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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Urban Note’ Category

[URBAN NOTE] On the current #covid19 crisis (#coronavirustoronto)

One of the many things that has been bothering me about the COVID-19 crisis is the way that the city of Toronto around me has been shutting down. Work and those strictures have gone, of course, but so have almost all of the other events of life. Stores are shut down; neighbourhoods are almost always barren of people; the sorts of events that I normally partake in have been sensibly cancelled. (Jane’s Walk and TCAF are among the events that have been closed down, and I may never get a chance to see the Diane Arbus show at the AGO or the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the ROM. I live in hope for the second category, and look forward to next year for the first.)

The great machineries of life of Toronto, human and mechanical, are grinding down. When will they start up again? What will be the background against which this revival will happen? What loss and suffering will there be in the background of this? More importantly, from my particular perspective, what loss and suffering will there be among the people I know, here in Toronto and around the world? I have some fears for myself, but more fears for others both known and unknown. (I am not fond of living in a situation where fatalities from a pandemic really can amount to low single-digit percentages of the global, and local, population.)

I cannot help but feel a sort of anticipatory grief at seeing my dear cosmopolis of Toronto shutting down. It is a cause of grief in itself, and it is a symbol of worse yet to come. I can also extrapolate easily enough from the specific case of Toronto to all the other great machines out there in the world, places I’ve lived in and places I’ve only visited and places I have yet to visit and the many many places I will never see. The pictures I saw earlier this week from Venice, that great first prototype of the cosmopolis, felt so wrong. One March, you have a living city; one March, you have a city clamped down on account of mass death. There are things Toronto can pick up from Venice, but I would prefer this not be one. But this isn’t really under anyone’s control, is it?

I am–I believe–keeping things in perspective. There will still be a world after this crisis is done, whenever it is done, one that will be recognizable. I just find it distressing that a proper perspective is not all that comforting. How, exactly, will things be skewed? This uncertainty is something that I do not like. Ending my 12-month Metropass, on account of the certainty that I will not be travelling much at all in April, at least, feels significant. How much more will my lived world shrink?

These past few days, I have been thinking of the classic song “Sous le ciel de Paris”, a hymn of love to that metropolis written and performed just a few years after Paris risked destruction in the Second World War. Has a similar song been written for Toronto?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 22, 2020 at 1:25 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Seven city links: Mississauga, Oshawa, Hamilton, London, Kingston, Montréal, Québec

  • A historic bridge over the Credit River in Mississauga, happily, will not be demolished but instead will be repaired. CBC reports.
  • Now that automobile production has stopped at the Oshawa General Motors plant, what will become of that city? CBC reports.
  • The auditor-general of Ontario will investigate the claimed costs that led to the cancellation of the Hamilton LRT. Global News reports.
  • A new bus route now connects London, Ontario, to Sarnia. Global News reports.
  • Kingstonist reports that filming for the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery has just finished up in Kingston, at the pen.
  • Joe Buongiorno writes at CBC Montreal at his, specifically Italian Canadian, experiences with the Jean Talon Market in Montréal.
  • Le Devoir notes that many radio stations in Québec City are leading opposition to the proposed streetcar system.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven Toronto links

