#201 – Shit City, Part One: Introduction + Winnipeg, Manitoba

It’s time to introduce a new series to the blog! Canadian cities are banal, awful places full of boredom and misery. Residents of cities having a rough go of unaffordability, poor transit, and limited opportunities have all been addressed generally by this blog before. Shit City is my chance to highlight the specific failures afflicted on the residents of each and every major Canadian center. We’re going to get into transit timing using Google Maps, discuss a lot of ratios of income to pricing of all sorts of local goods, and read some opinions and reviews from tourists and locals alike about the local “attractions”. Shit City will follow a framework, which is going to work thus for the moment:

  1. Introduction
  2. Ratios and numbers:
    Income to housing prices
    Income to food prices
    Poverty rates/food bank use/homelessness (whatever I can find)
    Criminality
  3. Access to transit
  4. Reviews of local “attractions”

Right, let’s get started then with our first Shit City, and what a Shit City it is. We’re talking about Winnipeg, the discarded rail-town that was left to rot on the banks of the Red River. The legendary tragedy of Winnipeg, home to Indigenous gangs and a group that fishes bodies out of the Red River is well-established. On top of being the home of one of Canada’s most brutal police actions, Winnipeg’s role in Canadian city lore is to serve as the Oakland of Canada – scrappy, mean, poor, and influential in pop culture. Winnipeg got all but the last one right, which is a shame because the combination of Indigenous heritage and urban cataclysm produces some dope raps.

Instead of dope raps, Winnipeg is epitomized by the Weakerthans’ “One Great City“. When Can-Con is mocking a place in Canada you know it sucks. The first two lines of the song might as well be my entire post. “Late afternoon, another day is nearly done/a darker gray is breaking through a lighter one”. This is truly a remarkable song, by the way. It takes some kind of balls to be this honest. See? Canada can’t suck the life out of every artistic endeavor taking place within its wretched walls – only most of them!

Here’s how Winnipeg stacks up by the numbers:

Median total monthly income, family: $81,880/year (2015 figure) / 12 = $6823/month
Monthly income for two full-time minimum-wage earners: $3675 (2017 figure)
Cost of property: $288,500 (2016 figure)
Average rent for 2-bedroom apartment: $1068/month
Average food costs: $819.95 (2011 figure)

This means that the food costs about 12% of median monthly income and that rent will set you back 15.6% of your median family income. That’s actually not all that terrible…but when you’re working minimum wage, it gets ugly. In that case rent is 29% of your monthly income and food is 22%. That means you get $1837.50 to spend on utilities, transportation, debt repayments – everything else.

Criminality and poverty in Winnipeg are concentrated in the city’s notorious North End, which looks like this:

The unemployment rate in the neighborhood of Point Douglas is 9.5% in 2011, and male life expectancy in Point Douglas South was 66.7 years. Which is roughly on par with West Timor, a country that was ravaged by military occupation until 1999. Did you not see the part above where I talked about people fundraising to drag nets along the Red River to look for corpses? Yeah, this place is a total shitheap.

Did I mention that Winnipeg is infamous for gang-related violence? Because we got all kinds of gang violence to talk about, friends! It’s enough of a problem that gangs are pulling the kids of recent migrants into their groups, with upstart gangs forming constantly even as the city pretends to have “resolved” the problem over and over again. Street gangs like the Manitoba Warriors have grown increasingly sophisticated; even worse, police are failing to keep up with their crime sprees. Rivalries between Indigenous gangs and classic Canadian criminal offerings like the Hell’s Angels present all kinds of thrilling chances to see the roiling poverty of Canada’s cities (and imagination) on overdrive.

Winnipeg features classic elements of poor transit planning. An overfixation on suburban routes, cutting services while raising fares, and failure to properly operate critical lines on the route has seen Winnipeg’s transit system hobbled. The city failed at the implementation of electronic fares so badly that the bus drivers’ union demanded that the system be scrapped. During critically important times for transit like New Years’ Eve the Winnipeg transit system simply shits the bed. The impoverished North End features pathetic bus infrastructure, including a pitiful 22% incidence of bus stops with shelters and few routes going anywhere important. Having never taken this transit system the best I can do is to say that the hallmarks of mediocre North American transit are alive and well in Winnipeg.

