Two Hoops

In French Blog Posts by Brock Bourgase

On a different note: In 1959, Jean Royer became mayor of Tours and held that position until 1995. During that time, Toronto suffered through several equally leftist mayors yet seems not to have witnessed the improvements seen in Tours.

Royer was known as le bon roi Jean and the French legislation that protects small local stores from retail conglomerates is known as le loi Royer. The mayor restored many parts of the old town – especially le Place Plumereau – and otherwise protected historically and culturally significant buildings.

An out-of-town group, the Ontario Municipal Board controls the protection of Toronto’s architectural heritage. Traditionally, the board sides with developers and permits historical buildings to be replaced by drab, dreary, and indistinguishable condominiums and big-box stores. Certainly, it is the free market at work but there is something to be said about a town full of unique pieces of architecture. Putting one’s foot forward is best done with discretion, like Spain’s Fernando Torres shot the ball where the goalie wasn’t doing to be in a moment, not directly in the German keeper’s path.

From Crombie to Sewell to Miller, Toronto’s government has been ineffectual, due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of commitment. Ontario’s government has been likewise indifferent. If public officials purport to care about certain causes, they should lobby tireless for them, even if they are a little to the left. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

On one hand Tours has missed out on some innovation but on the other hand it has gained an identity north of the Boulevard Béranger; modern developments, like the T.G.V. are located on the south side of the boulevard. Frankly, Tours is more interesting than Toronto. Practically, it is a better city for no other reasons than it has figured out how to use urban planning to install public washrooms, includes bike and pedestrian lanes, and protects its heritage.