  • Some of the apartments hit by the Gosford apartment fire have been repaired and opened to their tenants again. Global News reports.
  • Steve Munro maps the 70 O’Connor bus route in action as a case study, here.
  • Condo developers have created the new neighbourhood of “West St. Clair West” out of, among other established neighbourhoods, Carleton Village. blogTO reports.
  • The plans for the controversial new Pharrell Williams condo development at Yonge and Eglinton look interesting. blogTO shares.
  • Should Toronto have free public mass transit? NOW Toronto makes the case.
  • Brian Doucet at Spacing Toronto takes a look at the Toronto CLRV streetcars in their North American context, here.
  • The repeated flooding of the Toronto Islands, as NOW Toronto points out, surely demonstrates the reality of climate change for Toronto.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Charlie Stross at Antipope shares an essay he recently presented on artificial intelligence and its challenges for us.
  • P. Kerim Friedman writes at {anthro}dendum about the birth of the tea ceremony in the Taiwan of the 1970s.
  • Anthropology net reports on a cave painting nearly 44 thousand years old in Indonesia depicting a hunting story.
  • Architectuul looks at some temporary community gardens in London.
  • Bad Astronomy reports on the weird history of asteroid Ryugu.
  • The Buzz talks about the most popular titles borrowed from the Toronto Public Library in 2019.
  • Caitlin Kelly talks at the Broadside Blog about her particular love of radio.
  • Centauri Dreams talks about the role of amateur astronomers in searching for exoplanets, starting with LHS 1140 b.
  • John Quiggin at Crooked Timber looks at what is behind the rhetoric of “virtue signalling”.
  • Dangerous Minds shares concert performance from Nirvana filmed the night before the release of Nevermind.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes new evidence that, even before the Chixculub impact, the late Cretaceous Earth was staggering under environmental pressures.
  • Myron Strong at the Everyday Sociology Blog writes about how people of African descent in the US deal with the legacies of slavery in higher education.
  • Far Outliers reports on the plans in 1945 for an invasion of Japan by the US.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing gathers together a collection of the author’s best writings there.
  • Gizmodo notes the immensity of the supermassive black hole, some 40 billion solar masses, at the heart of galaxy Holm 15A 700 million light-years away.
  • Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res writes about the issue of how Wichita is to organize its civic politics.
  • io9 argues that the 2010s were a decade where the culture of the spoiler became key.
  • The Island Review points readers to the podcast Mother’s Blood, Sister’s Songs, an exploration of the links between Ireland and Iceland.
  • Joe. My. God. reports on the claim of the lawyer of the killer of a mob boss that the QAnon conspiracy inspired his actions. This strikes me as terribly dangerous.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at a study examining scholarly retractions.
  • Language Hat shares an amusing cartoon illustrating the relationships of the dialects of Arabic.
  • Language Log lists ten top new words in the Japanese language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the dissipation of American diplomacy by Trump.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the many problems in Sparta, Greece, with accommodating refugees, for everyone concerned.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting the decline of the one-child policy in China has diminished child trafficking, among other crimes.
  • Sean Marshall, looking at transit in Brampton, argues that transit users need more protection from road traffic.
  • Russell Darnley shares excerpts from essays he wrote about the involvement of Australia in the Vietnam War.
  • Peter Watts talks about his recent visit to a con in Sofia, Bulgaria, and about the apocalypse, here.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the corporatization of the funeral industry, here.
  • Diane Duane writes, from her own personal history with Star Trek, about how one can be a writer who ends up writing for a media franchise.
  • Jim Belshaw at Personal Reflections considers the job of tasting, and rating, different cuts of lamb.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at a nondescript observatory in the Mojave desert of California that maps the asteroids of the solar system.
  • Roads and Kingdoms interviews Eduardo Chavarin about, among other things, Tijuana.
  • Drew Rowsome loves the SpongeBob musical.
  • Peter Rukavina announces that Charlottetown has its first public fast charger for electric vehicles.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog considers the impact of space medicine, here.
  • The Signal reports on how the Library of Congress is making its internet archives more readily available, here.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers how the incredibly isolated galaxy MCG+01-02-015 will decay almost to nothing over almost uncountable eons.
  • Strange Company reports on the trial and execution of Christopher Slaughterford for murder. Was there even a crime?
  • Strange Maps shares a Coudenhove-Kalergi map imagining the division of the world into five superstates.
  • Understanding Society considers entertainment as a valuable thing, here.
  • Denis Colombi at Une heure de peine announces his new book, Où va l’argent des pauvres?
  • John Scalzi at Whatever looks at how some mailed bread triggered a security alert, here.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the massive amount of remittances sent to Tajikistan by migrant workers, here.
  • Arnold Zwicky notes a bizarre no-penguins sign for sale on Amazon.

[URBAN NOTE] Ten Montréal links

  • MTL Blog shares this map of the Greater Montréal mass transit network, with a uniform design for all its networks, here.
  • Exo commuters in Montréal are decidedly unhappy with the Exo chairperson for the unhelpful tips they gave. CTV News reports.
  • Montréal has bought 140 acres of land in the West Island for its planned great park there. CTV News reports.
  • Notre Dame East is set to be revamped as an urban boulevard. CTV News reports.
  • Controversy over the Royalmount shopping complex grows. CBC reports.
  • Montréal is reckoned by a Google team to be a major centre for game development. CTV News reports.
  • A new fund seeks to increase the diversity of artists whose works are displayed in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. CTV News reports.
  • Montréal mayor Valérie Plante promises to help out record stores fined for being opened past 5 on a weekend. CTV News reports.
  • Royal LePage suggests that home values in Montréal will grow sharply in 2020, more than in any other major Canadian city. CTV News reports.

[BLOG] Fifteen Toronto links

  • blogTO reports that Toronto has been testing Eglinton Crosstown trains, here.
  • What TTC routes might be changed by the Eglinton Crosstown? A map illustrates, over at blogTO.
  • The new tower proposed for 888 Dupont, at Ossington, will even include a vertical farm. blogTO reports.
  • Venerable Agincourt Mall is going to be a new condo development. blogTO reports.
  • Is co-ownership actually the only way most people in Toronto will end up owning a home? blogTO considers.
  • Residential tenants in a Leslieville building who complained about their landlord may end up getting evicted from a building never zoned for residents. CBC reports.
  • The City of Toronto has taken over the deserted shopping arcade at Queen Street West and John. CBC reports.
  • Katrina Onstad at Toronto Life tells the story of Katharine Mulherin, the Queen Street West gallery owner who changed her neighbourhood but was broken by gentrification.
  • The bar Tequila Bookworm is closing, displaced by rising rents. NOW Toronto reports.
  • NOW Toronto interviews night mayor Michael Thompson, here.
  • Steve Munro considers the TTC’s express bus services, here.
  • Terra Lumina, the nighttime cultural event at the Toronto Zoo, looks fantastic in these photos over at Toronto Life.
  • Oh, what the map of Toronto subways could have been if only we planned! blogTO shares one.
  • Steve Munro examines the TTC’s plan for 2020-2024, here.
  • The TTC may not act to decrease overcrowding on some routes. blogTO reports on why.

