Now that the dust from Toronto’s birthday parties has settled, it’s time to consider what happens next. Every day this week, Futurist offers a glimpse of the Toronto that is to come.
As the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close, Toronto is approaching a critical juncture, replete with equal parts optimism and economic fright. Regardless, it seems certain that the city will continue to grow in the near future, with developments a-plenty on the horizon.
According to projections by Statistics Canada, Toronto’s population will hit nearly 2.6 million by 2011, a jump of 5 percent from 2006; the growth rate for the GTA as a whole outstrips that by nearly two-to-one, rocketing to 6.26 million, a 9.2 percent change from 2006. As the area’s population grows, the number of people reporting themselves to be part of a visible minority will surpasses the number of Caucasians for the first time, with a total of between 2.6 million and 3.2 million—46.9 to 51 percent of the GTA—projected for 2011.
While Toronto’s population continues to swell, the ongoing recession will put the municipal government into a financial corner leading into 2010. TD Bank economist Derek Burleton predicts that unemployment will rise to about 9.5 percent from 7.5 percent in 2008, with skyrocketing welfare costs potentially adding sixty-five to seventy million dollars to the city’s spending, further putting the screws to the already shaky municipal budget.
Artist’s conception of the new TTC rolling stock. Image by the TTC.
The end of this decade will see Toronto as a whole become more environmentally friendly as well, with several City Hall projects leading the way to increased waste reduction and sustainability. The most prominent of these initiatives is the municipal government’s goal to divert seventy percent of the city’s garbage from landfills by the close of 2010, a date coinciding with the end of Toronto’s contract with the Carlton Farms Landfill in Michigan. As part of its efforts to meet the seventy percent diversion goal, a five-cent-a-bag charge will be levied on plastic bags citywide starting on June 1, 2009. The city will also implement two key environmental programs in the near future: the Toronto Green Standard, which City Hall describes as “a set of performance measures for sustainable development that responds to the City’s environmental concerns,” will be implemented in September 2009; and a bylaw requiring businesses and the municipal government to disclose their use of twenty-five hazardous chemicals will come into effect at the beginning of 2010.
Absolute World South and Aura Tower. Renderings by Fernbrook Homes and Canderel Stoneridge Equity Group Inc.
As in years past, development will be a key issue in 2010 and beyond, with a number of new monoliths making their mark on the city’s skyline. Foremost among these are the seventy-five-storey Aura Tower, located at the corner of Yonge Street and Gerrard Street, which will take the mantle of Canada’s largest condominium tower upon its completion in late 2010; the fifty-nine-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower, a suitably grandiose piece of architecture from the icon of greed (and bad hair) himself, currently under construction at the corner of Bay Street and Adelaide Street; and the fifty-three storey Ritz Carlton Hotel, located on the south side of Wellington Street near John Street. Other new high-rises of note include Festival Tower—which will be joined at the hip with the Bell Lightbox, the new home of the Toronto International Film Festival—and several LEED–certified developments, including RBC Centre, Maple Leaf Square, Bay-Adelaide Centre West Tower, and MuseumHouse. Mississauga will also get in on the sky-scraping action, with the fifty-six storey, 360-degree rotating, and totally curvaceous Absolute World South scheduled for completion in 2010. On a less luxurious but equally important note, tenants will soon be able to move into Regent Park’s 293-unit Cole One condo, as well as a number of smaller residences in the newly reinvigorated neighbourhood.
On the shore of Lake Ontario, the ongoing waterfront revitalization will continue with abandon. The 3.6 acre Sherbourne Park will open to the public, as will Sugar Beach (formerly Jarvis Slip), so named for the half-century-old Redpath Sugar Refinery located just a stone’s throw away. The Corus Building, a five hundred thousand square foot office and broadcast complex, will open nearby at One Waterfront Place (located at the foot of Jarvis Street).
Artist’s conception of Sugar Beach, formerly Jarvis Slip. Image by Claude Cormier Landscape Architects.
Further east, construction of the Don River Park will be well underway, as will the building of the waterfront trail and major improvements to Downsview Park. While Toronto’s parks system grows, so will the presence of urban agriculture. The Toronto Urban Farm (a.k.a. Black Creek Urban Farm) in the Jane-Finch area will continue to expand, and new projects such as the Evergreen Brickworks and the Cultivation Campus in Downsview Park will give more Torontonians the chance to connect with agriculture in their own backyard.
On the educational front, several municipally owned museums will be reconfigured in 2010. Renovations to Montgomery’s Inn will begin, as will improvements to Spadina House. Both projects will expand the museums’ focus from a single time period to different periods in the buildings’ histories. As the city’s museums expand, so will Ryerson University, which will break ground on its new Student Learning Centre on the former site of Sam the Record Man, and commence its re-do of the School of Image Arts building. Meanwhile, another local educational institution—the Toronto District School Board—plans to shutter up to three schools, the first stage in a series of closures intended to increase efficiency. Given how poorly students and their parents took plans to shut down school pools, expect spirited protests once specific closures are announced.
Provincial cabinet minister and potential mayoral candidate George Smitherman. Photo by Jared Purdy.
The economic turbulence that continues to grip the world will be a defining force heading into 2010, and could potentially throw any number of the above-mentioned plans off the rails. Even so, the city could end up with a much rosier outlook than expected, especially if Toronto’s bid for the 2015 Pan American Games comes out on top later this year, spurring infrastructure investment at a critical economic time.
Of course, despite being an early favourite for the event, we could still see it fall through our fingers, leading to a now-familiar deluge of self-recrimination. But even if the worst-case scenario becomes reality—either with the games or any of the other challenges facing the city in the coming months—Toronto is already planning for what lies beyond.
Research compiled by Hamutal Dotan, Jerad Gallinger, Stephen Michalowicz, and Kevin Plummer. “Toronto in 2010” master map created by Brenda Petroff.