit?

CS: A first time client will be warmly welcomed, and taken into the lounge for a warm cup of herbal tea or a glass of water.  There you will be given 1 short form to detail allergies or sensitivities, which will be reviewed by the esthetician or RMT during your consultation.  Once your treatment has started, expect to enter pure bliss.

To book your day spa experience with Chi Spa,  you can contact them directly at, give them a call at (416) 515-8288 or visit them in-store at 1 Balmoral Ave (entrance on Yonge St.).

Spotlight: Tony Mark, Co-Founder and Personal Trainer of BALANCE at Yonge + St. Clair

One of Yonge + St. Clair’s most prolific fitness and training studios – Balance Fitness – is also one of it’s oldest. We spoke with Co-Founder and Personal Trainer Tony Mark on the history of his studio, its unique edge, and being a part of the Yonge + St. Clair community.

This article was provided by Marylene Vestergom, a marketer and freelance writer whose curious mindset allows her to implement strategies and bring them to life. Her first passion is sports, having covered multiple Olympic Games.

Yonge + St Clair:  When did you start?

Tony Mark: We’ve been a fixture in this neighbourhood for 18 years. Prior to Balance, I was working at another club in the area, so I really got a feel for the clientele.  Those early days helped me formulate my business plan, and the reward was in the creation of Balance — a boutique-style club offering personalized attention by knowledgeable trainers, where health and wellness is balanced, and in this fast-paced world, it’s something our members don’t take for granted.


Y+S:  What’s the Balance experience?

TM: Yonge + St. Clair has always been a tightly woven community. Even through its transformation, the footprint of many of the anchor businesses are still here, and that’s because we cater to the needs of the neighbourhood. Since many members live in the area, Balance was designed to be like an extension of their homes; after all, for some it’s a place they can come to decompress or find motivation to their path of wellness. Our core strength is delivering on our health and wellness promise, and that starts the moment you walk in through our doors. You’re not a number, we know you by name.

Y+S: One of the things we noticed when we toured Balance, was the use of natural materials. It really has that bespoke boutique feel. Whether it’s the gray slate that anchors the hallways or the hotel-like changerooms with radiant heating underfoot, there is a sense of calm throughout the space.  We can see why your members enjoy working out at your gym. Plus, even though it was busy, it doesn’t have that high-volume feel.

TM: Thanks for noticing. That feeling is something our members have requested and we listened. We also took that design sensibility to the workout areas. The space is illuminated by natural light, which pours in from floor-to-ceiling windows; the lightly coloured wooden floors are easy on the body. But make no mistake, this gym is packed with state-of the-art fitness equipment and, in 2020, new equipment will be brought in to meet the ever-changing demands of our members. We are always anticipating their needs and ensuring we are ahead of the curve. This fall we will be introducing a new lineup of classes in our studio. So as our members evolve, so do our offerings.


Y+S: What’s the Balance difference?

TM: Our team. Our clientele expects a higher level of service and knowledge, and all our personal trainers have a university degree and are industry-certified in their specialty. They’re passionate about wellness and carefully tailor their training to each member. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach. We match members with the appropriate trainer so they can get maximum results.

Y+S: Getting people back to their optimal health is a priority at Balance. Is that why you brought ESM Clinics under the direction of Dr. Erin Saltzman to Balance?

 TM: The key is helping people to use their bodies to their fullest potential, and sometimes it means joints and muscles, etc., need to be retrained. With Functional Integrated Therapy, Dr. Erin Saltzman and her team can access movement dysfunctions and joint restrictions. We wanted to offer this care to everyone – not just to elite athletes.  With that in mind, we decided to extend our health and wellness promise by expanding on our team of health-care specialists, including Kinesiologists, Exercise Physiologists, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Registered Massage Therapists and Exercise Rehabilitation Therapists. This one-stop approach with ESM Clinics helps in combining the care of a Balance Registered Therapist with a Balance-certified Personal Trainer, which can help speed recovery in the case of an injury but also can provide the fitness regime best suited for our members. And this care is not just for our members – this service is also available to the Y+S community.


Y+S: You’ve mentioned the business owners who are located at Y+S have not only invested time and money to make it what is it today, but that they’re also residents in the community who look after each other. Can you explain?

TM: They help each other. You may recall the six-alarm fire at the Badminton & Racquet Club, February 14, 2017. It was devastating to the club and members alike. I reached out to them and offered our club as a place where their members could continue with their fitness regime at Balance. That’s what neighbours do.


Y+S: Are you living your dream?

TM: You know, I really enjoy what I do – so yes.  It’s my passion. I work a lot – but I enjoy it.


Visit Balance at 52 St. Clair Avenue East or visit their website at

Spotlight: Vicky Atikian of Marquess Jewellers

Just like the neighbourhood at Yonge + St. Clair, family businesses like Marquess Jewellers are constantly evolving, striving to keep memories alive and spark new traditions. We spoke with Vicky Atikian the owner at Marquess Jewellers about her recent storefront transformation.

