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Opinions on Toronto

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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This is belated but........

My 4 day trip to Toronto last weekend was great! Let give a quick overview.

Friday, July 11 and Monday, July 14:
My wife and I drove to and from Toronto, which can be harsh because driveing I-69 through central MI and southwestern Ontario are pretty desolate and bad radio stations (particularly in On.)

Got to Toronto in early evening and went to diner at a nice Mexican rest. aroung the King/Spadina area (I think)

Saturday, July 12:
Wife, friend, and myself walked a circle around downtown. Our friend rents a condo in the CityPlace area across the street from the SkyDome, so we walked Front street to St Lawerance market (that is niiiiiice), walked north thorugh the neighborhoods directly east of Yonge, North stopped at the Univ.of Toronto, toured the On. Parliment building, then walked through campus. Took College west to Spadina (I really like the near west neighborhoods) Had Veitnamese for lunch on Spadina then walked back to the condo on Front.

In the evening we went and hung out in the south Beaches neighborhood. That is a very nice neighborhood. I would definitley like to live there. Its full of nice little bungalows directly adjacent to the Lake. I also like to new res./com development happening there along Queen St.

Sunday, July 13:
Went to the Toronto Islands in the morning. Rented bikes on Centerville and biked to Ward's and Algonquin Islands. I also like the residential bits of the islands.

That's our trip, and I wish I could have spent more time checking out the city. I have a nagging suspicion that the city does not have the typical neighborhood "ghetto" mentality that is so prevalent in many US cities. Every type of person was in every neighborhood.

What is everyone's opinion/experience with this cool Great Lakes city?
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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I was going to PM you to see if you wanted to meet up at all while you were here, but that was a busy weekend for us. Sounds like it was a busy weekend for you too...

I could have shown/told you about the not-so-nice areas of town, but I agree that in general Toronto doesn't have the same problems with inner-city ghettos that some American cities have.

The past 10 years have seen a real infrastructure-deficeit develop - part of the problem with having a political party in charge at the provincial level which is distinctly anti-urban in most of it's policy directions. Our biggest problem is public transit - it hasn't kept pace with growth, nor even been able to maintain itself to the same high standards we've been used to. The next 5 years could see a real problem develop on that front, especially if the high rate of growth in the downtown and along the waterfront continues to happen.

The Chief Planner recently gave a speech outlining some of the challenges Toronto is facing: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1057961414114&call_pageid=968350130169 He's a great guy - staff really appreciate having him around.

If you're ever back this way, gimme a heads up.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
I hate to admit it, but Canada's large cities (Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver, and others) are generally nicer than American cities. They seem to have more of an international flavor. The cities are cleaner, and the people more polite. The food is not as good, though. Most Canadian restaurants suck.
 

donk

Cyburbian
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I have a nagging suspicion that the city does not have the typical neighborhood "ghetto" mentality that is so prevalent in many US cities
I guess you did not make it to Regent Park or the Jane Finch Corridor. They'll put the fear into you real quick.

Glad you had a nice trip, you saw most of the highlights of the dowtown.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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Michael Stumpf said:
Most Canadian restaurants suck.
Really? Are you talking chain-style or ethnic, or restaurants in general? I find the food better up here than in the U.S.

Chaq'un a son gout! ;)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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Tranplanner said:
Really? Are you talking chain-style or ethnic, or restaurants in general? I find the food better up here than in the U.S.

Chaq'un a son gout! ;)
Maybe it is better in the Big T, or in French Canada, but anywhere else I have eaten, from Alberta east to Toronto, has been barely edible.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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Habanero said:
Is the Mexian food up there the real deal or some random, icky variation?
Depends where you go - there are a couple of "authentic" establishments. The rest are the usual tex-mex wannabes.
 

MitchBaby

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198
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7
Michael Stumpf said:
Maybe it is better in the Big T, or in French Canada, but anywhere else I have eaten, from Alberta east to Toronto, has been barely edible.
You clearly haven't eaten in Vancouver where the sushi chefs come from Japan to train!!! Though I find your statement puzzling having travelled across the states and across Canada, I find the food in Canada infinitely better than anything in the USA. We're not a fast food nation, though we have our share of McD's and Tim Hortons. The food in Canada is multi-ethnic and you can get just about anything you want in any of the major cities.


