Richard Florida

The Informer

Sports

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Richard Florida argues that Canada is actually dominating the U.S. at Sochi, all things considered

(The Olympic torch. Image: Atos International)

(The Olympic torch. Image: Atos International)

Leave it to U of T’s Richard Florida to figure out an economic reason that Canada is actually doing way better at the Sochi Games than its neighbour to the south. Writing for The Atlantic, the urban-issues researcher has put together a series of bar charts illustrating the fact that when things like relative population size and GDP are taken into consideration, Canada’s medal count exceeds America’s by about 700 per cent.

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The Informer

Politics

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The Star figures out how to get Toronto civic leaders to comment on Rob Ford: hold a gun to their heads

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost)

Strong opinions on Rob Ford aren’t in short supply. The mayor was a polarizing guy to begin with, and his crack scandal has created even more ideological distance between his supporters and his detractors. Just about the only place it’s unusual to hear an unkind word spoken about Ford is in the financial district, where many of Toronto’s business leaders have spent the past three years prudently refusing to badmouth a guy who, for all anyone knows at this point in time, could continue running the city until 2018 or later. There’s no percentage in criticizing him.

Enter the Star’s recent experiment, which involved sending a written request for comment on Ford’s antics to 70 “civic leaders” and promising to publish any response they received—including no response.

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The Informer

Culture

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Toronto’s seven most important parties: an invitation is proof that you’ve arrived

Anyone can throw a party, but throwing a party of the year requires a precise combination of food, luxury, and notable guests. In 2013, these seven soirées struck that balance

Toronto’s seven most important parties: an invitation is proof that you’ve arrived

From left: Kate Alexander Daniels and David Daniels; Kim Cattrall (Images: Getty Images)

The Host

Kate Alexander Daniels, publicist, and David Daniels, exec producer of stage company Acting Up

The Party

The city’s most devoted arts patrons have a house made for entertaining (hence several major events every year). Last November, they hosted a lavish dinner for 30 as part of the annual Grand Cru fundraiser for the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation.

The Guest List

Actor Kim Cattrall, philanthropist Salah Bachir, real estate agent Jimmy Molloy, financier Joseph Shlesinger and Type Books’ Samara Walbohm.

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The Informer

Politics

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The definitive guide to the supporters and opponents of a Toronto casino

The definitive guide to the supporters and opponents of a Toronto casinoAfter more than a year of debate, Toronto’s still-hypothetical casino will soon face a crucial test. A long-awaited city staff report is in (though, unusually, it’s missing a firm yay-or-nay recommendation), and council could vote as early as next month to either kill the idea forever or invite bids from casino developers. For influential Torontonians hoping to sway the decision, now’s the last chance to come out for or against a downtown gambling den—which explains why so many have spoken up in recent days. Below, a guide to how the pro-casino and anti-casino teams stack up.

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The Informer

Features

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50 Most Influential 2012: the 10 individuals and couples who throw Toronto’s most preeminent power parties

The Social Conveners

Their parties are the year’s hottest tickets. To be invited is to be welcomed into the inner circles of the city’s most powerful. Our list of the 10 Toronto individuals and couples who have the most social currency among the city’s elite.

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The Informer

Features

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What Toronto Needs Now: Richard Florida offers a manifesto for a new model of leadership

The city’s great period of growth won’t continue if we don’t enlist the best and brightest minds from Bay Street, the universities and the public sector

Richard Florida: What Toronto Needs Now

Richard Florida believes Toronto should take a cue from innovative city-building strategies in Silicon Valley and Chicago

In 2007, when my wife and I moved here from Washington, D.C., Toronto was ascendant. I’d been offered a job at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank investigating the competitiveness of cities. Toronto, it seemed to us, was an open, tolerant place offering a superb quality of life for its wide range of citizens. It was a destination of choice because of its thriving, stable economy, world-class banks, medical centres and cultural institutions, safety and livability, and diverse neighborhoods. It appeared a model of social cohesion, where people from across the globe were attracted to the prospect of a better future. Toronto’s best days were ahead.

