Eight reasons to celebrate City of Toronto Day

New names, subway lines and lighting among the changes in 21st century

Downtown Toronto's skyline. Alexander Rodriguez / Toronto Observer

Toronto has changed a lot since it was first incorporated as a city 185 years ago.

It’s now the fourth largest city in North America (with 2.9 million residents and counting), has many diverse cultures, and is a tourist hotspot. Since the year 2000, the city has seen changes that have helped make it the place we live in today.

Mayor John Tory recently took to Twitter to proclaim March 6 as City of Toronto Day. In that spirit, we’ve put together a list of eight significant changes that have occurred in the city in the past 19 years.

• New name for an old theatre (2001)

In December 2001, the Canon Theatre, which opened in 1920 and has served theatre- and film-going audiences in Toronto for decades, was renamed the Ed Mirvish Theatre. This isn’t the first time the building on Yonge just south of Dundas has had a name change. It was previously known as the Pantages Theatre and the Imperial Theatre.

The new name honours the late philanthropist and theatre-lover Ed Mirvish, who lived in Toronto until his death in 2007 at the age of 92.

The Ed Mirvish Theatre has gone through several name changes, having been called the Pantages, Imperial and Canon theatre. (ALEXANDER RODRIGUEZ/TORONTO OBSERVER)

• Sheppard line opens for business (2002)

After eight years of work and a $1-billion investment, Torontonians finally got a brand new line on the TTC. The Sheppard line, which later became known as Line 4 Sheppard, opened in 2002 with five new stations: Sheppard-Yonge, Bayview, Bessarion, Leslie and Don Mills.

The construction of the Sheppard line was welcomed by many north end transit-users in the city, especially those living in the Don Mills area. According to the TTC website, by 2018 about 50,000 people rode the Sheppard subway line on an average weekday.

• SkyDome becomes the Rogers Centre (2005)

Rogers Communications bought the SkyDome, a multi-purpose stadium near the CN Tower, on Feb. 2, 2005 and renamed it the Rogers Centre.

The facility, which originally opened in 1989, is home to the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s a tourist hotspot and is visited by sports fans from across Canada — and the world.

The Rogers Centre is home to the Toronto Blue Jays. (ALEXANDER RODRIGUEZ/TORONTO OBSERVER)

• Final resolution of the Toronto Purchase (2010)

On June 8, 2010, the federal government agreed to compensate the  Mississaugas of the New Credit for the surrender of their land 200 years earlier.

The $145-million settlement was intended to resolve the Toronto Purchase Specific Claim, which involved more than 100,000 hectares of land in the GTA.

The agreement gave each member of the First Nation the amount of $20,000, with the rest of the money put in trust for the future.

• A new streetcar in town (2014)

The TTC’s new Flexity streetcar system made its debut in August 2014 on the 510 Spadina route.

At 30.2 metres, the new streetcars are almost double the length of the TTC’s older streetcars and offered more space, seats and comfort. They are also the first modern low-floor streetcars and are wheelchair accessible.

Flexity streetcar 510 arrives at Union Station. (ALEXANDER RODRIGUEZ/TORONTO OBSERVER)

• UP, UP and away (2015)

Getting to Toronto’s international airport became a little easier on June 6, 2015. That’s when the Union Pearson (UP) Express, which transports passengers from downtown Toronto to Pearson Airport by train in 25 minutes, started operations.

The UP Express serves 2.35 million passengers per year. 

It instantly became a helpful tool for Torontonians, with trains departing every 15 minutes, seven days a week.

Regular passenger Rafael Castaneda, 20, who lives in midtown Toronto and works at Toronto Pearson Airport, said the UP Express has been a great help to him.

“Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without the Union Pearson Express,” he said in a recent interview. “I use it every day, and it helps me save a lot of time.”

The UP Express helps more than just Torontonians. It’s a good transportation choice for tourists from all over the world. All they need to do is hop on the UP Express at the airport and they’re downtown in 25 minutes.

Dozens of people walk past the UP Express entrance at Toronto Pearson Airport. (ALEXANDER RODRIGUEZ/TORONTO OBSERVER

• Luminous Veil illuminated (2015)

On July 4, 2015, the lighting installation at the Prince Edward Viaduct (also know as the Bloor Viaduct) was completed.

The truss arch bridge, which connects Bloor Street with Danforth Avenue, had become the second-most common site of suicides in North America before a barrier known as the Luminous Veil was constructed in 2003. The LED lights, which illuminate each side of the bridge, were added 12 years later.

• Line 1 Yonge-University subway extension opens (2017)

As of Dec. 17, 2017, TTC-goers could take the Yonge-University line all the way to Vaughan. The extension of the line included six new stations and has made transit-riders such as Ambar Mendes very happy.

Mendes, 24, has lived in Toronto since 2012 and worked near Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station for the past three years.

She said the Yonge-University subway extension has been a positive change in her life.

“I used to take at least one hour to get to work, but with the University line extension my life, and the life of many people in the city, has become much easier,” Mendes said.

The extension is especially exciting for Canada’s Wonderland lovers as it allows travellers to go all the way up to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, minutes away from the theme park.

The other stations now available through the Line 1 extension are Downsview Park, Finch West, York University, Pioneer Village and Highway 407.

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Posted: Mar 4 2019 10:34 am
Filed under: Arts & Life