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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 3:05 PM
LakeLocker LakeLocker is offline
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What are your year end thoughts of your City?

This Christmas me and my wife have been traveling quite a bit. So far we've seen Kitchener/Ottawa/Quebec City/Montreal. We've been to these places before but not as adults seeking out urbanity. We live in London which we consider a complete dump in contrast to Toronto and Victoria. But the fact is we've been to 6 of these cities in the last year and I have to say I feel like there is something in the air.

The main issue with London is that a whole lot of people view their urban areas as torturous places with too many hobos and bad parking.

It results in radically underutilized cityscapes a public interactions that are incredibly emotionally frigid. It still amazes me that people in Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto/Quebec city are far more friendly and warm. Despite obvious size and cultural reasons for this not to be the case.

That all being said me and my wife were very curious about relocating and after looking and looking it really does feel like London on paper is logically pretty good, and the influx of people from the Horseshoe might actually fix the cultural issues associated with our urbanism.

It is bizarre because a year ago I absolutely hated this place.

Here are our year end notes:


1) In February I went biking on Vancouver island and was astounded how much less fun it is when you are obstructed by forest, mountains and highways. In London you can bike for about 10 months of the year in any direction for about 100 kilometers.

2) I'm too dam old to move back to Toronto. I'm 32 and I can't see moving back so I can spend my forties climbing up from subway platforms.

3) London is surrounded by mundane farmlands, and the city itself is severly lacking in evergreens/mountains/large bodies of water. However I've discovered one of the best parks in Canada at Grand Bend, and one of the nicest little lake towns at Port Stanley. As an avid cyclist they are idea distances for overnight trips from London and have easy rid farm roads so we can avoid all the traffic.


4) After visiting Kitchener(which I thought was an absolute dump in 2014) the city clearly would benefit from a LRT, however it isn't needed because London's flatness and sprawl means it is great for biking to work.

5) No where in this country can compare with Quebec city in terms of beautiful urbanity. That being said the climate just looks like sheer torture. Southwestern winters are a cake walk. A few weeks just to get a few skates in and not much else. I really think the climate is blessed even relative to Toronto/Windsor(it appears to be a bit dryer).

6) Montreal is crazy beautiful but I get the feeling it really will be sluggish in its vibrancy. London seems to be on the verge of something beautiful. When I look at all the indicators it seems like the economy is just about to take off/rebound from the crash.

7) Ottawa does a lot of things right, but it doesn't appear to have any 1 quality that is out of reach for a city that is London sized. Even my parents have said that London feels like a very very small town(they thought Edmunston was a city). Yet the reality is the area, while anemic in activity has a great corridor(dudas/richmond) that is poised for a rapid gentrification.
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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 3:22 PM
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I moved to a new city in 2019, so I am a bit reflective. The trouble with Stockholm is that not enough of it is "Stockholm".

it pays for its overscaled centre with a stark drop-off in urbanity outside of the core. The other thing is that most Swedes seem to think this is fine. This isn't Balconville; people are private, self-contained. Modernist planning suits them fine so long as they have a subway station and a view.

Copenhagen really is the more "Continental" Scandi capital. People do city things for their own sake more often, whereas Swedes and Norwegians use their capitals more pragmatically. What I mean by this is that Danes "play" in Copenhagen, whereas city-fun is a smaller percentage of outdoorsy, hobby-oriented Swedes' lives.

Still, though: the central neighbourhoods are finer than any city of 2 million has a right to expect. I guess I'll just have to move in.
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 4:24 PM
LakeLocker LakeLocker is offline
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
I moved to a new city in 2019, so I am a bit reflective. The trouble with Stockholm is that not enough of it is "Stockholm".

it pays for its overscaled centre with a stark drop-off in urbanity outside of the core. The other thing is that most Swedes seem to think this is fine. This isn't Balconville; people are private, self-contained. Modernist planning suits them fine so long as they have a subway station and a view.