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The Informer

Business

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Money Talks: 10 Toronto celebrities who command five-figure speaking fees

Earlier this week, Wayne Gretzky was in town talking, oddly enough, about investment strategy. Apparently, The Great One isn’t only adept at stickhandling behind the net (his office, so to speak); he can also manage your stock portfolio. After all, in this age of Ted Talks and corporate retreats, one of the quickest and easiest ways for the famous and voluble to get even richer is through speaking engagements—and the topics they cover don’t even have to be married with the reason they’re famous in the first place. Gretzky, for example, clocks a $50,000-a-pop speaking fee and a staggering $1 million per annum from TD Bank to talk about money management. And he’s not alone. Here, Gretzky and nine other Toronto notables who are cashing in on the speaking circuit.

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The Informer

People

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THE SCENE: socialites and synchronized swimmers at Greta Constantine’s late-summer party

The closing days of summer are always a little dreary—thoughts of day drinking and cottage life shift back to work and responsibilities—but the third annual Greta Constantine pool party on Thursday proved to be a great distraction for Toronto’s scenesters. At a sprawling mansion in the Annex, we spotted Little Mosque on the Prairie star Zaib Shaikh doing purse-holding duty for CBC’s Kirstine Stewart and Anne-Marie Mediwake, as guests sank into the grass in their spike heels. The evening’s conversations shifted from talk of joining Soho House to TIFF and NYFW plans—guests lamented that they’d love to do it all, but are just “too busy” (we’d love to have problems like that). We chatted Forest Hill real estate with CityTV’s Sandy Pittana, while socialite Catherine Nugent pointed out potential subjects for our photographer, noting one guest looked “like she should be on the cover of Town and Country.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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QUOTED: Jian Ghomeshi identifies the main obstacle standing between him and a mayoral run

(Image: Tsar Kasim)

—CBC Radio host and writer Jian Ghomeshi on a major impediment to any hypothetical mayoral aspirations. After Richard Florida chose Ghomeshi as his dream pick to run against Rob Ford in the 2014 mayoral race, we asked the broadcaster if he’d ever consider donning the mayoral chains. It sounds like Ghomeshi is planning to stick with his current line of work, where he can stay razor-burn free.

The Informer

Politics

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QUOTED: Richard Florida on where Rob Ford ranks in the history of city mayors

(Image: Ed Schipul)

Richard Florida, author, head of U of T’s Martin Prosperity Institute and noted academic rock star, sharing some choice thoughts on Toronto’s mayor in a sweeping question-and-answer with The Grid’s Courtney Shea. Florida also goes on to suggest that CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi would be his dream candidate for the 2014 mayoral race—or at least “somebody who looks and acts like Jian Ghomeshi.” (We asked Ghomeshi whether he’d ever consider a mayoral run—check out his response.) [The Grid]

The Informer

Random Stuff

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Richard Florida thinks Ottawa (along with five other Canadian cities) is more creative than Toronto

(Image: Ed Schipul)

In honour of its tenth anniversary, urbanist and adopted Torontonian Richard Florida is releasing a new edition of The Rise of the Creative Class (imaginatively titled The Rise of the Creative Class—Revisited). As far as we can tell, the reboot has more hipster glasses on the front cover and some new numbers on Florida’s much-beloved creative workforce—among them a ranking of Canada’s most creative cities based on his “3Ts” of economic development: technology, talent, and tolerance. Ottawa, that hub of bureaucracy, won the title of the most creative city in the country, while Toronto languishes in the seventh spot, behind Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City and Calgary. We’re a little disappointed that Hogtown fared so poorly, but given the sheer volume of available (and outlandish) city rankings, we’re not taking any one of them too seriously—even if Florida is the man behind it. [Huffington Post]

The Informer

Features

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Stephen Marche: the case for a downtown gambling palace at Ontario Place

A Toronto casino is inevitable. Will it be an ugly box built where nobody can see it, or a glorious five-star island of fun?

