2023/Attendance/Travel

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WikiConference North America
Toronto — 9-12 November 2023
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Toronto is the capital city of the Canadian province of Ontario. The Greater Toronto Area, commonly referred to as the GTA, had a 2021 population of 6,712,341. The city is an international centre of business, finance, arts, sports and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Getting in

Countries with visa-free access (in green) to Canada
Citizens of the US, Mexico and some Caribbean countries do not require visa to enter Canada. Consult the Government of Canada website if you need to apply a visitor visa. For those that do not require a visa to visit Canada, you will need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in advance if you are flying into a Canadian airport. While U.S. citizens do not require eTA, they must bring a valid US passport when entering Canada.
Do not bring cannabis into Canada

Even though cannabis (marijuana) is legal within Canada, it is illegal to bring cannabis or its products from other countries into Canada.

By plane

UP Express is the quickest and simplest way to get from Pearson airport to downtown Toronto

The main airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Mississauga, served by most major international carriers in North America. To get to the conference's designated hotel (Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre), you can get to downtown Toronto by UP Express train ($15.60, 38 mins), by a combination of TTC bus route 900 plus subway to College Station ($3.25, 70 mins), by rideshare or by taxi ($50-60, 50 mins).

The secondary airport is Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ). It is located in downtown Toronto along the waterfront but its destinations are limited to short-haul locations in Canada (Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and others) and the US (Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.). There are free shuttle buses from the airport terminal to Union Station. From Union Station, take TTC subway Line 1 to College Station ($3.25, 5 mins) and walk to the hotel.

There are other peripheral airports like Hamilton International Airport (YHM) and Kitchener/Waterloo Airport (YKF) that are served mainly by low-cost carriers. However, they are much further away from Toronto and require multiple public transit transfers.

Full details for travel from YYZ and YTZ into the city is on this page.

By train

VIA Rail trains

VIA Rail runs multiple train trips daily along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.

Amtrak's Maple Leaf Train stops

Amtrak runs the Maple Leaf Train between New York City and Toronto, with stops at Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Albany.

The NYC→Toronto Wiki-Train is a special discounted group trip that arrives on Wednesday November 8, in time for the GLAM Culture Crawl. There will also be a return group trip on Monday November 13.

All trains stop at Union Station in the heart of downtown Toronto. To get to the designated hotel from Union Station, take TTC subway Line 1 to College Station ($3.25, 5 mins).

By bus

Bus companies such as Rider Express, FlixBus and Megabus operate bus routes from Niagara Falls, Windsor and Ottawa (and towns/cities in between) to Toronto. In addition, FlixBus and Megabus have routes from New York City to Toronto. All buses stop at Union Station Bus Terminal or in front of Union Station. To get to the conference hotel from Union Station, take TTC subway Line 1 to College Station ($3.25, 5 mins).

By car

You can drive to Toronto. It is about a 2-hour drive from Buffalo and about 5-hour drive from Detroit (not including time spent at the border). Speed limit signs are posted in kilometres per hour (km/h), not miles per hour. The speed limit on Highway 401 and Queen Elizabeth Highway is 100 km/h, though most people drive at 110 to 115 km/h.

Getting around

By public transit

TTC buses and streetcars are easily identifiable by their red colour scheme

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the main transit system in Toronto. TTC consists of buses, streetcars and subways (but not trains). All buses, streetcars and most subway stations are wheelchair accessible.

You can use credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Google Pay, Apple Pay) and Canadian debit card (Interact) to pay for transit in and around Toronto (TTC, GO Transit, UP Express, etc.) Tap your card at the fare gate, buses and streetcars to pay. If you are using a credit card, Presto card or Presto ticket, you can take TTC as much as you like within a 2-hour period. Make sure you tap with the same card each time you transfer within this period.

