When I was a punk kid with a new drivers licence, about 40 years ago, you could zip into Toronto by car from Mississauga (which had only recently been invented) in about half an hour. Maybe less if you hurried.
The QEW was divided by a grassy strip with trees on it, instead of concrete barriers. There was a big hump at the Humber River, where you veered around the stolid statue of Queen Victoria. There was nothing between the Gardiner and the shoreline except some low, ugly buildings. There were three exits into the city: at Spadina, Yonge/York and Jarvis.
Everything has changed since then. The grass is gone. The hump was removed. The statue was hauled off to a park. And the low ugly buildings were replaced by dozens of big ugly buildings, effectively blocking off access to the water in precisely the way city officials used to warn should never be allowed to happen. The buildings are filled with condos, which are filled with tens of thousands of downtown dwellers.
The only thing that’s the same is the three, measly, two-lane exits from the highway, which now lead through crowded urban neighbourhoods as thick as the smoked meat in a Montreal sandwich. Forget about traffic flow on the highway into town. Forget about the mess that has become of the downtown road system. Getting from one to the other — just a couple of hundred yards as the crow flies — is a nightmare.