Book by Shawn Micallef Signal (hardcover, 259 pages)
There has never been a better time to write a book on Toronto. The city is undergoing unprecedented growth and is revered globally for its multiculturalism, its relatively low crime rate and its politeness. But there is another Toronto, the one former Mayor Rob Ford showed the world not long ago: one that remains tangled in public transit standoffs, struggles with an out-of-control housing market, and where suburbanites feel (rightly) underserved by city hall. That’s the version Shawn Micallef taps into with Frontier City. Micallef, who has a local following as an urban issues writer, is also an avid walker, so his book is mostly an on-foot journey through parts unknown, throughout which he is as much in awe of a city he loves as he is critical of it. What he captures best is the complicated, messy, sometimes naïve way in which Toronto has come of age – a very recent phenomenon. The takeaway is that the city is undergoing a morphosis of sorts, where the gains (new arrivals, a booming economy) and losses (affordability, for one) are adding up to a make-it-or-break-it moment.