And you’ll be leaning on that transit something fierce if you don’t have a car, because Christ on a unicycle does the weather in Winnipeg suck. My greatest annoyance with “Peggers” (as nobody should call them) was how, during the hellish depths of the Ottawa winter they would pull that caker conversational classic: “you think this is cold?” Hey, numbnuts – living in a place where the average low temperature in January is -20C isn’t something to be proud of. And don’t forget the muggy, sweaty summers complete with a Biblical plague of random bugs and shit! Even Mother Nature is trying to tell you to clear the fuck out of Winterpeg.

But what of Winnipeg’s tourist attractions, such as they are? Certainly among the more…ostentatious? Hypocritical? Whatever. Canada’s Human Rights Museum is a $300 million testament to vague concepts of human rights in a neighborhood where $300 million could have fixed a whole whack of societal problems. And the reviews are in!

Human Rights Museum Review 1Human Rights Museum Review 2

Unfinished, sloppy exhibits? Fucking sold! The San Jose Sharks declared Winnipeg the most awful place that they have to visit, which is stupid-sad considering that the Sharks also have to visit the ass-end of Fort Lauderdale, Edmonton, and Buffalo. Speaking of hockey, here are some hot takes on the recently-constructed MTS Place, home of the Winnipeg Jets:

Hockey Arena Review 1Hockey Arena Review 2

Poor signage, inadequate transit integration, and a lack of washrooms? That almost sounds like a lack of planning! How could this be? Beyond this, I have found…not much. A shopping mall full of drunks? Some boring outdoor skating? Museums in the middle of nowhere that cost a fortune? Oh…boy?

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State of the Hate: Moving Forward

I have decided to re-do major sections of the website to provide a more sourced, nuanced criticism of this country instead of screeching and demanding that you do your own fact-checking. The project is pretty huge – I frequently keep nothing from the old post and just do the research over again – but I’ve got the thing on a roll and I really want to hit my goal of getting to post #90 by year’s end.

We are currently up to post #62!

I have been trying and failing to figure out how to make the Table of Contents the front page of the website without getting rid of the Twenty-Fifteen Theme, which is frankly the only theme I understand. I’ve tried a couple of those Lynda classes to figure out WordPress, and…yeah, not there yet.

Additionally, I feel as though this could eventually coagulate into something of a book; if I’m going to do this at all I might as well take it seriously. So here is the rough sketch of the future of this blog:

2018 – Rewrite up to post #90, complete “Shit City” series

2019 – Rewrite up to post #135, complete unnamed series detailing healthcare failures

2020 – Consider publication??

If this is the top post, you’re going to want to keep up with the blog by way of the Table of Contents. If you have any suggestions/comments/criticisms of the Table of Contents please send them along to:

shitaboutcanada@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

Remove the word “cuck” from this meme and enjoy:

#200 – The Genocide Appreciation Day Post

One-hundred and fifty years ago today, a motley collection of toadies led by a drunken, genocidal doofus were forced by their colonial overlord to unify a bunch of uncertain, tenuously-related colonies into a single colonial governing apparatus which would be cheaper to run. Three of these colonies were so unimpressed that they had to be bribed in; another was tricked into Confederation and had no way to reverse the trickery. Since this impossibly auspicious start, Canada has evolved from an unsteady collection of self-loathing economic has-beens to a larger collective of self-loathing economic has-beens. Truly, nothing could be more worthy of celebration!

For shit’s sake, King Tim Himself has deigned to bestow another Roll up the Rim upon the land! When you roll up that rim and discover that you won nothing, the rim reads “Happy Canada 150th”. Which is a great launching point, because 150 is all about idle expenditure and Potemkin displays of grandeur that leave Canada ultimately with nothing except the bill. Why use the opportunity to build lasting projects with celebration funds, thus enshrining the significance of the event for decades to come, right?

Believe it or not, Canada once used an arbitrary event to procure funds for useful projects. Coincidentally, Centennial ’67 remains a pivotal point of Canadian national identity. Canada’s cultural bankruptcy is even more apparent when you look at how shamelessly the (admittedly pretty kickass) Centennial logo has been aped for Canada 150. It’s not even a try at anything new, leaning instead on revisionistic nostalgia to appeal to cakers.

canada-centennial-1967-logo-top-canada-150-logo-bottom-l
(S)

Where do I see the lingerings of Canada’s Centennial in Canada today? Ottawa’s high arts scene, largely esconced in the halls of the National Arts Center, was a gift from the federal government. Indeed, Ottawa was spending $100 million as of 1964 investing in concrete manifestations Canada’s cultural and social fabric. As per the above-linked report, there were over 2000 projects completed. Most Canadians don’t even realize how prevalent Centennial buildings are – if there’s a major arts center in your city, it’s probably a gift from Ottawa back when the federal government recognized that it has a semblance of responsibilty and isn’t simply an exercise in sock-wearing and selfie-tweeting.

