BUFFALO LOVES CANADA & VICE VERSA. IT’S A FRIENDSHIP THAT HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME

BUFFALO, New York State’s second largest city after NYC, has always attracted Canadians for – among other things – football, hockey, architecture, chicken wings, the Albright-Knox contemporary art museum, excellent restaurants, the airport, theatres, PBS, and friendly inhabitants. No doubt once this crisis is over we’ll be back crossing the bridges again. We’re all in this together.From our friends in BUFFALO . . . Dear Canadians – Our countries have closed our borders to non-essential travel. It’s moments like these that remind us how fortunate we are to be neighbors — a friendship that has stood the test of time and underscored our shared interests and values. We cannot wait for the day when life returns to normal, and we can welcome you back here with open arms. Take care, and be well!
Your friends in Buffalo.

MAYOR ANNE HIDALGO OF PARIS IS CONDUCTING A WAR WITH CAR & TAXI DRIVERS – AND WINNING

Ms. Hidalgo has made a lot of enemies, but a great number of Parisians support her attempt to bring nature back into the City of Light. She learned a lesson from 2019’s deadly summer heat – 42 Celsius . . . 107.6 Fahrenheit with citizens bathing in public fountains and doing their best to keep cool. <PHOTO – AccuWeather> The Spanish-born Mayor has launched 8,000 construction projects, approved by city council (including a vast network of bicycle lanes) across the city. “There’s been a very violent reaction at times,” she told Adam Nossiter of The New York Times. “Part of it has to do with being a woman. And being a woman that wants to reduce the number of cars meant that I upset lots of men. Two-thirds of public transport users are women.” <Two-way cycle track, photo – Raise The Hammer>TORONTO could learn something about dealing with climate change from PARIS. Its government is “putting nature back in the city,” says Mayor Hidalgo – “We’ve got a proactive policy, compared to other cities in the world.” Paris has risen in the list of bike-friendly cities to 8th place from 17th since 2015. ‘The War on Cars in Paris” is a good read. It’s at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/world/europe/paris-anne-hildago-green-city-climate-change.html

CANADA’S OLDEST RECORD STORE IS SET TO CLOSE BY THE END OF 2019 – IT’S IN OSHAWA

When Wilson and Lee first opened for business in OSHAWA, radio was barely a thing. The most popular car in the world was Ford’s Model T. And you needed a wind-up Victrolia to play fragile 78 RPM records.  If in 1922 you wanted to buy one of those records, you could go to Wilson and Lee’s record store to find them among the musical instruments.Over the decades the firm survived depression, recessions, wars, technological changes (78s, LPs, 45s, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs), and these days back to vinyl. It was an excellent run.After 97 years in business, Wilson and Lee is about to close.  The property at 87 Simcoe Street North has been sold to the Holiday Inn and brothers Bill (who worked at the store for 67 years) & Dave (52 years) have decided to close up shop. It’s the end of an era.<PHOTO – Bill on the left; Dave on the right – by Durham Region News>

SOME CITIES GROW WAY TOO FAST & JAKARTA IS ONE OF THEM – SADLY, IT’S ALSO SINKING

CBC television reported this week that JAKARTA, capital city of Indonesia, is one of the world’s fastest sinking big cities. Because of that, a new capital on the island of Borneo is in the planning stages. Over 30-million live in Jakarta, which makes it even larger than Mexico City, and just below the population of Tokyo.The BBC has created a hair-raising video of this massive metropolis with some of the worst air quality almost anywhere. The address – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOSwBIstZUs

THE GAZETTE’S ALLISON HANES WRITES THAT BOTH MONTREAL & TORONTO ARE UNFAIRLY CONTROLLED

Not so long ago, MONTREAL was basking in official recognition as a “metropolis” by its political masters in Quebec City. Not so much anymore.  MONTREAL is being treated like an adult child whose parents still call the shots.  ALLISON HANES – “Transportation policy is the biggest bone of contention by far between Montreal and Quebec City, with the provincial government (CAQ) not only ignoring the city’s needs, but actively undermining them. On climate change, the city and province are also at loggerheads.”

<Editorial cartoon by TERRY MOSHER (AISLIN), Montreal Gazette; MONTREAL & THE REST OF QUEBEC>  MONTREAL’s main financial lever is property taxes, which it depends on for nearly 70 per cent of its revenue. For the rest, it must go cap in hand to the provincial or federal governments, making it impossible for the city to dream big without higher level approval.”

“Canadian cities are constitutionally “creatures of their provinces.” This parochial relationship is downright dysfunctional in a world where more people than ever are living in cities and municipal governments have increasingly complex and important responsibilities. While cities like PARIS and NEW YORK wield their clout, MONTREAL is being treated like an adult child whose parents still call the shots.”<“DOUG”, editorial cartoon by MICHAEL DE ADDER, The Hill>  “Things aren’t much better in TORONTO, where Ontario Premier DOUG FORD slashed city council in half & announced he will seize control of the subway system. The City of Toronto Act, inaugurated in 2006, offers no more protection from paternalism than Quebec’s Bill 121.

