Saturday, November 1, 2014Light Snow 2°C
City

What traffic used to look like in Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / November 1, 2014

toronto traffic jamAlmost as long as there have been cars, there have been traffic jams in Toronto. Add road space and, like the ocean into a harbour, cars and vehicles arrive to fill it. It's been called the "fundamental rule" of traffic: greater road capacity leads directly to more cars and longer journeys.

With that thought it mind it should come as no surprise that Toronto's downtown streets have been a congested mess since before the 1930s, when people were driving Buick Series 40s and Plymouth Model 30Us and horse-drawn carts were still a relatively common mode of transportation.

To celebrate tonight's overnight lane closures on the Gardiner and the weekend shutdown of the subway between Eglinton and Bloor, here are some classic photos of Toronto traffic.

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City

10 lost Toronto buildings we wish we could bring back

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 31, 2014

toronto star buildingFor every preserved historic building in Toronto there have been many more lost to short-sighted planning or indifference. The mindset has changed in recent years--high-profile architects like Frank Gehry must bend their designs to incorporate protected structures and beloved neighbourhood edifices (sometimes) get gentrified--but there are still egregious losses and cases of unfortunate neglect (see Walnut Hall, George St. in general).

It's not practical to expect every pretty building erected in the City of Toronto to remain in perpetuity. This city is in a persistent state of flux, constantly making itself over, old giving way to new. In order to build many of the buildings mourned by this list, other, equally valuable landmarks had to make way. There would be no TD Centre, First Canadian Place, or City Hall in an alternate version of Toronto where these properties had survived.

Here are 10 buildings I would include in an impossible fantasy version of Toronto.

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Arts

Twitter account detailed Jian Ghomeshi abuse in April

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 29, 2014

twitter ghomeshiThe Jian Ghomeshi sexual abuse scandal just keeps getting worse and worse by the minute. Amid the news that at least eight women, including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere, allegedly suffered physical and sexual assault at the hands of the CBC host, a Twitter account, @bigearsteddy, has been discovered detailing allegations as early as April.

Several of the accusations were retweeted at the time, but now that the Toronto Star has published accounts that reference the same bear, the tweets are getting increased attention.

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City

10 lowlights from the Rob Ford mayoralty

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 29, 2014

Rob FordHas it been four years already? It seems like only yesterday we were outraged that Rob Ford had been photographed reading while driving at highway speeds on the Gardiner (folks, he was "busy," OK.) That was before the Garrison Ball, the crack cocaine scandal, and the conflict of interest trial. It was a simpler time.

Now that Ford is headed out of the mayor's office (but not city hall,) it's worth a look back on some of the most shocking moments of the most surreal mayoralty in the history of Toronto. If one thing's for certain, John Tory won't be anywhere near as entertaining.

Here are some of the most noteworthy lowlights from the Ford years.

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City

5 things Toronto could learn from Zurich

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 29, 2014

zurich skylineThe Swiss people's love of rules, order, and cleanliness is plainly evident in Zurich. It has its benefits: the trains run on time, its public transit functions like a well oiled machine, and the citizens get to have a direct say on important issues. The downsides: neighbours will snitch over minor garbage infractions, and various mundane activities are inexplicably banned on Sundays.

Ideologically speaking, Zurich is the polar opposite of Toronto. The city government is structured so that the position of mayor is largely ceremonial and matters of particularly vital importance trigger plebiscites, giving citizens a direct say in how the city operates, regardless of who is currently in the town hall. Likewise, fastidious urban planning has given Zurich a well-functioning, streetcar orientated transit system that would make a Toronto transit rider green with envy.

Here are five ideas Toronto could study in Zurich.

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City

Get to know the new faces on Toronto city council

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 28, 2014

new city councillors torontoThe 2014 Toronto municipal election was one for the incumbents. Of the 37 city councillors running for re-election, 36 won back their seat. Only one sitting councillor, deputy speaker John Parker, was ousted by voters in Ward 26. When the new council is sworn in Dec. 1 there will be a seven new faces, many of them representing wards in south Etobicoke.

Here's a quick run-down of who's who.

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