Friday, October 21, 2011

Toronto, A Big City Thinking Small

Over the past couple weeks, I happen to have come across three different, well-written articles that each attempt to articulate what can often be a rather frustrating tendency toward stagnation within Toronto, a city with so much potential to be great but a seeming lack of ability to think big or long-term. For Torontonians with any interest in the city's workings, there are some essential reads here, but I imagine these might prove interesting to anyone with an interest in municipal politics, city planning, and the reason the Leafs always seem to suck.

I've compiled links to and excerpts from these three excellent reads here for Real Johnson readers.

How Toronto Lost Its Groove
And why the rest of Canada should resist the temptation to cheer
By John Lorinc
From The Walrus

"[...] [A]s many of the world’s other megacities, including regional rivals like Boston and Chicago, prepare for an era of breakneck global urban expansion, Toronto persists in thinking small and acting cheap. Should the rest of Canada care? Yes, because the GTA is the country’s economic hub, accounting for one-fifth of its gross domestic product; New York, by contrast, produces just 3.3 percent of the United States’ national income. Canadian politicians typically refuse to acknowledge the importance to the country of its largest metropolis, opting instead to pander to provincial anti-Toronto sentiments. But tens of billions more in tax revenues flow out of the GTA than come back in the form of services and public sector investment, which means GTA wealth subsidizes government services across Canada, including health care and social security. So whether they love or loathe Toronto, all Canadians have a stake in its well-being. If Toronto fails, all Canadians will feel the pain."

Toronto: The Worst Sports City in the World
By Stephen Marche
From Grantland

"The problem with hockey in Toronto is the nostalgia that dominates how the game is played and consumed here. More than winning, Torontonians love the style of old-time hockey, a spirit of straightforwardness, brotherly violence, and what for lack of a better word I will call "not-fancyness." Hockey commentators here love nothing more than explaining how hockey games are won by cycling the puck, driving at the net, ugly goals. "They don't look pretty, but they win games." They love saying that."

Rob Ford Can’t Fight City Hall 
His enemies roused, his brother a liability, Canada’s toughest mayor comes undone
by Nicholas Köhler
From Macleans

"Ford, who secured an improbable election win by promising to deliver a stripped-down Toronto—one free of graffiti, a Toronto of roads, perhaps some police, lower taxes and little else—has been stopped in his tracks by the city’s old order. His story is a morality tale that plays more like farce. It would be funny if it were not such a powerful lesson in the staying power of civic vested interests and the Sisyphean challenge of changing a city."

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