First, let's look at technology and how it'll make things more challenging in our rapidly growing city. First, let's look at the delivery and ride apps. We know that both of these platforms have a very low entry bar, especially food delivery apps because you can deliver food with a bicycle or electric scooter. Additionally, they don't restrict people to the cities or towns where they reside. For example, you can live in Mississauga and drive Lyft in Toronto or deliver food there. This means that, for many people doing gig work through these apps, Toronto is the golden goose. As long as these rules stay the same, and Toronto's population and housing costs keep increasing, we are guaranteed to see a glut of food delivery and ride apps gig employees in the streets. This has already happened in San Francisco, much to the dismay of the local population (Google). Before, Toronto only had to handle rush hour traffic and, if you live here, other times of day or night have mostly tolerable traffic. Now, it'll slowly become crazy at other times of day and especially Friday and Saturday night when everyone hopes to make the most money off of people partying downtown. Over the next few years, I think this will become a real problem- not just because of extra Lyft and uBer cars on the road, but also because of extra bikes on the roads that are mostly not designed or safe for cycling, and won't be safe any time soon.
Next, we have the food swamp issue that is only going to get worse over the next few years as it becomes amplified by housing problems in the city. So, I don't know about you but I'm seeing more and more billboards and other ads by food delivery companies that go against cooking at home or at least try to make it seem "uncool" and not worth your time (even though this particular habit is slashing many people's disposable incomes). They are making this push harder than ever because the steep housing costs result in circumstances like four unrelated people sharing small two bedroom condos, making the kitchen mostly unusable. Therefore, whether they can afford it or not, many people choose to subsist mostly off takeout and delivery. So food apps, housing problems and population increase provided a fertile ground for more and more fast food restaurants to spring up, especially downtown. This gave rise to the term food swamp. A food swamp is an area that has little to no decent supermarkets and grocery stores, but has tons of fast food restaurants. So, while you can get food there, it's not healthy or any sort of a basis for meeting your daily nutritional requirements. I've said it before and I'll say it again-you cannot live off of fast food and whatever snacks you have laying around, plus a bag of milk or what have you. Eventually, and I kid you not, you may be facing problems like bleeding gums, more cavities, lesser bone density and consequent micro fractures, hair loss, skin problems- just to name a few. It really is necessary to cook healthy meals on a regular basis, as similarly healthy and balanced meals are found only in high end supermarkets and health-focused fast food restaurants and are prohibitively expensive for most people, especially if bought on a regular basis. As many people still haven't realized this, and this combines with other factors I mentioned, it allows for food swamps to grow throughout the city and will continue to do so for the next few years. Expect the wait times at family doctor offices, walk-in clinics and hospitals in the city to increase as well due to nutritional deficiency illnesses and disorders that, despite common belief, are not as easy to diagnose or pinpoint as the symptoms often coincide with those of more serious illnesses that doctors check for first.
Finally, we have the cultural issue as it relates to Toronto's rapid growth. It has long been said that USA is a melting pot, while Canada is a mosaic. It hasn't always been like that, but I haven't heard anyone effectively argue the opposite in a long time. I think that Toronto's rapid growth is amplifying Canada's cultural mosaic problem, making the downsides of this more pronounced and that this will continue over the next few years. So, what is the difference between a melting pot and a mosaic? Both Canada and USA have their own core cultures. The melting pot and the mosaic are terms that describe two different scenarios that happened when the countries opened up for mass migration after the initial waves that helped establish them in the first place. While this could be a separate article altogether, let's try and simplify it. America is a melting pot because people over there becomes Americans with elements from their home country. Canada is a mosaic because people come here and keep their home country identity while taking on elements of the Canadian culture. This is how things are overall, though every newcomer in either country makes their own choice (because of freedom of choice) which way to adopt, and may even change their mind as they get used to their new life. Nevertheless, the majority goes for melting pot in USA, mosaic in Canada. Throughout history, we had examples of both. The Roman and Persian empires were melting pots of their day. The Ottoman Empire was a mosaic of its day. Neither lasted forever, so it is difficult to say which one is better in general. Personally, I prefer the melting pot approach because everyone who to a new country does so due to that country's culture, economy and its own particular way of doing things in general. You come here, you embrace life here, and you take the best things from the old country to put a little spin on life here and you are good to go. This approach offers people a sense of unity and connection among strangers, as well as collective responsibility. Now, how important do you think those are in a rapidly growing city? Extremely. If you have a rapidly growing city with all the condo towers coming up and people forming cultural mosaics and cooperating but otherwise isolated social pockets, bad things can start to happen. Basically, you are practically no one's concern, and practically no one around you is your own concern. It will be increasingly difficult to connect with strangers when you try to make friends outside of school or work. Strangers will show kindness less and less, and people will stop "paying it forward." There will be less and less community events, block parties and other such events unless they are events specific to individual communities. Finally, there will be people turning against the city if they don't see their ambitions and self-interest fulfilled; the Toronto van attack is a prime example. The craziest thing from news footage and YouTube was that, when the guy was out of the van and the police was approaching him with guns drawn, there were people nearby still walking and looking totally oblivious and disconnected from what was going on, as if they were working in a parallel dimension or an astral realm or something, with a total lack of community wherewithal needed to understand what is going on in front of their eyes. So, if people continue to live increasingly next to each other, but not with each other, Toronto is sure to see more problems in the coming years. Of course, the government will then offer top down solutions to try and mitigate this, causing a bigger budget deficit or asking for more of our tax dollars.
So there we have it, dearest readers. I picked these three issues because they are the ones I am most familiar with and talk about the most with other people. Are you in Toronto or any other rapid growth city in North America, or do you travel or commute there? Have these or similar issues crossed your mind? Do the benefits of rapid growth outweigh these and other downsides?