Falling Behind and Catching Up

By Ben Bull
Published February 21, 2007

During my time in the Hammer I found myself regularly caught up in wishful, and wistful, thinking as I looked across at my old home town across the lake.

"Toronto is a city that works" I would often boast, joining the Hamilton chorus, "There's no backward thinking there."

Perhaps, compared to the City Hall shenanigans that defined my stay in Hamilton, those statements were almost true but, predictably, now that I am back on the 'other side' the grass doesn't look so green.

The latest group to bemoan the lack of progress over here is the Toronto City Summit Alliance, who meet for another round of debates next week. This group of local business and community leaders has published a working paper which cautions, again, that Toronto is falling far behind, citing the usual infrastructure suspects of floundering transit, gridlock, sprawl and massive, unchecked growth.

In an effort to drag itself into the future Toronto has initiated a number of design competitions. On everything from a new look Nathan Phillips Square to a revitalized waterfront, fancy-shmancy, cool looking designs are cropping up everywhere.

Last night saw the unveiling of the four short-listed Nathan Phillips Square re-designs. The design teams, from New York to Toronto, introduced a number of exciting new features for the dowdy looking square including a tiered garden, watergarden promenade and a two-storey glass-enclosed restaurant.

The Toronto Star's Chris Hume is gunning for the Plant Architects (Toronto) design, complete with grass covered podium, sculpture garden and outdoor café.

Although the process of turning the designers' ink into reality is a little uncertain – our City Hall has tentatively slated 'sometime next year' as a start date for this project - these design competitions certainly put the buzz in the air.

Here's hoping Hamilton gets buzzing too. And here's hoping all this noise eventually leads to something both towns desperately need – some action.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2007 at 22:32:02

You're such a tease.

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