The Presto machine on the right sells Presto cards & tickets. Both can upload funds to a Presto card

Presto card is a multiple-use, electronic fare card with a stored balance. It can be used by different public transit systems. Presto cards can be purchased for $6 plus a $10 minimum balance at the UP Express service counter at Pearson International Airport, from Presto vending machines at subway stations and Pearson International Airport (cash, credit cards and debit cards accepted at the large black machines), at the GO Transit ticket counter at Union Station and other places. You cannot get a refund on your Presto card.

Presto tickets are single-use, electronic tickets with no stored balance. They cannot be reloaded and can only be used for TTC.

Cash fare costs the same as Presto tickets and is slightly more expensive than Presto card fare. You need to obtain a paper transfer to serve as proof of payment and to make transfer to another TTC vehicle. Paper transfers are valid for a one-way continuous trip. Unlike Presto card or Presto tickets, stopovers and return trips are not permitted.

By car

It is not recommended in the downtown core due to traffic congestion, expensive parking and many one-way streets. Car is only useful to get around outside of the downtown area. Speed limits are typically 50 to 60 km/h on main roads and 40 km/h or less on residential roads.

Highways are numbered in the 400-series (e.g. Highway 400, 401, 404, etc.) and the maximum speed limit is 100 km/h. Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway are also highways and the maximum speed limit is 90 km/h.

Almost everyone drives at 10 km/h above the posted speed limit, except in school zones and where speed limit is monitored by machines.

Accommodation

Conference organizer has reserved a block of discounted hotel rooms ($245 CAD/night) at Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre (30 Carleton St., Toronto). Please use this link to book your hotel room at the discounted rate.

Full scholarship and partial scholarship recipients that include accommodation will be managed by the conference organizer. Please do not book a hotel room if your accommodation cost will be covered by scholarship.

Weather in Toronto

Average daytime temperatures in November are about 4 °C (40 °F). Temperatures between 7.6 °C (45.7 °F) and -0.2 °C (31.6 °F) are relatively common. There is a good chance of sun, though fall in Ontario also feature rain (on about an average of 11 days) and snow (3 days). Toronto's temperature is generally more temperate and humid than GTA due to its proximity to Lake Ontario. Proper clothing and footwear will keep you warm and from slipping on ice.

Though the summer solstice will have passed almost two months earlier, the sun usually rises at about 7:00 a.m. and sets at 5:00 p.m.

Canadian dollar

All Canadian banks provide currency exchange at the daily market value.[1] In some areas, private exchange bureaus will give better exchange rates and lower fees than banks. So if you have time during your travels to look one up, it might save you some money on the exchange both when you arrive and before you leave, because Canadian dollars may not be worth as much in your home country. Some hotels, souvenir shops and tourist offices exchange money, but their rates won't put a smile on your dial. Many places in Toronto accept US dollars for small transactions – with a rough 1:1 exchange rate – and it is advised to obtain some Canadian dollars if you will use cash. US coins are often mixed in with Canadian coins at stores since they are similar in appearance.

The USD-CAD exchange rate as of May 2023 has an average of 1.35 USD=1 CAD in 2023.[1]

Electricity plugs

Type A and B power plugs

Electrical plugs are the same throughout North America, usually 100–127 volts / 60 Hz, type A-B (NEMA connectors). If you are from a region outside of North or Central America, you may need an adapter. You can easily find these devices at any electronics store in Toronto.

Most airports, train stations, bus stations and hotels offer free access to electricity, either through normal electrical outlets or USB outlets. It is also common to have access to outlets in cafes and restaurants.

Since most of the electricity generated in Ontario is from hydro renewable sources, many public places offer free access to electricity.

Internet access

If you have a mobile phone, tablet or computer that uses the cellular network, make sure your carrier's plan is appropriate for roaming in Canada. Fees may apply depending on your mobile plan.

Wi-Fi access in downtown Toronto is widespread and generally free; most public places have Wi-Fi hotspots, but you may need the password. You can visit towifi.ca and find a list of the places where hotpots are available (not necessarily up to date).


Notes and references
  1. 1.0 1.1 The exchange rate is an approximation as of May 2023. For an updated rate, visit Google finance website.
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