Viva Las Ontario Place

(Images: GetStock and iStock)

“Toronto the Good” is an epithet applied only by those with a passing familiarity with the city. In truth, Toronto is a place where you can indulge your vices with ease and comfort and the relative security that you’ll be left alone with your degradation. Valerie Scott, legal coordinator for the lobby group Sex Professionals of Canada, recently explained to reporters that Torontonians shouldn’t worry about a sudden explosion of brothels after a ruling that legalizes bawdy houses: “There have been brothels in practically every condo and apartment building in Toronto. People have no idea they exist, we are so discreet.” Toronto’s virtue has always been superficial, little more than a collective pursing of the lips. The same squeamish moralism is now at work on the issue of a downtown casino, and a huge opportunity for the city may well be wasted on its account. The debate we should be having is the one we are most predisposed to avoid: not whether we should have a casino, but how we can make the casino we will have fabulous.

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The Informer

Features

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Home Free: the advantages of swapping your mortgage for a lease

After years of crushing mortgage payments and escalating maintenance costs, one homeowner sold her house and signed a lease on a place a few blocks away. Life has never been sweeter

Home Free

Our last house was a little gem. Few homes in Leslieville are stately or architecturally impressive—it’s a neighbourhood of unremarkable brick semis with the rare Victorian or Tudor flourish—and the one my partner and I owned for two years was no exception. But inside, stripped down to its simple bones, with Benjamin Moore cloud white walls and dark wood floors, a cute IKEA kitchen and mid-century decor from local vintage shops, the place had charm. We bought it for $450,000 in 2007, a deal, if not a steal, for a home on a coveted street less than a five-minute walk from all the amenities required by the middle-class hordes: good coffee, a busy playground, decent restaurants. Soon, however, our house began to make exhausting demands: the furnace needed to be replaced, then the roof; the basement felt damp in the summer humidity, and in the winter our barely insulated bedroom, with its ancient windows, was so cold we had to run a space heater through the night.

There was no money to fix any of it. Our line of credit and credit cards were maxed out. We had two comfortable incomes, but after mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes, car payments, insurance, daycare and groceries, there was little left over. We added up the sums, living expenses against income, on increasingly complicated spreadsheets—it would be years before we would be in the black. Meanwhile, the company I worked for faltered during the recession. First the frills were cut: fewer couriers, no fancy Christmas parties, no taxi chits. Then jobs; I lost mine in early 2009.

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The Goods

Shopping

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Host Story: Richard and Rana Florida throw an intimate dinner party for their interesting friends

Richard and Rana Florida have a swish party pad, a sense of whimsy and interesting friends. But their best dinner-party trick may be keeping their cool in chaos

Host Story

Richard and Rana Florida are such seasoned travellers that they’ve cut their packing time down to zero. Stashed in a hall closet in their Rosedale house are two Tumi bags full of toiletries, phone chargers and various other necessities, so they can hop on a plane at a moment’s notice. Because of the hectic schedule, Richard, a professor of business and creativity at U of T’s Rotman School of Management, and Rana, the CEO of Creative Class Group, the couple’s consulting company, consider staying at home something of a treat. And when they’re in town, they’re always entertaining friends.

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The Informer

Features

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Q&A: Paul Godfrey, chair of the OLG, is on a mission to bring a Las Vegas–style casino to Toronto

Paul Godfrey

(Image: Mark Peckmezian)

You were a popular politician, brought the Blue Jays to town, resuscitated the National Post and cleaned up the OLG. Does the uproar over your latest crusade—bringing a casino to town—jeopardize your legacy?
Anyone familiar with my background knows I’d never do anything to injure Toronto’s image. This won’t be a few slot machines in a broken-down barn; it’ll be a world-class entertainment centre and a tourist magnet.

What will it look like?
I’m picturing something like the Venetian or the MGM Grand in Vegas—a ground-floor casino with a glamorous hotel and unbelievable shopping. I could also see a permanent Cirque du Soleil show.

Why do we need a casino?
If we don’t build one, our tourists will go to Boston, Cleveland and Baltimore, which are all building world-class casinos.

You live near the Bridle Path. Would you want a casino in your neighbourhood?
I make no apologies for having a very nice house. I grew up in poverty and earned my way. But there’s nowhere to put a casino on the Bridle Path.

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