[URBAN NOTE] Fifteen Niagara Falls, Ontario links (#niagarafalls, #niagarafallscanada)

  • A new storyboard in Niagara Falls displays the importance of railways to the city. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • Niagara Falls city council is considering the idea of linking casinos by aerial car. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • Global News reports on a drug bust that saw two people arrested in Niagara Falls.
  • The Niagara Falls Review reports the number of reported homicides in Niagara Region tripled in 2019, to six.
  • The immersive live nativity hosted by a Niagara Falls church sounds interesting. More is here.
  • A recent discussion at Niagara Falls city council was dominated by discussion of housing issues and of homelessness. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • Most revenues from the casinos of Niagara Falls have been directed to the infrastructure of the city. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • City council in Niagara Falls has approved the construction of a 72-storey hotel. Construct Connect reports.
  • In November, the mayor announced the old city hall and courthouse in the downtown of Niagara Falls was scheduled to be demolished. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • The Bath House Hotel once was intended to be a centrepiece of local tourism. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • Carrie Bosco writes about the experience of a customer service associate working at the Niagara Falls Public Library, over at the Niagara Falls Review.
  • The Niagara Falls Public Library in winter is a happening place for locals. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • A Chinese developer hopes that a proposed $C 1.5 billion dollar project in south Niagara Falls will still go forward. The Niagara Falls Review reports.
  • Niagara Falls is going to have a hard time replacing city historian Sherman Zavitz. The Niagaa Falls Review reports.
  • Niagara News reports on the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven city links: Innisfil, Buffalo, Ottawa, Montréal, Winnipeg, Amsterdam, Singapore

  • The town of Innisfil is looking forward to some very futuristic developments. Global News reports.
  • Jeremy Deaton at CityLab reports on how, buffered by the Great Lakes, Buffalo NY may end gaining from climate change.
  • The Ottawa chain Bridgehead Coffee has been sold to national chain Second Cup. Global News reports.
  • Many of the more eye-raising installations in the Gay Village of Montréal have since been removed. CTV News reports.
  • Warming huts for homeless people in Winnipeg were torn down because the builders did not follow procedures. Global News reports.
  • Open Democracy looks at innovative new public governance of the city budget in Amsterdam, here.
  • Singapore, located in a well-positioned Southeast Asia and with working government, may take over from Hong Kong. Bloomberg View makes the case.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven Toronto links

  • Transit Toronto celebrates the life of photographer John Bromney, here.
  • blogTO explains, with photos, the cause of the subway shutdown on Line 1 Wednesday night.
  • blogTO notes that the TTC wants to create five transit corridor for buses, including one on Dufferin Street.
  • Toronto is apparently the top tech city in Canada. blogTO reports.
  • John Lorinc at Spacing considers what affordable housing actually is, especially in the context of real-world constraints less generous than often imagined.
  • The displaced residents of Gosford have seen nothing from their apartment block’s owners about housing options. Global News reports.
  • The TTC plans to have even more subway closures in 2020 than in 2019. Global News reports.

[URBAN NOTE] Ten city links: Laval, Calgary, Vancouver, Cleveland, Machu Picchu, London, Görlitz …

  • The Québec city of Laval now has a cemetery where pets can be buried alongside their owners. CBC reports.
  • Talk of Alberta separatism has already cost Calgary at least one high-profile non-oil investment, it seems. Global News reports.
  • A new piece of public art in Vancouver, a spinning chandelier, has proven to be a lightning rod for controversy. CBC reports.
  • Guardian Cities looks at the continuing fight against lead contamination in Cleveland.
  • Machu Picchu was built in a high remote corner of the Andes for good reasons, it is being argued. The National Post reports.
  • Wired looks at how rivals to Uber are currently fighting for dominance in London, here.
  • Guardian Cities shares a cartoon history of the birth of Nairobi, here.
  • The east German city of Gorlitz offered interested people one month’s free residence. The Guardian reports.
  • JSTOR Daily notes that Hong Kong was born as a city from refugee migrations.
  • Is Tokyo, despite tis size and wealth, too detached from Asia to take over from Hong Kong as a regional financial centre? Bloomberg View is not encouraging.