Toronto

Toronto’s Civic Malaise

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Despite Toronto’s international reputation for livability, all is not well in the city. Many politicians and pundits blame the outgoing city council, and Mayor David Miller. While they’ve done their share of damage, the city faces deeper, systemic problems. The source of the problem is more fundamental than stifling bureaucracy, or the stranglehold of the public sector unions. These are symptoms of the institutional sclerosis caused by the amalgamation of Toronto and surrounding areas into the new Toronto Megacity.  read more »

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G20: The Siege of Toronto

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Excerpts from Steve Lafleur's personal "View From The Wreckage" diary and photo log from this month's G20 conference in Toronto:

June 25th
10:51 PM:
I arrive in Toronto to a surprisingly vacant parking lot on the Esplanade, in the heart of Toronto's bustling financial district. Quietest Friday night I've ever seen in Toronto. Barely a soul out in the usually packed financial district.  read more »

Toronto's G-20 Conference: Financial Boon or Boondoggle?

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Ever since the ill fated 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, there has been some debate over the merits of hosting meetings of international organizations in major cities. Some argue that there are economic spin offs from the tourism generated by these conferences, but others argue that the security costs far outweigh the benefits. In the lead up to the G-20 meeting in Toronto, scheduled for June 26-27, there has been a flurry of controversy over the price tag for conference security.  read more »

Reconnecting the In-between City

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The socio-spatial landscape of what we call the “in-between city,” includes that part of the urban region that is perceived as not quite traditional city and not quite traditional suburb (Sieverts, 2003). This landscape trepresents a the remarkable new urban form where a large part of metropolitan populations live, work and play. While much attention has been focused on the winning economic clusters of the world economy and the devastated industrial structures of the loser regions, little light has been shed on the urban zones in-between.  read more »

What is the Answer to the Suburban Question?

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We have recently assembled a special issue of the journal Cities with the title “The Suburban Question”, and we assume that many readers will assume the answer is “who cares”? The term ‘sub-urbs’ connotes a lesser form of urban life, and for decades it has been used dismissively to denote anything plastic, even hypocritical. Novelist Anthony Powell described one of his unsympathetic characters possessing a ‘‘face like Hampstead Garden Suburb”; the New York Times recently described architect Robert Stern as ‘‘a suede-loafered sultan of suburban retrotecture”. In the old days, record stores had ‘urban’ bins full of gangsta, but nothing marked ‘suburban’, although it is always easy to use the suburbs as a backdrop for duplicity, as in American Beauty, or the first series of Weeds (set in a gated community, a double score!).  read more »

A Canadian Autobahn

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Canada is the largest high-income nation in the world without a comprehensive national freeway (autobahn, expressway or autoroute) system. Motorways are entirely grade separated roadways (no cross traffic), with four or more lanes (two or more in each direction) allowing travel that is unimpeded by traffic signals or stop signs.  read more »

Lost City

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We agreed, last time, to meet at the corner of Yonge & Bloor – Toronto's busiest subway stop.  read more »

The Compromise by the Lake

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Toronto is a nice city.

If that seems like faint praise, then so be it; I'm not a great Toronto fan. Don't get me wrong. It is a wonderful city for the tourist, and temporary residents I know swear by the place. But it's not my kind of town.

I spent much time in Toronto in the 1980s and 90s. My first visit must have been in 1970 or so, and I was last there on a very cold, January day in 2003.  read more »

Toronto: The Action is Where You Make It

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You get mean-spirited when you feel left out of joy. Somebody else’s joy raises envy when you haven’t had any yourself. Cities are like that, jealously eyeing other cities as if there were more fun and delight and oh, “buzz,” to be had elsewhere.

In fact it’s an illusion that the party is going on somewhere else. The action is where you make it, and in a city you have lots of help doing it. In fact that’s what justifies city life – the signature of any great city. Self-rejoicing. It’s something more than plain pride, or confidence or superiority, or a call for “buzz,” excitement, or (yech) prosperity.  read more »

The Toronto Megacity: Destroying Community at Great Cost

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Regional governance is all the rage in some circles in America. But the Canadian experience demonstrates it might not have all the benefits advertised. More than a decade ago, the Ontario government forced six municipalities to amalgamate into the megacity of Toronto. This was not done by the residents of the six jurisdictions. Separate referenda in each of the municipalities (North York, East York, York, Etobicote, Scarborough and the former city of Toronto) all indicated strong disapproval.  read more »