This article was provided by Marylene Vestergom, a marketer and freelance writer whose curious mindset allows her to implement strategies and bring them to life.



Yonge + St. Clair:  When did you start?

Vicky Atikian: It’s a family business, so in many ways, I was born into this business. My parents opened the store in 1982, so we’ve been around for 37 years, and just like the transformation of the Y+S area, we’ve also evolved. We were first located in the upper level of the Y+S Centre, and then in 1998 we changed location to the other side of the Centre. Then we underwent a huge transformation and re-opened last May on the lower level. We were nervous at first, but our customers have not let us down. We are very much an anchor to the neighbourhood, a place many consider familiar – a part of their extended family where their memories and keepsakes are treasured and new traditions made.


Marquess Jewellers prior to their 2018 storefront renovation


Y+S: In retail, longevity is hard to achieve. What’s the secret? 

VA: We are a family of jewellers. My father, who started his career at 18 when he was a teenager in Jerusalem doing repairs and then when he came to Canada, he worked with other jewellery companies, later opened up Marquess Jewellers.  My mother worked by his side, and they were the ones who laid the foundation. Now I own the store with my husband Arthur, whose own family’s roots has many branches linked to this trade. My sister and I are both gemologists, so the knowledge is deep, and my parents are still involved, so there is always someone to go to get advice etc.  So, you can say, we like keeping it in the family.

Y+S: There has been a noticeable transformation to the look and feel of your store, was that a conscious decision? 

VA: We wanted to create a boutique feel, but we also knew any changes we made had to reflect the needs of our customers. It had to be approachable and welcoming, so the space is bright and light. We also didn’t want customers to feel intimidated, we wanted them to be able to browse, so we added drawers so they could open them up and peek inside. It’s almost like having their own jewellery box at their fingertips, discovering new treasures and artisans.



Y+S: What makes this neighborhood special?

VA: This is a close-knit community, and it’s one of the oldest suburbs, with a very rich history.  We’ve been lucky to have been part of it, and our success comes from word of mouth from other stores in the area and our customers.  Some have lived here for generations, so you’re always guaranteed to run into someone you know. In many ways, it’s a bit of a meeting place. 

What can customers expect?

VA: Our reputation is built on our service, and it’s central to our success. We take a personal interest in the items our customers entrust in our care. There is a huge emotional attachment — a sentimentality and lineage that has to be respected — and it’s something we never take for granted.  That’s why we take the time to explain the repair process. When it comes to mark a special occasion, we know it can be an emotional purchase, and it’s important they love what they buy. We are also a full-service destination offering onsite repairs, from batteries and watchbands to stone replacements and ring resizing – no request is too small. We also love working on special design projects to mark a special moment in time. 



Y+S: You mentioned working on special projects. Can you share an experience?

VA: Recently I had a special request from a gentleman who was quite ill and wanted to give his wife one more piece. Together we worked on something that was very representative of their loving family. It was a tree of life pendant, and each branch represented their four children and the leaves, their respective grandchildren. I certainly won’t forget that piece nor that family. It was an honour to be a part of that gift.

Y+S: Has jewellery always been your passion?

VA: I can’t imagine doing anything else. The best part is you never stop learning, especially when your extended family shares in the same passion, there is always something new to learn. 



Y+S: Now that you have a new look and the neighborhood and Y+S continues to transform, what can your customers expect? 

VA: I love creating events and introducing our customers to new things.  I did a trunk show last November of Roman coins and hand-carved Venetian glass in silver and gold featuring Italian jewellery designer Tagliamonte. In September, we are hosting our own mini-Antique Roadshow, an appraisal clinic where customers can book their own scheduled appointment with an associate from renowned gemologist from Harold Weinstein Ltd. She will provide an appraisal onsite and then a report will be sent to us in a few weeks’ time for the customer. This way the customer can still leave our store with their treasure in-hand with the knowledge their piece will be appraised, including documentation for safekeeping. It’s a lot of fun and the event books quickly, so we will ensure it’s part of our calendar of events.

Y+S: Are you living your dream?

VA: Yes. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and every day is different. The best part is our extended family — the generation of customers we have known over the 37 years and counting!

Visit Marquess Jewellers, at the St. Clair Centre – Lower Level or visit their website at

Call for Installation Artists: 2019 Fall Art Festival

Calling all artists and designers! We’re seeking proposals for outdoor art installations for our upcoming Fall Art Festival, and offering $5,000 honorariums to selected artists! The deadline to submit is August 30 at 5:00pm EST.

Read the full Submission Guidelines (PDF)


About the Event

The Yonge + St. Clair Business Improvement Area (BIA) is currently accepting applications for the Annual Fall Art Festival, an outdoor exhibition of installation art from October 5 – November 2, 2019. This inaugural festival is intended to become an ongoing annual showcase of outdoor installation art in the heart of Midtown Toronto.


