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  #5441  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 3:04 AM
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For what it's worth, and at the risk of upsetting people, I think Halifax is a nicer city to walk around in than both Vancouver and Toronto (I think Victoria and Quebec City are better than Vancouver and Toronto for this as well). Vancouver and Toronto are larger and have more stuff but Halifax has a nice pedestrian scale (small blocks, narrow streets, lots of little parks) and inherited a lot of old buildings that were designed for pedestrians (there is a lot of street-level interest). Pedestrian friendliness is not really something that is specific to big cities. If anything there's probably an inverse correlation. Overcrowding and giant buildings and streets are not pleasant for pedestrians. The only reason why Canadians tend not to see this is that they are used to newer and more suburban small cities.

Just my opinion, but then again I actually walked around all three of these cities during the past week.
Sorry but this is quite the eye-rolly post. It just sounds like you know Halifax very well but not Toronto. Street level interest... really? I have to shake my head at that one.
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  #5442  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 5:50 AM
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Originally Posted by shappy View Post
Sorry but this is quite the eye-rolly post. It just sounds like you know Halifax very well but not Toronto. Street level interest... really? I have to shake my head at that one.
I didn't say that Toronto was bad, or that there was nothing to see there. I responded to the extreme view that Toronto was so amazing in this area that it wasn't worth even considering other cities. I guess if you start with a view like that, any reasonable observation tied to reality may seem like a mean-spirited attempt to bring the city down a peg or two. But this is a warped way to see the situation.

We can argue about which place is better but my larger point is that I don't think Toronto stands out all that much compared to at least a handful of other cities in Canada when it comes to how pleasant or interesting it is to explore on foot. It's also just not true that larger cities necessarily have a better pedestrian experience in general. A lot of people on SSP Canada tend to assume that bigger cities are better in every way, and that Toronto must be the best Canadian city in every way because it is the biggest. But that is not really how the world works.
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  #5443  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 6:29 AM
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Originally Posted by shappy View Post
Sorry but this is quite the eye-rolly post. It just sounds like you know Halifax very well but not Toronto. Street level interest... really? I have to shake my head at that one.
I've spent 16+ years in each and would have to agree with 'someone123'. Halifax may be tiny compared to Toronto but it's downtown compares very well from a pedestrian pov. Halifax has lots of 2 lane roads vs 4 lane roads in Toronto, lots of small scaled retail just like Toronto, and the quality of the public realm is about the same. Downtown Halifax is very pleasant to explore on foot. It's biggest drawback is that it's not a very big area.

Toronto is obviously more crowded, has more 'energy', and more 'stuff', but it's a mistake to assume that Halifax is many tiers worse from a pedestrian pov because it's not.
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  #5444  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 9:09 AM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
I didn't say that Toronto was bad, or that there was nothing to see there. I responded to the extreme view that Toronto was so amazing in this area that it wasn't worth even considering other cities. I guess if you start with a view like that, any reasonable observation tied to reality may seem like a mean-spirited attempt to bring the city down a peg or two. But this is a warped way to see the situation.

We can argue about which place is better but my larger point is that I don't think Toronto stands out all that much compared to at least a handful of other cities in Canada when it comes to how pleasant or interesting it is to explore on foot. It's also just not true that larger cities necessarily have a better pedestrian experience in general. A lot of people on SSP Canada tend to assume that bigger cities are better in every way, and that Toronto must be the best Canadian city in every way because it is the biggest. But that is not really how the world works.
Whether you're right or wrong or not you're notorious for slagging on Toronto so anytime you post about the place it's taken with a grain of salt. You're last couples sentences exposed your obvious chip...
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  #5445  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 12:37 PM
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Halifax and Toronto have urban public realms of similar quality. Toronto, of course, just has a lot more...you can walk for hours through fairly thick urbanity, which you can't do in Halifax. On the other hand, Halifax's historical building stock represents a longer history and diversity of styles, if that means anything. On the other other hand Toronto, for now anyway, enjoys better contemporary architecture, and increasingly some of the slick public-realm touches that come with being an increasingly global city.

But overall, yes, they're not as far apart as it people might think.

And both have wonderful natural features in their urban core. Halifax has the harbour, Point Pleasant park, the sailing and boating opportunities along the Northwest Arm, etc.

