We've had 30 days' worth of air quality warnings since June 1. Forget smog days - we've got enough to make a smog month.
And so, considering that a third of summer has been off-limits to lungs, it seems fair that every other Sunday a third of Kensington Market has been closed to cars.
But "closed" focuses on the negative. If you to look at the map for Pedestrian Sundays, you'll see it actually refers to street "openings." Take away cars and you add not only air but a 10-fold quantity of space. The monoculture of the car is replaced by a city's struggling multiculture.
August 14 is the Blackout Festival, marking the day three years ago when we all got out of our boxes and shared space. In homage, organizer, activist and New Kings frontman Michael Johnson walks the Market in waiter garb, carrying a "conversation menu" of discussion topics for willing pedestrians.
A giant game of chess sits on Augusta, giving you a rare chance to think and be patient about your moves. To the north, an assemblage of drummers plays the sound of a hundred heartbeats.
Of course, nature abhors a vacuum: present the mind with a little space and it'll run with it. The drums reverberating in my rib cage make everything, even the pigeons, seem to throb with beauty.
Here's where my mind wanders: No cars? Fewer roads - and cheaper food thanks to abundant land. People could work less, especially since they wouldn't be constantly feeding their cars. Saving on road repair and stress- and smog-related health care costs, governments would have little excuse for not spending on social programs - though we'd probably need less of both.
People would have time, space and even the inclination to leave their homes and keep an eye out for one another; there goes unsightly police budget bloat. And the pretense of dispersing unpermitted gatherings because they block traffic would be seen for what it is: dispersing unpermitted gatherings because they're unpermitted gatherings.
Squirrels would become our friends again and show us where they've been hiding all the really good nuts. Right angles would loosen up. Dogs would learn to tap dance for some unspecified reason. And, most importantly, it wouldn't get so damned hot.
The car-free concept is slowly gaining acceptance among anxious merchants, many of whom line the sidewalk with waiting wares and sizzling skillets. (Cheap pad thai, I love you.)
"They're less afraid of it now," says organizer Yvonne Bambrick. "They know we know what they're doing, and a lot of them have worked it out. Some are making great, great money these days." With promised funding from the city next year, she adds, they can add initiatives like expanded porter service for shoppers.
Sound good? You don't know how true that is. Drifting toward Dundas, the bubbling sounds of drumming, talking and cooking slowly gives way to the numb hiss of traffic, as if water has boiled away, leaving an asphalt pot to burn in the heat.
Back up in the Market, they're brewing some strong tea indeed.