Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ford Nation, Jane Jacobs Dissed, Vancouver's Modern Treehuggers, and a Concert Hall that Doubles a Bomb Shelter

"It took a while, but for Mayor Rob Ford the reality check is no longer in the mail: It has arrived." I wish I could take credit, but leave it to The Star's Christopher Hume to come up with that zinger in discussing Rob Ford's plea for money from McGuinty. But if Ford has indeed received his reality check, he certainly hasn't cashed it in as it emerged last week that Ford has threatened to unleash Ford Nation on McGuinty in the next election, causing people all around the city to throw up a little in their mouths. But, as it turns out, Ford Nation is a real thing. Only it won't be called Ford Nation. It will be called the Respect for Tax Payers Against Gravy Trains Above Ground And Also Those Wasteful Spending Pinkos Action Group.

There must be some megalomania in the water, as the Conservatives have also decided to create their own moniker and rebrand the Government of Canada as the Harper Government. In keeping, I have decided to rename my neighbourhood Jaketown. I mean, the Annex, who thought that one up?

Speaking of the Annex--I mean, Jaketown--Edward Glaeser, author of the book Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier had the nerve to come to Toronto and diss Jane Jacobs. Oh, no you didn't! He says that tall buildings are good for cities and that Jacobs had it wrong when she said that old, low-rise buildings were important to keep in the housing stock to ensure affordability and street activity. He also said she was wrong about books with shorter titles conveying their meaning in a more concise way. Like, really, The Economy of Cities, what's that even about?

Just don't ask a Canadian about the economy. A recent Globe and Mail article mapped the huge disparities in Canada's math skills--but don't worry, the report uses pretty pictures and colours so we can all understand the information. Like, for instance, did you know that twelve out of every seven Torontonians can't do basic addition or subtraction? It's scandalous!

In other scandalalous news, Toronto has recently been focussed on the fall of the Urban Affairs Library and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, but for resident's of Vancouver's Sixth Avenue it's been all about the proposed removal of thirty giant Elm trees from their street. The Park Board decided to hold off for the time being, but look unlikely to budge on the issue. Yeah, I bet those tree-hugging Vancouverites are gonna channel their inner hippie and chain themselves to those Elms, just like old times! But it looks like they've decided to go the more modern route and form a Facebook protest group instead.

Vancouver architect Bing Thom has proposed an idea that buries a concert hall underground in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, which sounds like a great idea! What could possibly go wrong with building a giant theatre deep in the earth in a city holding its collective breath waiting for The Big One? No word yet on whether the concession stand would also stock a variety of canned goods, flashlights, blankets, and a wind-up radio.

Lastly, someone has been giving out $5 bills to cyclists in Toronto as a thank-you for riding. But what about the car drivers? Who's going to give them money for driving?

1 comment:

  1. Without a provincial and federal historic tax credit, keeping our six storey avenues seems a pipe dream. It makes no economic sense to build anything new at that height. This is why heritage preservation is so weak. Regardless, we need low, medium, and high rise buildings. As a reaction to modernism, if someone takes anything from Jacbos it should be diversity of uses and building type.