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Tiny Toronto is Still Gross, But Possibly on the Mend

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The model is currently surrounded by this blue curtain.


We posted, a little while ago, about the scale model of downtown Toronto, located in the rotunda at City Hall, which, with its thick layer of grime and its brown beverage stains, was maybe a little too realistic in its miniature portrayal (1:1250, precisely) of the downtown core. We now know that plans are underway to rehabilitate or replace the model―though it could be dismantled and never replaced without help from the public. We also know what caused the model’s slide into decrepitude: Terrorists!


Carolyn Humphreys, a manager in the Urban Design section of Toronto’s department of City Planning, wrote, in an email, that the model was originally constructed to assist planners with drafting the 1991 official plan for the former City of Toronto, and was installed in the rotunda for visitors to view sometime in the mid-nineties. It was originally split into several four-by-four-foot sections, all of which were positioned on a plywood table. The table was surrounded by a floor-length cloth skirt. This arrangement was relatively easy to disassemble, make modifications to, and clean.
Then, 9/11 happened, and it was determined by one functionary or another that the area under the skirted table was a potential hiding place for evildoers. The model was affixed, in one piece, to a solid surface, and the area underneath it was drywalled off. Ever since then, the model has been difficult to maintain.
Tiny Toronto was left to accumulate dust and dirt until a few weeks after our original writeup, when it was cordoned off with a blue curtain (pictured above), to which a note had been attached, asking anyone interested in sponsoring the model’s renewal to call or email the Toronto Office of Partnerships.

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Terrorists (and lack of a scale-model maintenance budget) are destroying our miniature city.


“We have a real desire to either fix it up or replace it, and the issue right now is funding,” said Robert Freedman, director of Urban Design for the City. The model hasn’t been changed substantially since the mid-nineties, so revamping it would entail bringing it up to date.
Urban Design, Freedman said, is investigating replacing the model with a newer, more technologically sophisticated one, with buttons and display panels (“Where you could actually have people interact.”). They might also retrofit the existing one. But since they don’t yet have a source of funding, it’s not certain that any of this will happen.
At the moment, the model is in limbo. Unless Urban Design finds a cleaning company with the skills to restore Tiny Toronto to its original glory, they’re going dismantle it and begin contemplating starting from scratch. Do you own or work for a cleaning company with model-cleaning capability? This is your opportunity. Urban Design is looking for two quotes: one for business hours cleaning, one for after-hours cleaning. Applicants should also provide a description of what, precisely, they would do in order to clean the model. If this sounds appealing, get in touch with Urban Design and make us all prouder of our city―and our other, tinier city.
And if you do score the contract, maybe let us know?
(Or, if you or your company would like to sponsor the model’s restoration, send an email to the Toronto Office of Partnerships.)
Photos by Joel Charlebois/Torontoist.

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