Update: The National Post has the nicest version I've seen of the mayoral results broken down by ward and if you haven't seen it already, check out Rob Ford's first post-election fail (a pre-scheduled interview with the CBC that was just awful, as a result of which the CBC is apparently now cut off from Rob Ford, just like the Toronto Star).
Today while blindly browsing teh interwebs I came across the Armstrong, Beere and Hime Panorama which is a set of the earliest know photos of Toronto forming a panorama of the city as it was in 1856 from the corner of King and York. I love seeing old pictures of the city because you can see landmarks that are still around today and it's neat to see how things have changed around them. In this panorama in particular you can spot Osgoode Hall, St. Lawrence Hall, and St. James Cathedral (before its spire was built!). It's amazing how different the city was back then.
You can read more about the panorama at the City of Toronto Archives. They also have a map of the city from the year the photos were taken. It's bounded by Bloor in the north, Strachan in the west and the Don Valley in the east. Toronto was so small back then!
Dinosaur Comics is my number one favourite web comic on the whole Internets. Not only is it hilarious and fairly nerdy, but the author, Ryan North, lives in Toronto so there are often vague references to things happening here.
Anyway, the purpose of this post is to help spread the word about an awesome book that is going on sale which was inspired by a particular Dinosaur Comic. Ryan North and twenty-nine other people (including Randall Munroe from xkcd and Ben Croshaw from Zero Punctuation) contributed short stories based on the premise of that comic which have been combined into an anthology called Machine of Death (if you haven't checked out the comic yet, go do it now so you can understand the title).
Unfortunately they could not get a publisher to pick up the project and so had to publish it themselves. They are not bitter about this, as it is clearly a niche market, but they also don't want to just let the book slip quietly into obscurity. If you're interested in the book please buy it from the Amazon link above on October 26th. Apparently top sellers on Amazon only sell a few hundred books a day, so if everyone who is interested in this book buys it on the same day it should reach the number one selling book on Amazon for that day. That could be enough to make a difference in the future of the book and would be a great win for an independent publisher. For more information check out the Machine of Death website.
If you're not interested in buying the book without more information they are planning to release it for free as a PDF on their website eventually. So you could read it when that happens and then if you like it, support them by buying the book at that time. DON'T WORRY, THEY'LL STILL TAKE YOUR MONEY AFTER THE 26TH! :)
I find the current mayoral race in Toronto fairly depressing and I think the problem has more to do with the state of municipal politics in general than with the current crop of less than inspiring candidates.
For me, the largest issue is transportation of all forms. People (who don't actually live in Toronto) complain an awful lot about how terrible it is to drive here. The reason of course is that there is limited space for roads in the downtown core of any city and that the only way to alleviate the problem is to decrease the number of cars using those roads. The obvious way to solve this problem is through promotion of alternative means of transportation such as walking, biking and most importantly public transit.
But that's where it all falls apart. City council has enough power and funds to tackle bike lanes and neighbourhood walk-ability issues but they honestly don't have much hope on public transit.
The whole "Transit City" program, while better than nothing, isn't anywhere close to sufficient in addressing the current and future needs of Toronto. As a city we really need several new subway lines in addition to extensions and upgrades to the existing lines. Such projects are expensive and challenging and require long term plans that extend beyond the average term of any particular mayor. Most importantly, they are not financially feasible without significant guaranteed investment from the federal and provincial governments.
Such investment will never come though (despite the fact that cities all over the world get transit funding from higher levels of government), as it is political suicide to spend large amounts of money on things that only help Toronto. Over 10% of all Canadians live in the GTA but the national sport of Toronto-hating forver holds the city back from reaching its goal of becoming "world-class."
And so, since none of the candidates can really do anything to properly solve the issue that I feel is most important to the city, I find the whole election to be rather redundant. It would suck if Rob Ford won since he'd probably do a bunch of embarrassing and stupid things, but if someone else wins it's not like they'll be able to create new subways out of nothing (and yes I know Rob Ford likes subways, but his plans are ludicrously unrealistic in that regard).
Thus, I'm seriously tempted to ditch the strategic voting thing and vote for Joe "Pants" Pantalone as he is the only candidate who seems to say positive things about the city as it is now. George and Rob can only seem to talk about how terrible it is and it makes me think they don't actually like being here. In particular, Joe acknowledges that the city budgets are actually in fairly decent shape, especially compared to other cities around the world. All the "gravy train" business is mostly populist nonsense meant to stir up people who don't normally pay attention except when they see their tax bill (which is actually lower in Toronto than all the suburbs around, but whatever, facts are meaningless).