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A bad day for Toronto city planners. by Kevin Wong
September 27, 2009, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s a bad day to be a person of Chinese person Toronto, particularly if you like to read, and run.  You had to choose between the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon, the Word on the Street book fair, and the celebration parade of China’s birthday.  If you are a person in Toronto who likes to be stuck in traffic all day downtown, it’s a fantastic day, but since there aren’t very many of those, it was a bad day for Toronto city planners.

In addition to running Charity CHAMPS, I’ve been fairly involved in running a national conference (CUTC) for the last 10 years, and we are very careful to try to time our event so that it doesn’t conflict with other events.

By contrast for the last 3 years, the Scotiabank Marathon and the Word on the Street festival are always scheduled on the same day in September.  And this year, perhaps thanks to the lunar calendar, there was also the Chinese parade.  I think our all-news radio station 680 News put it best saying “effectively all streets downtown are closed.”

Seriously, Yonge, Bay, and University were all brought to a halt, as were Queen and Dundas, Lakeshore and Queen’s Quay.  I think there were issues with Richmond and Adelaide too.  The resulting overflow onto College, Spadina, Bathurst, King and Wellington, were so gross that it was absolutely infuriating for anyone who had to do something downtown that couldn’t be done on foot or on the subway exclusively.  It would be excruciating just getting out of the downtown if you wanted to escape!  I carefully looked at the flyer I received about the Scotiabank marathon road closures so I could avoid them with my plans today, but was given no warning about Word on the Street, nor the Chinese parade.

While I think these events are great, is there no one in the municipal government who can someone bring about some coordination between these groups—particularly since they requested the closure of public road resources?

Why not have the book fair right along side the marathon route?  What better way for people to bide their time for their friends and family to run by than browsing through some books?  And what better way to get some extra eyeballs on your proud Chinese banners than by walking along the same path set aside for the marathon already?

Call me crazy for thinking groups can work together like this when everyone benefits, but it seems like we could do a lot better job than the disaster that was downtown today.  I heard one guy shout “I HATE downtown!” so loudly from his car I could hear him from across the street.  A little bit more planning could eliminate one more reason people flee to the suburbs, paving more nature for urban sprawl.

This is just the thing our city planners are probably trying to combat.  I think they are probably a pretty strategic group creating Green Belts, working with the TTC, and encouraging dense downtown development.  I encourage you to be a bit “tactical” as well, and think about day-to-day things like this as well—because days as frustrating as this would make anyone think about staying the heck out of downtown whenever possible.

I hope everything is cleared up by the time I have to get to St. Clair and Bathurst for to see my father’s Art Walk festival in mid-town…

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