Sunday, June 10, 2007

Christopher Hume cogently discusses some wonderous structures and places in Canada in today's Star. He ceases to be cogent in dutifully inserting the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal into that list. Few would deny the significance of the transcontinental railway or the CN Tower, but Hume is egregiously premature in pronouncing the glass edifice at the corner of Bloor and Avenue to be on par with his first-and-second-team wonders.

Equally egregious would be equating the long-awaited opening of this mass of glass as marking progress for Toronto. Gentrification along Bloor Street west from Yonge to approximately St. George is as rampant as it has been rapid. Plans for an 80-storey condominium on the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor, along with a similar project at One Bedford, cement this stretch as one of the wealthiest in the city. In the meantime, life continues unabated in the de facto slums that circle the core, particularly in the northwest.

Developing the downtown, which includes an abandoned lakefront, is undeniably an important task for the city. However, we ought to remember that Toronto extends east of the Don Valley, sprawls west of Bathurst and reaches north of Eglinton. For far too many of its residents, poverty ensures a bleak existence. No amount of crystals or condominiums downtown will make a difference in the eight-tenths of the city where each intersection has less than two Starbucks. Toronto risks producing an unnavigable moat between rich and poor by concentrating this putative renaissance in its core.

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