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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered


  1. It is shameful how the city has botched the food cart program. We have so many talented vendors who are permitted to sell nothing but hotdogs and sausages, and the few who are allowed to do something different have to jump through so many hoops they can’t make any money at it. Go to any other city in the world and it’s not like this. This is the first time i have ever agreed with Denzil Minnan-Wong about anything. Get the bureaucracy and micromanagement out of the way and let them cook! We’re hungry!

  2. why did the city choose one brand for all the non-hotdog food carts? shouldn’t you be able to tell by looking at the cart what food is being sold there?

  3. @Chas S. — Couldn’t agree more. We’re so fearful in this city (fearful of getting sick, but really fearful of getting sued) that we regulate things out of all usefulness. Let them sell. If someone gets sick, sanction the vendor not the whole program.

    This relates in a way to the ongoing discussion in Tuesday or Wednesday’s “headlines” section. The idea of personal responsibility and safety. When I was in Mexico City, after about 5 days of seeing the place, I got bold and ate something from a street vendor. Seemed like a dodgy thing to do, but I wanted the full experience…and I got it. My illness was not caused by under-regulation, it was caused by poor judgement on my part. Why can’t we just let people make their own decisions on issues that will ONLY effect them. Guy doesn’t wear a seatbelt, that could effect others; guy eats a questionable taco, he’s the only one gonna spend the next 4 days on the toilet. And guess what, it’s a lesson learned AND I’d never go back to that taco stand again. Same reason I do go to Lick’s for a burger. Got a bug there once…lesson learned. It’s called taking ownership for yourself instead of relying on weak-kneed, self-serving politicians to do it for you.

  4. The Worst road contest got huge plain in all the media. The CAA sure knows how to serve itself.

    Imagine, an advocacy group for driving. Does driving really need any help?! Its like a white men or cell phone lobby group. Do the winners need to whine and ask for more.

  5. You know Hello World, I used to have a similar reaction to the CAA report — mostly because some of their lobbying efforts become anti-pedestrian/cyclist – or just bad urbanism – but the bad roads report actually applies to cyclists as well. I sometimes go for long rides out-and-about, and Steeles is just awful. If i wasn’t riding a mountain bike, but rather a road bike, I’m certain it would have been crumpled by some of the holes I hit.

    Same with Carlton in Cabbagetown. Twice this summer the poor condition of the road has resulted in broken spokes.

    So smooth roads is one places cyclists and cars can finally come together. Detente at last!

  6. Josh: I largely agree with your assessment, but with one caveat. You said that decisions like where to eat affect only the decider: don’t forget health system costs incurred by people (unnecessarily) going to the emerg after they can’t stop vomiting. A federal/provincial cost, I guess, but it’s not quite nothing.

    I think the real problem with the food cart system started when it was viewed as a branding/tourism opportunity instead of a chance for citizens and tourists alike to have access to DELICIOUS food and an opportunity for small businesses. The health thing, I feel, was secondary.

  7. @andrew: Yeah, I thought of that counter argument and certainly someone is going to have to pony up the bucks to treat those suffering from food poisoning. I suppose what I should have also mentioned is that this isn’t Mexico and even the most relaxed regulation in Toronto would look like fascism in Mexico City. So the likelihood of a huge public health crisis related to souvlaki occuring in Toronto is extremely remote.

  8. I’m rather tired of hearing about Steeles as the worst road. While it certainly is a *bad* road, it is not the worst (I’m originally from Windsor – trust me that there are a handful there alone that are worse).

    The fact is that it is a bad road but also located in the most populated city in the country, which tends to skew the voting.

  9. The problem with the street food program is this: I believe the people that were initially calling for it envisioned that the City would lift the regulations prohibiting sales of anything but precooked meat, and that entrepreneurs would open a raft of carts of varying food products across the city as a result. It would be the hot dog cart equivalent of going to the food court at the Eaton Centre. Instead, the opposite happened: the City created the most bureaucratic program imaginable (too many cooks, so to speak), it became cost-prohibitive for vendors to operate, only 9 or 10 are operating across the city… not to mention the ridiculous “branding” (oh how I hate that word).

  10. I normally would shudder at the CAA’s advocacy files, including the “vote for the worst road” program — it is along the lines of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Foundation promoting Tax Freedom Day every year, a media-friendly story that glosses over important policy discussions. However I can agree that it is a transit issue as well to a certain extent, as a regular on the Victoria Park bus…

  11. Gee, a million people (ha ha) went to Caribana, and a million people (ha ha) went to Taste of the Danforth, didn’t see that anyone got sick. Maybe it’s because the entrepreneurs got it right and the city f**ked up?

  12. Hey John,

    Lets try a new approach, ask the city to apply for stimulus money so that every restaurant in the city gets a spanking new sidewalk cart. They are made locally right? Then since the restaurant is already by law approved no problem, they can park it outside and we now have ethnic street food for everyone. How hard is that?

  13. The Worst Roads thing is a joke. It is nothing more than a popularity contest! The worst road in Ontario is probably some rural road somewhere where if you drive it with anything other than a Ford F-250 your vehicle will be destroyed!

    The worst road in the GTA (that I’ve been on) is Bloomington west of Bathurst. There is a sign that says “Broken Road” and it is FAR worse than anything on Steeles Ave.

    Still, hopefully the voters of Toronto will ask themselves why they pay the city a vehicle registration fee while seeing minimal road improvements…

  14. I too ask myself why I pay $60 for the city’s vehicle registration fee, $74 for province’s fee, $75 every 5 years for my driver’s licence renewal, $35 (plus soon to be 13% HST) every 2 years for a “drive clean” test, and countless other regressive taxation associated with owning a vehicle, even if as a car owner you try to reduce your dependency on the car by walking, cycling, using transit…and yet there’s minimal road improvement. Asking for a little accountability for tax dollars is not a bad thing.

    Like it or not, roads have been and will always be the life blood of any city. They are used by ALL forms of transportation. And like it or not they also help define our urban environment, and yes, sometimes to its detriment So it’s in ALL of our best interests to maintain them, especially with our harsh climate here in Canada.

    As for the Worst Roads thing being a popularity contest…of course it is! How could one compare a long, heavily used road like Steeles to …15th Sideroad in the township of King, which is still in a developing area??

  15. Roads must be in good shape for the benefit of everyone in the city: drivers, transit users, and cyclists. So get it together City of Toronto! I don’t think anyone is against this, though some in the past set it up as a matter of transit spending versus road spending. Transit needs good roads to be comfortable and reliable, since most of it is bus routes.