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2005 10 04
Top Ten World Cities
imageThe Economist's Intelligence Unit has once again designated Toronto as one of the world's most livable cities - for expatriates that is. Tied with Zurich, Vienna, and Geneva, Toronto is one of only two Canadian cities to make the top ten. Another Canadian city, Vancouver, made it to number one on the list in spite of its high real estate costs and poor public transit systems.

While these city rankings are keyed to livability based on the level of hardship they pose to expatriates, they are a snapshot of how global business is becoming aware of the advantages Toronto and Vancouver offer. So, when Canadian Business magazine rates Toronto near the bottom of its list of Canadian cities to do business in, we have to wonder what was going through the editor's mind.

Maybe they are thinking that two generations ago some very talented planners and designers built Toronto's civil infrastructure with a vision of foresight that launched this city into the global arena. Even though that investment is still paying off, our city has been allowed to make do with "good enough" political decisions and infrastructure funding over the last generation. The time has come for all levels of government to re-imagine Toronto. Who will be responsible? Politicians are the glue needed to keep all the constituents together but it is the city's strong core of urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and artists who will provide the new vision of 21st century urban livability.

Why the airport photo? Opened by Lester B. Pearson in 1964, The Toronto International Airport influenced airport design around the world. It included some of the best design work Canadians had to offer. Its designer and master planner, John C. Parkin, is not being treated well by Toronto. The airport was demolished in 1997 to accommodate the new Terminal One. His Bata Head Office has been given its death sentence. He deserves better. Parkin was a designer who thought in terms of the impact Canadian design could have on the world. His was not a passive vision dedicated to the mediocre. That generation of Toronto architects embraced technology, globalism, and functionality and turned those forces into an optimistic view of the future. Is that what the Economist sees in Toronto that our local business magazine cannot? Is it that we have the beginnings of something good - even great - that is as yet unfinished but so full of early promise?
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 10/04 at 11:10 AM

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