The rest of Canada may not like it, but Toronto could become a bit more smug now that the G20 is over. As security fences are taken down and smashed windows are replaced, Torontonians can acknowledge our ability to stage huge events — and to forget about them a few days later.
There was a period when we fretted over being a “world-class city.” Now, for better or worse, Toronto has achieved that status — and who really cares? We’re too busy preparing for the next big to-do.
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In less than a week, the city will host its 30th Gay Pride celebration. In eight days, the Queen of England is expected to visit, as are hordes of Shriners from around the world. And the summer is going to roll on after that, with at least one major cultural event happening every weekend.
The list is impressive, and yet we’ve come to take our urban maturity for granted. This city has become so adept at handling crowds that if the Pride parade were to attract one million visitors July 4, people hanging out in the Annex or Little Italy would barely notice.
On July 6, one of our major thoroughfares will shut from Bloor to Front streets for the day. Queen’s Park Circle and University Avenue will be closed while the monarch visits the legislature and the Shriners come from around the world to put on a family-friendly parade.
Some drivers are bound to grumble, but a lot more people will be happy to see the Queen and the guys in tiny cars.
Motorists and transit riders are definitely affected by the growing number of street closures, but popularity rules. The city’s Angie Antoniou says approvals for major events have increased by a small percentage in the last five years, but “what we have noticed is the attendance itself has certainly increased dramatically.”
While Caribana and Taste of the Danforth may have reached capacity, newcomers like Nuit Blanche are growing just as huge. Give us an excuse to come out and we will.
It’s simply becoming very difficult to be bored in Toronto. Yes, the protests put us on the map, briefly, but it is the sheer concentration of music, art and festivals that signals our city has come of age.
– Toronto-based transport writer Ed Drass covers transit issues every Monday; firstname.lastname@example.org.