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Jennifer Keesmaat brings lessons from Toronto to Perth, Australia

Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat delivered a keynote speech at the Planning Institute Australia WA State Conference at the end of July to highlight Toronto’s “shift” to public transit and its mission to improve congestion, all while challenging the constraints of urban sprawl.

Perth and Toronto have different challenges. While Perth expands outward, Toronto’s challenge is to improve conditions within the boundaries of a city that has reached its growth boundary.  Still, Keesmaat said, Australia’s largest city with a population of just under two million could learn a thing or two from Toronto. 

“There might be some interesting lessons learned with respect to how you begin to transform to an advanced form of urbanism once you move away from that approach of continuing to develop in a very suburban way,” she said. 

“We’ve been there and gone down that trajectory over the course of the past 30 years and we’re now at a moment where we are beginning to urbanise our suburbs by focusing on adding mid-rise development along our corridors and by ensuring we have the density we need in order to make transit a real option.”

Toronto and Perth are both maturing cities, Keesmaat said, and as cities mature limits need to be put in place. She told Perth about Toronto’s protected greenbelt which caused a “fundamentally shift the land economics of the region and forced many suburban developers to become urban developers — they changed their game.” But beyond this, the focus of her speech remained on transportation and congestion, and its direct ties to population growth. 

She said planning high-density communities makes transit options more sustainable, the key to reducing traffic congestion in the long run. 

“It’s a zero-sum gain, that if you continue to plan low density communities there will never be environments that can successfully sustain public transit because there simply isn’t the critical mass to make high-frequency transit use work,” she said. 

For more from her speech, read the full story here
Original source: Perth Now

2016 Olympic swimming trials to be held at currently-in-development Pan Am Sports Centre

As part of the city's preparations for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, the Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) is currently being constructed at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.

Now, it has been announced that the TPASC will host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Swimming trials from April 5-10. 2016. It marks the first "legacy high performance sports event in Toronto that is a result of infrastructure built for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games," said an article that appeared in Swimming World Magazine. 

Here at Yonge Street, we've been exploring the legacy that the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games will leave on our city's infrastructure

"This is the first of many future hosting events for high performance athletes and sport in Toronto," says Professor Ira Jacobs, TPASC Chair and Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, in the article. 

"The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre represents the single largest investment ever made in amateur sport development in Canada. Co-owned by the City of Toronto and the University of Toronto Scarborough, TPASC was developed in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. TPASC will be the site of several events for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, including all aquatics events," the article says.

Read the full story here
Original Source: Swimming World Magazine

Toronto named Intelligent Community of the Year

After months of deliberations, Toronto has been selected as the Intelligent Community of the Year at the Intelligent Community Forum, held in New York last week. 

This comes after years of "knocking on the door," as Network World put it, for many years now. Toronto ranked in the top seven in 2005, 2013, and 2014. The annual title celebrates cities that use smart IT infrastructure to grow communities, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth, among other things. 

"Toronto was selected because it performed impressively against a set of diverse criteria and focused its academic, creative and private sectors, as well as its City Council leadership on the work and continued success of the entire community. In our view, Toronto offers a glimpse of how to flourish in the new economy and of how to adjust to the changes of the digital era," said ICF co-founder Lou Zacharilla in a press release.

Zacharilla also apparently called Toronto "New York City with manners."

Really, it was the efforts of Waterfront Toronto that solidified this year's crown. The organization has been pushing to make Toronto's contributions in this realm known. Waterfront Toronto's forthcoming "innovation district" will "provide 12,000 new residences with 100 Mpbs broadband to individual homes, and 10 Gbps networking to businesses…with the goal of providing design and media companies in Toronto with the highest transmission rates in the world," Network World reports. 

"This is a significant win for Toronto; one that recognizes the great efforts made in the city to work together on using information technology to create jobs, attract investment and make us more competitive," said Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly in the press release. "The work of Waterfront Toronto to collaborate with government, businesses, and the education and research community is helping establish Toronto's waterfront as an example of how to use future-ready information and communication infrastructure to attract jobs and residents."

