Canadian Commentary: Notes

Toronto Notes

Toronto is a marvellous city, despite its reputation. Many of its treasures are hidden - which makes them harder to protect. It is also under constant threat from the incompetence of municipal politicians and the stupidity of provincial politicians. This page contains a series of notes about the joys of and threats to the city.

What kind of major city sells its central train station to a sports team for use as a ticket booth? It is ridiculous to sell such a central part of a city's public infrastructure to a private concern, especially for such a trivial purpose, but that is exactly what Toronto intends to do. It has decided to sell Union Station to the new Leafs/Raptors sports franchise. What makes the situation worse is that Union Station is one of the few elegant old pieces of architecture in the city, and its central hall - which will be turned into a mall/ticket booth - is one of the few really grand public interior spaces in Toronto. But the essential point is that a central train station is a fundamental part of the public space of a truly major city. To sell off such an important public space to a private concern suggests that Toronto hasn't yet reached the level of civic maturity it likes to claim.

(It would be perfectly reasonable, of course, to create convenient access to the new stadium from Union Station. But there is no need to sell the station off in order to accomplish it. If the station's ownership is to change hands, the station should be sold to a non-profit corporation controlled by its users - the same model that is used for other transportation hubs such as airports and ports. The station could be controlled jointly by the city, Via Rail, Go Transport, the TTC, and if necessary the Leafs/Raptors.

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