Copenhagen really is the more "Continental" Scandi capital. People do city things for their own sake more often, whereas Swedes and Norwegians use their capitals more pragmatically. What I mean by this is that Danes "play" in Copenhagen, whereas city-fun is a smaller percentage of outdoorsy, hobby-oriented Swedes' lives.

Still, though: the central neighbourhoods are finer than any city of 2 million has a right to expect. I guess I'll just have to move in.
My understanding is that Sweden's claim to fame is its population size and relatively good weather.

Dennmark has old school urbanism, and Norjway the things most people like.(Good terrain/money).
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  #4  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 4:39 PM
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I found myself getting increasingly sick of Toronto this year, maybe I’m just entering a new phase of life where the life in the city isn’t all it used to be. The city has just become so ridiculously crowded, little things like going to the Grocery store involve sidestepping people constantly and waiting in massive lines. I think I’m ready for maybe something a little slower.

Beyond personal preference though, the city itself is changing so rapidly. It’s an extremely different place than it was when I moved here 6 years ago. It seems all my old neighbourhoods are so different than they were. Park dale is gentrifying rapidly, honest Ed’s is a giant hole in the ground, and so many areas are changing so rapidly.

Affordability is really reaching a bit of a crisis level though now I think. It’s the point where even people working good jobs right out of school are struggling to get by. My lease is about 3 years old so we are in a pricey place, but it’s still hundreds of dollars a month below what it would go for today. My brother recently moved to the city after graduating university and is paying about 50% more for a 2 bedroom place than I did 5 years ago in a pretty comparable neighbourhood. That’s a hard pill to swallow and it looks like real estate is just going to keep going up. I see lots of $700k+ 1 bedroom apartments for sale downtown now.. I just wonder how long that can hold up as probably only the top 5% of incomes can afford that and it’s a freakin 1 bedroom apartment. It worries me immensely. I wonder how people can plan to actually build a life here versus just squeezing by, which seems to be what so many are doing. I see people struggling to get ahead in my university educated young professional network of friends and co-workers, and can’t help but wonder how people of lower incomes are making it work.

There are positives though. I’m hopeful that transit expansion is finally making real headways, there have been a lot of great new developments completed and announced, new park spaces built, and what have you. It gives me hope that the city will continue to evolve and improve. It just feels like it’s becoming too much of a playground for the 1%.
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 5:30 PM
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I live in Fredericton, and have for nearly 3 years since moving from Saskatoon. The cities have a lot in common being river cities, with a large university presence. It is much smaller but also the level of crime is not even close to comparable. Freddy was a great move and notw that I have a family I could not be much happier with my choice. Housing is affordable and there is enough of an urban vibe for me, and with just a short drive you can be surrounded by trees.

My only beef if when I head to Halifax or Saint John for work and see they have less snow. But I get an extra month and a half of shorts weather compared to SK so I can't complain too much.
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 6:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere View Post
I found myself getting increasingly sick of Toronto this year, maybe I’m just entering a new phase of life where the life in the city isn’t all it used to be. The city has just become so ridiculously crowded, little things like going to the Grocery store involve sidestepping people constantly and waiting in massive lines. I think I’m ready for maybe something a little slower.

Beyond personal preference though, the city itself is changing so rapidly. It’s an extremely different place than it was when I moved here 6 years ago. It seems all my old neighbourhoods are so different than they were. Park dale is gentrifying rapidly, honest Ed’s is a giant hole in the ground, and so many areas are changing so rapidly.

Affordability is really reaching a bit of a crisis level though now I think. It’s the point where even people working good jobs right out of school are struggling to get by. My lease is about 3 years old so we are in a pricey place, but it’s still hundreds of dollars a month below what it would go for today. My brother recently moved to the city after graduating university and is paying about 50% more for a 2 bedroom place than I did 5 years ago in a pretty comparable neighbourhood. That’s a hard pill to swallow and it looks like real estate is just going to keep going up. I see lots of $700k+ 1 bedroom apartments for sale downtown now.. I just wonder how long that can hold up as probably only the top 5% of incomes can afford that and it’s a freakin 1 bedroom apartment. It worries me immensely. I wonder how people can plan to actually build a life here versus just squeezing by, which seems to be what so many are doing. I see people struggling to get ahead in my university educated young professional network of friends and co-workers, and can’t help but wonder how people of lower incomes are making it work.

