‘Only in Toronto’

Ben Bull, Columnist –

This city is a conundrum, a puzzle, a riddle wrapped in a wordle.

I’m not talking about the one-way lanes along the Esplanade. I’m talking about the whole city.

Let’s start in the middle – Dundas Square is getting a new name: Sankofa Square. What, or who, is Sankofa? Does this new name reflect our city? And why wasn’t I consulted to help pick it?

That’s not the only name change. The O’Keefe Centre at Front and Yonge Streets is get­ting another moniker. It used to be the Hummingbird Centre. Or was it the Sony Centre? Or is that what it’s called now? Wait, no that’s next door…

Let’s hope they don’t spend too much money on letterhead.

Confusion continues on our city’s streets. The Gardiner is down to two lanes between Dufferin and Strachan. I had to scoot across town last week to catch a soccer game. I almost missed the kickoff. How does it take forty minutes for a twen­ty-minute drive?

The 501 Queen streetcar is diverting at McCaul and Dun­das and – somewhere else. And I’ve no idea what’s happening with the 503. I caught one on King Street last week only to be told it was taking a short turn at Church. Where do I get my money back? I wondered, as I was kicked to the curb.

The Red Rocket has been in such a rush lately that two of them jumped the tracks along King. Two derailments in two weeks. How the hell do you de­rail a streetcar?

Apparently one of them took a corner too quickly. Perhaps he was trying to get away from a short-turned customer looking for a refund.

A few blocks from my house are two buildings facing the ‘Ninety Percent’ conundrum. You know it. It’s when a condo or an office tower gets erected in record time, people move in – and then the jackhammers come out.

The courthouse at Front and Jarvis was ready for ribbon-cut­ting four months ago. The or­ange facade was gleaming, the pillars sturdy and strong. But the sidewalk is still closed and the scaffolding is still standing.

What is going on?

A similar dilemma is facing the Time and Space condos on Princess Street, just east of Lower Sherbourne. The tower topped out three months ago, and residents started moving in. The builders even planted new bushes along the sidewalk and polished the flagstones in the courtyard.

And yet when you walk past today, the sidewalk is cordoned off along the north side and dump trucks are still trundling in and out. It’s taking them so long to peel off the painter’s tape the bushes have turned brown and the flagstones have started to crack.

At least these buildings are nearly done. Walk a little fur­ther north and you’ll find the sorry sight of Betty’s On King. Betty’s bar used to be a thriving neighbourhood watering hole. My son got his first job in the kitchen. My wife had her for­tieth birthday party in the up­stairs comedy room.

But nobody’s laughing now. The whole block is a derelict eyesore, with no scaffolding in sight.

It seems that in the mind-bog­gling metropolis we are either building forever or forever not building. It’s enough to make you take a break.

I went for a stroll a few weeks ago to Cherry Beach, but the lift bridge was up. I went back a few days later – and it was still up. Why is the lift bridge giving me the finger?

I wondered. I found out it was stuck. Of course it was.

If we’re not careful, this won­derful city of ours is in danger of becoming a catchphrase. When­ever we stumble upon some­thing so ridiculous it defies ex­planation, we’ll shake our heads and say: ‘Only In Toronto.’

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