Life On The Streets

Off the top of my head, this weekend saw the following list of events in, on and around the streets of Toronto: the Waterfront Marathon, Word on the Street, PS Kensington, a grand opening at the Evergreen Brickworks, Harvest Day at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, the last weekend home stand for the 2010 Blue Jays. And that’s just off the top of my head. Next weekend comes Nuit Blanche and Picnic at the Brickworks. That’s before I put any thought into it whatsoever.

City’s that are in the kind of dire, downward spiral shape as Toronto’s being depicted by four of its mayoral candidates seldom display the vibrancy on show this past weekend. They’re usually too busy dealing with matters of urban decay to put on a host of festivities. Or maybe Toronto’s simply whistling past the graveyard; playing and cavorting while the city burns. Rather than expend its energy and precious resources making whoopee, it should be concentrating on fixing the basics like streetlights and potholes. That whole Rudy Giuliani Broken Windows approach to city building.

False dichotomy aside, the question begs to be asked. When was the last time you came home from a place you’d never been before and that really caught your fancy, and the impression it made most on you was, the street surfaces were impeccable? That’s not to say infrastructure maintenance is unimportant. It’s just not the difference between merely a livable city and one that is exceptional.

In an interview last week, architect and author (Cities For People), Jan Gehl said, “The number one attraction in any city isn’t the buildings, the parks, the sculptures or the statues. It’s people.” What we witnessed and took part in here over the past weekend was gatherings of people. Thousands and thousands of people running, mingling with authors, drinking overpriced beer and eating overpriced pulled pork sandwiches. Together. We congregated at various locations throughout the city not only to enjoy the events but to be a part of them with others. That’s what happens in dynamic, lively cities.

So when Rob Ford pronounces that events like the Waterfront marathon should be moved from the streets and into parks for the sake of relieving traffic congestion, he displays a staggering, life-killing amount of ignorance about what makes cities actually work. Never mind that he seems preeningly boastful about not even knowing that the marathon was happening on Sunday – a suggestion to Councillor Ford? Maybe if you used some of your office expenses to keep your constituents updated with what’s going on around the city, you might learn a little something yourself – his knee-jerk pro-car stance reveals a mind utterly out of step with the trajectory of how 21st-century cities should be evolving. He is a 1950s man campaigning 60 years behind the times.

Ditto, all those candidates simply mimicking his regressive, throwback views. You’re floundering because you’re simply offering up a pale imitation of the real, Paleolithic deal. The city’s already outgrown your antiquated ideas of how to help it, build it. The people out on the streets, participating in all the things Toronto has to offer, are waiting for you to catch up.

chastizingly submitted by Cityslikr

6 thoughts on “Life On The Streets

  1. What Ford envisions, one guesses, is one of those “cities” that has no potholes, trees perfectly aligned along empty boulevards and wide unused sidewalks that roll up cleanly at 7pm. In other words, suburbs…where all the weekend action takes place in a strip mall (TGIF’s perhaps) and the rest of the time people are in their cars or backyards. Insular and safe.

  2. What you have said may be correct, However those people will not vote and since your favourite guy is Himy SYed, who has little to offer other than more bike lanes. He won’t be elected either.

    My understanding and plans are much clearer than anyone else’s and I certainly understand that from the into you gave to my candidacy months ago. I and those who know me think that I am intelligent but not to smart, running for mayor of a city of people who are too stupid or lazy to try and find out who really has the best platform to deal with the 40 years of bad planning.

    Rob Ford may live to regret being elected mayor I think it would be difficult for anyone, considering the number of special interest groups who will be complaining no matter what happens.

  3. I was at Manifesto at the Yonge and Dundas Square on Sunday after the Marathon which happens every year around this time. This weekend is the CIBC Run and Nuit Blanche. There are votes from the tens of thousands of runners as well as the artists. There is a new poll out today that may be more reflective compared to the one with high numbers of decided. Advance voting begins next Tuesday, October 5th…

  4. I wonder if Mr. Ford would want to think about the implications of his idea?
    Would we ban other events that close down streets? Move the Taste of The Danforth, the Beaches Jazz Festival, Word on the Street, Caribana etc. to a park?

  5. In the War on Cars, there’s bound to be some collateral damage. Man just the other day I saw a Chrysler Lebaron up on blocks.


Leave a Reply