There are positives though. I’m hopeful that transit expansion is finally making real headways, there have been a lot of great new developments completed and announced, new park spaces built, and what have you. It gives me hope that the city will continue to evolve and improve. It just feels like it’s becoming too much of a playground for the 1%.
I'm just going to ditto this.

I broke my own plans of lounging at home and took a day trip to New York. The time with my daughter went horribly. I needed to get away. I looked at a few units and they felt very affordable. They also had good plans and character. It felt wrong.

I agree. Every corner of the city is seeing improvements. It's energizing. The struggle for even the educated in career positions to stay above water is equally deflating.

I totally agree events/civic/cultural facilities are overcrowded within the city. All the new parks and facilities aren't making a difference. Part of it is there aren't firm density caps allowing developers to overbuilt floor space. That's more of a recent occurrence yet to be fully played out. No one imagined the one bedroom condos completed 15 to 20 years ago would now serve as homes for families.

I'm so fortunate to have started out at the bottom point. I had to expand my career prospects to find work and found some for less money. My first condo was still less than four times my starting annual salary.

Last edited by WhipperSnapper; Dec 30, 2019 at 6:29 PM.
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  #7  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 6:15 PM
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Major disruption/construction in the Downtown generally wrapping up, with the major exception being our LRT.

Marked change to the look and feel from even 5 yrs ago.

Mental health & addiction becoming a real issue, let alone impunity it seems for those who commit general disorder.

Must keep the residential construction/momentum going... curious to see what breaks ground in 2020.
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  #8  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 6:16 PM
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I have been in Ottawa for five years and I would say I am very satisfied with the quality of life this city provides. A few things:

Some people joke that the city is Canada's largest small town. There is some truth to that, as OP said, Ottawa could probably pass for a larger version of London. You instantly when you leave the pre-war city as the urban experience quickly becomes underwhelming, save for a handful of older neighbourhoods located outside the core. That being said, I kinda like it this way. I am not really a big city kind of person and I find comforting the fact that the city doesn't feel huge and that parkways, rivers and natural features are never far away. That said, the city is growing at a steady pace and this is reflected in real estate prices and highrise construction. The LRT is going to accelerate this transition. The city may very well start to feel big in the near future - some could argue that it already starting to feel big compared to just 10 years ago.

The other thing I like about the Ottawa region is the proximity to Quebec. Many retail/restaurants chains are only present in Quebec or only in Ontario and it is nice to have all of that available around here. Gatineau is large enough that it has almost everything one needs and it is nice to have a few extra Quebec-only furniture stores to check out when you intend to purchase stuff. Plus, Gatineau Park is out there in the suburbs and adds variety to a region that would otherwise be pretty flat.

Lastly, I am ok with the winters we have here, but I get why someone who grew up in the Toronto area would have trouble adapting. It can be up to 10 degrees colder here at times and more often than not the difference is big enough that we will be getting snow instead of rain. One must be ready to endure a good 4 months of winter over here with constant snow/slush on the ground. That being said some winters are more tolerable than others (this one hasn't been bad so far, I've only had to wear my boots to work 5 or 6 times).
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  #9  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 7:43 PM
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Like Coldrsx says Edmonton has its problems. While it's nice to see a boom in skyscraper real estate construction downtown and an investment in transit projects the city feels lawless and scary at times which is why I spend at least half my time outside of town these days.

In my time in Edmonton I've been pepper sprayed (LRT on Canada Day), swung at with a machete (on the #8 bus in Montrose), been threatened with a blood soaked baseball bat, survived a drive-by targeting the drug dealer next door and had my live threatened multiple times.

