#148 – Seein’ Towers (of Bullshit)

The CN Tower. Truly an iconic Canadian building – grey, overpriced, and built on bullshit. I could probably sign off by saying that, as the name suggests, its history is tied into Canada’s rail interests. But it’s fun to shed some light on the thing, so here goes. We begin with a question that nobody really asks – who owns the CN Tower?

It isn’t CN – it’s a little-known body called the Canada Lands Company. The CLC is a Crown Corporation which handles the real estate arm of the Canadian government. It’s a sort of caretaker for shit that the Canadian government is either selling off or can’t give away to anyone because either nobody wants it or the bodies that do want the land are poo-flinging baboons who can’t manage a SimTown.

Speaking of stupidity, did I mention that the CN Tower was built in the middle of a wasteland of post-industrial infrastructure (CN moved to Vaughan because why not) and that the mega-project-cum-neighborhood that was built around it failed once and is a classic example of mashing suburban knuckle-dragging into urban space? Of course I didn’t – I have to frame the critique of the CN Tower first. It’s an undoubtedly fascinating and iconic building, designed both to stroke CN’s throbbing erection (it’s kind of apparent when you look at the thing, really) and to provide communications through a burgeoning scene of skyscrapers. It comes from an iffy heritage and it isn’t exactly affordable to get to the top more than once in your life, but the real story of the failure of the CN Tower is the abomination called CityPlace.

That was what the home of the CN Tower looked like as it was going up. You’ll notice a distinct lack of pedestrian access, diners, housing, or indeed liveable space anywhere near the thing. From the completion of the CN Tower to the building of the Metro Convention Center that whole area was a butt-turkey of nuthin’. Considering that I remember this place because it had a Planet Hollywood in it and my extra-suburban parents loved the place, I don’t expect much greatness out of that thing. Then the SkyDome went in, the economy went south and the place spluttered, and in 1997 the Air Canada Center was started up.

Sports and tourism? You know what goes well with that? You’ll notice that we left the neighborhood in the early noughts, which means condo-time. And with Canada’s noble and valiant tradition of slap-dashedly building shit badly and with no coherent plan for the area that, as you’ll recall looked rather profoundly detached from the rest of the city. When neighborhoods that are cut off from the rest of the city lose their money, they tend to become ghettos. At least this guy seems to think so, and to be honest I’ve seen nothing but bad news about shoddy building and cultureless morass.

Y’know, I was originally going to slam on CLC, but looking at the neighborhood I changed my mind. Yeah – I’d trust the Crown before the numbnuts behind this soulless shit-heap. Does this look inviting to you?

If it does, enjoy living in a half-assed civic scab taking up what could be remarkably useful space next to a genuinely interesting bundle of buildings (and the shitty Metro Convention Center). But be mindful of falling glass.

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