September 2011 Archives
The following was posted to the ISO List today.
More general information about Toronto and for the 2012 ISO conference follows:
"Toronto is a kind of New York operated by the Swiss." - Peter Ustinov, British Actor.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada. It is the capital of Ontario, the province that is home to roughly one third of the Canadian population. Toronto is the financial and economic powerhouse of Canada, but not the political capital, which is Ottawa.
Toronto is the fifth largest city in North America, after Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, in descending order. The City of Toronto proper has some 2,500,000 residents, its Census Metropolitan Area population is somewhere in the region of 5,113,000 residents, and the Greater Toronto Area population stands at roughly 5,500,000 individuals.
Toronto is considered to be the most multicultural and ethnically diverse city in the world. More than 100 languages are spoken by its residents. It has the second highest percentage of foreign-born residents of any city in the world other than Miami, with nearly 50% of Torontonians having been born in a country other than Canada.
Although Canada has two official languages, English and French, and all official publications and signs are in both languages, only about 1% of Torontonians speak French at home. By contrast, 30% of Torontonians speak a language other than English at home as well. 47% of Torontonians have a mother tongue other than English or French. Toronto's visible minorities are nearing 50% of the population. In a few years, the current majority, Caucasians, will become a visible minority.
Toronto is consistently rated as one of the most livable cities in the world, and recently came in at number four from the top on The Economist's 2011 annual survey of 140 cities, after Sydney, Vienna, and Vancouver. The cities were assessed in five categories - stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
The city is a modern and well-developed one, with many skyscrapers and tall buildings. In fact, after New York with some 5,000 tall buildings over 300 feet high, Toronto has the second highest number of tall buildings of any city in North America, with over 2,000 and counting. The city plans to grow upwards rather than outwards in the future, with the focus being on intensification and increasing density rather than urban sprawl.
Toronto is experiencing a construction boom, and is currently the world's fastest growing condominium market. Office and hotel towers are also being built, but most of the current development is residential, to accommodate the city's fast-growing population, largely resulting from immigration to Canada.
Here is a video of the city's waterfront skyline, taken from an arriving Porter Airlines flight. Anyone coming to the ISO Conference by Porter Airlines should have a similar view on arrival:
And here is a video of the city from the Gardiner Expressway, the road leading to the city from Lester B. Pearson International airport, which anyone arriving from that airport is likely to use:
Toronto has a reputation for being clean and well maintained, as well as safe. Like other Canadian cities, crime rates are relatively low in comparison with other major cities in the industrialized world. In fact, Toronto has been rated as the safest city in North America in one recent survey.
Toronto is also known to be a liberal and tolerant city, reflecting Canadian society in general. The city has the third largest gay population in North America, after New York and Los Angeles. Toronto's annual Pride Parade is reportedly the third largest in the world, and reputedly the largest in North America, with somewhere in the region of 1,300,000 attendees in recent years. Toronto will be the host city for "World Pride" in 2014.
The city has become a thriving cultural and artistic centre in the last 30 to 40 years. Toronto's theatre community is now the third largest in the English-speaking world after London and New York. Toronto is also home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company. There is a substantial film and television industry, the third largest in North America after Los Angeles and New York, giving the city the nickname "Hollywood North." Films that have been made in Toronto include: American Psycho, Breach, Chicago, Dawn of the Dead, The Fly, Four Brothers, Good Will Hunting, The Hurricane, A History of Violence, Moonstruck, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Shoot 'Em Up, Spider, The Verdict and X Men, to name but a few.
On the financial and economic side, Toronto is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the seventh largest by market capitalization in the world. Toronto has been ranked as the tenth most economically powerful city in the world by Forbes magazine, and the fastest growing in the G7 nations, of which Canada is one. The city's skyline is dominated by bank towers and buildings housing other financial institutions such as insurance companies. On the downside, Toronto is also Canada's most expensive city.
