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Shabby Toronto

Designer Tyler Brûlé, leaps into the fray in today's National Pos

Designer Tyler Brûlé, leaps into the fray in today's National Post.

Monocle’s upcoming July/August issue names the world’s 25 most liveable cities. Montreal comes in at number 16 and Vancouver at eight. Not surprisingly, considering who runs Monocle, Toronto is absent from the list. Tyler Brûlé (who also founded Wallpaper*) has been vocal about Toronto not necessarily being his favourite place. What were his exact words about a trip in 2005? Oh yes: “I just felt angry;†“it felt like a place that had taken nothing away from its mistakes;†“skyline littered with eyesores,†et cetera. Last week, after a “break from the city†of a year and a half, he came back to promote the special Monocle issue and celebrate his grandmother’s 90th birthday. He stayed at his mother’s house in Etobicoke. Does he hate it here? Not exactly. He’s hard on a lot of cities, especially ones that don’t live up to their potential. And with Toronto, as he told Adam McDowell, it’s personal.


Q Has your opinion of Toronto improved at all since your last visit?


A Well, I think — and I’ve certainly gone on record with this in the Financial Times and in other places — that Toronto has a case of “the comfies.â€


Q What does that mean, specifically?


A You’re in a rapidly growing North American city and, for all of its traffic woes and urban woes, life is still pretty good here. However, there are dozens of cities that are hurtling ahead of Toronto. That’s where the comfort issue comes in. Even though it’s lost its raison d’être, it’s still incredibly comfortable.


Q So you mean comfort in terms of complacency. What are we complacent about?


A How can we have one of the most important cities and have this railway lands issue where still nothing has been done? We have this opportunity on the harbourfront which has become completely squandered. In the adopted home of Jane Jacobs? She would be flipping in her grave now if she could see what’s happening. I also look at where that energy ends — on Richmond, Queen, wherever it may be — and then the gaps, the canyons, of towers that are going up. I mean, where’s the street life?
And my God, when you fly over Toronto you see these vast tracts of two-car garages that jut out in front of the house, and these communities where you have to live by the automobile. It won’t be sustainable. 


Q Does Toronto in particular frustrate you because you used to live here?


A Yeah. And it had potential. That’s where the issue of comfort comes in. It has all of the natural assets, that’s not the issue. Why don’t we have high-speed rail? Why don’t we have the world’s most stellar public transport system, a model that people come from all the world to see? Bombardier is in both Toronto and Montreal. We could go on and on. I worry that it’s going to come screeching to a halt, and it’ll be game over a little bit.


Q What would your advice be to David Miller to get us over the comfies?


A If your brand is stuck or broken or in need of reinvention — and I don’t think Miller should be beaten up for it; I don’t know the man and I don’t know if there’s a need for new leadership — get on a plane and go look at 10 cities around the world. Look at the frequency that Zurich has with its tram system, for example. Ask yourself, “Is this something that we should be doing?†
Why would I come here? That’s a central question. What brings me to Toronto versus Montreal? Montreal can play its French card, later opening hours and certainly its more liberal nightlife. That’s incredibly important. 
When you’ve got friends coming into town, the last thing you want is for people to go, “H’s got a really nice flat and it’s great that his kids go to a nice school, but shit, it’s boring there.â€

Poor sad run down shabby Toronto. City of missed opportunities. The town fun forgot.
 
Rufus Wainwright echo's Tyler's thoughts

Canadian folk princling and Juno award winner Rufus Wainwright took some time out of his busy European tour schedule to sit down with The Guardian UK's Sunday paper The Observer to fill out a quick travel-related questionnaire.

While most of the answers were simple and trivial, cute even, one of the last ones has been throwing Torontonians through a bit of a loop.

" I'll never go back to Toronto. I can't stand it - the place drives me mad. I'm allowed to say this because I'm Canadian. I have friends there, I work there, but I find it really hard to like. I will have to go back there, but I wish I didn't have to. It's trying to be the New York of the Midwest. I much prefer Montreal. "

-- Source: The Observer - Sunday June 8th 2008
 
Huh?????

..which is trying to be the 'Paris' of the north? Why do 'some' people in Montreal bore me so...

What am I missing????

What is " 'some' " code for?

Gay people? Singer/songwriters? People with crazy sisters? Montrealers who would prefer to live in Montreal over Toronto?

Also, last time I looked Paris was well south of Montreal.

Why are folks here so sensitive when it comes to people who don't live in Toronto thinking it is a complacent place? Isn't it?





c
 
you guys gotta be kidding!

Toronto is everything but shabby...

I'm originally from Milan, Italy, try that one and then tell me what shabby means! All the places you listed have nice and ugly areas...have you tried Paris baenlieu such Pigalle?
 
And my God, when you fly over Toronto you see these vast tracts of two-car garages that jut out in front of the house, and these communities where you have to live by the automobile. It won’t be sustainable.

And of course you don't find this in any other city anywhere else. That's what makes Toronto bad.

Sure.

Why don’t we have high-speed rail? Why don’t we have the world’s most stellar public transport system, a model that people come from all the world to see? Bombardier is in both Toronto and Montreal. We could go on and on.

If no high speed rail is a hit against Toronto, then why not a hit against Montreal, too? Also, I was not aware that people travel around the world just to see the transit system in Toronto. And Tyler should know that Bombardier builds airplanes in both Montreal and Toronto, not choo-choo's.
 
You guys want to know what I love about Toronto? That we are so, so, so far past the point where we need to give a flying f**k what Tyler Brule or Rufus Wainwright thinks of us.
 
Tyler Brülé hates Toronto because it's a link to his pre-accented and pre-affected history. He's angry that it isn't more, that when he says his mother lives in suburban North York no one ooohs or ahhhs :p

I wonder what he says about Winnipeg :S
 
Also, last time I looked Paris was well south of Montreal.

Mmm... Sorry to be a little bit off topic, but actually, Montreal is south of Paris, not the opposite. Montreal is at the same lattitude as Bordeaux : 45°30′N, while Paris is at 48°52′0″N. So if Montreal was pretending to be some sort of Paris - which it is not - it would be the "Paris of the South"... :D
 
And my God, when you fly over Toronto you see these vast tracts of two-car garages that jut out in front of the house, and these communities where you have to live by the automobile. It won’t be sustainable.
And of course you don't find this in any other city anywhere else. That's what makes Toronto bad.

even the cities in Europe have some car dependent suburbs. I saw a lot outside Paris. They all have transit connections at least, however most of ours do as well.

However in Europe, usually the further you get from downtown the crappier and poorer it gets.
 
even the cities in Europe have some car dependent suburbs. I saw a lot outside Paris. They all have transit connections at least, however most of ours do as well.

However in Europe, usually the further you get from downtown the crappier and poorer it gets.

Indeed, though a lot of European middle class does live in non-descript commie-block style apartments outside the old city, but not quite in the thoroughly crappy outer burbs. I'm not sure how we got to the idea that this is something to emulate. Is a crappy building really better than a bunch of houses? Now, it can be argued that the former facilitates better transit usage, but even here the situation is more complicated.

I hate to also be a spoilsport about the 'suburbs are the slums of the future,' but this one needs to be put out to the rest - it's not gonna happen, for numerous reasons. Now, I don't like cookie cutter suburbs as much as the next person, but it's highly unlikely we will see them disappear.
 

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