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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered


  1. I am very happy to see that the Toronto Star is paying attention to the sidewalks in Toronto. Living and working in downtown Toronto, I have also noticed another problem with the sidewalks, it seems that cars also like to drive and park on sidewalks.

    I have been reporting this problem for years, first to Oliva Chow, and now to Adam Vaughn…and yes even to the supervisor of Toronto Parking Authority.

    I have even seen cars parked on the road, towed away on Spadina Ave, while cars parked on the Spadina sidewalk are left untouched or un-ticketed by Police.

    One street where this is a major problem is a small street, running south from Adelaide to King St W, called Charlotte St. Most of the time, as a pedestrian, you are forced to walk on the road with fast moving traffic because the sidewalk is covered with cars or trucks. I have a photograph of this on my flickr page, page 3,

    I had friends visit from Portland, Oregon and they even asked me..WHAT’S UP WITH ALL THE CARS PARKED ON THE SIDEWALKS ? Maybe someone can answer this question !

    Thank you

  2. I don’t know why Tim Horton’s haven’t resorted to the Big Gun yet – “sure we’ll give you styrofoam cups – but it means Toronto will be left out of “Roll up the Rim”.

    The Waste Management Committee’s re-election chances would take a serious hit 🙂

  3. Off the “cup”, I’m convinced retailers and their parent organisations see a promotional benefit from discarded coffee cups and other packaging. As a consequence these entities WILL object to anything that impacts the proliferation of their discarded packaging as an unwelcome restriction on their business. It would not surprise me to learn some chains go so far as to include subliminal messages encouraging littering to further benefit from this.
    As such Toronto should consider going further requiring simplification of take out packaging negating potential promotional value while requiring a retailers mark so such could be identified to pass on recovery/recycling/disposal costs in the future.
    There may be merit in running a public education campaign targeting those organisations whose discarded packaging is seen most frequently littering public space. Negating the benefit these organisations see from littering by identifying them as environmental scofflaws would encourage them to simplify packaging and encourage refillables in their stead.

  4. “One measure, if adopted, would require retailers to give customers a 10-cent discount when they avoid using a plastic bag.”

    From today’s NY Times:
    “And in a move intended to both conserve resources and pad the coffers, Mr. Bloomberg said the city planned to charge customers a nickel for each plastic bag they use at every store, whether it be a bodega, a Barnes & Noble or a Balducci’s. Aides said they were working out details of the proposal.”

    Ireland taxes plastic bags at 22 euro cents each – about 33 Canadian cents ! Wouldn’t it be simpler to tax bags as they are given out than give discounts for a notional number of bags saved? I bring two reusable baskets when shopping which can hold about the volume of four plastic bags. How much of a discount would I get?

  5. @geoffrey
    This is an interesting take on the subject. I never thought that companies could actually perceive trashed and discarded cups as a form of publicity and try to hold on to it, but now that you mentioned it, it actually makes sense.

    Eliminating disposable take-away cups in favour of refillables isn’t a simple issue. It’s not as though we’re encouraging consumers to fall back on past behaviour. As a coffee consuming society we moved from a time when people used Thermos’ or other refillables not to purchase take-away coffee, but because they brewed their own at home. Take-away coffee in disposable containers was only made popular by the falicy of convenience, as if it’s easier to sit in the drive-through line at 7am than it is to make a pot of coffee. By encouraging a broader use of refillables at take-away establishments you must educate the consumer in an entirely new way of purchasing and consuming a simple product. If we’re really so interseted in reducing overall environmental impact, let’s encourage people to brew their own at home and regress to the thermos and lunchbox years.

    All bikes on sidewalks are a pain in the ass, but we’d all be big hypocrites if we didn’t admit to occasionally mounting the curb to get at a shortcut. That being said, it would unwise to ban

  7. I’m alright with government getting tougher on packaging. However, it’s the provincial level of government which should be setting an Ontario-wide standard…which is what the Star is saying in their editorial today. Otherwise each municipality is likely to come in with its own set of practices. Also, I don’t quite see how a municipal government can mandate the precise amount a retailer is to reimburse someone for a cup they brought (20cents) in to be refilled or a bag brought in (10 cents). It doesn’t sound like this can stand up to a court challenge. On the other hand, taking on a “disposal fee” for those who don’t bring in a re-useable cup or their own bag would be far less vulnerable to a court challenge because this fee would not be implying that the city was sticking its nose in the retailers’ pricing. All that said, as a society, we’ve become way to addicted on take out coffee and take out food — so a pricing system that makes us conscious of waste we are creating when we eat and drink this way is not a bad thing.

    Regarding bikes on sidewalks, mounting the curb to take a short cut or for some other reason is one thing. Lord knows I’ve done it. However, riding on the sidewalk at a speed that puts pedestrians in danger — as some cyclists seem to be doing — shouldn’t be condoned. Neither should running red lights, or cycling through when streetcar doors have opened and passenger are exiting/entering, or riding a bike on subway platforms. Just because someone is riding a bike and doing their bit for the environment doesn’t give them the right to ride in a way that endangers those around them.

  8. Council can’t impose sales taxes outside of alcohol, tobacco, or amusement tickets. They’re trying to finesse a direct violation as a by-law to protect the environment.

    It would be nice if people who are supposedly interested in policy actually knew what the framework they are working with is.

    Council is out to lunch, focusing on ridiculously petty issues while the city’s economy is dying. But we must implement manifesto item 7876421 of Miller’s Little Green Book rather than actually governing. Par for the course – rather than getting police to crack down on violent neighbourhoods and implement draconian measures in TCH, we get ineffectual demands for action from another level of government.

  9. Cups. As stated yesterday.

    Why is it the people who feel obligated to buy these products can’t simply take the top OFF and throw both items in the proper recycling bin?

    And why is it City Hall nor Tim’s (or any of the others) can think to educate their customers not to be such bloody slobs?

    I guess its the same notion as putting a finished cigarette in the trash rather than on the sidewalk, street….

    Perhaps the mayor should repurpose the garbage police to issue tickets to these inconsiderate individuals rather than combing thru garbage bags. They’d make more than parking tickets.

  10. Jeff,
    You are right…people should be able to separate lid from cup and put each in the proper recycling container. Fines for those who don’t would be good sense. But of course that might look like we are letting big bad industry off the hook.

  11. Isn’t it annoying when somebody asks a question and you answer it and then they ask the exact same question over again? Maybe they’re just here to rant.

    From yesterday:

    “I used to wonder about that too, jeff. Apparently “paper” cups are actually lined with a thin film of plastic, which makes it impossible to recycle. Hot coffee would turn a plain paper cup mushy in short order.

    Manufacturers should be held to account for the whole life cycle of a product. If they want to make something that isn’t readily recyclable or biodegradable they should pay the costs.

    Comment by Justin
    November 5, 2008 @ 8:47 pm “