The unique funding model for these developments saw a dollar per person given to every municipality and federal funds matching provincial dollars going towards needed public infrastructure. Montreal’s Metro system grew as it did because of the pressures stemming from Expo ’67. In a rare instance of valuing literacy and public availability of knowledge Canada even deigned to create boom of library funding. Dare I say that these kinds of investments are the investments of…a civilized people?

Alas, in cakertown all turns to mediocrity, and the goals and missions espoused by Centennial (which was itself largely the brainchild of John Diefenbaker, who was again buried out of caker history by way of revisionistic make-believe as to the merits of a caker business project) were no exception to the rot. Where once Canada used milestones to build libraries and to create major public infrastructure, Canada now uses shittons of money to fund.

1) Counterfeit, huge-ass rubber duckies!

(S) Duck and a battleship – perfect selfie-mates!

Of course, nothing could ever leave Canada with the lasting benefits of public betterment quite like a large rubber ducky! The oversized bath toy was inexplicably dragged into Toronto Harbor (did I mention that Toronto’s Waterfront was a Centennial project?) at a cost of…wait for it…$200,000. What a large bath toy has to do with Canada is beyond me, but in the article I linked there the justification provided is that it has lots of selfie-potential and is “fun”. That rumbling you feel is Diefenbaker rolling in his grave.

And that’s not even the whole story! See, this giant-ass, unrelated novelty project is apparently a counterfeit. You can’t make this shit up, folks. Even better – the counterfeiter is a profiteer, as the Dutch firm responsible for the original duck has stated that their giant rubber duckie was not-for-profit and was effectively stolen by the guy Ontario chose to do business with. Even though I personally think that a giant rubber duck is a silly investment in the first place I respect the vision of the original designer. Immediately gravitating to the most corrupt option is quintessential Queens’ Park, though.

2) Basic maintenance that any reasonable government would have dealt with ages ago!

One of the key elements of the Centennial projects is that they were major civic improvements undertaken for the sake of lasting legacy. Instead of trying to make Canada’s squalid cities slightly more interesting by way of major public works, Ottawa for Canada 150 is selling basic maintenance like “re-roofing hockey arenas and resurfacing trails”. Problem with that, though: you’re supposed to maintain your shit as a matter of course. Here’s one pivotal, memorable Canada 150 project – fixing broken roofs and floors in a community center! Because in Cakerstan doing the bare minimum required to avoid having your infrastructure overtly collapse is only achieveable during celebrations.

Credit to P.E.I, though – a bunch of tall ships is a much cooler harbor addition than a fucking rubber duck. Oh, and what’s with Pravda refering to 1 July as Canada’s birthday? What vagina did Canada come out of again? At least call it an anniversary, guys.

3) The biggest Canada flag for Greatest Canada on Greatest Canada Day!

(S) Cracked stroad, massive flag. Says it all, really

 

Windsor, Ontario is jokingly referred to as “south Detroit” by cakers wishing that their worthless suburban sadsack shithole of a city had even a sliver of the pride and ferocious commitment to self-improvement found in Detroit proper. The place could use some fucking help, a marquee project that isn’t a casino that might contribute to the city being known for more than a mediocre university and a casino that still thinks Dadcore from the 70s is worth putting on stage. What does Ottawa agree to give Windsor money for but…the largest Canadian flag ever.

I think I’ll just leave this quote from Nineteen Eighty-Four here and move on:

“About a quarter of one’s salary had to be earmarked for voluntary subscriptions, which were so numerous that it was difficult to keep track of them. ‘For Hate Week. You know–the house-by-house fund. I’m treasurer for our block. We’re making an all-out effort–going to put on a tremendous show. I tell you, it won’t be my fault if Victory Mansions doesn’t have the biggest outift of flags on the whole street!'” (pg. 59)

4) Providing space for a U2 Concert!

Who the fuck wants to listen to U2 in this decade? Seriously – they couldn’t even give an album away for free, and you’ve decided that a group of self-important Irishmen are worth hosting front-and-center on Canada 150? They aren’t getting paid to be there, but the opportunity cost – having an actual, novel Canadian act perform – is a telling one. Apparently #RealChange doesn’t think a Canadian act is worthy of taking the timeslot. Then again I can imagine few people getting on with Justin better than Bono, an egoistical fruitcake with nothing to bring to the table trying to squeeze himself into the center of attention. So I guess Bono does represent the spirit of 150 even if it isn’t exactly the kind of spirit Canada wants promoted.

