Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Toronto Transit City issues

Toronto Streetcars in Winter
First prize in the Toronto Star Emerging Artist Cover Art contest: One of Kelly Turgeon's fondest memories was school trips where she took the street car. To her, the city's vintage street cars signify the romance of Toronto, especially during the holiday season. TANNIS TOOHEY/TORONTO STAR

Added: Note that it seems as if the winning entry depicted above is derivative of a photo by Brian Labelle, Portraits of Toronto. Here is the original photograph.
Snow Streetcars

I have been very much influenced by Toronto's Transit City planning because its fundamental principle is social and economic equity: "That no one should be disadvantaged by not owning a car."

As has been previously discussed, the newly elected Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, has repudiated the previous administration's "Transit City" expansion plans, which were based on light rail expansion, rather than subways, because of the cost and ridership numbers.

An interview with Mayor Ford in the Toronto Globe & Mail (which like the New York Times in the U.S. is closest to the national newspaper), "Rob Ford ready to let transit projects hold in favour of Sheppard subway," covers his repudiation of the Transit City plan to build four light rail lines in favor of building one subway line.

What I find amazing isn't the article, but the great comment thread. Typically, comment threads for newspaper articles quickly degenerate. But this one does not. Two commenters make particularly important points:


Those of us who live downtown already have subways, streetcars and bike lanes. It's the poor, deluded shmucks in the 'burbs who are going to do without. The working poor can't afford to live downtown. They live in the suburbs where housing is cheaper and they are the ones who need better transit. How did they get fooled into thinking that cancelling Transit City would be good for them?


1. This transit policy is built entirely around pleasing car drivers who don't use transit rather than creating a transit system that will best serve the city. The goal is to clear roads of an LRT system, not move people on it.

2. Focusing on a small section of subway rather than a network of light rail systems will ensure that more people continue to be without transit options and that congestion on the streets will continue to grow because people will have no option but to drive, assuming they can afford it.

Mayor Ford has also come out against bicycle lanes for the same reason he favors the subway. He sees surface space provided to bicycles or transit as taking away from the automobilist. It's a profoundly anti-urban perspective. Which is why Toronto Star urban design columnist Christopher Hume suggested ("Why the 905 Needs Rob Ford") that Rob Ford should actually have been a mayor in a suburban jurisdiction, not the center city.
Bike Riding Pinko buttons, Toronto

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