City Hall is overrun by inept bureaucrats that will order half a billion dollars in studies with little oversight and nobody blinks an eye. Every major transit project has been a virtual disaster in the planning and again nobody blinks an eye. There's just a resigned whatever-ness to life here.

And of course the elephant in the room is what Edmonton and Alberta needs to do over the next 20 years to divest itself from being an almost entirely Petro-based economy but that's for another thread...
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  #10  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 8:00 PM
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Ottawa ^ Pretty much what le Calmar said:

I just wanted add that I think Ottawa is at a sweet spot for size where it's big enough to have lots of the big city choices, yet small enough that the commute, lineups and traffic is not a real problem yet. Ottawa's reasonable proximity to Montreal, and even QC and Toronto is fairly decent..Not to mention the American Eastern Seaboard which is driveable. The negative is the winter, but even Ottawa's winters are bearable compared to lots of other Canadian cities. I personally like the slower pace and relative ease to get around, but I can see where some people would opt for the vibrancy of bigger cities like Toronto or Montreal. I would pass on the commute though. As well, Ottawa is not the sterile safe place that people think it is. Like any other bigger city, it has it's share of social issues,homelessness and crime..Also, they need to ease the height restrictions even further, and do more infill with towers..I think they are easing into it now a little bit more..There has always been suburbs since my time here, but now Ottawa's exhurbs are starting to get more and more.
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  #11  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 8:53 PM
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Originally Posted by LakeLocker View Post
After visiting Kitchener(which I thought was an absolute dump in 2014)...
K-W is ugly, but there's a dynamic and futuristic vibe happening along King St. with the LRT and the new condos that London is lacking. They're also ramping up the Montreal-style bike lanes, which are really cool. London has a slight stateliness that K-W doesn't have, however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeLocker View Post
Southwestern Ontario winters are a cake walk. A few weeks just to get a few skates in and not much else. I really think the climate is blessed even relative to Toronto/Windsor(it appears to be a bit dryer).
Toronto high/low in January: -0.7/-6.7
London high/low in January: -1.9/-9.2

Toronto annual rainfall: 714.0 mm
London annual rainfall: 845.9 mm

Toronto annual sunshine: 2,066.3 hrs
London annual sunshine: 1,792.6 hrs
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  #12  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
K-W is ugly, but there's a dynamic and futuristic vibe happening along King St. with the LRT and the new condos that London is lacking. They're also ramping up the Montreal-style bike lanes, which are really cool. London has a slight stateliness that K-W doesn't have, however.


Toronto high/low in January: -0.7/-6.7
London high/low in January: -1.9/-9.2

Toronto annual rainfall: 714.0 mm
London annual rainfall: 845.9 mm

Toronto annual sunshine: 2,066.3 hrs
London annual sunshine: 1,792.6 hrs
That doesn't translate to boots on the ground weather.

Whether or not london gets more rainfall it absolutely feels dryer much of the year.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere View Post
I found myself getting increasingly sick of Toronto this year, maybe I’m just entering a new phase of life where the life in the city isn’t all it used to be. The city has just become so ridiculously crowded, little things like going to the Grocery store involve sidestepping people constantly and waiting in massive lines. I think I’m ready for maybe something a little slower.

Funny how it goes. When I joined SSP 13 years ago all I wanted was for Toronto to have the kind of crowds & density that it does now. And now that it does, I just find it annoying.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 11:11 PM
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Funny how it goes. When I joined SSP 13 years ago all I wanted was for Toronto to have the kind of crowds & density that it does now. And now that it does, I just find it annoying.
That's because you've gotten old.

The "energy" of a city is a sign of youth. It makes perfect sense that people seek out urban areas that resemble college campuses once they start their careers.

When your hormone levels dip and the pace is something your body dislikes it isn't quite the same.

That being said I really think Toronto is turning to shit. It's become vancouverized without the lifestyle that goes along with being on the west coast.


This could be entirely be self serving but I'm starting to believe the gentrification cycle is benefiting those midlevel cities that didn't get a piece of the last commodities boom/real estate boom.