5) Endless fucking chances to “tell the world” what Canada means to you!

(S) Come, comrade! Speak of how much you love best country Canada!

Nothing is creepier about Canada than its insistence on having people speak on camera as to how much they love Canada. Naturally, these useless recordings are valuable only as propaganda; the factors that made the filmed caker love Canada are transient and subject to change over time, but we never see that kind of longitudinality in these surveys.

It’s also really creepy when adoration is demanded from not one, not two, not three, but four separate entities on Canada’s “signature projects” page. Give it a fucking rest, people! We get it, you’re desperate for people to like you and unable to put in the kind of effort that would actually get people to like you. During Centennial “signature project” referred to major infrastructure investments (which as we’ve seen have been replaced by basic maintenance, reflecting Canada’s squalor and the low bars which Canada sets for its own self-validation). Here, a signature project is a means of inflating the Canadian ego through digital recording in a way that is designed to be transient and pointless.

Oh, and here’s my #Wish150

ks0hqdp

Legit, though. It’s not just me – this is all really sketchy in the “would be a huge red flag if this were an interpersonal relationship” way to you too, right?

6) Junk historical research from a junky institution!

(S) Costume budget: $0.15 and the mudpit outside the parking lot where this was filmed

Oh, Pravda. Wouldn’t be a Canadian Canada Celebration of Canada without the CBC stepping into some kind of cowpie. And indeed they did, launching the epic (and ahistorical) television series “Canada: the Story of Us”. No less than #RealChange himself gave assent to this project, which has been decried as being written with “alternative facts” that cast an English pall over the entire story. Vollmann, the fiction author, has written a better, more nuanced take on Canada’s history with the Ice Shirt than the CBC did with the resources of the entire Canadian government.

What kinds of inconsistencies are present, you ask? Well, it portrayed the Quebecois as shabby turdmunchers who don’t even speak their own language properly because Pravda failed to hire native Francophones (which is an incredible oversight), ignored the province of Nova Scotia entirely while underplaying the significance of Indigenous Peoples and glorifying the English colonizers who, I remind you, ultimately would culminate in a drunken retard trying at genocide by kidnapping children and starving whole populations. The entire affair, which I remind you was headlined by the Prime Minister, has the feel and pomp of an African dictatorship trying to justify itself in cinema.

No take-backs! No corrections! No refunds! #SavetheCBC

Well, that’s a smattering of the stupidity that is Canada 150. Fuck this whole project, fuck the concept of a Canada 150, fuck Canadian revisionism, fuck cakers, and fucking fuck does it suck living in a real-life version of the Nineteen Eighty-Four Victory Parade. I think I’m going to keep working on editing the old shit for a while. Progress is still happening, but you’ll have to follow the Table of Contents to see it. Don’t you worry – posts #201+ are coming on up! Expect to learn about the RCMP’s terrifying “fruit machine”, some more comments about poorly-built buildings, maybe a major-city focused shitshow extravaganza?

Shit about Canada wishes you and yours a critical, tolerable Genocide Appreciation Day!

mohawk_warrior_society_flag
(S) Fuck yeah.

#199 – Confederation was a Crock of Shit

The story of Confederation is not an easy one to tell, and because of this caker logic has filled the narrative gaps in Canada’s formation with revisionistic mortar and a solemn promise to not delve any further into the topic. The make-believe surrounding Confederation is so absurd that I couldn’t help but cite this crystal-clear instance of caker doublethink. I want to direct your attention to these two lines within the above-linked piece:

The historical moment we will commemorate next Saturday is Confederation — a bunch of old white guys signing a document that bound a loose collection of provinces controlled by the British Empire into a vague and discontented unity without the slightest consideration of or participation by the First Peoples…

Confederation was an attempt at compromise between peoples within a unified political framework.

Problem, Stephen: the “compromising” parties are making compromises on occupied land. Hitler and Stalin compromised on the partitioning of Poland. And instead of acknowledging foundational problems like segregation of blacks in the Maritimes and, y’know, the Indian Act, this guy decides to try and sneak the word “peoples” into the notion of compromise while noting directly that Indigenous peoples had no input and imputing that they were the victims of this “compromise” is a wonderful way to pay the white-guilt penance while trying to gloss over its implications.

