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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

All along my watchtower

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I recently moved into a high-rise apartment in the most southernly part of Parkdale. My place is on the 24th floor and overlooks Humber Bay and most of the western edge of Lake Ontario. I stitched together three photos from my balcony (above) to give you a sense of my view (see it larger — 2500 pixels wide).

Last night was especially spectacular: all across west-end Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton I could see firework celebrations. Everything from official displays (I could see Hamilton’s city-sponsored event) to individuals (dudes firing Roman candles off roofs of building) were in full flight. By 10:15pm I could scan the skyline and see about five fireworks going off every second. This lasted for about 45 minutes.

The least spectacular thing to witness last night was the traffic jam along Lake Shore Blvd. and the Gardiner Expressway that lasted a lot longer than the fireworks: from 9:30pm to 1:00am. It looked like tens of thousands of people forgot that you can take a GO train, the Queensway streetcar or one of the Lansdowne or Dufferin buses.

My new perspective on the city will surely result in me posting observations on traffic flow (the Gardiner, Lake Shore and Jameson meet right below me), Lake Ontario, and accessing the waterfront.

top photo by Matthew Blackett, bottom photo by Mike Nowak



  1. Oh, they were taking the Dufferin Bus. It’s just that the CHIN picnic, the soccer game and the fireworks pretty much all in the space of a couple of hours meant an inordinate number of people down at the CNE grounds were all trying to get home at once.

    Dufferin was insane.

  2. My best fireworks memory is of a New Year’s Eve in Zakopane (mountain resort village in Poland) where the fireworks were a series of random unofficial displays from all over the village and a few hilltops, running for a half hour or so.

  3. with traffic flow, may I suggest looking at the conversion of the Front St. road folly to a Front St. transitway project, and not the WWLRT. Adding some of the quarter-billion to GO would help too.
    With fireworks and all the emissions with it, what if we somehow made them go off from some of the bank towers in the core so many more people could see them without being so stuck in traffic?

  4. Transit, on a public holiday?





    Get rid of the unions, staff at reasonable levels, and pay appropriately (like, say $11/hr), and charge appropriately ($4/trip) and maybe transit could be suitable. But if you actually want to go somewhere, transit is useless unless you are going somewhere along bloor or yonge/uni/spadina during the week before 1am.

  5. Reality Check has a point–have you LOOKED at a GO schedule for a weekend/holiday lately??

    Even if you didn’t find the cost of the trip a financial burden, the schedules are horrendous, and inconvenient.

    To give you an idea: A person trying to get to Brampton from downtown Monday night via public transit had these options: Take the 8:10pm bus from Union and arrive an hour later in Brampton (assuming there are no traffic jams), or leave at 11:30pm and arrive in Brampton at 12:15am (again, assuming there’s no traffic).

    And that just gets you to Brampton–you still need to get to your place of residence.

    Unless you have a car waiting at the bus station, you can expect another half hour of travel via Brampton transit–and an additional .50–each way. And if you don’t have a car, you’re going to have to take a cab if you come back on the 11:30pm bus, because Brampton transit stopped running around midnight.

    So if you stayed to see the fireworks, you’re probably not getting home ’til around 1am, AND you probably have to work in the morning.

    And can we talk about cost? It would cost a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) $37.60 just for the privilege of taking GO, and all of the inflexibility it offers. (and that doesn’t include the cost of the ride to and from the GO bus).

    So, I somehow I doubt that the reason you saw all of those people jammed on the Gardiner on Monday night was that they simply “forgot” about GO…