Do you live in a liveable city? Apparently, cities are the places to be - if you have a well-managed city, you are likely to have a lower carbon footprint, don't need to drive a car (because of great public transport), and most amenities are within walking distance. Remember my Back to the City post?
Many cities around the world have been ranked highly by experts to be the most liveable, including Toronto, Melbourne and Singapore. This year, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2012 was awarded to the City of New York at the World Cities Summit 2012 for being transformed into a vibrant, liveable and sustainable urban community.
Today, I'm happy to have fellow blogger, KJ, to write about her experiences in Toronto, Canada and what makes it liveable to her. KJ has a lovely blog on crafts, so hop over to find more about her!
Hello Green Issues readers! My name is KJ, I have a little blog called let’s go fly a kite where I post about crafty adventures with my kids and the odd sewing project.
Since 1995, I have lived in the City of Toronto and it is where my husband and I raise our two young daughters and a 9 year old Labrador retriever. Agy asked me to share a few photos and answer questions about what makes Toronto liveable.
What do you think makes your city liveable?
By personal choice, I don’t drive - I rely on public transportation, walking, and cycling to get me where I need to go.
Toronto has a public system of subways, streetcars and buses . It is the third largest public transportation system in North America. Transit users who purchase a monthly pass can also apply for a public transportation tax credit on their income tax filing. Torontonians have a tendency to complain about traffic and public transportation. I have had a chance to travel throughout the world and always make it a point to try the public transportation in my destination and I think public transportation in Toronto is very good and gets me to where I need to go on time. There is always room for improvement and most definitely expansion.
So called “liveable cities” are often close to nature or have a system of green spaces in place. Toronto is no exception. We have a waterfront which is still realizing its full potential.
Toronto also has numerous parks and trails. There are 1,400 parks in Toronto cover 11.62 per cent of the city's surface and can be used all seasons. This is a park space is by my home and is used for tai chi, a children’s playground, swimming, soccer, baseball, a dog run, hockey, and tobogganing. It is a vibrant space for residents to meet and enjoy the outdoors.
Fenced in dog parks are also very popular and you will often seen them incorporated into existing park spaces.
Farmer’s markets are very popular spots for Torontonians to purchase locally grown and organic produce. Each year, there seems to be more and more markets to choose from.
Toronto is also very special city because of its diversity, the city is an attractive destination for immigrants and tourists.
Toronto, with a population of 2.48 million people (5.5 million in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area) is heralded as one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is ranked as the safest large metropolitan area in North America by Places Rated Almanac. Over 140 languages and dialects are spoken here, and just over 30 per cent of Toronto residents speak a language other than English or French at home.Source: City of Toronto
Toronto’s edible landscape reflects its diversity. Within my immediate neighbourhood, my family can easily enjoy injura (Ethiopia), falafal (Middle East), Sag Paneer (India), Souvlaki (Greece), Jerk chicken (Caribbean), sushi (Japan), Dim Sum, dumplings, and bubble tea (China).
Is it mandatory to recycle and be energy efficient at home? Do you have to separate your waste?
Homeowners can request green audits on their homes. We had a green audit done on our 100 year old home and were able to undertake some of the suggested improvements to improve the overall efficiency of our heating system and lower energy costs. In Toronto, we also have time-of-use energy prices. The cost of the energy changes depending on the time of the day. In the summer, the off peak hours (or the cheapest rate) is 7 pm to 7 am, so many residents would prefer to run their washing machine during the evening.
Recycling and composting is mandatory in the city of Toronto. Recyclables are picked up every second week. Compost is picked up weekly. The blue bin is for recyclables and the green bin is for compost (many waste items can go into the green bin: including all food waste, diapers, animal waste and kitty litter and paper towels, tissues).
Is the environment taught at school?
Environmental education is a mandatory part of Ontario’s public school curriculum. These boards were related to a water unit at my daughter’s school.
Are plastic bags banned?
Presently, retailers must charge consumers 5 cents for a plastic bag, so many shoppers bring their own reusable bags. On June 5th, Toronto’s city council voted to ban plastic bags altogether. The ban is scheduled to commence on January 1, 2013.
Are there cycling lanes and pedestrian-only zones?
There are a few pedestrian only zones in the city and there are bike lanes throughout the city on major arteries. One study found some 30000 people travel in and out of the downtown core every day by bicycle. Here is a photo of a bike lane on a major artery.
In 2011, Bixi launched its Toronto bike program. There are 80 Bixi stations around the city where subscribers can pick up or drop off a bike.
Is smoking banned in public places?
Smoking is banned in workplaces, restaurants and bars, and since 2009 it has been banned within nine metres of city playgrounds, splash pads and wading pools.
I hope this gives you a snap shot of Toronto as a liveable city. Thanks for having me Agy and I hope you and your readers will visit!