Sarah Thomson: My vision for Toronto

Created to tune of The Mull River Shuffle, by The Rankins 

Picture this, it’s 50 years from now on a crowded city street
the corner of Bay and Bloor,
and it’s Monday morning and you’ve just started a long 8 hour day at the office
and the day, the day is ready to begin.

You’re sitting around the board room table
and everyone’s laughing and joking and telling stories about their weekend;
and your about to start a long strategy session
and you look out the window from the 34th floor, and you see…

Big tree’s and green roofs that seem to create a blanket over the city extending as far as the eye can see.
You see big beautiful buildings, works of architecture so grand that those who walk by seem to raise their heads and stand taller as they pass. You identify the subway stations, each marked by architectural masterpieces designed to reflect different cultures, and the diversity that makes Toronto so vibrant.

You look to the south and see the chain of great buildings that sit above every subway station along the  downtown relief subway line, like charms on a charm bracelet some small, others tall and lean. You think about how each one of them has mixed use and mixed income, and about the legislation brought in decades ago that required 10% affordable housing in every new building across the city.  Some of the buildings  have seniors centres and child care facilities mixed in as well, while still others have offices, museums, art galleries, medical clinics and event space.  You look south to the lake and notice the swath of gardens and natural parks and you think about the highway in a tunnel far below them.
You remember the old pictures you’ve seen of ugly strip of concrete holding a highway and a road below it like a wall that blocked people from the waterfront. You see a flock of birds circling the naturalized park land at mouth of the Don river to the east. You remember the old photo’s with telephone poles and hydro wires all long gone, buried when the city decided to take itself seriously.

You’re glad the the old buildings and factories were preserved and restored and see traces of their design in some of the new architecture. You think about the energy that took over Toronto in  the early part of the century when the subway system grew and the people decided to aim for the best and invest all they had into the city.   The traffic on the streets below is light, but the sidewalks are filled with people and activity. Most people live close to their jobs and use the subway to get around.

You wonder what the city might be like if your grandparents hadn’t invested their tax dollars in the early 20s and 30s. The city is known to be one of the leading arts and education centres in North America. You think of slum cities Detroit, Cincinnatti and Baltimore filled with crime, poverty and violence where corruption and lack of investment destroyed the potential they once had. The boardroom door shuts and you are brought back to 2063 and your meeting is about to begin.- The sun glints off the lake and you realize Toronto is still a city of potential.

See more at