Toronto's natural features are less celebrated but I think very unique and special. I love the semi-wild, rocky little lakefront parks in the west end, like Humber Shores. And the city, including fairly central areas, is bisected by rivers and ravines and wooded areas.
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  #5446  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123
I didn't say that Toronto was bad, or that there was nothing to see there. I responded to the extreme view that Toronto was so amazing in this area that it wasn't worth even considering other cities. I guess if you start with a view like that, any reasonable observation tied to reality may seem like a mean-spirited attempt to bring the city down a peg or two. But this is a warped way to see the situation.

We can argue about which place is better but my larger point is that I don't think Toronto stands out all that much compared to at least a handful of other cities in Canada when it comes to how pleasant or interesting it is to explore on foot. It's also just not true that larger cities necessarily have a better pedestrian experience in general. A lot of people on SSP Canada tend to assume that bigger cities are better in every way, and that Toronto must be the best Canadian city in every way because it is the biggest. But that is not really how the world works.
Correcting bombastic notions is fine and all but you're swinging the pendulum a touch too far the other way here.


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Originally Posted by isaidso
I've spent 16+ years in each and would have to agree with 'someone123'. Halifax may be tiny compared to Toronto but it's downtown compares very well from a pedestrian pov. Halifax has lots of 2 lane roads vs 4 lane roads in Toronto, lots of small scaled retail just like Toronto, and the quality of the public realm is about the same. Downtown Halifax is very pleasant to explore on foot. It's biggest drawback is that it's not a very big area.

Toronto is obviously more crowded, has more 'energy', and more 'stuff', but it's a mistake to assume that Halifax is many tiers worse from a pedestrian pov because it's not.
Well the assertion here is that Halifax is better at street level for the pedestrian. That's what I've responded to not that Halifax should be disregarded due to its size...
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  #5447  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 12:56 PM
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On a somewhat related note to the current discussion, Walk Score released its data for most walkable cities in Canada, the US and Australia, according to their metrics.

Canada:
1. Vancouver
2. Toronto
3. Montreal

US
1. New York
2. San Fran
3. Boston

Aus
1. Sydney
2. Melbourne
3. Adelaide

Quote:
Vancouver named most walkable city in Canada

With a score of 89 -- which denotes a "very walkable" city, where most errands can be accomplished on foot -- New York takes the title of America's most pedestrian-friendly city, thanks to neighbourhoods like Union Square, the Bowery and NoLita.
The Big Apple falls one point shy of the top tier in the ranking: Cities that score 90-100 are deemed a "walker's paradise," where residents can accomplish daily errands without the use of a car.
The city is also the top performer of all three countries.

...

In Canada, Vancouver outranks Toronto to take the top spot as the country's most walkable city, with a score of 78 thanks to top neighbourhoods like the downtown core, West End and Strathcona.
Toronto edged out Montreal with just one point (71 versus 70 respectively).

...

While Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were named the country's most walkable cities, their scores are significantly lower than their American and Canadian counterparts, falling in the "somewhat walkable" category, with marks ranging between 54 to 63.
http://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/vanc...nada-1.3584352
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  #5448  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 1:03 PM
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I am sorry I started this, in someone123's defence I don't see what he said that was so inflammatory. We all have a hometown bias to a degree, and more importantly I can totally see his point regarding Halifax, Victoria, and Quebec City having more pleasant pedestrian experiences than Vancouver and Toronto. They were all big enough pre-war to develop decent pedestrian realms, the all retained said very well through the "urban renewal" decades, they are all provincial capitals (a lot of extra care is given in grand architecture and landscaping it seems), they all have nice natural topography, and they are all big enough to get many of the benefits of a larger centre while still being small enough to avoid many of the negatives.
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  #5449  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 1:45 PM
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Of note: Toronto is a provincial capital too. It's just a big city; too big for some people and there's nothing wrong with that. As I get older, I'm doing a lot less urban exploration myself. I think I could be happy in Halifax or any small city that can be explored out in time.
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  #5450  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 1:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Metro-One View Post
We all have a hometown bias to a degree
I think this is true, but only to a point. I would say that some people have a strong hometown bias but everybody has blind spots. As a thought experiment though, let's think of other issues. It doesn't bother me at all to admit that Toronto has a far superior transit system to Halifax, or that Vancouver has far superior cycling infrastructure. So why am I stuck on insisting that it's about as good or better when it comes to pedestrians?