Keep in mind thes are my oppinions of the food in various areas... Vancouver has great Sushi and Asian cuisine, Alberta has great steaks, Toronto has amazing indian restaurants and the area around Young and Eglington has some amazing 'fusion' restaurants. Montreal has it all, and the East Coast seafood is amazing... try peggy's cove in Nova Scotia for fresh lobster ON THE PIER.

So I don't think you were eating in any of the right places... because the food up here is terriffic.
 

donk

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What do you expect in Delhi and at Irving Big Stops, nouveau cusine?

I will say that the restastaurants in my area are rotten, cook it until its almost burnt then spread gravy on it. They even serve sea food this way.
 

jordanb

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West Coast Canadian said:
Though I find your statement puzzling having travelled across the states and across Canada, I find the food in Canada infinitely better than anything in the USA. We're not a fast food nation, though we have our share of McD's and Tim Hortons. The food in Canada is multi-ethnic and you can get just about anything you want in any of the major cities.
I think you generalize about the US as much as he generalized about Canada. You can get just about anything you want (ethnically speaking) in US major cities as well, and I've not eaten fast food in years (well, I did have Arbies a few months ago because I was in the suburbs, it made me sick).

At any rate, what really impresses me about Toronto is how much transit ridership they have. The have the highest per-capita transit ridership levels in north america! Second highest ridership in actual numbers. Of course that might change as Chicago's system continues to improve, especially if Toronto is stagnating. I think that's a shame but it seems pretty common for cities who have great transit systems to take them for granted and neglect them.
 

jordanb

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I'd also like to point out that Jane Jacobs lives in Toronto. She moved their from New York some time ago and claims that it's one of the best cities in North America.
 

Cardinal

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donk said:
What do you expect in Delhi and at Irving Big Stops, nouveau cusine?

I will say that the restastaurants in my area are rotten, cook it until its almost burnt then spread gravy on it. They even serve sea food this way.
Yeah, the German Hall in Delhi is about the same caliber as the American Legion here. In other words, stay away.

Your all probably correct in saying that some of the ethnic, and better-quality restaurants in Canadian cities are pretty good. I think I would characterize you local sit-downs, family restaurants, diners, or whatever you call them, worse than those in the US. I travel a lot, and I still think the two worst meals I had were in Canada - one at a place maybe 100-150 km north of Sault Ste. Marie (south of Wawa) and the other in Tilsonburg.
 

nerudite

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6,544
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Michael Stumpf said:
The food is not as good, though. Most Canadian restaurants suck.
Hmmmmm. I felt this way at first, but I found some really good places (you just have to look). Middle Eastern, Greek, Japanese are generally good in Edmonton. Chinese, Mexican... eh, not so good (including crappy margaritas ;) ). I'm going to a Malaysian restaurant next week probably, but I have never really been to a Malaysian restaurant before, so I wouldn't be able to compare.
 

BKM

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6,464
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Its been a long time, but my (brief) experience of Toronto sufferred because my expectations were so high that the reality was a bit disappointing. Just like Seattle, which was supposed to be a nirvana but that I found kinda "blah" compared to the Bay Area or Portland.

Toronto was held up in our planning schools as an exemplar of urbanism. And, as jordanb points out, the transit is great, there is fantastic diversity in the neighborhoods, and the city feels safe.

On the other hand, I did not find the built environment attractive at all. As much as we dismiss strip development, the Toronto urban version-bland, blank two story boxes stuck right next to the sidewalk and extending for miles and miles in the old City and its inner suburbs-was not much better. (It did provide cheap space for immigrant businesses!) And, while as a planner I agree with integrating higher density housing in the suburbs, did it have to be so brutalist and bland-like in Scarbourough (sp?) and Mississagua? And, except for the Calatrava building with the cool atrium, I can't say I liked the downtown streetscapes very much, either.

But, you know, superficial impressions of a built environment are not is important in the "success" or "livability" of a city. From all sources, Toronto appears to be an urban success story. Heck, Jane Jacobs can't be all wrong, can she? :)
 
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