That was nice of them: The Canadian Urban Institute’s new report about Canadian cities’ downtowns [PDF] uses the highrise construction map I made back in November to demonstrate that, as they put it on page 88, “downtown Toronto is attracting many new high rise towers, particularly in the south western quadrant of the core.” Very true! (Over at OpenFile, John Michael McGrath pulled a few other interesting things from the report.)
But hey, speaking of tall buildings: how many are actually being built, right now, in Toronto? The correct answer is both “a whole lot” and “more than anywhere else in the world, thanks,” but beyond that, it gets complicated. I’ve read a million news articles over the last year that make some mention of how many highrises this city has under construction, but the number’s always lower—by a hundred or so—than the 239 I ended up counting six months ago.
When you measure a number like that matters, of course, but what it really seems to depend on is what you call a “highrise.” I went with the City of Toronto’s definition: seven storeys and up. But everyone else seems to be using whatever construction research company Emporis says, and their definition of a “highrise” is weird: it only covers buildings between 12 and 40 storeys tall. If a building’s taller than that, it’s called a “skyscraper,” not a highrise, and doesn’t count in their totals. Whether a not an 11-storey building’s a highrise is something to argue about, but a 44-storey building should probably count as one, and when someone writes an article about the boom of highrise construction in Toronto, they probably don’t mean to exclude from their count the buildings that actually rise the highest.
Not that my methodology of using active building permits and shoring permits was perfect, either, and I’m sure that the number I came up with has changed since I measured it. But, Toronto, please, when you want to brag about how many tall buildings we have, err on the side of bigger.
TORONTO THE BETTER This week’s cover story of The Grid is, oh hey, mine and Katie Underwood's! It's thirty-four big ideas to make Toronto better, from thirty-four of Toronto’s smartest people. Plus, if you think you can do better (and what are you, some kinda hot shot?!), we want to hear your idea, too.
I’LL TAKE IT, TORONTO STAR I’ve got an article in print in the Star for the first time today, which doesn’t really count because it’s their edit of a longer story I wrote for The Grid two weeks ago with a new photo. But it also doesn’t not count. (Here’s a closer look.)
A few days back, the National Post published a review online of The Raven, the new, widely panned movie starring John Cusack as
a raven Edgar Allen Poe. The review, written by Chris Knight—well, it’s pretty wonderful, composed as it is in trochaic octameter, the same meter that Poe wrote “The Raven” in:
In a cinema quite darkened where the trailers have you hearken
To some new enticement of the cinematic lore
All at once you’ll feel a zapping of some force – your will it’s sapping!
But you’ll stay although the film you see is something of a bore.
Even with John Cusack starring it is something of a bore.
’Tis The Raven; nothing more.
You are applauding, and I am with you. But—oh! horror!—oh! any horror but this!—towards the end of Knight’s review, there’s a line that includes notes (to a copy editor? from Knight? inserted by some kind of publishing program?) that aren’t for readers to see, and that do that thing that most bad errors do, which is suck the reader right out of what they were reading.
For this article for The Grid about just how many Starbucks, Second Cup, Timothy’s, Country Style, and Coffee Time locations there are in Toronto (a lot!), I spent a half-day digging through an Excel spreadsheet of all of Toronto’s active business licences. Because operators fill out the licence applications themselves, typos sometimes make their way onto a business licence, a problem that’s probably never more prevalent and certainly never more obvious than with franchises. (Does every McDonald’s owner need to know how to spell or punctuate McDonald’s if they’re not making the signage or printing the menus themselves?) It doesn’t make searching through licensing data to actually count how many different locations Starbucks has easy, but it does make it a little more fun.
Here are some of the businesses that I just barely didn’t miss, all of them legitimate franchisees:
The Globe did a great thing today—they got, and mapped, twenty-five years of cycling collision data. And then they released the data, which makes it much easier for people like me to tell you, say, the total number of reported collisions on any street you can name. Which is what I’m going to do here.
Here are some of the Toronto streets that stuck out from a glance at the map as especially accident-heavy, as well as the number of collisions those streets have per kilometre, with the obvious caveat that these counts don’t necessarily reflect how safe or dangerous a street is (College–Carlton is the street where the greatest number of cycling accidents occur per kilometre, but a lot of cyclists use it), and also that my per-kilometre counts are rough because I used this to determine how long any given street is within Toronto.
Along with my article about a missing Banksy, the other article I wrote for the Globe and Mail a few months back (while I was freelancing, before landing at The Grid) was about a synagogue coming to Forest Hill Village that’s based on one that the Nazis burned down in Poland. (It’s on the stretch of Spadina Road pictured above.) Since it’s no longer available for free online, here it is in its entirety. I still really can’t believe I got away with the title.
Because it’s no longer freely available online, here’s the article I wrote for the Globe back in September, about the demolition of a downtown building that a work by super-famous British street artist Banksy was on.
The latest on the wall: it’s in storage, and so, too, is the stencil of a security guard that Banksy painted onto it. The new towers coming where it was are still on track. (You can follow this thread for updates.) And the City of Toronto staff report about 90 Harbour and 1 York property [PDF] must be the only staff report to ever allude to Banksy—there, at the bottom of page 3, it says that “Staff have been advised that some exterior panels and interior elements were salvaged and stored but at present it is unclear the extent of the salvage or the intent of incorporation.”