June 10, 2013

Toronto needs a new vision of the future, says Edward de Gale

By Charles Moffat - June 2013.

Local charity worker Edward de Gale says Toronto needs a new vision of the future. And Torontonians need to be thinking both realistically and boldly about the future of Toronto as a city of the 21st century.

Now if you've never heard of Edward de Gale, don't feel alone. He isn't a celebrity or anything like that. But he does have some nice quotes on his website. Quotes like this one:

"Toronto needs a new vision of the future and we need leaders who are both bold and have realistic plans for the future." - Edward de Gale.

And he isn't alone. Many Torontonians feel the same. Myself included.

We have been bogged down with incompetent mayors like Rob Ford (the epitome of incompetence and corruption) and community leaders who are unwilling to invest in Toronto's future in a fashion which is both bold and realistic.

The problem is what is Toronto's future? What do we see it as being?

A financial centre? It already is that.

A manufacturing metropolis? Doubtful. Toronto isn't exactly known for manufacturing.

A tourist attraction. Yes, but our attractions are museums, art galleries, the CN tower (no longer the tallest free-standing building) and shopping... We have rejected the idea of a casino because they do more damage to the local economy than actually bringing in more tourists.

What we could use is a large convention centre - something that can host thousands of people coming to Toronto for business conventions, social events, home and gardening conventions, fishing and hunting conventions, etc. We already do host similar events, but ticket sales are limited because the Metro Toronto Convention Centre at 255 Front St West, Toronto is TOO SMALL.

The problem is finding funding for a new convention centre.

Well, I have a solution. Building a new convention centre is largely going to benefit the hotel and restaurant industry in downtown Toronto. Why not create a Temporary Occupancy Tax on hotels in downtown Toronto (closest to where the new convention centre would be built on the waterfront) and for restaurants downtown raise the cost of various permits and fees.

That was the cost of the convention centre is offset by fees being paid by the people in the industry, the tax is removed after a period of 5 years, the city coffers shoulders part of costs of building the new convention centre.

See. That is a realistic plan for boosting tourism to Toronto. It is just the right amount of boldness too.

An unrealistic plan would be building an underwater hotel, casino, restaurants and shopping mall. Such places already exist around the world - but is Lake Ontario an ideal location for an underwater hotel / casino / mall? Not really.

So yeah, completely unrealistic.

Underwater hotels and restaurants are pretty amazing - I have to admit that.

But this is Lake Ontario.

The lake isn't exactly sparkling clear blue waters.

It is true that Toronto needs to do something bold with its waterfront - and it is equally true that we need a new convention centre because the MTCC is maxed out to capacity. The waterfront has already been touted as a possible location for the new convention centre.

But we need it to be a bit bolder in its approach in attracting tourists. So again, here is another solution.

Build the convention centre on the waterfront, yes. But add a few underwater restaurants as part of the architecture of the building, and make the underwater section a pool, not part of the lake itself - that way the water will be clean and certain safety measures can also be put in place. That is much more realistic and still has the right combination of boldness.

Add in lots of water features to the structure of the building, so its like a giant water fountain, and we might even capitalize on the Bilbao Effect (if you build something truly awesome, the tourists will come).

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