Save Toronto from Expropriation

I feel like I’m always ranting about Toronto; maybe I’m just trying to figure out what drives the city, what disparate forces are at play. I grew up there but moved away when I was 18, before I’d had a chance to really get into it. Now when I go back to visit family or play a show, I have a completely different experience. So when I read ridiculous things about the city, I am personally affected…from a distance, of course.

Last night I read this: Iconic Matador Club saved from Expropriation. Now every great city has to have a deep cultural aspect to it. It seems like Toronto has always been suffering from architechtural impotence, and is constantly trying to make itself remarkable again (see: Art Gallery, Opera Centre, Rogers Centre). Toronto has like two really beautiful, historical buildings. Everyhting else either burned down in the Great Fire of 1904 or was built after the 60’s; and with all post-war architechture, it gets really ugly and out of style within half a decade. An example of Toronto’s inferiority complex: you would not belive the hooplah surrounding the fact that the CN Tower was recently dethroned as the “world’s tallest tower” to the as yet uncompleted Burj Dubai. It was like front page news. If you ask me, it’s all an ugly pissing contest, anyway.

SO….The Matador. Did you read the article? This building dates to WWI, and citizens want to tear it down to make more PARKING. See, this is the kind of short-sighted Toronto mindset that I can’t understand. On one hand, the city has made exceptional efforts to reduce waste (most Montrealers really hate recycling…I think two people on my street recycle), and is socially responsible almost to a fault. But really, what good is morality when history and identity have no value? It just becomes pretense. So will somebody please pull in the reins on this wild beast of a city?

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4 thoughts on “Save Toronto from Expropriation

  1. Toronto right now, from my point of view, is in something of a war. It is a quiet war because few people will admit to being on one side or the other but..it breaks down something like this:

    On one side are real estate agents and developers. They want to rebuild, add value to, and resell the city. They argue, correctly, that this creates jobs and that as they resell the neighborhoods become more affluent and there is, again, more money to be had by retailers and others.

    On the other side are the people who live here – not the ones who move every five years and have a flip-by date in mind when they buy property, but the ones who actually like their neighborhoods and want to stay in them. The ones who like the old buildings and old houses and would prefer a bit of spit and polish to a complete renovation.

    The city’s business people move back and forth (and are usually the deciding factor) as they balance quality of life vs. economic expansion.

    Then there are the commuters – who don’t live in the city, largely don’t care about it’s cultural attractions or historic..anything but they want things like wider streets and more parking so it will be more convenient for them to get to and from work. The commuters are for some reason (given that they don’t contribute much to the tax base of the city) given a fairly prominent voice in how it is run and developed (or not).

    That, in short, is how I see what is happening in Toronto currently.

    I’m sure you know about Spacing Wire

    http://spacing.ca/wire/

    but it’s a good place to help you keep score.

    Here is another interesting take on Toronto (from a guy from Los Angeles)

    http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=2377

  2. Please forgive me since this is almost completely off-topic, but I’m heading up to Toronto this weekend (to visit the in-laws) and wondered if you had any record stores you would recommend? (I’d love to find some of Dears stuff that I’m missing [Nor the Dahlias, assorted singles].)

  3. Hmmm…I’d say the place you’d most likely to find rare and imported Dears stuff would be at Soundscapes. Nor The Dahlias might be totally out of print, though you can buy it on iTunes but it’s not the same without the photos of us from ten years ago…

  4. Hey,
    Thanks for the Soundscapes tip. They were great and they did have a copy of “Nor The Dahlias.” They let me listen to it prior to buying and after reading Murray’s intro in the liner notes I decided not to buy it (but I did get to see the old photos)! Instead I bought another copy of “No Cities Left” to give to my sister-in-law.
    P.S. Nor The Dahlias isn’t available on iTunes (U.S. or Canada)

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