Friday, March 06, 2009

Happy 175th Toronto

In case you somehow managed to miss the cheering from the centre of the universe today is Toronto's 175th birthday. The Star has a great list of great things about Toronto (175 of them to be exact). As a special gift from mother nature it hit 18(ish) degrees in Toronto today and actually felt like spring for the first time - though it was a bit on the stinky side. (As a side note folks, the stuff you chuck into snow banks in January does not just vanish along with the snow. When the snow melts and the weather warms up it makes a fairly pungent soup.)

This anniversary to Toronto is strange to me because when you walk around Toronto you do not get much sense of it's history. It has been said that this is a city that is constantly re-inventing itself. That is a nice thought, and generally a good approach to the world but as Michael Redhill's Consolation demonstrates so well we also have to have a sense of where we came from and the contributions of the individuals who have helped make this city. I'm optimistic that the city is beginning to get a sense of this.

I'm also optimistic that Torontonians are starting to get a sense of themselves, their city and which direction they would like to take it in. For too long the needs of tourists and commuters have outweighed the needs of those who actually live here. Toronto has a reputation as being rude, pushy and indifferent but if you've ever been Toronto and someone has been mean to you there is a good chance it was a tourist or a commuter (at least that's been my experience in the city.)

At some point in time we're also going to have to have a serious talk about de-malgamation. Amalgamation wasn't really a good idea, it hasn't really worked and it is holding Toronto back from reaching it's potential.

All in all, after 175 years, I would say Toronto is finally taking the first steps toward being a 'world class city.' I don't mean that in the sense of sports stadiums or financial markets. I mean it in the sense that the city is finally starting to recognize where it's been and there seems to be a solid consensus, and alot of positive energy, around where it wants to go in the future.

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