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I want to personally thank George Robitaille, the now infamous TTC employee who napped his way onto the front page of local newspapers and became an unlikely Twittersphere sensation.
Until very recently, any time I criticized the TTC, I was sternly rebuffed: accused of being an anti-environmentalist or a self-loathing Torontonian. Or even both. We had a “world class system” I was told. My criticism upset people. However, ever since photos of our guy sleeping in a ticket booth gained viral status, TTC bashing is coming from all corners imaginable and fixing the TTC has become the biggest talking point in Toronto’s mayoral race.
Let me add my voice to the mix.
Toronto’s assets, like its energy, may elude the first-time visitor, especially during the winter months. The most special qualities — changing neighbourhoods, mixing cultures, spaces and people — lie under the surface and are best found not by tourists but by the explorer or resident. As a recent resident, I’m noticing changes to the energy of my West Queen West neighbourhood.
Suburban sprawl has been undermining core urban health across North America for decades, and the Greater Toronto Area has been no exception. This has been relatively accepted in the mainstream. What has not received equal attention, or the concern it deserves, is the idea of ‘peak oil.’ Peak oil, as described on Wikipedia, “is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.”
Sprawl exacts a heavy toll on our society. It means significantly higher infrastructure costs, longer commutes, higher health costs and the stretching, if not tearing, of our social fabric. These are only some of the ways in which suburban development wastes resources and drains wealth from our urban core. These are also clear present day costs without the context of ‘peak oil.’