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View Poll Results: Are Atlanta government officials right, is Toronto a world class city?
Yes 71 92.21%
No 6 7.79%
Voters: 77. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-03-2015, 05:00 PM
Location: Tokyo, Japan
6,479 posts, read 7,719,547 times
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Atlanta government officials have taken a stance to visit Toronto. To see the mechanisms that drive the city to what they perceive as at a "world class" scale.
Is Toronto a “world-class” city?

The city loves to self-flagellate over how it stacks up against the rest of the world, and since it plays home to much of the country’s media, it’s a constant talking point. At the end of March, the Globe and Mail ran a piece about “how to make Toronto a world-class city again,” which presumes the Big Smoke was once such a bastion and somehow lost it. A Toronto Star columnist declared last year, “we’re not there yet.” And Toronto Life has cheeky way to tap into the debate: it dedicates an entire page of its websites to stories about the subject, titled “World-Class Watch.”

As the rest of Canada piles on the hate, calls Toronto cold and disconnected and full of craft-beer drinking, hand-pressed coffee-guzzling elitists, those outside our borders often laud the nation’s largest city. The Economist declared Hogtown the best city to live in in the entire world in January. The honour prompted much hand-wringing and more than a few guffaws within Toronto’s chattering classes, but turns out, more and more places are looking to Toronto as a world leader in how to run a city.

That’s why the regional government from Atlanta, Georgia is choosing Toronto as its second ever out-of-country municipal visit.

“Toronto is a world-class city. Lots of people talk about it. You read it in the newspaper,” said Rob Lebeau, a manager with the Atlanta Regional Commission, who helped coordinate the trip for over 100 civic leaders from his city in early May. This is the 19th time they’ve conducted these municipal missions, and just the second time they’ve gone outside the country. (Vancouver was first, but don’t dwell on that too hard, Toronto.)

And they aren’t just coming to learn about Toronto proper, but the Greater Toronto Area. Their meetings will include leaders from neighbouring municipalities, such as Mississauga and Brampton.

As much as Torontonians can be hard on themselves, LeBeau said the city shines. After spending two separate two-week trips here coordinating the visit, he said he was struck by the vibrancy of the downtown, the city’s diversity and “the amount of life on the streets and the activity occurring.”

It’s easy for city dwellers to walk past random street gatherings or events that have become so common but, to an outsider, those random festivals display Toronto’s vibrancy.

The delegates also hope to learn more about efforts like DiverseCity, as Atlanta struggles to figure out its own settlement services. Though the GTA has some employment issues, LeBeau said it’s economy is much stronger than the American south and cities in Georgia, which were even harder hit by the 2008 recession. He said they want to learn about the city’s “very diverse, very strong economy” and how the region has attracted new industries as manufacturing declines.

Aaron Lynett/National Post
Aaron Lynett/National PostCelebration Square, top, debuted in 2011. It's just one of many efforts to redevelop Mississauga's city centre.
LeBeau also conceded he “got stuck in a lot of traffic” while trying to leave the downtown core to visit other cities, but also said all major metropolises combat congestion.

He visited during the provincial and municipal elections (by mere coincidence) and said he hears the same debates about transit back home, as people discuss buses versus light rail versus subways. But, he said they don’t fund it nearly as much.

Last week’s provincial budget committed about $13 billion to transit in the GTA alone, and the federal government has offered up a new, permanent $1-billion a year transit fund for cities. Georgia just offered $900 million for the whole state.

He said, “it’s far short of what was committed for y’all.”

And Mayor John Tory said that’s why he’s so excited about the money as well, despite the fact it’s not all allocated to just the Toronto Transit Commission.

“It’s time we got over this whole notion of trying to count pennies and see exactly who’s got what and somehow feel jealous about what Mississauga and Brampton are getting, but also because an improvement to the overall regional transit picture” helps us all, he said in an interview. He said people don’t live within those boundaries, nor should their leaders: “They just want to know, if I live in one place and I need t go to work in another, can I get there on a convenient, affordable basis and I think we need to get to the point where we put people first.”

As to what Tory makes of the “world-class city” debate, here’s his full response when asked to weigh in:
“I don’t consume myself with it. I think there are some things we do very very well, but regardless of how well we do them and whether it qualifies as ‘world class,’ to the extent anybody knows what the definition of that is, I would say that we know that we’re not good enough. I said during the election campaign, let’s take a really really good city and make it great.

I think we are a really really good place to live and that’s validate by just about every list that’s ever published.

I say in a lot of my speeches, ‘isn’t it actually quite a miracle that a city like this, which is not the biggest by any means in the world or even one of the biggest, it’s a young city, but nonetheless we rank in the top echelon in just about every ranking of anything?’

I think they are coming here because they recognize we’ve got some very special things that are going well here and that we are doing well, and they’re coming to talk to us.”
Mayor Tory and Atlanta are onto something Torontonians already know: despite all the cities ills, from carding to over-packed streetcars, 85 per cent of them deemed the city “world class” in a poll last year.
Torontonians love to debate whether city is ‘world class.’ They should just ask Atlanta, which offers a firm ‘yes!’ | National Post

Compared to some of North America's other top cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico City, or Washington D.C. how would Toronto stack up as a world class city? What things does Toronto need to improve upon before one can consider it a non-debatable world class city?

Old 05-03-2015, 06:56 PM
Location: Atlanta
975 posts, read 808,291 times
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Yeah, I think Toronto is great. It has one of the most vibrant and bustling downtowns in the U.S. and Canada and it's a very safe city for its size. There are all sorts of interesting and hip neighborhoods to explore (including one of the biggest Chinatowns in North America), and it has a large theatre district and a variety of shopping districts ranging from high-end to funky within its downtown.

Of course, traffic is a major issue, but its public transportation system is pretty extensive by North American standards and I know they're building an extension of their subway system that will add six new stations.

I've been to all the cities you listed above except Mexico City, and Toronto stacks up well. I think it's just as "world class" as any of those cities, and I'm particularly a fan of Chicago and SF.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:02 PM
6,795 posts, read 6,594,417 times
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Of course. Toronto probably hit world class status sometime in the last decade.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:10 PM
Location: Lebanon, OH
5,685 posts, read 5,890,865 times
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Toronto is the New York City of Canada, much like Atlanta is the New York City of the south.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:18 PM
Location: Willowbend/Houston
13,403 posts, read 20,296,728 times
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Absolutely. Toronto is world class.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:45 PM
2,392 posts, read 2,120,543 times
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Absolutely. Toronto reminds me very much of Chicago.

It is definitely a world class city. Atlanta is right on the fringe of being what I would call a world class city.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by steveklein View Post
Absolutely. Toronto reminds me very much of Chicago.

It is definitely a world class city. Atlanta is right on the fringe of being what I would call a world class city.
No..not really...Atlanta is still decades away from being world class.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Ant131531 View Post
No..not really...Atlanta is still decades away from being world class.
Oh come on...let people have their opinions. You say it isn't, others say it is. That's the way it goes.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:48 PM
2,392 posts, read 2,120,543 times
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Originally Posted by Ant131531 View Post
No..not really...Atlanta is still decades away from being world class.
It depends on what you consider world class. For me, the cutoff is right around Atlanta/Dallas/San Francisco

For others, they may consider New York to be the only world class city in the USA.
Old 05-03-2015, 07:54 PM
Location: Atlanta
975 posts, read 808,291 times
Reputation: 925
Originally Posted by Ant131531 View Post
No..not really...Atlanta is still decades away from being world class.
World class is kind of difficult to quantify, but I do know that Atlanta has a long way to go before it's on Toronto's level.
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