City on Google’s candid camera

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    City on Google’s candid camera

    Garfield Peart, owner of M&M Garage Door Services, was inside the garage of a home near Pearson International Airport about four months ago when he heard the voice of a child coming from the other side of the door he was installing.

    “Suddenly, a kid runs up,” Peart said, “and he said, ‘Sir, your van is on fire!’ There was a window above the garage door; I went up top, and I look out, and yes, there it is, on fire – actually the van of the owner of the house – beside my truck. So I had to rush outside while the fire was gushing from the side of the van to move my truck. And as soon as I moved my truck, the van blew up.”

    Nobody was hurt in the explosion, so Peart laughed loudly when he was told why he was being asked about this peculiar chain of events so long after it unfolded: a Google Street View camera car, we now know, drove by the Robinglade Dr. house minutes before the blast.

    Fortunately for the world, Google is better at creating cool things than at warning people of impending disasters. The company launched the GTA edition of Street View Wednesday.

    Using the free service, which uses images recorded last spring and summer, Torontonians can view high-quality 360-degree snapshots of everything visible from almost every street in the city and its suburbs: homes, stores, parks, restaurants, tourist attractions, soon-to-be-toast vehicles.

    As depicted by Street View, Toronto seems clean and orderly. Tourism honchos, however, will surely not be thrilled to see the…

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