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10 endangered species on Toronto streets

Exactly what the Toronto streetscape will look like in 10 to 15 years is anyone's guess, but there are a number of trends that offer a rough picture of what the city of the future might be like. More than a few urban fixtures might disappear over the next decade or so. From neon signs to newspaper boxes, Toronto's urban environment is in for big changes.

Here are 10 endangered species on Toronto streets.

Payphones
The payphone's days are numbered. While a few might still be around in a decade to help in the event of widespread loss of cellular capabilities, they're disappearing at a rate of about 15 per cent annually. With roughly 15,000 left in Toronto today, one shouldn't expect to see more than a few scattered across the city by the time 2025 rolls around.

Neon signs
Look back at photos from the 1970s, and the city was aglow in neon. Not so much these days. New signs are often made with LED lights, which consume less energy but lack the character of the glass blown creations of the past. Already, there's only a handful of elaborate neon signs left in Toronto.

Newspaper boxes
It won't be long until pressure mounts to rid the streets of this dated bit of print media infrastructure. Forgetting the state of the newspaper business, urban consumer habits no longer include strolling to the corner with proper change for a newspaper. Those still invested in print tend to subscribe to their paper(s) of choice.

Taxis
Could a time come when the taxi industry has gone the way of Blockbuster? Sure. In the absence of a major overhaul of city regulations that govern taxi service and the money that cab owners have to put up for a licence, Uber could potentially bury traditional taxicabs.

Strip clubs
I doubt that strip clubs will disappear altogether, but you won't see many downtown. City zoning regulations make it nearly impossible to open new strip clubs in highly trafficked areas, and redevelopment patterns indicate that many of those that remain downtown will be bought up in the years to come.

Parking meters
Pay parking isn't going anywhere, but the old style pole meters are slowly being phased out for solar-powered machines, which themselves will eventually become unnecessary as even one gets used to the idea of paying via their phone.

CLRV and ALRV streetcars
Not many people will mourn the loss of Toronto's old streetcar fleet, but I'll miss the single-light trolleys that I grew up with. What absolute workhorses these things were, introduced into the fleet over 30 years ago. Air conditioning will, however, be very nice.

Motels
The motel's last stand in Toronto is on Kingston Rd. in Scarborough, where a handful of the single storey structures still stand, many of which double as homeless shelters. In 10 years, one would expect this strip to go the way of the one on Lake Shore Blvd., which was razed in 2011. Let's get a heritage designation for the Hav-A-Nap, though. This architecture is worth remembering.

Hot dog stands
Will the hot dog stand endure in the face of a growing food truck industry that offers more variety and higher quality food? I hope so. Toronto's street meat holds a particular place in my heart, but given the city's revocation of permits along Bloor St. West in 2011 and increasing competition, the long term future of these street vendors is in doubt.

Surface parking lots
Toronto used to be a city of parking lots in the 1960s and '70s. No longer. The surface parking lot just makes no sense in a rapidly developing city. As the condo boom continues at an almost alarming rate, you can bet that remaining parking lots in dense areas will eventually be home to high rises.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions in the comments.

Photo by Dominic Bugatto in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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