So that’s the kind of doublethink we have to contend with – a bunch of unsubtle attempts to brush Canada’s unsavory past under a polite, mundane little rug. Let’s list off some of the actual stories of Confederation:

  • Nova Scotia elected an anti-Confederation government and appealed for the reversal of Confederation
  • Despite Canada’s interest in them Newfoundland and P.E.I would resist attempts at annexation
  • Quebec was practically held hostage with the prospect of greater local authority
  • The British were sick of supporting a bunch of useless podunk colonies whose useful purpose (the fur trade) had been expended and hoped that amalgamation would provide cost savings

First up, Nova Scotia. In September of 1867 there was an election in Nova Scotia, wherein 36 of the 38 elected to the lower house were against Confederation. Joseph Howe even went so far as to appeal to the Throne to reverse Confederation. Even better – Charles Tupper, the useless sack of shit I wrote about long ago? Yeah, that asshole was the leader of the legislative assembly and approved Nova Scotia’s annexation immediately before that election result where his ideas and shitty plan were rejected wholesale by the people of the province. Because London said “no takebacks lol”, Nova Scotia was dragged by sleight of hand into Canada. Such a lovely compromise – the obvious will of the people subverted by a guy who would gain personally from the Confederated project.

As a side-note, the phrasing of the government-written link I listed above there is kind of odd: “After failing to secure a repeal of Confederation in 1868, Howe recognized the futility of further protests”, it reads. Protest is futile. You will be assimilated.

Next, Newfoundland. It’s worth noting that Macdingus the Drunk and his motley synod of synchophants, sadsacks, jesters, fools, and profiteers sought more than just the four provinces they managed to absorb into their shitty idea. Indeed, Newfoundland has always taken to Canadian identity tenuously, and despite electing a pro-Confederation government led by Frederick Carter in 1865 the Anti-Confederation Party of Newfoundland under Charles Fox Bennett would win in 1869, and the issue died on its feet.

Another swing and a miss for Confederation came from Prince Edward Island (in fact, the only province in Atlantic Canada to willingly cotton to Confederation the first time was New Brunswick, and even they’re saying that they’ve gotten a raw deal), whose Premier James Colledge Pope basically called Canada’s bluff and demanded more money while also holding (ultimately pointless, because P.E.I would need royal assent in order to do again; the Crown straitjacketing her colonies into line is a common theme to Confederation, you see) negotiations with the United States that ultimately scared more funding out of Ottawa. It was ultimately a failed railroad project that would force P.E.I to take Ottawa’s money and sell itself into mendacious mediocrity.

On to Quebec, a province which was forced into Confederation by way of that most classic point of Canadiana, failing civic governance caused by civic failure. This piece from Claude Bélanger at Marianopolis College speaks to the hostage-taking that transpired in Quebec. With the previous mechanisms shackling Quebec to Ontario collapsing and increasingly unable to function, the terms of a new union had to be made. Indeed, there were elements overtly supporting annexation into the United States, like the Parti Rouge. And despite Quebec’s powerful landed English elites and having few alternatives, 40% of the population still voted against Confederation. At some point the rational calculus of the Quebecois voter turned to “turds all around me, and I’d rather faceplant into any other cowpie than the caker cowpie”. Fantastic compromising skills, Stephen!

And finally, the big ugly truth rumbling underneath the entire Confederate project. This is the point cakers hate to be reminded of, in no small part because Canada becomes a lot less romantic when it is revealed to be a child of accounting more than anything else. I’ve been pointing to several instances of the English royalty effectively enforcing Confederation, and the reason for that is simple – the British didn’t want to pay for the defense of Canada. The British too brought their finest Mafioso techniques: Ged Martin writes of the bind that the erstwhile Confederates found themselves in, writing that there would be “a question mark” over British committment to Canada should the union not succeed.

All this is to say that this week’s narratives, complete with bait-and-switch white-guilt tithes and eager to forget how fractuous, non-consenting, and unsatisfying Confederation has been for all of its members save Ontario. Fully 30% of the provinces were bribed into union; with Nova Scotia being hoodwinked and Quebec choosing out of desperation, at least half of Canada had serious doubts about the very idea of Canada. Be sure to remember that when some mouthbreathing caker claims that “Canada was built on orderly negotiation”, because it fucking wasn’t.

Fuck John Macdonald, and fuck Canada.

 

#198 – La Belle at the Ball

Let me disclose this at the very beginning – if there is any Canadian province that I don’t profoundly hate, it is Quebec. I have enormous respect for the Quebecois, a people who I find to be more cultured and interesting than the caker swine who so hypocritcally malign them. Rene Levesque’s Memoirs and his principled response to the terroristic endeavors of the followers of Pierre “White Niggers of America” Vallieres (yes, this is the name of an influential book in Quebecois political thought) influenced me and my political thought profoundly. But Quebec is in Canada, and therefore it is a province with myriad issues.

