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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Manhattanization of Toronto

Construction cranes will continue to dot Toronto’s skyline, with city council approving 755 storeys in new development this week, including three new office towers – a trend that underlines the increasing density in the downtown core and the need to plan transit and infrastructure to support it, says the city’s chief planner.

Toronto city council is meeting for the last time before the fall election – a fact that had developers rushing to get approvals before the months-long break. The result is that this week’s marathon meeting has given the green light to 6,887 new units and 377,900 square metres of non-residential development, according to figures from Toronto’s planning department.

 “We’re experiencing the Manhattanization of the downtown core,” Mr. Mihevc said after the vote. “This is going to be a very different city in 20 years when these developments all get built out.”             The Globe and Mail, August 27,2014
I have lived in Manhattan. Let me tell you what that was like. Manhattan is an island of contrasts with the extreme wealth of Park Avenue and fashionable neighborhoods sitting alongside Harlem and East Harlem. The hip neighborhood of Greenwich Village is just a few blocks from the Lower East Side.  It is an island of the rich and poor. If you ever go to Manhattan one of the sights you must see is The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park but don't take the A train... take the bus. It will take you on a tour of Manhattan's best and worst neighborhoods. You can see the contrasts for yourself.

This Mahattanization of Toronto which seems to excite our city councilors is going to mean an exodus of the middle class to the suburbs. The poor will not leave because they have nowhere to go and no means to get there. The polarization between the extremes of wealth and poverty will continue leading to increased intolerance and conflict. One of my neighbors was recently told when going to a local restaurant for lunch "We don't serve charity cases."  The local coffee and donut shop which used to cater to the area's seniors and parishioners returning from mass has been sold to make room for a condo. It has been replaced by a rather small and expensive Starbucks. Grocery stores have long since given way to boutique foods and health stores. If this is the first fruits of Manhattanization I want no part of it.

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