“Housed in retrofitted shipping containers, Market 707 is Toronto’s most unique street food and retail market. This space brings together local entrepreneurs serving up more than 10 types of delicious international street food, along with unique goods and services to create an urban food and shopping environment unlike any other.”

Market 707 on Facebook

Market 707 official website

What Canadian cities can learn from the German federal ministry of transport, building and urban development

images (1)

April 17, 2012

This paper evaluates the German National Public Transit Policy from a Canadian perspective. While Germany possesses a decades-long record of federal regulatory and fiscal support for public transit, Canada remains lacking in any such federal policy, and for this reason there may be much to learn from the German experience. Today, Canadian urban areas continue to suffer from vehicular congestion, high levels of GHG emissions, inadequate public transit options, dislocated urban life and woefully underfunded public transit agencies. Congestion in the Toronto area alone has been calculated to be costing the Canadian economy over $6 billion dollars every year (Toronto Board of Trade, 2010). Canada is overdue in finally developing a strong, long-term, well-funded national pubic transit strategy in order to reconstruct its urban areas as well as the way in which residents travel within them.

Canada and Germany are both democracies with federal systems of government, in which the interaction of national, state/provincial and local levels shapes transportation policy (Buehler, 2011a). Germany is comprised of 16 states and has a population of 82.1 million people. Canada is comprised of 10 provinces and 3 territories, with a population of 34.6 million people. Both nations are highly urbanized, with 80% of Canadians and 74% of Germans living in cities (Statscan, Worldbank).

The subject of public transit necessarily focuses on urban populations. Germany’s urban centres are more densely populated than Canada’s, as would be expected from most Western European municipalities. Nevertheless, it must be noted that in World War II many urban centres in Germany suffered enough damage to require the construction of vast areas anew. Such developments however, although not as dense as preserved historic centres, are still not as sparsely populated as post-war Canadian suburbs. Figure 1 displays the population densities of the top five most populous urban centres in both countries. Continue reading

The Ontario Municipal Board: Villain or Scapegoat?

 I wrote (quoting liberally from Moore) for my Law Class paper last year. Personally i think the media sensationalizes and the public react. We as planners should focus more on the facts behind the cover stories. 



December 13, 2011

Written by Isidoros Kyrlan

Aaron A. Moore Ph.D. explores the question ‘Is the OMB a problem to Toronto’s development or just the scapegoat?’ Moore presented his research at the University of Toronto’s Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance last week. The presentation “Villain or Scapegoat?: The OMB and land use planning in Ontario” was a lead up to his upcoming book “Planning Institutions and Politics – The Ontario Municipal Board and Toronto” due out the summer of 2012. It was a timely presentation given City Council’s upcomingFebruary vote on whether to ask the Province to abolish the OMB for Toronto.

Moore’s research spans the past 10 years and he finds that the OMB is indeed masking the real issue. That issue is one of a flawed planning system that is arbitrary, and constantly challenged. He cites Section 37 of The Planning Act ‘Density Bonusing’ as an example of how a well intentioned intensification initiative may lead to poor city zoning decisions. Density Bonusing is when a developer requests to surpass the maximum density allowed by zoning. The City of Toronto can ask for compensation to allow for the increased density, usually a monetary amount. The idea is that the city will use the money to accommodate the area for the increased density. In the last 3 years there were 261 zoning changes and 118 times Section 37 was implemented to compensate the city. The problem is that the city has an incentive to leave zoning densities low and request developers to compensate for exceeding the zoning. In the case for the City of Toronto, Density Bonusing funds are not accurately tracked to ensure they are invested back in the neighbourhood.

The OMB comes into play when developers exceed zoning density and neighbourhood associations feel they have justification for challenging the development. Neighbourhood associations rally their City Councillors to oppose the development, even if the City Planning Committee favours the proposal. The development is voted down at City Council and then appealed to the OMB. The OMB puts weight on professional planning expertise such as that of the Planning Committee recommendations instead of City Council’s. A development with planning support, but not council support will likely be approved. A Councillor can side with the voters of the neighbourhood association and blame the OMB as to why the development went through without risking growth and development in their ward. Moore cites that the number of OMB decisions favouring developers over city council has increased in correlation to the number of increased neighbourhood associations in the city. The OMB has become a relief valve for local politics.

With the Section 37 incentive and the councillors having the option to blame the OMB, a contentious environment is created of developer versus city planning versus city council versus the OMB. An outsider would view it as a chaotic system where there is no point to planning and zoning if it can all be challenged and changed at the OMB. Moore notes it is not like this in other jurisdictions; the State of Oregon was presented as an example of having institutions similar to the OMB, but with better planning that reduced appeals to those bodies. Moore noted that in Oregon planning is not just done at the local level, but at the state level as well. The state sets a land-use plan and approaches each city for a comprehensive plan of how their zoning will compliment the overall plan. Ontario has a growth plan often referenced in intensification challenges, but the province does not approach every city and ask for how their zoning will meet the growth plan targets. Instead, zoning has to be challenged, often at the OMB level, to meet the intensification objectives on a case by case basis. For comprehensive planning to take place in Ontario more resources would be required. Even in Toronto, Moore notes that city planning staff are evenly distributed among all wards, even though development is usually concentrated in a few wards.