I need to stress at first that French Quebec has been horrifically mistreated by English Canada. The whole Quiet Revolution thing, which cakers tend to summarize as “grumpy French people who won’t learn English”, was in no small part about the economic disparity on display along linguistic lines. Until the 1960s, English people were almost the entirety of the Quebecois bourgeoisie. Quebec’s siege mentality, I believe, is the result of a real culture having to live next to cakerdom for centuries. Instead of issuing a broad-stroke condemnation of Quebec that I really can’t give (having never really lived with the Quebecois), I’m just going to outline some of the more spectacular incidences of brutality and awfulness lurking in la belle province.

Let’s start with Montreal’s mob and road problem, which the Parti Quebecois accuses the ruling Parti Liberal of stonewalling investigation into because the politics of Quebec are far beyond fucked. It’s estimated that the Italian Mafia in Montreal controls 80% of road construction contracts, and boy do the roads look like it. Oh, and it’s worth noting that among the reasons Montreal is collapsing is the fact that the city raced mindlessly and practically planlessly to finish construction for…Expo ’67 and the ’76 Olypmics! Among the tragic results of this reckless construction, which came with a heaping side order of corruption and Mafia connections within the construction industry was the de la Concorde overpass collapse in 2006. Read the Commission of Inquiry’s findings as to how the overpass collapsed and killed six people and take note of the sheer mass of technical construction issues associated with it.

As anecdotal evidence, I submit that having driven through Montreal in a late 90s Toyota Camry that couldn’t hit 100kph without at least 30 miles of open road, fuck everything about the state of Montreal’s roads.

https://i0.wp.com/www.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Montreal-is-falling-down_wide.jpg
(S) Round One of “Canada or Kazakhstan”!

So as to not give cakers any ammo with which to hypocritically attack the French, let’s spend the rest of this post here writing about the familiar bugbear of this blog – Indigenous Affairs! For what it’s worth, Quebec does have the lowest rate of child poverty on reserves in Canada. I only add this to make sure that cakers don’t go and take my condemnations as somehow vindicating English Canada. Right, so let’s talk about the Val D’Or problem. Starting in 2015, Indigenous women reported systemic sexual and physical abuse from police officers in the town of Val D’Or. The consequences of this savagery for the police officers was…nothing. This understandably creates what Pravda refers to as “a climate of tension and mistrust” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This is being discussed in a Quebec-wide inquiry, which speaks to the prevalence of cruelty within the province’s policing system.

And heaven help you if you live in the North of Quebec, known properly as Ungava. Despite having a bitchin’ name that would do well in any Tolkien-esque high fantasy novel Ungava is in fact a miserable place to live. Ungava is frankly a world apart from Quebec, and cartoonization of the Inuit is a rampant problem. Child and youth suicide is a big problem here as everywhere in Canada; in Quebec the incidence of suicide among these Inuit communities was twenty-five times greater than among Quebecois and three times greater than Indigenous rates in the rest of Canada. Granted, that data is from 1995 – but by the looks of it not much has changed.

So I hoped I pissed on enough cakers by providing a rough sample of Quebec’s failures without giving English Canada ammo to use against the Quebecois. Because frankly, there is plenty of overlap in the problems Quebec has and the problems that the rest of Canada does.

#197 – Rusted Dreams

The American Rust Belt is a maligned creature, deemed at once a trap of rancid poverty and a major supplier of the kind of reactionary stupidity that got Donald Trump elected. Certainly, times for the Rust Belt have been tough; a combination of limited investment in education, an over-reliance on untenable industrial patterns, and the destruction of major urban centers by way of suburbanization and car dependence will do that to anyone. It certainly did a number on Canada’s Rust Belt, also known as “the part of Ontario with a defunct manufacturing center”. It’s a big, angry, reactionary blob of underinvestment and cyclical poverty.

Some of the remains of the Rust Belt here attempted to go the Richard Florida route (fun fact: Florida recanted this nonsense, which bodes poorly for places that fell for it in the first place). Others have fallen victim to idiotic housing speculation. London has decided to continue sucking, a perhaps-unwise decision but fuck it. Some parts of the Rust Belt here are even recovering. But for most the area represents a Sophie’s Choice – overinvestment rendering your community a powder-keg that actively pushes natives away, or miring further in muck. It’s an unenviable position to be in.