There's also data that somewhat corroborates my opinion. Victoria is the #1 city for commuting on foot, and the share is 10%. Halifax is tied for #2 at 8.5%. Toronto is at 4.6%, below cities like London ON, Calgary, and Kelowna. In practice, I find that the drawbacks in Toronto are the large streets, blocks, and buildings, as well as barriers like the Gardiner, Don Valley, and rail lines. The old part of the city is also a very small part of the metropolitan area as a consequence of the high rate of growth there. The city's growth also means that a relatively large proportion of older pedestrian-oriented development has been replaced with modern construction.
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  #5451  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 1:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csbvan View Post
On a somewhat related note to the current discussion, Walk Score released its data for most walkable cities in Canada, the US and Australia, according to their metrics.

Canada:
1. Vancouver
2. Toronto
3. Montreal

US
1. New York
2. San Fran
3. Boston

Aus
1. Sydney
2. Melbourne
3. Adelaide



http://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/vanc...nada-1.3584352
Walkscore is fun but that's about it. I would not go to the bank with their rankings.

Based on searches I've done they often pick up on stuff that should not count and miss stuff that should.

It also seems to have trouble recognizing stuff that is not "labelled" in English.
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 2:44 AM
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  #5453  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:00 AM
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^ Great, but rarely seen angle. Shaughnessy Village is kind of an ugly area, but really dense.
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  #5454  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123
I think this is true, but only to a point. I would say that some people have a strong hometown bias but everybody has blind spots. As a thought experiment though, let's think of other issues. It doesn't bother me at all to admit that Toronto has a far superior transit system to Halifax, or that Vancouver has far superior cycling infrastructure. So why am I stuck on insisting that it's about as good or better when it comes to pedestrians?
Because you prefer smaller centres?

Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123
There's also data that somewhat corroborates my opinion. Victoria is the #1 city for commuting on foot, and the share is 10%. Halifax is tied for #2 at 8.5%. Toronto is at 4.6%, below cities like London ON, Calgary, and Kelowna.
Walking to work and walking for the joy of exploring your surroundings is quite a different thing. The smaller centres rank higher because the distances are way shorter. Relating this to pedestrian experience is not a good argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123
In practice, I find that the drawbacks in Toronto are the large streets, blocks, and buildings, as well as barriers like the Gardiner, Don Valley, and rail lines. The old part of the city is also a very small part of the metropolitan area as a consequence of the high rate of growth there. The city's growth also means that a relatively large proportion of older pedestrian-oriented development has been replaced with modern construction.
Here is Halifax and Toronto roughly at the same scale. Block sizes are very similar. A city the size of Toronto needs to have a Gardiner, DVP and rail lines. Despite this, waterfront connectivity is really not that bad downtown. Halifax doesn't require such large-scale infrastructure - does that make the city more interesting to the pedestrian? That's a superficial and weak argument.

And speaking of corroborating with opinions... look at it this way, if you are a random first-time tourist to both places with no initial bias, would you walk away thinking Halifax has the better pedestrian experience? You know, more interesting streets, shops, districts, general downtown area, etc... general street level interest? I would imagine the majority would not. Of course, many would prefer Halifax but out of those my guess is the vast majority prefer smaller centres to begin with (which is totally fine but that doesn't speak to Halifax having a better pedestrian experience). Again, I'm shaking my head here.

Having said that, I genuinely enjoy Halifax a lot but I think I'm looking at this a bit more objectively than you.
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  #5455  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:26 AM
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^ Great, but rarely seen angle. Shaughnessy Village is kind of an ugly area, but really dense.
Many concrete slabs, yes, but nice urban vibe and still plenty of old architecture to make it frequently beautiful.
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  #5456  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:33 AM
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Because you prefer smaller centres?
Not really. I was wandering around London and Paris a couple months ago and I would say that they both offer superior pedestrian experiences to any Canadian cities I've visited. I consider city size to be a largely orthogonal concern.

