Archive for the ‘Comparison to Other Cities’ Category

The NY Times Does Toronto

2009 May 18

In yesterday’s Sunday edition of the New York Times, an article appeared fawning over the city of Toronto.

The featured journalist, Danny Lee, makes a few suspect claims (streetcars trolleys run like clockwork??), and he seems to be so enamoured with the West End (West Queen West/College/Ossington) that almost all his recommendations take you there.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty glowing review of our beloved city.  The only thing is, who is reading this?  I might guess that most people reading the Sunday NY Times would be more interested in cocktails in Yorkville than at Sweaty Betty’s.  But I digress.

What it all comes down to is that TZero is actually a great, interesting, diverse city that can be an attractive destination for people even from one of the greatest, most interesting and most diverse cities in the whole world.

Goodbye L.C. Hello Photoshop?

2009 March 3

Any of you who have taken a ride on the TTC in the last few months have obviously seen this advertisement plastered all over the subway cars:

Is it just me or does this chick have a wonky-eye? 

I imagine she doesn’t really, considering she’s the star of an MTV spinoff reality show (okay, that might not be that great.)  But don’t you think the marketers could have chosen a better pic of Whitney Port, or at least put it through the retoucher machine?

Quote of the Day!

2009 January 30

From AOL Travel . . .
—————————————————————————————————–
5.TORONTO

I AM A U.S. BORN AND RAISED CITIZEN. ALL MY LIFE , NOW 53yrs.I HAVE NEVER SAT IN A PUBLIC RESTROOM. WHEN WE WERE IN TORONTO EVERYTHING IS VERY CLEAN AND FRESH AND IT IS THE ONLY PLACE I SAT IN A PUBLIC RESTROOM. EVERYONE THERE WAS WONDERFUL AND VERY HELPFUL.
Date of Trip to Toronto,Canada: March,2003
Purpose of your trip: Personal
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I don’t know if I’d go that far about the cleanliness of the city, but this is pretty funny.

To Boldly Ring, Where No Cellie Has Rung Before

2008 December 5

Guess what?  Soon you’ll be able to talk on your cell phone, continuously, nearly everywhere you go!  CityNews reports on the TTC’s confirmation that it is working on a plan to bring cell phone service to the subway.

Kind of funny, considering that this service is already commonplace in major centres around the world, including Montreal and Boston.  Service in Toronto is proposed to begin sometime in 2010.

Toronto: City of the Future?

2008 November 20

fDi Magazine (part of the Financial Times group) awarded Toronto the distinction as the runner-up (to Chicago) for the award of Major North American City of the Future.  Judging criteria was based on economic potential, cost effectiveness, human resources, quality of life, infrastructure, business friendliness, and foreign direct investment promotion strategy.  Cities were asked to provide data and qualitative information in much the same way as investors approach locations during the screening process used to decide which are suitable for capital investment projects.

Toronto’s high placing was a result of good, affordable housing, low crime levels, strong health and education sectors, and falling unemployment. Toronto also has a strong and innovative environmental programme and it topped fDi’s shortlist with the best quality of life of any major city.

Although this report was published more than a year ago, the competition happens only every other year, so this is the most recent ranking.  Above photo from Vincent Callebaut Architectures.

Was Harper Speaking About Torontonians?

2008 November 20

Our current Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently claimed that ordinary Canadians don’t care about the arts or their funding.

Interestingly enough, the renovated Art Gallery of Ontario re-opened for business this past weekend, and I rode my bike by there yesterday around 5:30 pm only to witness an incredibly long line-up to get into the gallery.  I’m talking like around-the-block-long.

On a related note, I read this article this morning in the NY Times.  It basically talks about how, even though many of the museums in Los Angeles are facing budget crunches right now, there is still talk of bringing yet another public art museum to the City of Bevery Hills (financed by philanthropist Eli Broad.)

These two stories caused me to revisit thoughts I’ve had for a while about the state of the cultural institutions of Toronto.  We basically have two major museums: the Royal Ontario Museum and the AGO.  Yeah, we have a few other minor ones like the Gardiner Museum (ceramic art), the Bata Shoe Museum (footwear), and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.  I guess the Ontario Science Centre is kind of a museum, too.  However, given the fact that Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America (after Mexico City, NYC, LA, and Chicago) it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.  New York City is home to top-notch museums in art, architecture, photography, natural history, television, radio and technology.  Chicago has more than 40 museums open to the public, including three popular museums on the lakefront linked by a large park area known as the Museum Campus.  Even Montréal, which is half the size of Toronto, has like 4 or 5 major institutions.  What’s up with our cultural infrastructure?

One proposal that has been in the works for more than 5 years is the the Toronto Museum Project.  This would see a “signature piece on the waterfront [showcasing] Toronto’s cultural story and intercultural understanding.”  Current plans identify the Canada Malting Silos site at the foot of Bathurst Street as the proposed site for this new Toronto Museum.  Only time will tell whether this project will actually go forward, but I’m not placing any bets.  Two other contemporary museum projects went unrealized – Metronome: Canada’s Music City was shelved years ago and a more ambitious Toronto city museum, called Humanitas, was rejected half a decade ago.  There’s actually a current exhibit at the ROM entitled Unbuilt Toronto: The City That Could Have Been, that showcases unbuilt projects and unrealized building proposals over the last 150 years.

As for our city’s current cultural landscape, go out and support the arts – even if Stephen Harper thinks you don’t care about them.  I’m going to the AGO this weekend (although I’ll be prepared to line up.)

