May 29, 2024 9:04 PM
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Why I Fell in Love with Sustainable Toronto Part 1

by Li Jackson, Editor, Exhibit City News

 

It’s befitting that IMEX opens this week! I can’t wait to see all the cities on my list.  Thank you to Destination Toronto for my amazing trip. I look forward to seeing you at IMEX Mandalay Bay Convention Center!

Now let me take you on a whimsical ride through the marvelous streets of Toronto, the city that stole my heart. So many reasons why this vibrant place on Canada’s map left me completely spellbound. But, first, imagine a bustling city where sustainability is not just a buzzword but a way of life, where they make the environment bloom and taste great while doing it.

My journey began with a whirlwind media familiarization tour focused on sustainability, and boy, Toronto didn’t disappoint. In just three days, they packed in a rollercoaster of adventures, exploring some of the most sustainable and breathtaking spaces you will ever see.

Biophilic Beauty

Toronto is not just another city; it’s part of the Biophilic Cities network since 2020. They’re all about embracing nature within the urban landscape, and they have initiatives galore to prove it.

  • City of Toronto Biodiversity Strategy: This plan is a masterpiece. It’s all about protecting, restoring, designing, and engaging with nature in a harmonious dance. The city has adopted ten principles and twenty-three actions to make it happen.
  • Waterfront Toronto ‘Rewilding’ Plan: Villiers Island’s edges will soon emulate the splendors of natural forests, marshes, and aquatic habitats. It’s like bringing the Amazon right to the city’s doorstep!
  • Port Lands Flood Protection Plan: This plan restores the Don River’s mouth to its former glory, creating biodiverse ecosystems that span 30 hectares. Urban jungle, meet the real jungle!
  • Rouge Park: This is not just any park; it’s Canada’s first national urban park. Once it’s fully established, it’ll be one of the largest and best-protected urban parks in the world, covering a vast 79.1 square kilometers.

The Ravine Enchantment

Toronto’s ravines are like the city’s secret gardens, critical for biodiversity. Imagine a city with the largest ravine system in the world. And thanks to Matthew Jordan, a local hero, and academic, we can now explore these hidden gems on Hidden Rivers Tours. He’s a sensation on social media, and his sold-out tours for both locals and tourists speak volumes.

Sustainable Flavours

And it’s not just about pretty landscapes; Toronto’s food scene is a culinary carnival. Ration Beverly is a must-visit. They’re all about sustainable, tasty eats, and their Cottage Cheese Pie with salted Mackerel and Citrus Shoyu? Pure magic on a plate!

As for their menu, it’s a gastronomic adventure:

  • Salad Course: Black radish, white turnip, and smoked bread crumb – a symphony of flavors.
  • Intermezzo: Grits, lacto-fermented seasonal vegetables, and pork tongue marinated in bee pollen garum – where every bite tells a story.
  • Vegetable Course: Brined & smoked artichokes, comte, bordelaise – a masterpiece of Ontario artichokes.
  • Fish Course: 5-day aged smallmouth bass with pumpkin seed and juniper oil brown butter – a stroke of culinary genius.
  • Pasta Course: Cacio e pepe risotto with house-cured guanciale – a blissful journey in every bite.
  • Main Course: 30-day dry-aged duck breast with duck garum jus – an unforgettable finale.

Not to forget the exquisite finale with a tantalizing lineup of desserts – from lemon & thyme granita to lavender & apple cider vinegar custard pie and Kit Kat ice cream sandwiches. Every bite, a work of art.

Sustainability at Its Core

Now, you might be wondering, how do they manage all this eco-friendly charm? Well, it’s a way of life in Toronto:

  • They grow microgreens and herbs in their basement during winter, reducing single-use plastics.
  • They waste nothing – what others toss, they transform into delicious miso, shoyu, and more.
  • Their ingredients are renewable resources, preserving straw and fern stems for a sustainable twist.
  • No water goes to waste, they recycle bar ice to water their gardens.
  • They recycle, return packaging, and reduce single-use plastics.
  • They source ingredients ethically and support low-impact fishing methods.
  • Behind the bar, they make the most of fruit and herbs through preservation and zero single-use plastics.

A Convention Center with Heart

To top it off, Toronto is home to the Metro Toronto Convention Center (MTCC), a place that cares about the environment as much as you do. It’s not just a space for gatherings; it’s a green oasis. They’ve hosted the G7 and G20 summits, have beehives on the roof, and they even served as a backdrop for Hollywood hits like Total Recall. Plus, they serve 100% local wine and draft beer.

In Conclusion

My deep affection for Toronto blossomed not just because it’s a city that talks the talk but one that walks the walk when it comes to sustainability. Toronto is where the urban landscape seamlessly intertwines with nature, where every bite is an adventure, and every step brings us closer to a greener future. If you haven’t explored Toronto yet, it’s high time you did. This is a city with a heart as big as its ambitions, and a commitment to making the world a better place. Toronto, you’ve not only won my heart but have become a shining example of what cities can aspire to be.

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