Toronto 2012 ISO Conference Information

The following was posted to the ISO List today.

More general information about Toronto and for the 2012
ISO conference follows:


is a kind of New York operated by the Swiss.” – Peter Ustinov, British Actor.

Toronto is the largest city in Canada. It is the capital
of Ontario, the province that is home to roughly one third of the Canadian
population. Toronto is the financial and economic powerhouse of Canada, but not
the political capital, which is Ottawa.

Toronto is the fifth largest city in North America,
after Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, in descending order. The
City of Toronto proper has some 2,500,000 residents, its Census Metropolitan Area
population is somewhere in the region of 5,113,000 residents, and the Greater
Toronto Area population stands at roughly 5,500,000 individuals.

Toronto is considered to be the most multicultural and
ethnically diverse city in the world. More than 100 languages are spoken by its
residents. It has the second highest percentage of foreign-born residents of
any city in the world other than Miami, with nearly 50% of Torontonians having
been born in a country other than Canada.

Although Canada has two official languages, English and
French, and all official publications and signs are in both languages, only about
1% of Torontonians speak French at home. By contrast, 30% of Torontonians speak
a language other than English at home as well. 47% of Torontonians have a
mother tongue other than English or French. Toronto’s visible minorities are
nearing 50% of the population. In a few years, the current majority,
Caucasians, will become a visible minority.

Toronto is consistently rated as one of the most livable
cities in the world, and recently came in at number four from the top on The
Economist’s 2011 annual survey of 140 cities, after Sydney, Vienna, and
Vancouver. The cities were assessed in five categories – stability, healthcare,
culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The city is a modern and well-developed one, with many
skyscrapers and tall buildings. In fact, after New York with some 5,000 tall
buildings over 300 feet high, Toronto has the second highest number of tall
buildings of any city in North America, with over 2,000 and counting. The city
plans to grow upwards rather than outwards in the future, with the focus being
on intensification and increasing density rather than urban sprawl.

Toronto is experiencing a construction boom, and is
currently the world’s fastest growing condominium market. Office and hotel
towers are also being built, but most of the current development is
residential, to accommodate the city’s fast-growing population, largely
resulting from immigration to Canada.

Here is a video of the city’s waterfront skyline, taken
from an arriving Porter Airlines flight. Anyone coming to the ISO Conference by
Porter Airlines should have a similar view on arrival:

And here is a video of the city from the Gardiner
Expressway, the road leading to the city from Lester B. Pearson International
airport, which anyone arriving from that airport is likely to use:

Toronto has a reputation for being clean and well
maintained, as well as safe. Like other Canadian cities, crime rates are
relatively low in comparison with other major cities in the industrialized
world. In fact, Toronto has been rated as the safest city in North America in
one recent survey.

Toronto is also known to be a liberal and tolerant city,
reflecting Canadian society in general. The city has the third largest gay
population in North America, after New York and Los Angeles. Toronto’s annual
Pride Parade is reportedly the third largest in the world, and reputedly the
largest in North America, with somewhere in the region of 1,300,000 attendees
in recent years. Toronto will be the host city for “World Pride” in 2014.

The city has become a thriving cultural and artistic
centre in the last 30 to 40 years. Toronto’s theatre community is now the third
largest in the English-speaking world after London and New York. Toronto is
also home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The National Ballet of Canada and the
Canadian Opera Company. There is a substantial film and television industry,
the third largest in North America after Los Angeles and New York, giving the
city the nickname “Hollywood North.” Films that have been made in Toronto
include: American Psycho, Breach, Chicago, Dawn of the Dead, The Fly, Four
Brothers, Good Will Hunting, The Hurricane, A History of Violence, Moonstruck,
My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Shoot ‘Em Up, Spider, The Verdict
and X Men, to name
but a few.

On the financial and economic side, Toronto is home to
the Toronto Stock Exchange, the seventh largest by market capitalization in the
world. Toronto has been ranked as the tenth most economically powerful city in
the world by Forbes magazine, and the fastest growing in the G7 nations, of
which Canada is one. The city’s skyline is dominated by bank towers and
buildings housing other financial institutions such as insurance companies. On
the downside, Toronto is also Canada’s most expensive city.

