7 urban trends Toronto must resist in 2013
On the last day of 2012, urbanism blog Atlantic Cities published a list of worldwide city trends it hopes will not last another year. At a glance, several of the activities on the naughty list seem to apply directly to Toronto; casinos, tacky marketing schemes, and large-scale sports development for a single, grand event.
OK, so I'm a little biased towards forever banishing most of these trends to a black portfolio somewhere in a leaky storage container in the basement of city hall. Anyway, let's hear your thoughts in the comment thread below.
According to urbanist Richard Florida, "politicians and cities see [casinos] as economy boosters, but often the social costs outweigh the economic benefit." Right now, a cluster of gaming companies are flirting with the city for a potentially lucrative deal to build a downtown complex. I'm willing to bet any casino will be a hideous turd on the city whoever builds it so this one is firmly in the reject pile.
SPONSORING SUBWAY STATIONS
In July 2011, the TTC approved a new ad contract with Pattison Outdoor Advertising that laid the ground work for the sale of naming rights to subway stations. Commercial advertisers are apparently frowned upon so Ryerson University was one of the first to express a real interest in renaming Dundas station. Its location next to the stop might have made it a little more palatable - the proposal seems to have died - but this is a trend that really should vanish before something horrendous, like McDonald's Spadina or St. Coca-Cola station, happens.
FANCY BIKE LANES
According to the Atlantic Cities, elevated, heated, and brightly painted bike lanes are being proposed in various cities around the world, and this is a problem because it focus on style over practicality. In Toronto it's hard to scorn any new bike lane, whatever form it takes, if it means making the roads safer. Who knows - maybe an ambitious project will help us find some sensible middle ground.
FAILING TO FUTURE-PROOF SPORTS DEVELOPMENT
The original list cites the Olympics as the prime example, but Toronto and the GTA could also be heading for trouble with development ahead of the 2015 Pan Am Games. Milton is getting a world-class velodrome, Markham is building a pool complex, and U of T is working on a new high-performance sports centre. Here's hoping that these venues serve some real practical use once the games are over. In Hamilton, the replacement for Ivor Wynne Stadium will host the Tiger-Cats once Pan Am soccer wraps up.
COMMUTERS FIGHTING COMMUTERS
Recent years in Toronto have been marked by disputes between users of various modes of transportation: cars vs. bikes, bikes vs. pedestrians, streetcars vs. cars, etc. That needs to stop if this city is going to ever provide a sustainable and efficient way of moving everybody where they need to go, and back again. Writer Emily Badger describes the partisan disputes in other cities (it's not just us!) as resembling "warring Balkan tribes." It's time for a truce, guys.
DITHERING ON FOOD TRUCKS
They're delicious, they're fun, but quite why Toronto isn't willing to make it easier for food trucks to operate in the city is baffling. It's not just us; Columbus, Ohio is leisurely working on new laws for its 150 food trucks over concerns about where the vehicles are allowed to park. It can't be that hard to work this out, can it? Afterall, the National Post recently predicted mobile eats to be one of this year's big food trends.
DOING AND UNDOING
Plastic bags were out, then they weren't. Transit City was dead, then it wasn't. The Jarvis bike lanes survived then vanished. This year let's make the right decision the first time around and stick to it. Sadly, this is the one resolution that most likely won't come true.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.