Almost every city in the Canadian Rust Belt has similar problems. Public transit services are weak at best, and the feeling of despair and poverty crosses generations in every Rust Belt community. Which is why people don’t stick around and why trust in government and private industry is at an all-time low. The sense that “the good times” (read: working in a factory and living in a suburban box) will never come back is palpable. Canada’s Rust Belt, once the middling supplier of components par excellence has been tossed aside just like any other flash-in-the-pan Canadian economic generator that fell apart because of negligence and unaccounted-for global events.

Southern Ontario’s problems are pretty apparent when you look at the place. Canada’s piss-poor rail system is focused on Southern Ontario, and it’s entirely inadequate. The train station for the cities of Hamilton and Burlington (which shouldn’t be sharing a train station to begin with) are in neither city, instead being cordoned off next to a freeway and in the middle of nowhere. Transit is expensive and poorly organized, forcing people into the debt trap that is personal vehicle ownership. Even with strong economic tailwinds the Canadian Rust Belt can’t seem to make a go of it. And Dear Leader…well, Dear Leader can’t even fart an answer as to what Ottawa will do to help the disappointed, fretful peoples of the Rust Belt.

I can hear the counterpointing now. “But”, says the caker apologist, “what about places like Kitchener-Waterloo? Or Hamilton? Maybe tiny-town Rust Belt Ontario is doomed, but we’re making a fix of the big cities!” The problem with that argument is cost-related. Take Hamilton as an example. Hamilton has historically had a big poverty problem. It also used to be considered too distant to commute into Toronto to, at least until Toronto decided to shit its own housing bed and to allow the city to devolve into My Little Dubai. The upshot of both of these realities is that Hamilton was for a time a fairly affordable place to be mired in. But with the spectre of commuters (who don’t actually have a solid way of commuting save for rare train trips and buses that get stuck in traffic) coming to colonize the city, housing costs (and continued losses in full-time employment) quickly outpace the ability of native Hamiltonians to pay, meaning that those crushed out of their own homes by hipsters and trust fund babies continue to be shafted by governance that would rather pretend that they don’t exist. And you wonder why folks like these don’t trust government and would rather knock the whole thing down.

Hamilton’s looming conversion to hipsterdom, K-W’s insane fixation on the repudiated ideas of Richard Florida, London’s suicidal march into a suburban grave, Windsor’s confused stagnation, and the continued refusal to even acknowledge the gravity of the problems and poverty experienced in small-town Rust Belt Ontario speak to the problems of the Rust Belt. Despite Pravda’s best attempts to present these areas as “new frontiers” (and as someone who grew up in the Rust Belt, here’s a hearty fuck you to anyone who thinks that way), the reality is that these “frontiers” are poorly-governed, badly-planned, and breathe ever-new life into the reactionary hatred of the roiling masses being pressed out by foreign funds. You can invest in the newcomers all you’d like, but the people who were mired in these places when they were at their absolute worst are still mired, and they increasingly are running out of patience.

#196 – The Greyer Toronto Area

Back on track.

Fuck the GTA.

In the preliminary research for this post, I asked a friend of mine for examples of particularly atrocious development in the Greyer Toronto Area. The places he tossed my way – Sherway Gardens, Upper Canada Mall, and Erin Mills Town Center, among others – looked like my interpretation of purgatory. As we were chatting in dawned on me that the places he cited were often malls. Why malls, I thought?

Then it hit me – the names of the malls are literally the only distinguishing features of these formless hellscapes. The areas around these places are horrifying. Here’s a fun activity – go to Street View and go see the sights. Oh, and by fun I meant deadening. There’s a reason Toronto has been described as “Vienna surrounded by Phoenix”. Having actually visited Phoenix before I can confirm the sentiment, only in the GTA (which is unworthy of being written out properly) you also get to deal with the shittiness of Canada. Hoo-fucking-ray.

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(S) Above: the sum of available activity within walking distance at a given point in the GTA

I want to showcase some of the worst architecture and design in the GTA to highlight what I mean about the place sucking harder than a shop-vac. I’ve taken to calling these things CAD-fapping because they look like they were designed by someone trying to compensate for their perceived sexual inadequacies. There are also some charming (read: terrifying) piles of housing dreck, thrilling lands of neglect and inaccessibility, and large roadways. So many large roadways. So without further ado, time to look at some horror!

