I have spent the last day or so remembering when I arrived in Canada as a child. It simply was brought on by the amount of people I have met who have recently come to Canada. It has forced me to also think of what my circumstances were and what has changed for me in 42 years of being in Canada. Everyone who is new to this country, that I have talked to recently seems to have a passionate love affair with Canada. I simply don’t see it their way anymore.
I remember being 6 years old and my parents had rented a 1-bedroom apartment for the 5 of us. My parents slept in the bedroom and my brother, sister and I slept on a pull-out couch in the living room/kitchen. People call that now open concept. Imagine a kitchen without an island and the living room, dining room area all in one. We lived in the Dundas Dovercourt area of Toronto and to be honest as a child I don’t remember too much of that experience except for small moments of things. The area was still being constructed and renovated, upgraded, whatever you want to call it. The fact that it was so new to me made it exciting. My father would wake up at 4 am everyday to go to work and he would have to take transit to the airport for his job. He was the guy that would make sure meals were put on airplanes for every flight. I remember waking up when he would turn on the light and make his coffee. It never bothered me that I had to share a bed with my siblings. I look back now and think, at least we were all together. That was so important to me. I see so many families and hear about so many families who cannot be together because of political or financial hardships and think,
“Thank God I never went through that.”
We spent 3 years in Toronto and then moved out to a new and up and coming suburb called Oakville. It is now a city but at that time it was only a town. I would spend most of my life there. As I grew up I always wanted to go back to Toronto. The city excited me and I now understand that it’s the human factor that I was so truly in love with. People of Toronto were very welcoming and supportive. I need to be there. I needed to walk the streets and smell the city and see the lights and eat the food and shop. One of my favourite memories is when my mother would take my sister and I to Toronto for the day and we would go to the Eaton’s Center. MY mother would call our school and tell them we had a dentist appointment that day and that we would not be attending that day. I thought my mother was so modern for that. Going to Toronto for the day was so thrilling, we would go to the toy section and I would be in heaven. Also, look how many people were there. I remember entering the mall from Queen St and having to walk through The Bay through the bridge that connected the 2 buildings and looking down and seeing the cars drive under me and thinking,
“I’m floating on air and I can fly anywhere.”
Believe me, I wanted too. Read my past entries to know why.
I was 19 when I went to Toronto with friends and we went out to a club. I had the time of my life. I was in a large room with loud music and the people there were like me. I felt I was part of something, like I mattered. Little did I know that it would lead me to a path of substance abuse, that would take me decades to overcome. But that didn’t matter, I was accepted and I felt like Toronto understood me. I felt like Toronto needed me.
Like every relationship, when you feel needed, you feel loved. I was in love with Toronto and I felt like Toronto loved me.
In 2007 I was given the chance to live in Toronto again. Let me put that into context for you. I left Toronto in 1979. So, it was almost 30 years before I would call Toronto home again. Again, Toronto seemed exciting for me. The city had grown obviously and now there were so many more people. I got a job in Toronto and I was living literally a 20 to 30-minute walk from work. I had no complaints. Life was great. I soaked everything in. I went places that I had never been, I revisited places I had been too. I had gotten back together with a lover I never knew I had missed until I saw them again. I didn’t allow anyone to say anything bad about Toronto, sure it had faults but it had so many great people and things also. I would spend 10 years of my life there. That’s when Toronto betrayed me.
I am sure you see from my words that I have been stating everything in the past tense. I no longer feel that Toronto is the great city that I thought it was. I now know that I was simply naive and I hadn’t experienced other cities. The moment I expanded my known universe, Toronto seemed like a city stuck in ideals that weren’t sustainable for a self-proclaimed World Class City. Let’s look at that description.
I believe a world-class city should be self-sustaining and functional to all people, not just it’s residents. Unfortunately, Toronto does not come close to that. It has been mired by self-fulfilling politicians and businesses. The people of Toronto suffer on a daily basis with self-interest groups that believe everyone should have a voice on a daily basis.
“Please all of the people all of the time.”
I grew up with understanding full well that you can’t please everyone all of the time, only some of the people some of the time. The reason why that is true is because most people don’t know what they need. They just ask for what they want. The government of Toronto has perpetuated this sense of entitlement. 20 years ago, Toronto could have made significant changes to infrastructure and transit but backed down because the people didn’t want to spend the few 10’s of millions it would have cost at the time to do massive upgrades. Torontonians, as they are called, don’t understand what they need, I believe they never will. City planners have always been reactionaries, as opposed to innovators, maybe revolutionaries. Let me make a small list of failures Toronto has made. Believe me though, the list has over 100 failures, I have condensed it to the ones that I truly despise.
- Traffic flow
- Building permits
- Electing selfish politicians
I will stop there because to make a longer list would mean I would have to write a novel sized entry. The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) has been poorly run and extremely underfunded. TTC vehicles would break down constantly and would have a shelf life that would exceed any normal life for a mechanical object. If TTC was a grocery store, it would have fed its residents rotten food, I can see a mayor saying,
“Let them eat cake.”
The traffic flow in the city is counter intuitive for cars. If you are driving one direction on a street it would make sense that lights would turn green as you made your way down the street so that the traffic would flow. Not in Toronto. If one traffic light turns green then the next, which could literally be 150 meters later, would turn red. Which then would stop the cars and so the previous green light is now in a traffic jam and cars are waiting and some even impeding the last intersection. Imagine living that everyday of your life. What should take 30 minutes is now 1 hour or more. I don’t even want to start on the Gardiner bridge. That stupidity should have been torn down and a tunnel system should have been constructed, 8 lanes on each side. A massive underground system that would breathe life into the waterfront, but no, what do I know of engineering or common sense. Oh wait, I should tell you that the city of Madrid has this very tunnel system that I have described and it is AMAZING!
For years, the city council rejected building permits to developers who wanted to innovate the city and because a small group of residents wanted the waterfront to look natural, they were rejected. So now we have a waterfront of a “World Class City” that is overwhelmed with buildings blocking views and causing major headaches because the lack of forward thinking and procrastination of the city council. For decades politicians would be bogged down with special interest groups who wanted special councils and commissions to analyse the repercussion of such a development. At this very moment I hear it from residents,
“We are asking for an opportunity to debate and discuss decisions that politicians are putting forward.”
Here is the problem with that, it’s after the fact. These discussions should be happening before an election. When a majority elects an individual because they want him or her to do what they promised, and he or she does that, well the decision was already made when they were elected. If I said to you, I will lower taxes, and you voted for me and then I lower taxes but then you turn around and want to again discuss that, you are literally delaying progress. You elected me, you should let me do my job now. But that is also a major flaw in Torontonians, they seem to love to micro manage everything, which is a character flaw, they are unsure and they have a self-esteem issue. They simply don’t know who they are and what they want.
I think I also have addressed the 4th thing on my list with that last paragraph, and if not, I think by now you know where I am going with this.
Lastly let me address the issue of the people of Toronto. They are frustrated and angry and rightly so. Their city council is clueless. But they have only themselves to blame, they elected them after all. The people of Toronto are entitled, petty and rude. They have no vision and completely selfish. I have ideas on how I would improve Toronto but that will have to be for another day.
This is why I have fallen out of love with Toronto. This is the only relationship that I regret has ended, I really wanted to be together forever. I must move on, thank you for the great moments though, I will hang onto them.
What a shame.