Tag Archives: Toronto

(1200) Towering


Three pieces about the big concrete buildings.  Two practical, one more emotional, human.  Important stuff.
Zoning changes give new life to Toronto’s ‘apartment neighbourhoods’: Hume. Hundreds of apartment highrises in Toronto were built with assumption that residents “would drive where they wanted to go, so services weren’t necessary”
thestar.com
More than just ‘neighbours’. As the seniors in her building begin to leave her life, Katarina Ohlsson tries to find the word that encapsulates their importance
theglobeandmail.com
Towering ambitions
theglobeandmail.com
image: Craig Sunter via Flickr/CC

 

(1190) Loblaws wages


Why don’t big biz bosses look on paying living wages as one of the challenges of being in business?  You know, instead of something to carp about.  Why can’t our corporate commanders set living wages as a high level objective, apply the needed thought, creativity and resources and, well, just do it?  Or, is it that they just don’t like the idea of living wages to begin with?
Galen Weston knows paying a living wage is bad for capitalism. A full-time minimum wage worker takes home $25,877. In Toronto where rent averages $2,000 a month, that means living in poverty
torontoist.com
image: vintage ad from Jamie via Flickr/CC

(1112) Housing reality in the GTA


Fighting reality usually makes its negative aspects worse.  Yet, who doesn’t find the idea of a detached home with a few trees and some other bits of greenery surrounding it seductive?  It does seem that the reality around that is way ahead of what just may be our biggest commonly held desire.  Funnily enough, when reading Matt Elliot’s piece addressing our housing reality in today’s Metro banner ads popped up featuring a nice three-storey with big trees either side.
Why we should give up on the detached home dream.
Housing deserves a broader conversation. One that recognizes that Toronto must continue to move past its suburban roots

image: Bryan Siders via Flickr/CC

(1111) Toronto gig economy survey

Economic systems tend to be somewhat stacked against young people from the start because they simply have had less time to accumulate things of value in those systems.  With the so-called gig or sharing economy it is starting to look like a significant structural  disadvantage to younger persons has begun to reveal itself.  Many a young worker has education and tech savvy to contribute.  Frustration is rising early on the occupational path as young workers with few options are often encounter the working conditions imposed by app-based and online employers.
“Sharing economy” or on-demand service economy?
A survey of workers and consumers in the Greater Toronto Area
policyalternatives.ca
Toronto’s ‘gig economy’ fueled by young workers starved for choice. A new survey by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives takes the first look at who is working through online platforms in the GTA
thestar.com

image: stavos via Flickr/CC

(1107) Up from underground


From time-to-time, we do give some thought to who gets what in this economy.  There are worse places when it comes to inequality and the general discourse on status than Toronto and area.  Still, some more thought could be directed to where the wealth comes from, Toronto’s role in a global economy.  This feature brings our eyes and minds to one of our most important economic inputs: mining.  An input that helps make Toronto what it is but which remains obscure, unconsidered.

Toronto’s buried history: the dark story of how mining built a city. Even most residents don’t know Toronto is the global headquarters of the mining industry – but scratch the surface and some uncomfortable truths are revealed
theguardian.com

(1106) Precarious housing in the GTA


Spending a third of your income on housing is generally considered a reasonable proposition.   The idea is to have money available for other forms of consumption, like healthy food primarily, while  allowing for some resources to support other needs such as moderate savings or recreational activities.  Does that sound like too much to ask for  in a country like Canada, doubly so in its largest connurbation?  Not to us, but a recent feature on cbc.ca describes a fairly typical reality in which half or more of a person’s income goes to the rent.  This pressure is a major part of what constitutes precarious housing, along with issues of security and good repair.
Precarious housing means thousands may live on the brink of homelessness. 136K households pay more than 50% of income on rent, utilities
cbc.ca/news
Rent asunder: Landlords using evictions, hikes to circumvent rent control, Toronto tenants say. A growing number of tenants say their landlords are forcing them out to charge higher rent, according to data from Ontario’s rental-dispute board. Jeff Gray and Tom Cardoso investigate
theglobeandmail.com

(1103) Frontier City [Book Review]

Frontier City. Toronto on the Verge of Greatness
Shawn Micallef, 2016
Signal $29.95 hard cover
272 pages
Frontier City is about political events in Toronto mid decade and its author’s mission to understand his massive city.
By political events, of course we mean Rob Ford and his train wreck of a mayoralty.
Micallef is a writer, academic and walker.  He’s a believer in seeing for himself. Starting with a Ford Nation barbecue (where lots of people were apparently perfectly nice!) he then goes off into the Los Angeles-scaled sprawl from where Ford drew so much of his resentful strength. It took a couple of years of this direct experience, getting around to the far flung wards of Toronto and walking them in the company of twelve political underdogs from the 2014 election, to get the job done. A worthy effort, indeed. If you want the real thing as to how political and social reality work together in the super-sprawl of the GTA nowadays you won’t do better than Frontier CIty.
Of course, this blog would like life to be simpler than Micalleff’s findings. We admit our emotions would be more satisfied by a deeper hatred of Big Rich Rob and his whack job performance as ‘mayor’.  Frontier City is why we have (and need) public intellectuals. Bloggers can do only so much of the heavy lifting.  Micallef sorts through a huge number of things within the realms of history, planning, economics to create a picture of where Toronto is at.
The picture is disturbing and tough to balance. After decades of looking to the future many of us can be forgiven for wondering why the present is so crap.
Consider the 3-billion dollar single-stop subway for Scarborough. That’s just one self-inflicted thing driving us crazy and showing us our faults as we try to realize our potential. Things ought to be so good here that electing a fucked up slob like Rob Ford ought to have been the last thing on anybody’s mind. That guy cancelled Transit City at the cost of $65m dollars. And his thing, apparently, was saving money? We really may be on the edge of a dark age and a vast nobody-to-blame-but-ourselves wastage.
Public transit issues appear again and again in Frontier City. All the really cheerful things that suburban-poverty.com trades in are found, too, from bed bugs to tower blocks.  Anyone looking into the recent history of Canada’s biggest community will find this book a worthy read. I would have liked an index, maybe a further reading list as well and a map.  These handy things don’t cost much and they up the value and relevance of hardcover books – objects that typically now cost several hours pay at minimum wage.
Even more, I’d have liked at least one chapter on solutions going forward.  A more direct consideration of neoliberalism, the grand grinding ideology of our inequitable times might have helped as well.  The passage about infrastructure and storytelling was great, powerful and could be a book someone ought to write.
Frontier CIty isn’t quite angry enough for us but we really liked this one and think you will, too.
See also:
(808) The New Urban Agenda [Book review]
(664) Brunch is the new crystal meth [Book review]