Friday, October 28, 2005

Keep It Clean

keep it clean
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Much to the dismay of many others, I'm one of those people that takes garbage pretty seriously, not just my garbage, everyone's garbage. If I see someone chuck something out their car window I honk and swear. If someone on a boat cruise I'm on throws a cigarette butt in the lake I'm gonna tell them the lake is not their ashtray. If I'm at someone's for dinner and they're not using their green bin, I'll do it myself. (Yeah, they love me.) Thankfully, I have a good group of friends, most of whom also believe it's important to keep this city looking great.

When these new bins started hitting the city streets I was intrigued, but not convinced they were the best idea. I'll admit I like that there are separate places for litter, butts and recycling. Reminds me a bit of Japan's system, which has the Japanese separating into burnable garbage and just plain trash. Wish we were there too. Copenhagen, for example, uses its garbage, via incinerators, to heat homes throughout the country. Here, uneducated activists shut down the idea of incinerators before it could be properly examined. Things have changed since the first incinerating programs popped up 35 years ago. Toxins aren't allowed to spew into the air.

Toronto's trying some new things out but it's not that forward thinking. Instead, we're about to impose limits on household waste, supposedly in an effort to increase recycling and organic separation. But both those programs have been larger successes than the municipal government ever hoped for.

Unfortunately not too much will change with the launch of these new bins. The program’s success will likely only be measured by advertising revenues brought in. I have two big beefs with the new bins and it's not the advertising. One of the problems with Toronto's garbage is that there just aren't enough places to dispose of trash, but my major concern is safety. These short bins are nice and cute but when I'm walking around the streets at night, I already weave my way around the sidewalk, making sure no one lurking behind a doorway or hedge can get too close to me. Was that not a consideration here? Safety on the streets? I hope someone realizes this, then I can tackle my next big garbage issue: no recycling in Toronto movie theatres. You better believe I give them my two cents every time I go.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The ROMs Grand Plan

Ciudad De Las Ciencias
Originally uploaded by Pablo Latorre.
We've all been watching with anticipation while construction of the ROM at Avenue and Bloor explodes with a ton of steel beams, its final shape yet to form. Once done we can all only hope the glass and steel structure will blow us away and inspire people to visit our city's grand museum of culture and history, the Royal Ontario Museum. Ultimately that is what we all wish for. Opportunities in this city don't present themselves all too often. The Opera House, which is nearing completion, looks fine but falls flat in the iconic structures department. So let's keep our fingers crossed, and hope the new ROM might be viewed as a masterpiece by people everywhere, like the stunning glass and beam Ciudad De Las Ciencias pictured here, a planetarium in Valencia, Spain. We can only hope, and have faith in our city planners and developers, for there is always great risk when innovation is the goal.
Over the past few years, there has been much hype over the architects and designers of the ROM space. The Libeskinds conceived the plan for the crystal structure addition named the Michael Lee-Chin Crytsal, but little press has been given to something that might make Torontonians a little less proud. In order to finance continued renovations, the ROM has sold off its neighbouring planetarium to developers who wish to build condos. Our sad little planetarium gets much less attention than the Ciudad De Las Ciencias but serves a purpose nonetheless, to educate others on the vast world of space that surrounds us. A world that is drawing closer everyday as explorers on Mars return its secrets to us. Should a large city like ours lose our connection to the bigger picture and move toward an insular existence? We're already lacking a Toronto aquarium, now we lose space too? In its place "more condos". It's becoming a refrain heard all too often in the city. Another story came out today about demolishing the historic and grand (former) headquarters of Hollinger International, again for condos. This time city planners are said to be stepping in. They'd better. The commercial space is one of Toronto's oldest surviving stone buildings, circa 1850. I guess the planetarium, which opened in 1967, just didn't have enough years under its belt to be considered saving. I would think, however, that an area zoned for education and culture would be a little harder to sell off. Considering the condos will go for anywhere from $3 - $50 million they'd better have made a mint for it and it better be put back into the system for all Torontionians to share.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Drop It

Originally uploaded by 416style.
Perfect timing. The weather in Toronto drops (chilly isn't it?)...I start thinking of snowboarding...and along comes the Toronto Ski Snowboard and Travel Show to get me in the mood to hit the hills. The weekend event, held October 13th to 16th, at the CNE's Automotive Building is an awesome way to start the season....get excited about a new board, get some new gear and keep in mind the season is only a couple months away. If you're gonna get a 5x7 at Blue, you better do it before the 24th too. So drop in and drop some cash, if only for some toys to keep it fresh or some socks (I love snowboarding socks!) to keep it warm. Last few times I went I had no plans to buy any goods and ended up with a few hundred bucks of gear but I was thrilled to have picked up some fantastic deals for only a little coin. It's not enough to show your boardin skills if you don't look like a pro doin it. So drop it...