Canadians love poking fun at TORONTO or bitching about it, but tourists seem to think we’re dandy. According to figures released yesterday, tourism brought in $4.6 billion in revenue last year.
In 2011, Tourism Toronto reports the number of hotel rooms sold surpassed 9 million – an all-time record. Also, the Americans are coming back – a growing number by air. For the first time since 2006, overnight stays by American tourists has increased, with many of them arriving by air, instead of automobile. Porter Air and Billy Bishop Island Airport probably had something to do with that.
Globally, there’s been a rapid increase in visitors from China, India and Brazil. Chinese numbers went up by 40% in 2010; 35% in 2011.
In 2011, this city opened 1,118 new hotel rooms. On the North American Hotel Occupancy List, TORONTO ranks number 6, with some heavy competition.
1. New York City – 81% occupancy
2. Oahu Island – 78%
3. San Francisco – 75%
4. Miami – 70%
5. Boston – 69%
6. Toronto – 68.3%
7. Anaheim – 68.1%
8. Los Angeles – 68.0%
9. Vancouver – 67.7%
10. Washington DC – 67.0%
(Source – Smith Travel Research)
Despite worldwide chaos, recession (and Mayor Rob Ford), TORONTO is – so far – doing quite well, thank you.
From the outside, it’s just another 1980′s-era office building. But inside, Levitt Goodman Architects have created a welcoming oasis for urban aboriginals in the heart of TORONTO. From its lush rooftop garden on down, the Native Child and Family Services project, 30 College Street, combines family, mental health and social services within a friendly natural environment. There are teaching hills; plantings of sweet grass, tobacco, corn and squash; an aboriginal artists studio; and space for assemblies of all kinds. <PHOTOS – Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc. & Jesse Colin Jackson>
Michael Ho and Asad Muhammed, two Grade 12 students, have successfully launched a Legoman 24 kilometres into space, and recorded the entire event on crystal-clear video. University of Toronto astrophysics professor, Dr. Michael Reid: “This shows a tremendous degree of resourcefulness. For two 17-year-olds to accomplish this on their own is pretty impressive.”
Excerpts from a 1971 MacLeans article, by Douglas Marshall:
—- “It seems only yesterday that TORONTO was just another leafy provincial capital – hardly more than a village, really – full of a lot of dull Protestants preoccupied with money. Only the people who loved the city, and they were few, realized that what TORONTO lacked in public greatness it made up for in private joys.”
—- “In TORONTO each year about 50 major new buildings go up in the downtown core; some 23,500 apartment units and 8,300 homes are completed . . . and $20 million is spent improving the efficiency of what is already Canada’s finest and longest (4,284 miles) sewer system.”
—- “Expansion has left it facing crises in transportation, in urban renewal, in the fundamental decision-making machinery of municipal government.”
—- “You might say that TORONTO qualifies as a great citiy . . . partly because the street-corner newspaper boxes are beginning to be protected by coin-operated locking devices.”
—- “TORONTO may be big. It may even be great. But it is fast losing its private joys.”
—- “City Hall is at the heart of the problem. TORONTO continues to be run mainly by men who still think of it as a village – only grown larger.”
“Man on a Ledge”, which opened recently, isn’t a film for the vertigo-challenged. Much of the action takes place (in real life – no green screen or computers involved) on a tiny window ledge attached to Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel, high above the teeming streets. Elizabeth Banks and Sam Worthington star, but New York City itself plays a leading role.
Sam Worthington: “I actually wanted the film to be in 3-D. But then, when I watched it, I realized you don’t need it. It has this sweeping arc and you get to experience what it felt like up there. (The feeling) – FEAR. Not of falling, but of landing, because you’d go splat. You do hang on for grim life. I always had a palm on the wall somewhere.”
In 1923, comedy master Harold Lloyd, took a similar risk near the top of the International Bank building at Temple and Spring Streets in Los Angeles. LLoyd, who did many of his own stunts, had a double for parts of this, but there was a definite possibility of death or serious injury. You can see his hair-raising work in “Safety Last” on YouTube.
Column support for the Council Chamber, TORONTO City Hall