Theme –Transform

Spaces in our lives that go unchanged become invisible.  However, when changed – we are forced to respond.  Our navigation must alter to accommodate this new state.  A changed routine will transform the familiar to unfamiliar.  This change will punctuate unique moments in our timeline.  Change can offer a new perspective or highlight one that was previously unnoticed.  Change can ask a question or provide a solution.   We’re seeking artists and designers to explore the notion of transformation by creating installations that disrupt space and challenge the image and experience of the public realm.



Selected artists/designers will be invited to construct their installations in privately-owned public spaces around the Yonge + St. Clair community in midtown Toronto, Ontario (see map below). Generally, installations will be located on flat, even pavement on the ground plane and exposed to the elements. Locations range in size and scale, but will generally be unobstructed square or rectangular placement locations. Proposals should be flexible enough to accommodate varying locations situations, but the BIA will work with the selected artists/designers to find suitable locations.



General Terms of Entry

The Fall Art Festival submission is open to all artists and designers of all mediums.

Acceptance of work is not guaranteed. The Yonge + St. Clair BIA’s decision is final. Any work not meeting the stated terms of entry will not be considered.

Entry forms must be filled out correctly. When filling out your application, you must use your legal name. Companies/organizations/collectives may submit 1 application package, but must apply with the full legal name of a representative/contact person

To be eligible as a collective, you must have produced a collaborative body of work and worked together for a minimum of two years to develop a singular artistic/design practice.


Who can apply

We welcome individual artists, designers, and artist groups at any stage of their careers with formal or informal training, from all disciplines, to apply to be a part of the Yonge + St. Clair Annual Fall Art Festival. Artists and designers must be comfortable working with materials and structures that can withstand outdoor conditions.



Selected artists/designers will receive a $5,000.00 CAD honorarium. Selected artists/designers will be responsible for all associated expenses with their artwork including, but not limited to, transportation, storage, materials, installation, and take-down.


Application Process

Submissions must be made through the online Google Form at

Applicants must submit a completed application form – including an artist statement, and a maximum of 5 images in JPG format, each image no larger than 3MB. There is no submission fee.



All submissions will be reviewed, scored, and selected by representatives of the Yonge + St. Clair BIA. Works will be selected based on originality, quality, expression of the theme, and overall impression. We recommend all applicants to submit high quality images that effectively communicate the proposed installation.


2019 Important Dates

August 6                      Submissions open

August 30                    Submissions close

September 6               Selected artists notified

October 3                    Installations complete

October 4                    Media Preview – selected artists must be available to attend (time TBD)

October 5                    Launch Event – selected artists must be available to attend (time TBD)

November 2                Festival End


Use of Images

Selected artists will grant the Yonge + St. Clair BIA educational and promotional usage rights for your images. You are agreeing to license the Yonge + St. Clair BIA usage rights only; the artist always retains their copyright.

Top 5 Local Park Spaces at Yonge + St. Clair

Yonge + St. Clair offers a variety of green, and open spaces if you know where to look. Whether you’d like to go for a daytime stroll, or want a breather from your weekly routine here are the Top 5 local park spaces near Yonge + St. Clair.


Delisle – St. Clair Parkette

The Delisle – St. Clair Parkette is located at 17 Delisle Avenue, tucked behind the row of office and commercial buildings that line St. Clair W. Despite it’s central location at Yonge + St. Clair it offers a peaceful green space, and is situated in an easily accessible location for your weekday lunch break.

Visit this location: Delisle – St. Clair Parkette


Amsterdam Square

Amsterdam Square is located at the corner of St. Clair W and Avenue Road and features an ornamental fountain, crisscrossing pathways, and a tree canopy that provides ample shade. The fountain was donated to the City of Toronto by a local realtor, H. H. Williams, who also donated the land for the park in the late 1920s.

Visit this location: Amsterdam Square

Photo: Jake Tobin Garrett


Yellow Creek Ravine – Vale of Avoca

The Yellow Creek Ravine is a forested ravine that is a tributary to the Don River, with trails leading down into the Kay Gardner Beltline Trail. Yellow Creek access may be altered due to construction now through 2021, although once you find the trail you will be greeted by a forested path and the sound of the creek below.

Visit this location at: Yellow Creek Ravine Trail

Photo: Tanya Mok – BlogTO


Ravine Bench

The Ravine Bench is located on the northeast corner of Yonge + St. Clair, outside 2 St. Clair E. The bench offers public seating at the heart of the intersection. As the designer describes it: “The design itself is reflective of the ravines that cut through St. Clair. It is a combination of solid stone, plants and the abstracted levels and cuts that break the landscape here. We went through several iterations, but the ravine just felt right and fit so well with the (2 St. Clair E) building while also adding some softness and nature to the corner.”

Visit this location: 2 St. Clair E


David Balfour Park + Rosehill Reservoir

David Balfour Park is a 20.5 hectare green space featuring, ornamental fountains, reflecting pools and floral decorations. Unfortunately, construction on the reservoir underneath the park will continue until 2021, with the park again being fully closed.

Visit their location at: David Balfour Park

Photo: Susan Drysdale


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