A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘sports

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO notes that Toronto’s old City Hall may yet become a shopping mall once the courts move out.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that worlds without plate tectonics are doomed to stop being habitable, and looks at different kinds of cosmic ray environments.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the Iranian buildup in Syria.
  • A Fistful of Euros has a reading list for Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Otto Pohl talks about the historic role of German minorities in Africa and Asia.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map of the Middle East’s Kurdish populations.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at campus safety in the age of threatening tweets.
  • Towleroad notes Michael Sam stating he could have had a better NFL career had he not come out.
  • Transit Toronto notes the TTC has taken its tenth new streetcar into service.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at intersections between assisted suicide and religious liberty.
  • Window on Eurasia notes controversy in Belarus over a Russian military base and looks at Circassians in Syria.

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto councillors want legal Grenadier Pond skating”

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The Toronto Star‘s David Rider reports on a push to make skating possible on High Park’s Grenadier Pond.

Councillor Josh Matlow said a staff report recommending legal skating on the High Park pond only if the city launches a rigorous, expensive monitoring and safety program points to the need for a “rethink.”

“With the logic that has been followed on this, one could argue that we should have signs up saying you shouldn’t walk on our sidewalks because we don’t maintain our sidewalks perfectly … so maybe somebody could have an accident, maybe we’ll be liable,” said Matlow, noting he skated on Grenadier as a kid.

[. . .]

The issue bubbled up last winter as many people skated and played shinny on thick Grenadier despite city signs warning them to keep off, and the threat of a ticket from a bylaw officer. The local councillor, Sarah Doucette, asked for a solution that allowed a safe reversal of the ban enacted in 2001 amid legal concerns.

The resulting report says converting part of the 14.2-hectare pond to a natural outdoor skating surface would cost the city $192,000 in one-time costs and $123,000 in annual operating costs.

That would fund “a team of experts to provide daily analysis and testing of ice, safety equipment, equipment for ice preparation such as a Zamboni and plow or snow blower, ice maintenance equipment and staff, skating area barriers, lighting, washrooms and first aid support.”

Staff also noted that stormwater flow inhibits ice formation, as does the pond’s salt content.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2015 at 9:25 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the decision of Toronto to not place a bid for the Olympics

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This is very good news.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he’s not saying no to an Olympic bid forever, but it won’t happen in 2024.

Tory — as expected — announced Tuesday morning that Toronto will not submit a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. But there’s no reason Canada’s largest city can’t explore making a future bid when the timing makes more sense, he added.

“I believe that one day Toronto will be a great venue for the Olympic Games, but not in 2024,” said Tory at a news conference held at Nathan Phillips Square outside city hall. “Time was against us in building the kind of support you have to have from the community in order for this to work.

“I am not saying no to the Olympics. I am saying not this time.”

The timing Tory referred to was caused in part by a sudden, and somewhat unexpected, groundswell of support for an Olympic bid that grew during Toronto’s successful hosting of this summer’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

Those games wrapped in mid-August, leaving little time to muster support and answer all the questions about funding and infrastructure in time for today’s deadline to submit a letter announcing Toronto’s intention to bid.

It’s been observed elsewhere that Olympics work best for cities in countries newly emergent on the world stage, that the Olympics not only show off their successes but that they can which are emerging on the world stage. The Seoul and Barcelona games are just this sort of thing. Other games do not do this, however. Montréal’s 1976 example is a good example locally, while Athens stands out as a global negative example. The boosterism of Bob Hepburn’s Toronto Star opinion piece is, I think, fundmentally misplaced.

The Games created thousands of construction jobs, boosted the economy, business activity and tourism and left a legacy of sports facilities from Hamilton to Welland, Scarborough, Markham, Ajax and beyond.

They also kick-started a wave of transit improvements, including the new rail link between Union Station and Pearson airport and expanding Go train service, that seemed forever stalled. In addition, the Games resulted in hundreds of affordable housing units in what was the athletes’ village.

Many of these projects would not have gotten off the ground, or would have been mired in bureaucratic graveyards for years and decades, if it had not been for the city winning the Pan Am Games.

Do we need to further intensify a potential construction bubble? And if we need new services and neighbourhoods, why do we not pay for them directly?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 15, 2015 at 6:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Athletes are gone, now it’s time to get village ready for residents”

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The Canadian Press’ Paola Loriggio describes in the Toronto Star the birth of a new neighbourhood.

