Friday, July 17, 2009

Toronto's Ongoing Garbage Strike & Tim Hortons in NYC

Toronto's city workers' strike has entered Day 25. Count it — for 25 days our trash has been piling up on sidewalks, and the garbage cans not sealed off with plastic wrap are filled past bursting. Two days ago I walked east on Richmond Street past Spadina, and in-between two buildings, a space less than a metre wide, there was a trash pile running the length of the buildings as high as my waist. Disgusting doesn't even begin to describe my thoughts about that disgrace.

City management and the unions have not reached a contract agreement. Both the Mayor and city workers' unions are taking heat for this in opinion polls (and on the streets, I presume)

Mayor David Miller recently decided the civic workers' strike was a good opportunity to promote Hogtown to American tourists. So he went on CNN and told anchor Ali Velshi, whose parents live in Toronto, "Despite the fact we have 30,000 people on strike, the city is coping very, very well." If this statement isn't a gross lie, it certainly seems like a pretty large 'white lie' to me. Toronto is beginning to stink at almost every major intersection because of the previously mentioned overflowing garbage bins, and people in neighbourhoods that have rinks and parks temporarily being used as dumping grounds are (justly) angry. And David Miller is on the airwaves telling Americans that now is a good time to visit Toronto?

You can read the story here on the CBC's website.

This might be fine if garbage collection was the only problem caused by the strike. But it's not — none of Toronto's outdoor pools are open (the one I used to live close to in Parkdale sits empty when normally people would use it morning to evening every day of the season) This, plus city ferries to the Islands aren't running. I've heard there are water taxis running that charge $10 each way — that's $20 just to spend a day at the beach. As far as I know neither the Mayor nor Premier Dalton McGuinty at Queen's Park have moved to legislate the striking workers back.

Not that I'm mad they haven't. The only way I can see this becoming a good option for Miller and McGuinty is if a summer heat wave hits. Trash is something we seem able to deal with; trash cooking in the sun would be a whole other kettle of (rotting) fish.

On another note, one of Canada's biggest exports has set up shop in New York City. There are nine brand-new Tim Hortons outlets on the island of Manhattan. You can read Torontoist's coverage of this culturally defining moment here. The move puts Tim Hortons in direct competition with Dunkin' Donuts, an American junk-food mainstay.

Even the venerable New York Times has weighed in by publishing an article comparing the doughy delights served by the rival franchises. The Times writer concludes, "mass-produced doughnuts are achieving total global mediocrity." In short, their was little difference in the taste of Hortons versus Dunkin' doughnuts. (Although Dunkin' was said to have a slight advantage in the 'pleasant nutmeg taste' of the chain's plain cake doughnuts)

The lesson I take from this is to buy my coffee and sweets from independent coffee houses, not multinational chains that are already rich beyond my wildest dreams of avarice and offer inferior coffee and sweets for often double the price. For the Toronto people reading, I highly recommend Bulldog Coffee (89 Granby St.) and the Tango Palace Coffee Company (1156 Queen St. East)

Tango Palace has the most Amazing muffins. They really are capitol A amazing.

That's all for now. I'm going to hunker down until I can roam Hogtown's streets without the smell of decomposing waste filling my nostrils.

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