The city’s architecture is mostly modern, with a good
deal of preserved Victorian housing and public buildings. Notable architecture and
engineering feats include the Art Gallery of Ontario with its recent Frank
Gehry renovation, the Royal Ontario Museum with its recent Daniel Libeskind
addition, the Rogers Centre sports stadium (formerly the SkyDome) with its
retractable roof, and the CN Tower, which was for many years the world’s
tallest free-standing structure at 147 storeys or 1,815 feet tall. Another
notable landmark is the Royal York Hotel, which at 28 storeys and 407 feet high
was for many years the tallest building in the British Empire. The city’s
tallest building is currently First Canadian Place, the Bank of Montreal Tower,
at 72 floors, 1,165 feet to spire or 978 feet to rooftop. This compares with
the Empire State Building at 102 floors, 1,454 feet to spire and 1,250 feet to
rooftop. You can view the city core and see First Canadian Place at centre
right and the Royal York Hotel at bottom right in the following photo:

You can read more about Toronto, including its history,
sights and attractions, at the following websites:


is a country whose main exports are hockey players and cold fronts.” – Pierre
Trudeau, Former Canadian Prime Minister.

In terms of weather, Toronto is considered to be in what
locals call the “Banana Belt,” in that it is relatively tropical in its warmth
compared to other parts of Canada. The weather in Toronto in April is fairly
variable and still cool/cold, but late April is more spring-like than wintery.
It can be rainy, and allowance should be made for that. It can also be snowy,
but snow is less likely than rain. Some days can be quite warm and sunny; the
odd daytime high of around 18°C/64°F is not unknown.

Approximate temperature ranges and conditions for the
month of April are as follows:

Maximum Temperature: 13°C/55°F

Minimum Temperature: 0°C/32°F

Average Temperature: 8°C/46°F

Sunshine Per Day: 6 hours

Snow Days: 5

Rain days: 14

Rain: 66mm/2.6 inches

Toronto weather in April is a good few degrees colder
than New York on average. You will need a warm outer jacket or coat, at least
waist length. A hat or cap is advisable, as are gloves and a scarf, and sturdy
shoes with a good grip for outdoor wear. Leather soles are not recommended outdoors
in winter as it can be very slippery, and the pavements are salted copiously. It
is a good idea to bring an umbrella and/or raincoat/rain-jacket – locals often
wear hooded ones and forego an umbrella. At times it can get windy, with gusts
strong enough to turn an umbrella inside out easily, but those days are
infrequent. Dressing as for a colder evening in California but allowing for
rain as well would generally cover the outdoor conditions in Toronto.

Buildings in Canada are usually well heated, often
overheated, and indoor wear is often light and tropical in comparison with the
external conditions. The tendency is to wear multiple layers appropriate to the
conditions outside and remove them as needed indoors.

Obviously most of the time we will be indoors at the
hotel for the conference, but we will be venturing out for meals and meetings
in other places in the evenings and after the conference.   

You can read more about the weather in Toronto and click
on links to various charts and graphs here:

We will provide a weather update and bulletin of recent and
projected conditions shortly before the conference.


Although it is only a weekend conference, members are
strongly recommended to review their health coverage provisions and buy
appropriate travel and health insurance for the trip to Toronto if necessary,
preferably including airlift and repatriation insurance. Visitors to Canada are
charged for any health costs incurred while in Canadian provinces or
territories. These charges may not be covered by a visitor’s existing health
coverage at all, or they may be only partially covered. Health care and
hospitalization charges in Canada can be substantial, running from hundreds to
thousands of dollars per service and/or day. It is definitely better to be safe
than sorry in this instance.

We are
still looking for ideas and offers for workshops or other recovery activities
for the Sunday a
fternoon if anyone has any suggestions, or would like
to volunteer.

As this will be SCA’s first truly international ISO
conference, being held outside the USA for the first time, we are hoping for a
truly international attendance, not just from North America, but also from
Europe and even beyond!

Yours in recovery,

– SCA Toronto

Host Committee

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