Quote:
if you are a random first-time tourist to both places with no initial bias, would you walk away thinking Halifax has the better pedestrian experience? You know, more interesting streets, shops, districts, general downtown area, etc... general street level interest? I would imagine the majority would not. Of course, many would prefer Halifax but out of those my guess is the vast majority prefer smaller centres to begin with (which is totally fine but that doesn't speak to Halifax having a better pedestrian experience). Again, I'm shaking my head here.

Having said that, I genuinely enjoy Halifax a lot but I think I'm looking at this a bit more objectively than you.
Maybe we are talking about slightly different things. When I talk about pedestrian experience I am mostly talking about how pleasant it is to be a pedestrian, and how much walking can be used as a mode of transportation to get you where you want to go. I don't really consider the variety or size of attractions to be relevant, although it's important that there be some variety.

The waterfronts in the two cities are a good illustration of the differences. You say Toronto has good connectivity. But to even get there from Front Street you have to go under a tunnel, under an expressway, and then walk by a bunch of superblocks. Then the waterfront itself has a lot of large footprint modern developments, parking lots, industrial sites, etc.

This would be a better discussion if you'd stick to the topic instead of trying to poison the well by talking about how I must be so much more biased than you are. Note how you even make allowances for how visitors might say they like walking around in Halifax more, but if they do it's just because they like smaller towns! In other words, you've created an excuse for discounting the opinions of people who disagree with you. It is fine if we have different opinions and perspectives.
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:47 AM
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Wow ! Love this angle !! Shows how big downtown is.
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  #5458  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 4:04 AM
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Not really. I was wandering around London and Paris a couple months ago and I would say that they both offer superior pedestrian experiences to any Canadian cities I've visited. I consider city size to be a largely orthogonal concern.



Maybe we are talking about slightly different things. When I talk about pedestrian experience I am mostly talking about how pleasant it is to be a pedestrian, and how much walking can be used as a mode of transportation to get you where you want to go. I don't really consider the variety or size of attractions to be relevant, although it's important that there be some variety.
I'm responding to "there is a lot of street-level interest" and "how pleasant or interesting it is to explore on foot". Bringing up proportion of commuters walking to work is missing the mark.


Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123
This would be a better discussion if you'd stick to the topic instead of trying to poison the well by talking about how I must be so much more biased than you are. Note how you even make allowances for how visitors might say they like walking around in Halifax more, but if they do it's just because they like smaller towns! In other words, you've created an excuse for discounting the opinions of people who disagree with you. It is fine if we have different opinions and perspectives.
You're reading more into this than should be. I really don't think it's a stretch to assume the perspective I've given. And I don't think it's outlandish to suggest that those preferring Halifax would more than likely prefer smaller centres to begin with. There are a lot of charming and unique spots in Halifax and I don't think it's radical to suggest quite a few people would prefer that to Toronto but I just can't see how it would be an even split or more would prefer Halifax...
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  #5459  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 4:09 AM
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I'm responding to "there is a lot of street-level interest" and "how pleasant or interesting it is to explore on foot". Bringing up proportion of commuters walking to work is missing the mark.
Well, it's an attempt to add some data to an argument that previously had zero data. If it were hard or unpleasant to walk, presumably fewer people would walk to work.

I agree that part of why people tend to take transit instead of just walking to work in Toronto is that the city is physically larger. But really the root cause is that the distances they typically have to travel are larger, and that the city is therefore less conducive to walking. This is my experience there too. Normally you end up taking some kind of vehicle to get around, even if it's a subway car or streetcar. I prefer to get around by walking (or biking, if it's nice).
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  #5460  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 4:15 AM
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Well, it's an attempt to add some data to an argument that previously had zero data. If it were hard or unpleasant to walk, presumably fewer people would walk to work.

I agree that part of why people tend to take transit instead of just walking to work in Toronto is that the city is larger. But really this means that the distances they typically have to travel are larger, and that the city is therefore less conducive to walking.
Ok... but that doesn't really speak to this: "there is a lot of street-level interest" and "how pleasant or interesting it is to explore on foot".

It takes me about 45 mins to get to work door to door. I walk to a subway station and then get off at Osgoode and walk about 10 minutes. I would be classified as someone who takes transit to work. Does that mean my walk is arduous and unpleasant? I walk through the Osgoode Hall courtyard, NPS and past Old City Hall. It's a very interesting and pleasant walk.
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