Read the full story here
Original Source: Network World

Toronto fourth best city in the world for opportunity

Toronto has ranked the fourth best place in the world overall for infrastructure, sustainability, livability and health, according to an annual study comparing major metropolitan areas across the continent. 

The report, called Cities of Opportunity, pegs 30 cities against one another in a number of indicators and categories, many of which Toronto performed well in, including receiving the highest possible grade for quality of life. 

Toronto placed second overall for transportation and infrastructure, with only Singapore ahead. Toronto received the top spot for public transit systems, but the overall score was affected by a 13th place ranking in traffic congestion, and 12th for ease of commute. "Toronto's rankings in these two variables also reflect the city's current reality, in which the lack of a fully integrated regional transportation system is one of the leading challenges for Toronto." 

Toronto was the only non-Asian city to break into the top 5. 

Toronto tied with Sydney for second place (with a marginal difference in Toronto's favour) in health, safety and security. Stockholm took the number one spot in this category, but each of the top contenders shared similar qualities: populations averaging 2.5 million. 

"Larger cities, with larger populations, must strive harder, and expend more resources, to secure the healthy and safety of their residents," the report said. 

Toronto fared well  in our political environment, end-of-life care, hospitals and health employment, crime, and health system performance. 

When it comes to sustainability and the natural environment, Toronto scored major points for air pollution and natural disaster risk, but poorly in thermal comfort, a factor the report admits the city can do little about aside from knowing how to cope with it and improve it, which is what pushed Stockholm to the top. Toronto's overall positioning in this category has dropped since last year.

Toronto also ranked high in the ease of doing business, an indicator that factored in cost and economic clout, but we ranked low in cost of living. 

Read the full report here
Original Source: PWC

City to spend $215M on road work this summer

Tired of construction yet? The city has announced it will spend $215-million on road work this summer, including major projects expected on the Gardiner Expressway and other major routes, 680 News reports.
 
At a news conference on Monday, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee, is reported as saying more than 185 kilometres of road will be resurfaced. As per the artcle in Metro, these include:

  • Markham Road from Kingston Road to Lawrence Road
  • Victoria Park Avenue from Eglinton Avenue to Lawrence Avenue
  • Wilson Avenue from Bathurst Street to Dufferin Street
  • Finch Avenue from Kipling Avenue to Highway 27
  • Kipling Avenue from Bloor Street to Dixon Road
Even with this construction, not all roads will be repaired this summer.
 
"If the backlog is somewhere around $300 million and it costs $1 million a kilometre to resurface a road, that’s 300 kilometres of road that we aren’t getting to this year," says Councillor Minnan-Wong in the article.
 
Work on the Gardiner will begin in three weeks, closing the weeking of April 26 for its annual spring maintenance. “After that, three reconstruction projects begin on the western portion of the Gardiner which will cause lane closures between the Humber River and Bathurst Street throughout the summer. Some of that work won’t end until December 2016,” the article reports.
 
"We don’t have a choice of the Gardiner Expressway. It has to be fixed," Minnan-Wong is quoted as saying in the article.
 
Some projects have been moved ahead to prepare for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
 
To read the full article and for an interactive map of the planned road work, click here
Original source: 680 News
 

Toronto is booming, UK reports

"Toronto is booming, as evidenced by its chic restaurants, innovative architecture and an epic construction project that will soon see one end of the harbour lined with new museums, bars and parkland," wrote the UK-based Sunday Express earlier this week. 
 
The article, entitled Kayaking, abseiling and exploring castles: Going on an adventure in Toronto, focuses on the attraction of our waterfront, an increasingly popular feature in international reports and travel articles. The author of the article clearly came here in the summer as he documents his experiences kayaking around and exploring our islands and major attractions, but his writing suggests a changing perspective on our city as a whole. 
 
