I moved to Toronto in 1952 and stayed there until 1972 when I moved to Ottawa, and then Vancouver. I returned in 1977 for 2 years during which time I managed the St.Lawrence Project, next to the market, on behalf of CMHC and assisted with the preparation of the Cabinet Submission to guide the redevelopment of Harbourfront.
|For me, no trip to Toronto is complete without a Saturday morning at the St. Lawrence Market. While Granville Island's Public Market has it's own unique character, the choice of food at St. Lawrence, is much more impressive.|
|For a lover of lox, there are many choices!|
When I was involved with UDI, the Canadian Housing Design Council and other national organizations, I used to return quite regularly. But in recent years, my visits have become quite infrequent.
Last month, I returned to Toronto for a weekend with my daughter to attend a family celebration. I must confess I was quite shocked with many of the changes I discovered. While we think there is a lot of development happening in Vancouver, it’s nothing compared to Toronto.
|One of the many new buildings that have popped up in the downtown in recent years.|
Indeed, while attending an Urban Land Economics conference in Toronto three years ago I was told that while Vancouver had approximately 161 highrises under construction, Toronto had 431. And they haven’t stopped building. I am told that approximately 70% of these new units are purchased by investors and rented out, although, it seems that quite a few are also used as AirBNB units, which are not outlawed to the same extent it is in Vancouver.
We stayed in a very nice two-bedroom apartment downtown, and while I had to register with the concierge, and couldn't use the swimming pool, I did not have to hide the fact I was staying in someone's suite that is only used for this purpose.
Toronto is now a very big city. An estimated 100,000 immigrants move there annually, (compared to about 30,000 who move to Metro annually) and now more than 50 per cent of the population was not born in Canada. While Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city, I could not get over how many people on the street and excellent public transit spoke a language other than English. I was also very conscious of the number of people from Africa and the Caribbean.As I noted in a post from three years ago, while Vancouverites are proud when we rank highly as a livable city, Toronto has become one of the world’s top ranked cities when it comes to most categories.
|University Avenue does not have a rival in Vancouver. Georgia Street? Cambie Street?|
Toronto ranks very highly when it comes to innovation, as measured by the number of patents registered each year. It also comes fourth in Price Waterhouse Coopers’ Cities of Opportunity ranking. Only London, New York and Singapore rank higher. Sadly, Vancouver was not even on this list of 22 international cities.
Vancouver was also missing from the Economist magazine’s ranking of top cities in which to live and work. According to a Globe and Mailstory reporting on the study, Toronto ranked first.
My friend and former colleague Joe Berridge (who recently authored a very good book called the Perfect City once attributed Toronto’s success to its influx of immigrants, excellent universities and library system, a high standard of peace and order, and with the exception of Rob Ford’s reign, good government. The consensus seemed to be that amalgamation of the various suburban municipalities had worked.
As I wandered around the city with my daughter I couldn't help think that while many of the changes that have occurred over the past few years are for the better, I was sorry to see that Yorkville is no longer Yorkville, and many other favourite streets are now dominated by new highrise developments.
|It's as if the various neighbourhoods compete with one another to see who can create the most beautiful planters. Now compare this to most Vancouver streets.|
For those who haven't been there for a while, here are a few more photos.
|Queen Street West still has much of the charm it had when I was last there....|
|Although every once in a while, a new highrise appears along the street!|
|or behind the street.|
|For some reason, this building seemed somewhat familiar! :-)|
|Travelling with my daughter, we couldn't miss Grafitti Alley!|
Toronto highrises tend to have larger floorplates compared to Vancouver buildings, although we are quickly catching up.
|A poor photo of the Distillery District|
|You don't have to have a dog to enjoy this dog fountain near Front Street|
|One of the cities most impressive privately-owned public spaces (POPS) This one, designed by Calatrava is in the Brookfield Centre|
|Why is this street called Northern Dancer Blvd? Because it's part of the redevelopment of the former Woodbine Racetrack!|
|Most people don't realize that Toronto has beaches. After all, this is known as the Beaches Neighbourhood!|
|A trip down memory lane. Once known as the Beaches Synagogue, this is where I first attended Hebrew School, taking the bus on my own from Scarborough Bluffs!|