Tuesday, November 15, 2005

YYZ Tops the List

Originally uploaded by Irina Souiki / Riri.
News broke today that Toronto's Pearson Airport, affectionately called YYZ, has now scaled to the top of the list of most expensive airports in the world at which to land. Tokyo's Narita Airport was the previous winner, previously charging jumbos $9,400 to land at the facility while Toronto will now charge over $13,000 per landing, an exorbitant amount that will take a huge toll on Canada's busiest airport as it is supposed to enjoy major growth.

Turns out the government in Ottawa is responsible for jacking up the rent disproportionately to other Canadian airports. In a few years time Toronto's Pearson will pay 63% of all airport rent in Canada, while carrying only 33% of air traffic. Ultimately this price hike means fewer planes can afford to fly to and from the city, likely diverting instead through other hubs, while Torontonians wishing to travel will suffer the consequences. That doesn't seem like a bright idea: fewer tourists (dollars) coming in to the city, and fewer people traveling abroad for business.

My concerns about Pearson don’t stop there. A lack of a high-speed rail link to our downtown core does nothing for our reputation as a world-class city, a title we all seem to strive for, and though it's called Toronto Pearson, it's not even in Toronto, nor the GTA. The airport is located in and governed by the suburb City of Mississauga. All we have is the Toronto Island Airport supporting regional travel. Since it's about 6 blocks from my work I thought it might be nice to try it out and fly up to a friend’s cottage in Timmons last summer instead of driving 7 hours each way, but $600 was just too much to pay. So I'm feeling a little stuck here. Could try a Westjet flight out of Hamilton, Ontario next time and pay substantially lower flight prices, but it just seems so ridiculous to live in a city 5 million strong and not have a reasonable airport at our finger tips. So much for 'Toronto Unlimited'.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sookie Loves Flickr

revue stroll
Originally uploaded by 416style.
What started out as a means of posting and storing pictures has become a bit of an obsession of late. I can spend hours flipping through flickr looking at others' pictures and engaging in commentary about the lighting or composition of pictures, finding inspiration in others' images or discovering new places, even within this city that I claim to know well.

A couple of weeks back I formed my own group on flickr to which others join and post pictures relative to the topic. Called fourONEsixSTYLE, for Toronto's area code, it explores everything that's unique about this city we love. I've been amazed at the quality of images that are posted to the site and the number of members which just keeps growing. Flickr's blog friendly aspect is great too. I can post to my blog from within flickr and have constructed a flash flickr icon in the sidebar of this blog to take you straight to fourONEsixSTYLE. Have a look.

I'm not the only proud Torontonian on the flickr block. Several great Toronto groups have sprung up, like Toronto Lovers, Where In Toronto? and Toronto Transit. A recent group called Toronto's Little Cities intrigued me as well. When I joined it there were not yet any photos but an assignment: Choose an ethnic Toronto neighborhood and post no more than 12 photos from the area depicting it in all its lively vibrant colour.

Someone had taken my neighborhood, Little Poland they called it, but that didn't stop me really. I took my stroll up and down the (now) Polish thoroughfare of Roncesvalles on the suggested weekend and found myself at odds. It was a greyish day, no one was about. It pleased me initially. I didn't really want to share the vivid side of this neighbourhood, now gaining popularity among the first home buying set. I wanted to portray the darker side and keep newbies away.

When I moved back to Toronto at age 12 (some years ago) my family settled in a cozy and eclectic part of Toronto called Bloor West Village. Its charm surpassed anywhere else I'd known, with its European pastry shops, old world delis, boutiques and barbershops. Big business has since moved in and small shops have moved away due to ridiculous lease rates. A McDonald’s has replaced the barbershop where I’d watch my sixth grade boyfriend get his haircut. The old paint shop is now a Timothy’s coffee shop. Roncesvalles Village is the Bloor West I remembered and I still don't want it tainted.

The photos I took home from that weekend shoot, however, of decaying back alleys, fallen signs and large cranes set against a foreboding sky, just didn't do my home justice. I gave myself a couple more weekends of exploring and found some life, just enough to pull away a dash of vibrancy, of fruit stands set aglow, of unusual coffee shops where locals chat and of our much overlooked but adored cinema The Revue. Things will change I know, as lofts move in with big business too but I'm happy to have marked my place in time in a neighborhood I hold so dear.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jamiroquai's Dynamite

photo 042
Originally uploaded by funkin.
Jay Kay's funk bank Jamiroquai played at a little publicized concert at Toronto's Koolhaus Friday night. A girlfriend called me late that afternoon to see if I wanted to try and get in somehow, even though it was already sold out. I was still game, only because she seemed very optimistic. I'd been listening to the band since high school and never seen them play live. At one point it didn't look good, but my girl Rachel, in a stroke of genius, scored a way in for me and Liz as well as herself. A wonderful, fun and polite crowd nearly filled the place, everyone unable to stop shakin their thing. We danced the whole time and could've kept going for hours while Jamiroquai played classics like Cosmic Girl, Alright, High Times and You Give Me Something. Jay Kay also used the opportunity to promote the new CD "Dynamite" and played it's signature track. I was impressed; more fun, danceable tracks by the group who knows how to get down and get funky. I was only put off a bit that the group didn't seem to explore their musical range which includes several unusual instruments. I'd still definitely pick up the new CD, in fact I was just about to but noticed it isn't yet available on itunes Canada. Big surprise. Guess I'll have to go to the record store just like the high school days.