The author found himself on "quiet, residential boulevards with immaculate flowerbeds, red-brick townhouses, vintage clothes stores and tiny street stalls selling homemade maple syrup and artisan breads." These traits, often ignored in favour of typical tourist attractions such as the CN Tower, recognize that Toronto is a city rich in history and community, one that has a lot more to offer someone from out of town than Front Street.
 
Of course, it would be impossible for someone to report on Toronto without mentioning these attractions. The author went to Casa Loma and the CN Tower, while also sampling local eateries such as Auntie and Uncles on College Street and Terroni on Queen.?
 
"However, the most jaw-dropping interior has to be Frank Gehry's makeover of the Art Gallery of Toronto with its huge expanse of billowing glass, like a ship slowly passing through the city centre," The Sunday Express said.  
 
Yes, the water and imagery of water left a significant impression on the author. 
 
"The astonishing, uninterrupted view of the city's skyline is one to savour in a city which might not hit the headlines like New York and Chicago do, but still has the ability to dazzle and delight."
 
Read the full story here
Original Source: Sunday Express

Daniels Spectrum named best new venue for meetings and events: Canada

Daniels Spectrum has been named the best new venue for meetings and events in Canada, according to the first National BizBash Event Style Awards.
 
The winners of the inaugural awards were announced last Wednesday at the BizBash IdeaFest in New York. The awards honour "the best ideas, strategies, products and venues across North America" and are given to "entries that demonstrated innovation, quality of execution, effectiveness, and an influential impact on the event and meeting industry."
 
Located in Regent Park, Daniels Spectrum is a cultural hub and features office and event space, community programming, meeting rooms, and various other amenities. 
 
Here's what BizBash said about Daniels Spectrum.
 
Located in downtown Toronto’s Regent Park redevelopment, Daniels Spectrum was designed by Diamond & Schmitt Architects and has a mandate to support culturally diverse and inclusive events. The colorful facility features a fully equipped main hall with a 300-seat retractable bleacher system and two retractable walls, an outdoor stage, and a lounge for smaller performances, meetings, and receptions.
 
View the full slideshow featuring all the winners here
Original Source: BizBash

Comparing Toronto to Detroit and Chicago

When Detroit filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, it forced many cities to reevaluate the economics of their regions. The Martin Prosperity Institute has compiled the first of many reports to come comparing Detroit, Toronto and Chicago.

The institute is "the world's leading think-tank on sub national factors—location, place and city regions—in global economic prosperity." It operates out of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The reports will look at a variety of attributes. The first explored household incomes across the cities and was released last Friday ahead of the Toronto-Detroit symposium, an event that looked at Detroit and Toronto as Drivers for Healthy Cities. 
 
The report analyzes the three cities in terms of areas where household income falls below the national average (red) and areas where it is above the national average (green).

Here is a key finding from the report:
 
"From first glance, it is clear that fewer tracts within the Toronto metro have an average household income lower than the national average, especially when compared to Detroit and Chicago. Despite this though, there is once again a reoccurring trend, in which most of the tracts with average household incomes below the national average are found within the city itself. Outside of the City of Toronto there are almost no tracts shaded red. As in Chicago, many of the tracts with below average household incomes are in the inner suburbs, and take up a large amount of space geographically. The red tracts in Toronto make up for 36% of the total land in the city. This is a significant amount of the city, but not as large as in Chicago and nowhere near the same amount as in Detroit. As this map presents, the Toronto metro and City of Toronto are generally better off than the rest of Canada, and although income inequality in Toronto has been discussed to great lengths, this map displays that in relation to the national average, Toronto performs much better than other large cities."

We will continue to report on key findings from forthcoming insights.
 
Read the full report here
Original source: Martin Prosperity Institute
 

Toronto to revitalize postwar highrises

A group of Canadian architects and not-profits have teamed up to tackle the issue of the city's aging postwar highrises. "The effort dubbed Tower Renewal that is taking root in Toronto proposes fixes on many fronts, from energy efficiency to economic development. If that renewal works, much of our biggest city, and the lives of more than a million Canadians, will be transformed for the better," an article in the Globe and Mail reports.
 
