I like to participate in Jake’s Sunday Post, because his themes often allow the bloggers to use both photography and writing the express their views. This week’s theme is Urban Design.


Recently I took a ferry to Toronto Islands from downtown Toronto to Ward Island and as I looked west towards the City with the CN Tower rising majestically above all the buildings surrounding it, I noticed the changes that had taken place on the east side of town. I could not help myself from reflecting on the efforts towards urban design, or more precisely, the lack of it, in the City of Toronto.

The buildings along the shore of Lake Ontario are older buildings, some residential, and some commercial. High rise residential condominiums are burgeoning in the background. In fact, what lies between separating these developments is the Gardiner Expressway, which is the topic of debate in the City, for its lack of maintenance and failure to provide a thoroughfare to handle in increase in traffic of the City. The design of the City regrettably cannot pass the “functional, attractive and sustainable” test mentioned by Jake.


Looking west towards the City on my return ferry taken from Hanlan Point back to town, the new buildings that encircle Roger Centre (formerly known as Sky Dome, home of our baseball team the Blue Jays) again make the point. My blog friend Barbara recently made a trip downtown and drove on the Gardiner Expressway. She liked looking at the buildings along the way but did not like the drive. She was lucky to make it at the speed of 100Km/hr. Often I crawled at 50Km/hr.


The urban design of Toronto, especially downtown Toronto can be described as haphazard at best, and at its worst chaotic. Planning is piece-meal, short-sighted and good ideas are sometimes abandoned due to local protest. What is lacking in the mentality is a commitment to the good of the City rather than individual selfish interest. This is a picture looking from the City toward Toronto Island. There are redevelopment plans for the industrial land along the lake shore. Again, the Gardiner Expressway is in the way. (Photo from Wikipedia.)

Among the places I have travelled, I rank the effort and achievement in urban planning of Singapore top on the list. I have visited there in my pre-blogging days, and I really appreciate blog friend Sydney for writing about it.

9 thoughts on “Sunday Post: URBAN DESIGN

  1. Amy

    I have visited Toronto a couple of times. Thank you so much for the information, Opalla! Great photos of the city. Thanks for the link of the urban planning of Singapore.

    1. Opalla Post author

      I hope you were not put off by the traffic situation in Toronto, Amy. I just wish they did a better job planning the city. Thank goodness there is still a nice view of Toronto from the Lake.

      1. Amy

        During our staying in Toronto, we walked a lot and used the public transportation most of the time. Downtown area was packed with people. I won’t try to drive… Food was great, especially Chinese food 🙂

  2. restlessjo

    Photos lie, don’t they, Opalla? Looking at these lovely shots of Toronto you would never see a problem, unless you’d been there. Funnily enough, I started my post with the intention of discussing town planning (not great) but then climbed the tower and it changed my focus entirely. It became a different post. 🙂

    1. Opalla Post author

      Yes, that’s why I think that just adding building is not enough, and there must be the infrastructure in a good urban design, especially Toronto is such a young city compared to Edinburgh, for example. 🙂


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