Competitors in the summer’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games left the athletes village weeks ago, but it will be months before residents of the new downtown Toronto neighbourhood can move in.

Pan Am crews are still tearing down temporary structures and removing 220,000 pieces of furniture and fixtures from the complex, which will then be turned over to Infrastructure Ontario and developer Dundee Kilmer at the end of the month.

A spokeswoman for the Crown corporation says the units must then be converted into the condos, affordable housing units, commercial spaces and dorm rooms that make up the mixed-use development.

Mandy Downes says only basic units were prepared for the athletes, with temporary walls serving as partitions to allow more people to stay in each unit.

She says some spaces — such as the future YMCA facility and the George Brown College residences — may need less work.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2015 at 5:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Olympic expert questions extraordinary secrecy around bid”

The Toronto Star‘s Jessica Smith Cross writes about the unsettling oddities of the Toronto Olympics bid.

The “extraordinarily secretive” people behind Toronto’s potential bid for the 2024 Olympic need to stand up and identify themselves, one expert says.

It’s highly unusual that Toronto would be considering an Olympic bid so close to the application deadline without making the most basic information public, said Janice Forsyth, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University.

That includes who’s responsible for it.

“Normally we’d know the players at this point in time, because it’s one of the biggest decisions, economically, Toronto and Ontario will have to make, whether or not they commit themselves to this bid,” she said. “They should be very concerned about their lack of transparency at this point in time, and if they want to gain back the public’s trust they should put out clear press saying exactly what is going to happen.

“This is highly unusual for a democracy.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Budget committee says ‘meh’ to Olympic bid”

The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell writes about how the City of Toronto’s budget committee is unexcited by the idea of Toronto bidding for the 2024 Olympics.

Not a single member of the city’s powerful budget committee is endorsing Toronto entering the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Toronto has only a slim chance of submitting a winning bid, and even if the cash-strapped city is selected, the Olympics could prove to be financial boondoggle for years to come, councillors said after the committee met Monday to begin discussions on the city’s 2016 budget.

Several councillors said an outright no to a bid, while budget chief Gary Crawford and Councillor James Pasternak said they’d only consider Toronto advancing a bid if the cost — estimated at between $50 million and $60 million — is paid for by the private sector.

Toronto is under pressure if it wants to try to secure the 2024 Olympics, an idea that appeared to gain traction after the success of the recent Pan Am Games, the largest sporting event in Canadian history. Los Angeles is poised to enter the contest — its city council is expected to vote Tuesday — and is considered a frontrunner. LA2024 has already released a copy of its bid.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 1, 2015 at 1:42 am

[URBAN NOTE] “The Sochi Syndrome”

Anar Valiyev and Natalie Koch at Open Democracy describe how international sporting events like last year’s Sochi Olympics are used for multiple, self-propagandizing, purposes by authoritarian elites.

‘Urban boosterism’ is defined as the active promotion of a city, and it typically involves large-scale urban development schemes—constructing iconic new buildings, revamping local infrastructure, and creating a new image for the city.

For long a popular tactic of free market liberals, used to justify speculative building, the logic of urban boosterism hinges on freedom of movement of both capital and individuals. Curiously, though, it is increasingly at work in settings less committed to such freedoms. Urban planners in authoritarian countries are increasingly seeking to create new images for their cities and states through grandiose urban development and the hosting of major international spectacles, such as World Fairs, Olympic Games or the World Cup.

As citizens and their leaders in liberal democracies grow increasingly fatigued by—and intolerant of—the skyrocketing expense of hosting such spectacles, leaders in non-democracies have been quick to pick up the slack and are beginning to win first-tier event bids (like the 2008 Beijing Olympics; the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Russia’s 2018 World Cup; and Qatar’s 2022 World Cup). While urban boosterism in liberal democratic settings is also used to solidify the position of ‘growth machine’ elites, the unprecedented $51 billion price tag for Russia’s Olympic Games in Sochi shows that resource-rich, non-democratic states are positioned to develop such projects on a dramatically larger scale.

[. . .]

The ‘Sochi syndrome’ is a sign of what we can expect as more and more non-democratic, illiberal states host these events, as illustrated by the cases of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.

According to Freedom House, in its classification system, these rank among the world’s least free countries. Boosterist agendas in Baku, Astana, and Ashgabat serve two related purposes—to distribute financial and political patronage, and to promote a positive image of the state for both international and domestic consumption.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2015 at 7:41 pm


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