Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chapter 5: Union Station

In case you are wonderin' what is going on with this here.

In chapter 5 Joe Fiorito investigates the theme of how Toronto is more like a town and not a thriving metropolis like New York City. I personally think Toronto is more made up of a bunch of little towns that just happenned to gradually grow. These small little towns eventually stopped growing, geographically, because they grew into each other. Eventually regions started up and these towns got lumped in with the main downtown area of Toronto. After a while, and the Mike Harris government, this particular region was truned into the city of Toronto as we know it today. But this city of Toronto is more of a governance requirement than a day to day living requirement.

In terms of character, each particular part of the city is different. North York (centred by the intersection of Yonge Street & Sheppard Avenue) is more of a suburban community to Downtown Toronto. Mel Lastman, the former Mayor of North York, wanted to create a second downtown for Toronto by building a commercial area along Sheppard Avenue East with the creation of a subway (Sheppard Avenue line). Toronto proper consists of the downtown core where people from the surrounding towns and cities tend to come and work during weekdays. Hence the downtown is centred by Union Station where a high number of those people coming into the downtown go through either on the subway (TTC) or Commuter Train (GO Transit). Within the city there are several ethnic groups including the Italians (little Italy) and Chinese (Chinatown).

Aurora, about a thirty to forty five minute drive north of the city is also a commuter town for those heading to Toronto jobs. Although, this is changing with the growth of the big business offices (World headquarters for Magna Autoparts and Canadian Headquarters for State Farm Insurance) and industries coming to town.

Like the Toronto example from Fiorito's book, Aurora's fire stations are easily accessible to the people. The firefighters welcome school children to either visit the fire stations or have a fire truck visit them in order to learn about fire safety. Having children and others get to know the local firefighters is especially important to fire safety. This is especially so considering in the event of a fire, chidlren are more likely to run away from a firefighter dressed in full breathing geer. Who wouldn't be afraid of a firefighter coming through the smoke looking strange and making weird breathing noises that sounds like Darth Vader? So children, at least at the Aurora fire station, get to see a firefighter in full breathing apparatus. These same firefighters are seen at local events around town both with and without the fire truck.

Local churches are also favourite places for people in Aurora to congregate. Just look at tonight at Aurora United Church where a group of all ages got together and organized an "evening of Contemporary Christian music". In the future there will be sales and other events that the community can come and enjoy. These events also help the local community as well with donations to the food bank and the local Women's Centre to name just two. I consider Aurora to be a great community of outreach both from the religious perspective (as evidenced by the church) and from a community group perspective (just ask the Optimist, Lions and Scouts organizations).

Within Aurora there is even that small town feel of a traditional downtown along Yonge Street (at Wellington Street). This small town feeling even extends to being able to go about my daily business and run into people I know. Every single person I meet is usually concerned with how I am doing and how my family is doing. That small town perspective even comes when the ups and downs of life occur considering cards, flowers and food are usually sent for weddings and funerals.

The above is why Aurora is "my kind of town."

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