This fall, the City of Toronto launches "a new program to finance green renovations and repairs in these buildings," which coincides with a recent symposium hosted by he Toronto and Dutch consulate called "Enabling Cities to Grow Green." The symposium looked at new zoning changes designed to improve neighbourhoods, "many of them needy."
 
But there are a number of challenges. For one, says Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects in Toronto, Canadians need to realize the significance of our towers. Toronto has the second largest number of apartment towers in North America housing some one million people. They're not beautiful, modeled after European-style regional planning.
 
Today, these buildings are 50 years old and in need of maintenance. The maintenance isn't the problem, the locations are. "The issue is how they were placed in the city and in the landscape. Modernist planning deliberately kept them away from sources of employment, retail hubs and decent transit, and they were surrounded by vaguely defined spaces which created an unpleasant no-man’s-land condition," the article reports.
 
Tower Renewal will look to how European cities have rebuilt and renovated their apartment towers.
 
"To renew a neighbourhood of towers… it is important to activate the street with pedestrian-friendly retail and community uses – to make these car-oriented neighbourhoods more walkable and mixed." A similar sentiment was echoed in this week's Vital Signs report
 
Read the full story here
Original source: The Globe and Mail

An overview of Toronto as Canada's largest city

Toronto's population has grown more than 100,000 in the past year "equivalent of a new city on its own," says an article that ran in Daily Commercial News exploring Canada's six largest cities, the home of one in every two Canadians. 
 
"Toronto has the highest population, 5.9 million, followed by Montreal (4.0 million), Vancouver (2.5 million), Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau (each 1.3 million) and Edmonton (1.2 million)," the article says. 
 
The two-part series based their findings on population figures from Statistics Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMAS) which including downtown cores and "surrounding highly-integrated suburbs."
 
The findings reveal some interesting trends. "One in six Canadians lives in the Toronto CMA. Toronto is a 'behemoth' on the national scene," the article says. "Toronto has a strong financial sector, excellent academic institutions, vibrant broadcasting, communications and entertainment companies and ongoing manufacturing activity, with a solid base of auto assembly plants."
 
The article notes a few things that threaten Toronto on an international level, pointing out potential problems with the adoption of Michigan's "right to work" legislation which may threaten our province's auto industry, the article says. It also notes Mayor Rob Ford's media spectacles and the heavy construction activity in the city.
 
"The city is gearing up to host the 2015 PanAm Games, which will see the participation of more athletes than gather in one place during the Olympics."
 
One more interesting thing, according to the Statistics Toronto is a "largely business-oriented" population, compared to the West Coat's chill environmental and "artistic slant on life."
 
Read the full profiles here and here
Original source: Daily Commercial News

New tall building guidelines designed to protect skyline view

The city of Toronto released updated city wide Tall Building Design Guidelines on May 8 calling for tall buildings "to coexist with the rest of the city, by preserving certain views, honouring neighbourhood context and pedestrian experience," as summarized in an article that appeared in Metro News on Monday. 
 
The updated and new guidelines build on design criteria first established in 2006, which initially prompted "push back" among the design and development communities, Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn, chair of the planning and growth management community, told Metro
 
Metro writes, "The latest effort come [sic] after six years of watching what worked and didn’t work in the past. The general content is similar to existing planning documents, with more specific language and changes based on feedback from developers, ratepayer’s groups and citizens. One of the changes is a call for shorter base buildings, Milczyn says."
 
The new guidelines place an emphasis on neighbourhood consistency. If there's "a consistent height to neighbourhood buildings, the base of a tall building should be aligned with those. If there isn’t consistency, a building’s base should be 80 per cent as tall as the adjacent street — so that the opposite side of the street will have at least five hours of sunlight during the spring and fall equinoxes. If the building is located on a particularly wide street, the base height would be capped at 24 metres, or seven-storeys for a mixed-use building. The cap is new."
 
