Five years ago former mayor DAVID MILLER and City Council approved $834-million as TORONTO’s share in purchasing 204 air-conditioned LRV streetcars from Bombardier Canada. The Province of Ontario kicked in another $417-million.
Two of them are now in service on Spadina Avenue. The other 202 will be phased in over the next five years, and all of the old models will be retired. DAVID MILLER and Toronto Transit Commission CEO ANDY BYFORD can take much of the credit for delivering these state-of-the-art vehicles to the people of TORONTO. LRV highlights: fast acceleration, bike racks, 70 seats with room for 181 standees, ramps for wheelchairs and bundle buggies, and four doors for quick boarding.
The “skunk at the party” is Mayor ROB FORD, who has no use for streetcars. In fact, he wants to dump them all. “I know one thing. I won’t get on a streetcar,” Ford has proclaimed. “If I have an option, driving or streetcar, I’m going to get in my car. I just want to eventually phase them out . . . People want subways, folks. They want subways, subways. They don’t want these damned streetcars blocking up our city. That’s what they don’t want.” Says he.
As City Council ended its final session before October’s municipal election, 7,000 new condo units were approved. Add those numbers to the 70,000 already in the works and there’s no doubt downtown TORONTO is rapidly ‘Manhattanizing’. People want to live in the city centre – whatever the cost. The condo market continues to flourish. City councillor JOE MIHEVC had this to say . . .
Within the Greater TORONTO Area (GTA), the ‘old city’ is absorbing 70% of new condo construction; with 13% in the inner suburbs (Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, East York and York); and 16% in the outer suburbs (the 905 area code). The average price for new highrise condos in the ‘old city’ of TORONTO is $682 per square foot. That’s 34% higher than in the 905, and 40% higher than in the inner suburbs. – George Carras, RealNet Canada Inc.
CORKTOWN COMMON is a wonderful new creation from WATERFRONT TORONTO and the federal government. This splendid park, which opened recently, covers 73 hectares (180 acres) in the West Don Lands, within easy walking distance of King Street East at River.
More than 700 maturish trees have been planted, along with thousands of shrubs, a living marsh, ground cover and aquatic plants. There are playgrounds, a splash pad, a large central lawn, a bike path and an athletic field.
Best of all, the topography rises and falls, presenting unique views of the city’s skyline and eastside industrial buildings, bridges and rail lines. A lengthy berm functions as both a lookout and flood protector for TORONTO’s eastern downtown.
PHOTO CREDITS – Corktown Common aerial by http://www.kapflyer.wordpress.com & kids playing http://www.oulahen.com
It was a gathering place for journalists, writers like Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Greg Gatenby, film makers, poets, Leonard Cohen and regular folks who were just searching for great coffee and something good to eat.In 1963, decent coffee was practically unknown in TORONTO, and there were no outdoor patios. THE COFFEE MILL broke the mould – first at long-gone LOTHIAN MEWS off Bloor Street West, and then in a Yorkville courtyard. There it became a popular hangout for movie people during the Toronto International Film Festival. After 50 years in business the restaurant closed its doors on September 7.POSTCARD ABOVE – Lothian Mews, Save The Children Fountain and The Coffee Mill/1971, http://www.chuckmantorontonostalgia.wordpress.com
TORONTO is on the list, and we’re in excellent company. According to FORBES magazine, our city is the 10th ‘most necessary’ city in the world (tied with the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles/Orange County), and those aren’t small potatoes. FORBES: “TORONTO, as the economic capital of Canada, has become a focus for international investment into that stable and resource rich country. It is also among the most diverse cities on the planet – 46% of its population is foreign-born.” <CHART BELOW – Bloomberg>
Ryerson University management professor MURTAZA HAIDER believes Canadians should celebrate TORONTO’s energy and worldly influence: “It is true that TORONTO and its suburbs could be even better and more environmentally sustainable. However, in haste to berate the city, let us not forget to celebrate its accomplishments and excellence. Others see TORONTO as a success. So should we.”
As well . . . TORONTO was named ‘Intelligent Community of the Year/2014’ this past June – the 3rd year we’ve reached the finals. This city was selected after a year-long evaluation of data, site inspections, and the votes of an international jury made up primarily of non-Canadians. TORONTO won because of the waves of start-up companies coming from tech incubators and places like the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, innovations and research in the film and media industry from Pinewood Studios, the recovery and artistic output of Regent Park, and the city’s sustainable new Waterfront development.
And lastly on the Civic Boosterism list . . . Canada and Australia swept The Economist’s ‘most livable cities/2014’ list, with TORONTO’s 97.2 in 4th place, behind VANCOUVER’s 97.3 in 3rd place. The poll was based on 30 factors across various categories including stability, health care, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.
The city’s transportation chief, STEPHEN BUCKLEY, has delivered a half-baked “buffered” bike lane on Adelaide Street West, with no physical barriers. Cyclists are separated from busy traffic lanes by painted white lines and a metre-wide buffer zone. This is not what city council voted 39-0 for in June.
<PHOTO ABOVE – Adelaide Street West’s unprotected bike lane/urbantoronto.ca>
STEPHEN BUCKLEY <quote above> says “it’s a pilot project”. CYCLE TORONTO’s executive director JARED KOLB says city council didn’t give Buckley the freedom to decide whether or not to erect physical barriers. The city’s plan was to create a separated lane. <PHOTO BELOW – a separated bike lane/Paul Krueger/cycleto.ca>
Architect PAUL KULIG on Twitter: “I took the Adelaide bike lanes for the first time today. On my way to work I ran into: a dump truck, a mini-van, three Beck taxi cabs, a glass delivery truck, a concrete truck, a pump truck, a Canadian Automobile Association vehicle, and an 18-wheeler in the (bike) lane.”
The subway is on its way to YORK UNIVERSITY, and should arrive sometime in late 2016. That’s very good news for the 60,000 students, faculty and staff, who’ve been making their way to the outer reaches since the late sixties.
In the PHOTO ABOVE – “field of dreams”/York University Archives – former York president MURRAY ROSS sits with his telephone in an empty snow-covered field. That field was destined to become the site of Canada’s third largest university. In 1964, when shovels broke ground, this was a vast windswept tract of farmland, woodlots, unpaved roads and a creek, reachable by bus – a world away from downtown TORONTO. There’ve been some changes made . . .
Two subway stations (Pioneer Village and York U) will transform York from an isolated campus to an urban one, just 40 minutes from downtown universities and research hubs.
Looking to the immediate future, BUD PURVES, president of York’s Development Corporation (YUDC) says “we have approval to develop 15 million (additional) square feet.”