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Pre-COVID-19, on a given weekday, the towers housed some 326,000 souls, on average. As of mid-October, the towers were only nine-per-cent full, even down from the 10-per-cent occupancy rate achieved in September, before the second wave of the virus washed over the Greater Toronto Area.
In a lot of ways, I feel as though this has been our finest hour
Grant Humes, executive director of the Toronto Financial District BIA, isn’t giving up on the idea of the office just yet. He returned to his desk in First Canadian Place in August.
“People are going to come back,” he said, although he can’t say when. “The currency of business is human interaction. It is hardwired into us.”
The unnamed Cambridge members interviewed for this story agreed. Bankers, dealmakers, law partners, traders, junior executives looking to foster relationships, older bosses looking to mentor protégés, it is about making connections — and not just via Zoom. And, if you are a member of the Cambridge, it is also about grabbing a beer after a game of squash.
“Clive has done a great job of creating a community,” a member said.
Not everybody is impressed by the community. During the 2015 federal election campaign, then-rookie Liberal candidate and current Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland stormed the proverbial club gates after word got out that Joe Oliver, Conservative finance minister and a Cambridge member, would be speaking at the men’s only facility.
Freeland cried foul, alleging sexism. The social media mob howled for Oliver’s head. An unidentified club member in a bathrobe was caught on camera, eyeing the ensuing brouhaha, as the Liberal hopeful appeared at the club’s entrance, journalists in tow.