In art-rich T.O., it's a shame that the task of remaking our street furniture wasn't given to local lights who understand the city's aesthetic. Instead, we're being saddled with insipid uniformity and a risky deal with Astral that could leave us holding the bag financially.
1 Shelter skelter
These shelters are supposed to be solar-powered wherever conditions permit, so presumably they won't be sucking precious energy from the city's already overtaxed power grid. They're roomier, but only for ads. There's only one extra seat, three in total, for transit takers. And open bottoms make them no more snow- or wind-resistant than the ad-festooned monsters we have now.
2 Recycled garbage
These hands-free receptacles feature a foot pedal that opens individual bin flaps so your hands never have to make contact with... the garbage. No ads allowed, but three 120-litre bins in each unit means a fair chunk of precious sidewalk space will be eaten up. Ashtrays meant to deter scavengers (read homeless people) are a nasty touch.
Dont be fooled by the high-definition, interactive LCD screens programmed with dynamic city event content. In -30°C temperatures these high-tech info pillars are a costly maintenance nightmare waiting to happen. If theyre supposed to help tourists find their way around town, why are the booths hiding behind billboard-sized ads? The security eye to prevent vandalism gives us the creeps, too.
4 Boxed-in feeling
Double-decker newspaper boxes near street corners can block sightlines and pose a traffic safety hazard. They're also odd places to showcase the work of local artistes, but Astral says it's prepared to fund public installations on the street-facing sides of the boxes. We'll believe it when we see it. If Astral and the city really wanted to encourage street art (street artists have done some interesting things with Bell boxes), they'd get rid of the tactile surfacing specifically designed to deter postering.
5 Down the toilet
Better looking than the steely, spartan numbers cluttering the streets of London, these babies come with a self-cleaning toilet bowl and unique patented floor-cleaning system (should we be worried about the use of disinfectant solution?) to ensure that the facility is always fresh and clean after each and every use. A timer gives you 10 minutes to do your business. The catch? Comes with a credit card, debit and cash payment system, which means we're going to have to pay to relieve ourselves.
6 Bench penalty
The hardwood slats are a nice touch. Only, the completely unusable armrests make them look uncomfortable. Burning question: how's a guy supposed to catch a few zzz's on this?
7 Whipping post
The curvey design coordinates with the roof fins of Astral's bus shelters, but it's unimaginative compared to the multi-shaped lock-ups created by psychiatric survivors that are going up all over Parkdale.
8 Locker shocker
This washroom-size cube seems like a hell of a big footprint for locking up five bikes.