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(S)  Absolute World, Mississauga

First up on the mockery block is this piece of shit. 60 Absolute is called “Marilyn Monroe”, because apparently looking at random skewers of glass and metal plopped in the middle of fucking nowhere reminded someone of an iconic sex figure. Sexy this is not – just check out this website. Scroll down to the review section at the bottom of the page and have a laugh as people alternatively lament their idiotic purchase and attempt to puff the place up because they bought the condo as an “investment”.

Whoever bought into this quackery clearly doesn’t want to walk anywhere. Look at this garbage urban form – these towers literally loom over an entire shitty suburb! It’s a fitting metaphor, the image of the old shitty land use planning being cast into darkness by a new, even worse urban form. These things are a fucking blight. They inspire a sense of pity, not one of awe.

Oh, and a quick search reveals that this bizarre and wildly inappropriately-placed development was designed by the architectural firm MAD Studio. MAD indeed.

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(S) Rain & Senses, Oakville

What’s with that name? And for that matter, why does this look like a glassblowing titan just took a massive dump on a boring office building from the 70s which was itself the apparent result of a giant squatting on a couple of suburban houses?  These two glitchy-looking shits start at a mere $400,000! And look at what you get to live near! At least one side of the building literally faces a parking lot, which is not what I see in this mock-up sketch.

Now that I think of it, none of the surroundings look like this. Which makes the call to experience the “neighborhood” of Oakville (Oakville is not a neighborhood, it’s a town.  A suburban shithole town, sure. But it’s what passes for a town in Cakerstan) even funnier. Here’s the text: “The Oakville lifestyle is one without comparison, and residents can attest that there’s no neighbourhood quite like it.”

I wonder if these developers understand how stupid the phrase “Oakville lifestyle” sounds, unless they mean driving while scowling.

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(S) New York Towers, North York

Oh, do I fucking hate these things. When I’m forced to experience the extreme displease that is driving through Toronto these fucking abominations are always there to greet me. The sadsack attempt at the Empire State building and the fact that this piece of shit isn’t exactly in Manhattan reminds me of something that one of those Chinese ghost cities would do so as to attract “investment”. Let’s be perfectly clear – surrounded by sprawl and highways, these pitiful attempts at mimicry offer a living experience that has nothing in common with the image of Manhattan that this clump is trying so hard and failing to evoke. Unless your idea of Manhattan is a bunch of curvilinear road networks beside a bevy of highways. Really, the big thing I hate about these shitty fuckbeasts is that they look derivative and stupid.

Oh, and the architects behind that Potemkin squatling also wanted to build this. I would call it a victory, but that implies that any of this nonsense is even worth saving.

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(S) Malton, ON. The Whole Fucking Thing

The first result for this place on a Google image search is this picture:

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In case you don’t believe me

According to this map, Malton (postal code L4T, for anyone using the map I’m about to link to) is making less than the provincial average in terms of income. And with such productive land uses as this, who could possibly expect otherwise? This is a classic example of a community that was simply left to its own devices. Which in 2008 included murder. But seriously, this wasteland of untenable urban form is right by Pearson International Airport and is practically lassoed by highways. For those children unfortunate enough to grow up in this soulless wasteland there is a one-in-five chance that theirs is a life of poverty. Yikes.

And while we’re in the “neighborhood” (a term that ought only be used loosely in this context), let’s talk about the GTA’s single worst “urbanity” – the decrepit, car-dependent shithole that is Brampton.

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(S) Brampton, Ontario.

 

You know how I recently bought the domain name for this website? I did it because I’m pretty passionate about exposing Shit About Canada. But that’s a whole country – here’s a guy who bought a domain just to shit on Brampton. My hat goes off to you, author of Brampton Sucks. Brampton sucks on an almost-unthinkable scale. Look at the sprawl I linked to you up there, and then take a gander at Brampton’s automobile insurance rates, which are the highest in the province. Brampton is also largely non-white, though for a majority non-white city there is only one non-white city councillor (though the author of the cited piece here laughably suggests that walking places is a possibility in Brampton). The whole place is less-educated than the rest of the Peel Region and rocks a 9.5% unemployment rate.

You know what happens when a racial underclass is consigned to live in one place with failing prospects, poor transit connectivity, massive costs associated with living, a government that does not meaningfully represent them, and a pile of non-stop temp work in a city where decent jobs are quickly becoming an endangered species? The word that comes to mind first is ghetto – not a good label for a place of 500,000 people. Is Toronto simply hiding its poor in and among its prior tries at atrociously-failed suburban experimentation? I think we know the answer to that.