Is Toronto a big city or not

Canada: "Toronto is urban humanism"

WZ correspondent Klaus Stimeder

Toronto. The garden is slowly but surely getting tight. With its 2.6 million inhabitants, Toronto (nickname: "City in a garden") is not only the largest city in Canada, but can also call itself the fastest growing urban center in North America. Around 100,000 new people move to the capital of the province of Ontario every year, the real estate market is booming: In Toronto's inner city as well as on its constantly expanding edges - the greater Toronto area has around 5.6 million inhabitants. The metropolis recorded a population growth of 9.2 percent within the past six years. Today there is literally one construction crane after the other. The young urban settlement (Toronto was only founded at the end of the 18th century) is currently experiencing a surge of transformation. The "Wiener Zeitung" met the most famous chronicler of this change: Shawn Micallef.

"Wiener Zeitung": Toronto is currently the fastest growing metropolis in North America. How much has the city changed in recent years?

Shawn Micallef: There are hardly any other cities in the world with as many cranes as there are in Toronto. If you could take a trip to 1992 with a time machine, you wouldn't recognize it again, the change is so dramatic. In 1992 Toronto was in deep recession and the real estate market was down. Today the skyline is constantly getting a new face as more and more skyscrapers shoot into the sky. Most of it houses apartments, but there are also new office buildings - unfortunately often of a design quality that nobody can really be proud of. In addition, there is building in the suburbs as if there is no tomorrow. Since there are no natural barriers to growth in the north-east or west, these have exploded since the early 1990s: what was arable land 20 years ago is populated today. It looks like the Los Angeles suburbs there, a type of urban sprawl that I think is problematic. After the city was only merged with the surrounding communities to form the greater Toronto area in 1997, the fifth largest community in North America emerged in one fell swoop.

What are the problems of the boom?

Due to the extremely rapid growth of the suburbs, there is a feeling of alienation from what is going on in the inner city or old town, the economic and cultural center of Toronto. On the one hand you benefit from the boom, on the other hand there are of course a lot of people, especially artists and poor people, who are falling victim to gentrification because they can no longer afford the rising rents. In downtown there are neighborhoods that have completely changed their residents in recent years. In addition, condominiums are being built in the city and private homes in the suburbs - hardly anything to rent. Middle-class families can hardly afford to buy a home in Toronto, let alone workers and their families.

What role does city politics play in the development of Toronto?

Oh, it never threatens to get boring. David Miller, the current mayor's predecessor in office, was a kind of top city builder, someone who initiated prestige projects - comparable in type to Boris Johnson (London's mayor, note) or Michael Bloomberg (New York), if more liberal. Today's mayor, Rob Ford, is a populist southpaw with little interest in public works and who wants to keep the city government on a short leash. Ford has been overwhelmingly voted for by the people of the suburbs and often it looks like he's only making politics for those people, his clientele.

Are Government Policies Affecting Urban Development?

National politics is practically irrelevant. Which is also because the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is mainly based in the rural areas of Canada.

What does the typical Toronto resident look like?

A Toronto motto is "Diversity is our strength" and, in fact, the only thing people have in common is their differences. People of all ethnicities, skin colors, religions and cultures live in Toronto today. Young, well-educated singles, childless couples and young families tend to live in downtown. The traditional suburbs are mostly home to workers and migrants, while the middle class is moving ever further to the fringes.

Cities today find themselves in a global competition for international investors and tourists. How does Toronto rank in this competition, what is the "Unique Selling Proposition"?

Toronto has always had trouble defining itself. It sure isn't the prettiest, biggest, or sexiest city in the world, but it's a great place for the quality of life. I call what distinguishes Toronto "urban humanism". But this term would probably be difficult to wrap up in an advertising campaign.