Gordon Price's blog

Colossal Sprawl in Greater Toronto

"Why did nobody notice it? If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them?" - Queen Elizabeth, on the global credit crunch.

Things are so large in the Vaughan Corporate Centre, an edge city about 20 kilometres northwest of downtown Toronto, that a cross-section of Vancouver's downtown peninsula, from False Creek to Lost Lagoon, could fit within five of its blocks.

There's a street named Colossus, leading to a cineplex of the same name. The overpass and ramps of the adjacent freeways take up an area the size of the West End. They in turn are surrounded by acres of emptiness, just grass and dirt, awaiting more big boxes, more asphalt.

Business Not As Usual

Out in the bar, the world as we know it was coming to an end. In the backroom, meanwhile, smart people were trying to figure out the future of suburbia.

The bar was in the lobby of a classic desert resort in Arizona. On the TV, CNN was delivering headlines of imminent doom. It was the last days of September, and the foundations of American finance were cracking under the strains of default and distrust.

Last Days of a Way of Life

This summer I cycled through beautiful countryside, saw impressive ruins, visited old churches, travelled through small towns and met friendly people.  I also saw communities, deprived of their purpose, coping with decline. I may have even seen the last days of a way of life.  (See for youself, in this issue of Price Tags.)

This was Upstate New York State, along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany – an experience that rivaled any bike tour I could have taken in Europe. For it was there that I saw one of the wonders of the world.

The Erie Canal was certainly that.