Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Toronto's Digital Future

IBM’s Chief Technology Officer was in Toronto recently to discuss how digital technologies can create a new future for cities like Toronto. While acknowledging that cities are not run like private enterprises, he stressed that Toronto can manage congestion by using predictive modeling techniques. “Real time is too late. You want to see what’s likely to be happening in the future and plan for that.”

When asked about the impact of competitive technologies, he said that major technologies are quite complementary. “If you look at the players, there’s the physical infrastructure piece of it and then there’s companies that can put in the sensors and the networks, and then IBM that can use the data to create these models.”

Reference: Agrell, Siri, The digital city: IBM’s Guru Banavar on traffic, politics and Toronto, The Globe and Mail, July 18, 2012
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Reclaiming Neglected Spaces for Public Use

Phase 1 of Toronto’s Underpass Park with amenities such as benches and LED spotlights opened recently. It is situated beneath the confluence of the Richmond St., Adelaide St. and Eastern Ave. overpasses, just west of the Don River. It has successfully converted a desolate and neglected stretch of space for public use. Phase 2 is under construction which would be as green as possible, with shrubbery and grass. This is the first such park in Toronto.

Underpass parks aren’t uncommon in other parts of the world. At one park in Tokyo, bustling farmers’ markets are held every evening. At another in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, boxing matches take place on the weekends.”

Reference: Aulakh, Raveena, Underpass Park in Toronto: Opens world of possibilities for Gardiner Expressway, The Star, July 28, 2012
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Toronto’s OneCity Transit Plan

Toronto’s $30 billion, OneCity Transit Plan extends over 30 years, and would involve six subway/train lines, 10 LRT lines, and five bus and streetcar lines. OneCity Transit Plan is gaining momentum as Toronto prepares to host the 2015 PanAm Games.

OneCity suggests a 1.9 percent increase in property taxes over the next four years. For the average household this means an additional $45 per year.” There is a widespread support for the nominal tax increase, since the transit plan would benefit everyone: the motorists as well as the commuters.

Reference: Skorbach, Kristina, OneCity Plan Stirs Toronto Transit Wishes, Epoch Times, July 4, 2012
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Friday, July 6, 2012

Remaking Toronto’s Blue Edge

The newest addition to Toronto’s Blue Edge is the redevelopment of Queen’s Quay between Yo Yo Ma Lane and Bay Street. The proposed project is a result of an international design competition, which sees the streetscape as a way to improve access for bikes, streetcars and pedestrians.

There's a method to the madness that can (occasionally) be described as Toronto's waterfront, and we're absolutely thrilled to watch it all unfold. A holistic approach that doesn't attempt to rush construction for the sake of immediate gratification is critical in the creation of a healthy waterfront, which is just what Waterfront Toronto appears to be doing.”

Reference: Queen's Quay Revitalization Promises New Waterfront Attraction, Urbantoronto.ca, June 5, 2012
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

New Highrise at Bloor, Toronto

 Photo: Bloor, Toronto
One Bedford at Bloor is situated in Toronto’s historic district at the intersection of two TTC lines. It is a high end residential/hotel community complete with a private spa, a swimming pool, a gym and a conference facility.

Situated at the corner of Bedford Road and Bloor Street, One Bedford will anchor the southern end of The Annex, Toronto's most intellectually sophisticated neighborhood and home to some of the city's most high profile and accomplished citizens.

Reference: One Bedford, Urban Toronto
Photo Credit: Loozrboy from Toronto, Canada under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Applying Business Principles to Transit Development

 Photo:  Chinatown in Toronto

Toronto has a difficult challenge. The local government is caught in a disruptive battle over whether they should move forward with a subway plan or a light rail transit plan. “The capital cost of the Sheppard line extensions will have to be covered mostly from the fare box. The extensions will be viable only if there is development in the vicinity of stations that yields sufficient transit riders to provide needed fare revenue.”

It would be prudent to apply basic business principles to transit development summarized below:
1. Develop a comprehensive 35-year business plan.
2. Include amortized capital costs and operating costs.
3. Identify sources of revenue.
4. Estimate urban development necessary to generate fares to cover capital and operating costs.
5. Estimate subsidy required if urban development does not happen.
6. Establish a time limited development agency to assemble land and deliver project.

James, Royson, End of the line for mayor’s transit plan, The Star, March 23, 2012
Gilbert, Richard, It’s time for a businesslike approach to transit projects, The Globe and Mail, May 2, 2011

Photo Credit:  Dylan Passmore from Toronto, Canada under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012