Let’s All Move to Burlington

2008 April 29

Money Sense Magazine just came out with its 3rd annual ranking of the best places to live in Canada.  154 communities were compared on 16 factors including climate, salaries, real estate, and (supposedly an indicator of quality of health care) doctors per capita.

Those conducting this ranking claim it to be “the fairest, most unbiased guide you can find to Canadian communities.”  Interestingly (and ironically), they also tout the fact that their rankings “aren’t about who has the best scenery, or the best restaurants, or the best beaches.”  In fact, there are absolutely no cultural indicators contributing to their rankings whatsoever.

So, that being said, here’s the list.  Obviously, I would much rather live in Burlington (No. 8 ) than, say, Montréal (No. 82).  Toronto came in at No. 51, down significantly from last year.  Ottawa-Gatineau was tops at No. 1.  And the worst place to live in Canada (according to these people)?  Port Alberni, BC.

“It’s not fair!”

2008 April 17

Starting Monday morning at 4am, Toronto may be faced with a transit strike.  As somebody who has taken the worst transit system in the world TTC a lot over the course of the last 6 months, this is something of a conundrum of principles in my mind. 

TTC

On one hand, I think the Toronto Transit Commission really needs a freshening up.  I’ve heard that the system receives less than 1/3 the amount of money per capita than do other major cities that have excellent-functioning transportation operations, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.  I believe that given that about one sixth of Canada’s entire population lives in the GTA and probably closer to 1/3 comes to the city on a regular basis, all levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal) should pony-up some more cash and give this city a world-class transit system.  However, I’ve also heard somewhere that something like 25% of the City of Toronto’s budget goes towards the TTC.  How is this possible given that the service is so crappy, yet the fare is still so expensive?

On the other hand, after watching the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113‘s press conference this morning on CityTV, I can’t help but NOT feel sympathetic towards the workers.  It appeared that Bob Kinnear, the union’s President and spokesperson, used the phrase “not fair” about 10 000 times.  “We want to give him [Mayor David Miller] some time to step into this situation and do what is fair,” said Kinnear in his press appeal.

NEWSFLASH: life’s not fair.

Mr. Kinnear repeatedly compared TTC workers with both other city workers and transit workers in other areas of the Greater Toronto Area.  “Driving a street car on Queen Street in Toronto takes a lot more skill than driving a bus on Queen Street in Brampton.”  Ummm, I’m not sure if I agree with this or even understand what he means.  No offense to the streetcar drivers, but they don’t even have to steer.  The vehicles are on tracks; all they have to do other than hit the gas and the brake is open the doors and push the button so that the automated voice says “please move back.”  Forgetting about comparisons, and just thinking about this situation from a general perspective, what it comes down to is that, while this is an important service for the city, these jobs involve little skill and no education.  Is it fair for me to ask why these workers feel they deserve even greater benefits than they’re already getting – so much so that they are willing to derail (pardon the pun) an entire city, for who knows how long?

If you know me, or even if you’ve just read any of my blog posts here on TZero, you know that I am a huge proponent of public transportation.  However, I also complain a lot about the TTC because, for lack of a better term, it sucks.  The service is infrequent and sporatic, many of the drivers are unenthusiastic if not unfriendly, and a city with Toronto’s stature should have a sophisticated metro system, not these crappy streetcars.

To quote Bob Kinnear, I say “it’s not fair” that we’re stuck with the TTC.

New Greenspace – Yes!

2007 October 12

port.jpg

A huge new sports field will be opening soon in the Toronto Portlands.  It seems like an unlikely place for a sports facility, what with the neighbour to the north being a garbage transfer station, and no restidential area even within walking distance.  On the other hand, there are a bunch of other sports happening in the area: the Hanlan Boat Club (rowing), Toronto Multihull Cruising Club (sailing), and the Docks Waterfront Driving Range (golf).  Plus, this field is tagged as transitional, with a life of around 10 years, and will lead the area’s revitalization with the development of new parks and public spaces and increasing waterfront recreational opportunities.  The area is set to become Lake Ontario Park, which will include more playing fields, parkland including new treed areas, and children’s playgrounds.  This is pretty cool, because the city could easily have set this area up for development of residential/commercial mix being as close as it is to downtown.  Check out the official newsletter for this area, and the website for the waterfront in general.

s-011.jpg

Toronto, with its natural harbour and islands, could be one of the world’s premier port cities with Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Hong Kong.  Let’s hope the development of the eastern end of the waterfront goes better than that of the western end (aka Condoland).

A Crazy Land of Random Dopeness

2007 October 5

So tonight I’m going to the grand opening of the new club CiRCA.  It’s hard to believe a venue could have so many people talking about it for so long, but this place’s opening has been a long time in the works.  Delivered to us by the former king of the NYC club scene, Peter Gatien, tonight CiRCA may be the coolest club in the world.  Even if it lives up to it’s hype, this place will have to be really amazing to survive, what with a questionable market for new clubs in TO – not to mention a 3000 person capacity!  Anyway, last night was the invite-only pre-grand opening party featuring a performance by Missy Elliot and welcoming Paris Hilton, among others.  Tonight, they’re saying there’ll be a very special guest: “one of the most instrumental people in electronic music, who laid the groundwork for not only the birth of electro music, but the nu rave culture-moment itself that has swept the entire world and is only getting crazier by the day.” I’ll report back tomorrow with details.

RANDOMLAND

Dance. Rock. Revolution. Rave.