It seems logical that Kitchener/London/Windsor/Halifax/Saskatoon could really be the places that benefit with this current era economics.

Relatively low costs for relatively urban living, perfect for upstarts who've been priced out of the big 3/alberta.

Part of my brain is delighted with the idea that London could be reborn, another part thinks "here we go again".
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 11:41 PM
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The "energy" of a city is a sign of youth. It makes perfect sense that people seek out urban areas that resemble college campuses once they start their careers.
Variety is another big factor. When a busy downtown area is novel it's fun. When you are just trying to run errands or get to work it is less fun.

One challenge Toronto has, like Vancouver, is the so-called "missing middle". At this point most people can only either live in a high density area or in an at best second-rate quasi-suburban area. There are some denser village-like areas but they are in short supply, they're not being built anymore, and as a result they are already expensive. If the average middle class Toronto experience were Cabbagetown or Leaside people would be pretty happy.

I'm not really sure what the solution is since the Baby Boomer generation decided that 1950's bungalow neighbourhoods must be trapped in amber while much rarer and more valuable historical areas get torn down and replaced with condos. The fastest-growing and newest cities are being constrained and harmed the most by these bad planning policies.

My biggest worry in Vancouver is that I will end up losing a lot of my friends because they will give up on the city and get sick of living in subpar rentals when they are middle aged. I own my place and I am in a stable financial situation but it still doesn't feel very stable socially. I am in my 30's so most of my cohort is in a precarious situation similar to what 18 year olds lived in in 1982, except with less family support and more debt on average. The typical 30 year old I know has about 1.2 university degrees, 0 kids, a crappy job, no car and probably no license, has lived in 4 or 5 different places in recent years, and does not know with any certainty if they will be able to live where they are in 2-5 years.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 11:52 PM
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That doesn't translate to boots on the ground weather.

Whether or not london gets more rainfall it absolutely feels dryer much of the year.
Well, of course. It only stands to reason that a place with more rainfall and snow and less sunshine and warmth would feel dryer.

It's physics.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 11:55 PM
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Well, of course. It only stands to reason that a place with more rainfall and snow and less sunshine and warmth would feel dryer.
Rainfall totals don't tell you much though. You can get 100 mm of rain in a couple hours or spread out over two weeks of drizzle.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2019, 11:57 PM
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K-W is ugly, but there's a dynamic and futuristic vibe happening along King St. with the LRT and the new condos that London is lacking. They're also ramping up the Montreal-style bike lanes, which are really cool. London has a slight stateliness that K-W doesn't have, however.


...
Nobody goes to K-W for "pretty" (although there is some good architecture there). The "can do" energy of the place, however, is only surpassed in Canada by Calgary. Every time I'm there, I'm struck by the contrast with "let's strike a committee" Ottawa. In Kitchener's case, if they keep it up they may even have a decent downtown core, some day.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2019, 12:07 AM
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Rainfall totals don't tell you much though. You can get 100 mm of rain in a couple hours or spread out over two weeks of drizzle.
But you won't get that kind of disparity in a small geographical region with similar terrain. The only real differences between Toronto and London are the greater urban heat island effect in Toronto and the lake effect precipitation and cloudiness that is present in London (and where I am) but not Toronto.

It's not uncommon to drive away from the lake effect clouds here and into the sunshine of Toronto. I encounter this phenomenon several times per year and I don't even go to Toronto that regularly.

A massive thundershower in London is generally going to happen in Toronto an hour or two later. The idea that London might get massive thundershowers but otherwise remain relatively dry while Toronto gets more constant drizzle and feels less dry than London is a bizarre fiction with no basis in reality.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2019, 12:43 AM
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Every time I think my city has the stupidest people in the world because of the shit they're saying on Facebook, I just come here and realize its universal.

But Thunder Bay is still full of stupid people. All the smart people went to Alberta and the only ones coming back from there are the ones that lost their jobs and got addicted to meth because they don't even know how to succeed when success is literally handed to them.
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