Thursday, October 01, 2009

Field Trip: Toronto

Our first MLA field trip was last Thursday. We spent the first two thirds of the day wandering around Toronto's downtown looking at condo developments (Canada's particular style of condo/apartment tower - the kind we associate most with Vancouver but that also exists in Toronto) and waterfront developments. I liked the Music Garden (note: music plays at the link), designed by Julie Messervy and based on a piece of music by Bach, but I thought it was interesting to see how the spiral paths of the design had been broken by people cutting across to other areas. Humans do like taking the most direct path from point A to point B, after all.

Here is a picture of Karl Foerster feather reed grass and white asters. I wonder if they were planned or opportunistic native travellers?

Music Garden asters and grass

Here is one of Toronto's new wave decks:

Wave deck

Toronto's waterfront suffers from its isolation from the rest of downtown, and (I think) the lack of any earlier organizing principle. Much of the newer (e.g. post 1950) development was built on what were historically massive rail yards. And the scale of these developments just doesn't work with the kind of tourism uses I think the city might have been hoping to promote. They can't do anything like Halifax's waterfront, which works at a very approachable, small-business scale that the tourist can enjoy and explore. They'd have been better to put aquariums, museums, and concert space along the waterfront. I just don't see how Toronto plans to successfully encourage its own citizens to use the waterfront, and how it hopes to keep tourists there after they have done their boat tour.