Moore did raise a concern about the Toronto’s recent proposal to abolish the OMB in the city. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Councillor Josh Matlow recommend that the OMB be replaced by the Committee of Adjustments, and any challenge to City Council decisions would be made in a court of law. In Moore’s research he found the courts to be expensive, time consuming, and possibly more in favour of developer arguments of fairness, rather than planning expertise. Where neighbourhood associations today feel powerless against the OMB due to a lack of planning expertise, in the proposed system they could be shut out due to legal costs and endless litigation. The current City proposal does not address Moore’s areas of improvement: comprehensive and transparent planning involving not just local but regional jurisdictions. Moore would like to see the Province and cities agree on growth objectives and have in place the zoning to accommodate those objectives, then developers, residents, and municipalities could stop wasting resources challenging each proposal. Moore has the research and numbers to show the OMB does not have to be a scapegoat. The only concern is that with comprehensive planning, Toronto could lose some of its current dynamism. Twenty years ago who could have planned for Maple Leaf Gardens to become a grocery store or Etobicoke’s motel strip to become a skyline?

Written by Isidoros Kyrlan

[AUDIO] “The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council says Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch is okay for the airwaves. It’s not an issue of free speech or anything like that that led the panel to determine that the lyrics aren’t abusive or discriminatory toward women. It’s that there was only one “crazy bitch.””


Panel okays Buckcherry song as not ‘aimed at womanhood’


Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011

“The panel reviewed some of the CBSC’s previous decisions involving the word ‘bitch’ and concluded that the use of the word in the song ‘Crazy Bitch’ did not reach the level of abusive or unduly discriminatory comment as the song only referred to one particular woman rather than generalizing all women as ‘crazy bitches,'” the CBSC said in a statement today.

The case stems from a complaint by a listener, who said it was offensive to women, after it was broadcast on CKQB-FM in Ottawa, so the panel looked at the issue under the human rights sections of the Canadian Association of Broadcaster code of ethics.

The panel said it’s troubled by the “lowering of the bar for coarse language,” but in this case it’s not a breach.

“The panel recognizes, however, that the complainant was also concerned about the context in which the term was employed in this particular song. She asserted that the message of the song was an objectification of women, in her words, that ‘a crazy bitch remains useful as long as she is good in bed.’ The panel does not agree with that interpretation; it does not consider that the expression ‘crazy bitch,’ as used in the song, is aimed at womanhood in general.”

How Toronto Lost Its Groove: “As many of the world’s other megacities, including regional rivals like Boston and Chicago, prepare for an era of breakneck global urban expansion, Toronto persists in thinking small and acting cheap. Should the rest of Canada care?”

And why the rest of Canada should resist the temptation to cheer


November, 2011

THE CITY OF TORONTO is stumbling toward the end of 2011 mired in a deep civic funk. Mayor Rob Ford, a renegade small-c conservative from the suburban ward of Etobicoke North, bulldozed his way to victory a year ago on a simplistic pledge to slash municipal waste. His mantra: “Stop the gravy train.” While he has yet to identify instances of reckless spending, he has ordered city officials to extract almost $800 million from Toronto’s $9-billion operating budget, the sixth-largest public purse in Canada. This punishing and potentially ruinous process may entail shuttering libraries, firing police officers, and scaling back everything from snow removal to grass cutting to transit. Municipal services — such as public housing, environmental advocacy, and even zoos — that don’t conform to the mayor’s narrow vision of local government may be eliminated, privatized, or significantly reduced.

Toronto’s woes, however, go well beyond the mayor’s fiscal populism. The Greater Toronto Area — a 7,100-square-kilometre expanse of 5.5 million residents who live in a band of municipalities extending from Burlington to Oshawa to Newmarket — finds itself increasingly crippled by some of North America’s nastiest gridlock, congestion so bad it costs the region at least $6 billion a year in lost productivity. Sprawl, gridlock’s malign twin, continues virtually unchecked, consuming farmland, stressing commuters, and ratcheting up the cost of municipal services. Without reliable funding, transit agencies can barely afford to modernize, much less expand, straining the GTA’s roads and highways to the bursting point.


John Lorinc has won several National Magazine Awards and contributes regularly to The Walrus. His third book, Cities, came out in 2008.

[VIDEO] CBC’s Kevin O’Leary to NYT’s Chris Hedges: “You sound like a left wing nutbar”

Kevin O’Leary of CBC’s Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank cultivates the persona of a ruthless truth-teller.

But he came across as a shallow blowhard during an interview on his Lange & O’Leary Exchange show with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges in New York about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Hedges, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and prolific author on social issues, sympathizes with the protesters camped on Wall Street. But he might have been forgiven for thinking an interview on Canada’s public TV network would be a little more high-toned.

Instead, O’Leary tore into Hedges, whom he misidentified as a protest organizer, and denigrated the protesters with oft-repeated criticism that they’re unfocused and leaderless.

“They want to reverse the corporate coup that’s taken place in the United States, that’s rendered the citizenry impotent,” Hedges replied.

“You sound like a left-wing nutbar,” O’Leary said.

“I don’t usually appear on shows who descend to character assassination,” said Hedges, clearly surprised by the personal attack but refusing to be baited. “You sound like Fox News.”

He went on to praise the ideas of Canadian thinkers such as John Ralston Saul, and the prudent banking system that helped Canada avoid the 2008 financial crisis that’s one of the motivating forces behind the Wall Street protest.

The “interview” ended civilly and O’Leary’s co-host thanked Hedges “for joining us.”

“It’ll be the last last time,” the former war correspondent replied.

–Yahoo News 


[VIDEO] Allan Gregg in conversation with Chris Hedges – author of “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy”

After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck With Nietzsche — By Chris Hedges

CHRIS HEDGES: This Time We’re Taking the Whole Planet With Us


"nothing-burger...very weak, low-budget"

O’Leary’s ‘nutbar’ remark breach of policy, CBC ombudsman says


Continue reading