Thursday, April 06, 2006

Expo Toronto?

You don't hear much about the World's Fair these days, even though millions of people attend them every few years. Perhaps their celebration of man's industrial and scientific achievements combined with a hopeful vision of continual progress is at odds with the spirit of the age, where fear of human extinction paradoxically combined with self-loathing for our civilization's very existence holds sway in much of the West.

Nonetheless, Toronto would like to host one in 2015 as part of its ongoing plan to revitalize the waterfront. Perhaps just for that reason alone:

Holding the 2015 World Expo in Toronto could transform the eastern port lands from an industrial wasteland into a thriving neighbourhood with "iconic" buildings, according to councillors working on the city's pitch for the event.

Toronto's bid committee offered a one-year progress report yesterday, hinting it wants to stage the six-month event along the city's waterfront with a theme of cultural tolerance and communication.

When city council authorized the preparation of a bid last April, three possible fairgrounds were proposed: Downsview Park, the eastern port lands, and a site partially occupied by the island airport. But a series of studies on issues from transportation to marketing all "strongly point" to the port lands as the best option, according to World Expo bid chairman Brian Ashton.

"Transportation alone drives you towards the waterfront," Mr. Ashton said. "All of the GO Train lines terminate at Union Station, and we know that the delegates at the [Bureau International des Expositions, the fair's governing body] will favour a waterfront site."

The councillor argued the 162-hectare fairground could be developed into a new neighbourhood after the event. In addition, the Expo would mean expanded public transit networks and new city landmarks.

Mr. Ashton noted the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Royal Albert Hall in London, the Space Needle in Seattle and Expo Centre in Vancouver were all built as part of past Expos.

Or maybe it's just simple jealousy that the Centre of the Universe has been overlooked:

It is "Toronto's turn" to host a high-profile event, Mr. Ashton said.

"British Columbia has had two international events with the Expo and now the Olympics, Alberta had the Olympics, Quebec had the World's Fair and the Olympics, but Ontario has had no international events," Mr. Ashton said.

Come off it, Ashton. Toronto doesn't merit an Olympics or Expo just because it's Toronto. New York doesn't whine about not having had a World's Fair since 1964 or being turned down for the Olympics. Suck it up and celebrate what Toronto already has to offer the world, such as...such as...well, there's always the CNE!

Source: National Post

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