Additional information on the new guidelines, including a greater emphasis on heritage buildings, can be read in Metro's story here.

To read the guidelines as issued by the city, check out the report here
Original source: Metro News
 

Do women make prettier cities?

An article appearing in the Telegraph cites that if more women were to partake in architecture and city infrastructure, cities would become safer and better designed.  Featuring an interview with Christine Murray, Toronto expat and editor of Architects' Journal, the article says "more women architects could lead to better designed cities that were more 'humane,' 'safer' and 'livable.'"
 
"Women have a unique perspective on the world, and it is not to say that men cannot design excellent cities, or a good nursery or workplace, but everybody would benefit from designs by both halves of the gene pool," Murray told the Telegraph.
 
The article explains women face many challenges in the industry such as high female drop out rates, pay discrepancies, lengthy education periods, bullying, and cites having children as a disadvantage. Only 20 per cent of the country's registered architects are women, a trend common across the board. 
 
Read the full story here.
Original source: The Telegraph
 

Toronto startup offers underwater solution to energy storage woes

Toronto-based startup Hyrdrostor could soon make Ontario's energy infrastructure significantly more efficient thanks to their innovative new energy storage technology—the underwater "accumulator." The accumulators or compressed air energy storage (CAES) units are giant underwater energy storage units that convert unused energy from the grid into compressed air for future usage. After a successful pilot project last summer, Hydrostor has recently partnered with Toronto Hydro to construct a 1MW, 4MWh demonstration facility about seven kilometers from Toronto's shore later this year.
 
"As Hydrostor president Cam Lewis explains, his company's first-of-its-kind system mechanically converts electricity from the grid to compressed air, which is captured, cooled and can be stored indefinitely in underwater accumulators. These accumulators are large, high-strength polyester bags that inflate with the air like a big balloon—no doubt producing quite an underwater show for salmon and lake inhabitants. When the grid needs the stored energy, the weight of the water pushes the air back to the surface where Hydrostor's expander/generator system sends it back."

"The idea, Lewis says, is to transmit excess electricity at night when demand is less and reverse it when demand is high. The technology offers 70 per cent round-trip efficiency, he says."

read full story here
original source Smart Grid Technology

Toronto's waterfront called one of world's biggest urban shoreline revitalization efforts

The Wall Street Journal spotlights the Toronto Waterfront redevelopment in a tripartite feature that includes not only an in-depth article on the effort,  but also a slideshow of the many redevelopment projects underway and a video interview with Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell.

Declaring the redevelopment of Toronto's shoreline, "one of the world's biggest waterfront revitalization efforts" the Wall Street Journal looks both at projects still in progress (e.g. the West Donlands) and those projects that have been successfully integrated into the fabric of the city (e.g. the Simcoe Wavedeck).

see full feature here (subscription required)
original source Wall Street Journal 

How Scarborough Civic Centre's modernism started with a single tree

The Torontoist takes us through the history of the Scarborough Civic Centre, and how a single oak tree inspired its creation.

Designed in 1973 by architect Raymond Moriyama, the modernist geometric structure remains a well-used and iconic public space.
 
"A space station, a castle, a ship... make any fanciful comparison you will, but the Scarborough Civic Centre is open for business and pleasure."
 
"Such was the grand description applied to architect Raymond Moriyama’s geometric design in a 1973 tourism brochure, shortly after the Scarborough Civic Centre’s official opening on June 29 of that year. It was a building that would, at least for a time, be dubbed the jewel of Ontario."
 
"But it was a project the architect had initially been hesitant to get behind."
 
"Moriyama changed his mind when he saw the proposed development site. What has now become Scarborough Town Centre—home to its own mall, RT station, and bus terminal in addition to the Civic Centre complex—was, in the late 1960s, almost entirely farmland, with 'prominent strands of mature hardwood still intact.' The idea of preserving this streak of nature within an expanding urban context tickled the designer. His imagination was fired particularly by the presence of a single, old oak tree."

read full story here
original source Torontoist 
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