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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Mississauga, Riverdale hospital, delivery trucks downtown, & waterfront money questions

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Yesterday, Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star wrote about the international competition for a 52-storey condo tower that will be built on the northeast corner of Hurontario St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd. It will be the fourth and most prominent of a five-tower complex called Absolute. The finalists are certinaly eye-catching designs (see above image), but I believe only two of the six could actually stand the test of time and not be ridiculed within 10 years of construction (my fave is the image second from the right).

Also, there is much work to be done with Mississauga’s City Centre — a dreary and desolate place that is somehow full of interesting architecture, but lacks any kind of decent planning for us humans to interact. The smart folks at Project for Public Spaces (HQ is in NYC) have been coming to town and consulting with the western suburb to try and liven up the City Centre (worth noting: in December 2005, the PPS voted the City Centre one of the top 15 public squares in the world that needs serious reworking). More on the planned renovations here.

 Yesterday, city council approved the demolition of Riverdale Hospital to make way for the Bridgeport helth centre. The architectural significance of the half-round building was at the heart of the debate — many feel that Toronto needs to protects the city’s most valuable displays of Mordern architecture, and the hospital was certainly a good example. Many architects and cultural historians put up a strong defense to keep the building, but are now exploring ways to fight the demolition through other government channels.

City councillor Michael Walker has proposed a ban on delivery trucks downtown during weekday rush hours. The ban would extend from Jarvis St. to Spadina Rd., Bloor St. south to the lake. While I commend Mr. Walker for trying to ease the congestion of the downotwn core, his solution is misguided — there are too many single occupant car drivers in the core. It is much more practical to encourage people to take transit or to carpool than to disrupt businesses. Maybe adding road tolls into the downtown core, or the highways that lead into the city’s heart, would be a good start. Council could possibly vote on Walker’s proposal today or tomorrow.

Lastly, council is debating how much money the City should be spending on waterfront development.