“MONTREAL may have metropolis status — but it seems like the city is on a tighter leash than ever.”  ALLISON HANES’ complete column – https://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/allison-hanes-wither-montreals-metropolis-status

And in TORONTO . . . Mayor JOHN TORY fired off some choice words aimed at Premier DOUG FORD and his OPPRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE provincial government. Mr. Tory said “you’ll see me standing up for TORONTO when the provincial government risks stalling out the economic engine of Ontario just to waive less than one-tenth of one percentage point of the provincial budget . . . Cutting public health programs so as to find extra money . . . (eventually costing the city $100-million annually) . . . to pay The Beer Store to change their contract? What does that say about (your) priorities? Cutting public health and child care, by funding a greater supply of alcohol in corner stores?  I will not let this city be pushed backwards.”

GUY JONES TAKES US TO THE DUTCH City of UTRECHT IN 1925, AT NORMAL SPEED & WITH SOUND

GUY JONES is a videographer who brings history to life by editing old films and making them more watchable. He slows them down to a natural speed and adds sound – making them a totally new viewing experience.  This one is a look at the busy streets of UTRECHT, a transportation hub in the centre of the Netherlands. There’s a lot of activity going on, and the design of vehicles is fascinating.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlCQXtfAWPc

MISSISSAUGA WANTS TO STOP FEEDING $85-MILLION ANNUALLY TO OTHER TOWNS & CITIES

<PHOTO ABOVE – Mississauga City Hall, adjacent to the Living Arts Centre>  If the Ontario government approves, TORONTO’s neighbour, MISSISSAUGA plans to break away from Peel Region and become a grown-up, totally independent city of 721,000 – third largest in Ontario.

Mississauga is wasting money according to Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Analysis shows we send $85-million annually to the Region of Peel to fund the growth of other cities (such as Brampton). Our money should go towards Mississauga priorities. It’s money that … should be spent in our own city.”  Makes sense to me.  <Below – Mississauga city Centre, from Eglinton Avenue and Mavis intersection.>

 

I REVISITED MY BUCKET LIST OF GREAT CITIES – ROTTERDAM, ANTWERP & VENICE – MARCH/2019

Bombed by the Nazis during World War II, ROTTERDAM has now become a Dutch cuisine, night life, art and architecture capital.  It’s a popular destination for tourists and cruise ships, but not in the extreme.  This, of course, might change as the word gets out.

Manhattanizing ROTTERDAM is now building the tallest skyscraper in Europe.  It’s no longer the ‘second city’, and these days it’s holding its own against rivaling AMSTERDAM.  <PHOTO ABOVE – the Erasmus Bridge> ANTWERP, Belgium, is another favorite of mine, with two brand new museums to visit – the Museum of Modern Art, and an exceptionally fine Fotomuseum<PHOTO ABOVE – Antwerp’s unique railway station, which is on several levels; BELOW – feeding time for the flamingos at Antwerp Zoo>A TORONTO surprise in ANTWERP was brought to our attention by SABINA, a tour guide we happened to meet on the street and asked for directions. She said the Peter Paul Rubens painting ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’ had returned to Antwerp, the city where it was painted. It’s on loan to Rubens House from the Art Gallery of Ontario.  The painting is reportedly worth about $200,000,000 – a gift from the Thomson family.This painting crossed oceans and mountain ranges, survived wars, been lost and found, and set an auction record. But it had never been exhibited in a European museum.When it returns to TORONTO you can be sure this masterpiece will receive more attention than usual.The ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, otherwise known as VENICE, was the third city we visited. A watery land of canals, magnificent architecture, history wherever one looked, this ancient city lives up to its reputation and then some. How amazing that it still exists.IT WAS GREAT SEEING ALL THREE OF THEM AGAIN.

“SOJOURN IN VENICE” BY TANEREDI (1927-64) SUMS UP THE ENERGY & CULTURE OF A TOTALLY UNIQUE CITY

<‘Sojourn in Venice’ by Taneredi, 1955, oil on hardboard, Ca’Rezzonico Museum>

Having taken 350 photos of VENICE in a few days, there’s no room for all of them. Below you’ll find a few.

<The RIALTO BRIDGE above>

This floater is one of the most expensive luxury yachts in the world. Try $180,000,000 on for size. Owned by billionaire heiress HEIDI HORTON, the Carinthia VII was built at the Lurssen yard in 2002 and had a refit 3 years later. She sails under the flag of Austria and is named after Austria’s Carinthia region.  Mrs. Horten and her late husband have owned several other large yachts, all named Carinthia. Presently, home base is VENICE. <PHOTO – Ross Winter>

<Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (or St. Mary of Health) – above, faces toward St. Mark’s Basin>The city is much larger than I remembered & early March is a good time to visit – few tourists, easy admission to museums, efficient public transport, food is average and expensive, pizza is pizza, museum & transit passes may be worth while, back streets are an explorer’s delight, not much night life unless you drink, after dark many restaurants shut down.  Venetians dress smartly, there are churches everywhere, and if your room faces a major canal, remember it’s a busy thoroughfare & boats have horns.  <PHOTO – Murano Piazza, Christmas tree and tower>

<On the way back to Venice on Vaporetto #2 from Murano, an island that specializes in glass art.>They’re efficient, noisy and quick – the Vaporetto is an important part of Venice’s public transit system.

<The Doge; his palace has long lineups even in off-peak months. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state‘s aristocracy.>

<“CHANGING PLACE, CHANGING TIME, CHANGING THOUGHTS, CHANGING FUTURE”, courtyard of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum on the Grand Canal>

<Even public utilities have a certain artistic style in Venice>    <PHOTO ABOVE by Ross Winter, St. Mark’s Square – a must visit>