The city's architecture is mostly modern, with a good deal of preserved Victorian housing and public buildings. Notable architecture and engineering feats include the Art Gallery of Ontario with its recent Frank Gehry renovation, the Royal Ontario Museum with its recent Daniel Libeskind addition, the Rogers Centre sports stadium (formerly the SkyDome) with its retractable roof, and the CN Tower, which was for many years the world's tallest free-standing structure at 147 storeys or 1,815 feet tall. Another notable landmark is the Royal York Hotel, which at 28 storeys and 407 feet high was for many years the tallest building in the British Empire. The city's tallest building is currently First Canadian Place, the Bank of Montreal Tower, at 72 floors, 1,165 feet to spire or 978 feet to rooftop. This compares with the Empire State Building at 102 floors, 1,454 feet to spire and 1,250 feet to rooftop. You can view the city core and see First Canadian Place at centre right and the Royal York Hotel at bottom right in the following photo:
You can read more about Toronto, including its history, sights and attractions, at the following websites:
"Canada is a country whose main exports are hockey players and cold fronts." - Pierre Trudeau, Former Canadian Prime Minister.
In terms of weather, Toronto is considered to be in what locals call the "Banana Belt," in that it is relatively tropical in its warmth compared to other parts of Canada. The weather in Toronto in April is fairly variable and still cool/cold, but late April is more spring-like than wintery. It can be rainy, and allowance should be made for that. It can also be snowy, but snow is less likely than rain. Some days can be quite warm and sunny; the odd daytime high of around 18°C/64°F is not unknown.
Approximate temperature ranges and conditions for the month of April are as follows:
Maximum Temperature: 13°C/55°F
Minimum Temperature: 0°C/32°F
Average Temperature: 8°C/46°F
Sunshine Per Day: 6 hours
Snow Days: 5
Rain days: 14
Rain: 66mm/2.6 inches
Toronto weather in April is a good few degrees colder than New York on average. You will need a warm outer jacket or coat, at least waist length. A hat or cap is advisable, as are gloves and a scarf, and sturdy shoes with a good grip for outdoor wear. Leather soles are not recommended outdoors in winter as it can be very slippery, and the pavements are salted copiously. It is a good idea to bring an umbrella and/or raincoat/rain-jacket - locals often wear hooded ones and forego an umbrella. At times it can get windy, with gusts strong enough to turn an umbrella inside out easily, but those days are infrequent. Dressing as for a colder evening in California but allowing for rain as well would generally cover the outdoor conditions in Toronto.
Buildings in Canada are usually well heated, often overheated, and indoor wear is often light and tropical in comparison with the external conditions. The tendency is to wear multiple layers appropriate to the conditions outside and remove them as needed indoors.
Obviously most of the time we will be indoors at the hotel for the conference, but we will be venturing out for meals and meetings in other places in the evenings and after the conference.
You can read more about the weather in Toronto and click on links to various charts and graphs here:
We will provide a weather update and bulletin of recent and projected conditions shortly before the conference.
Although it is only a weekend conference, members are strongly recommended to review their health coverage provisions and buy appropriate travel and health insurance for the trip to Toronto if necessary, preferably including airlift and repatriation insurance. Visitors to Canada are charged for any health costs incurred while in Canadian provinces or territories. These charges may not be covered by a visitor's existing health coverage at all, or they may be only partially covered. Health care and hospitalization charges in Canada can be substantial, running from hundreds to thousands of dollars per service and/or day. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry in this instance.
We are still looking for ideas and offers for workshops or other recovery activities for the Sunday afternoon if anyone has any suggestions, or would like to volunteer.
As this will be SCA's first truly international ISO conference, being held outside the USA for the first time, we are hoping for a truly international attendance, not just from North America, but also from Europe and even beyond!
Yours in recovery,
Kevin - SCA Toronto
ISO Host Committee
For those who wish to follow our main Twitter account, @scanneronline, you'll still need to create an anonymous Twitter account. I don't recommend it.