Update 2018-08-14: The NDP – knowing full well they will not be able to stop Bill 5 from becoming law and delaying the courts the ability to rule on the law while prolonging uncertainty & anxiety – is now politically profiting on it’s continued lack of passage. They are holding townhall meetings where they are gathering data on participants that they would use in a 25 ward system and, possibly, paying for those meetings using funds raised under the existing 47 ward races which would be inaccessible to them in the new wards.
Original Post: The NDP is making a big show of trying to delay the legislation to reduce the number of Toronto City Councillors from 47 to 25. If they are serious about wanting to protect the democratic rights of Toronto residents then they need sit down and let the bill pass. They need to acknowledge the correct arena in which to fight this battle, delaying only furthers uncertainty and anxiety, and finally it gives the Ford Government more time to make changes that strengthen its case. If they want to do what’s right they need to sit down and let it pass quickly.
The legislative arena is not the best place to fight this battle. Since the PCPO is a majority government, even if all non-government members vote against Bill 5 it will still pass. Somehow, implausible, the NDP would need to peel away the support of 14 government members – in a highly whipped and controlled party – to be able to defeat this legislation. That isn’t going to happen. The bills passage is all but guaranteed.
UPDATE – 2017-12-07: In light of confusion regarding the nature of this post, this post should not be construed as an endorsement. It is an analysis given the following constraints: there being only two major, viable candidates in the 2018 Mayors race. As of this update there are 145 days until nominations open and 232 days until nominations close, plenty of time for this analysis to be rendered moot be there being a viable, progressive candidate participating in the race.
ORIGINAL POST – 2017-11-03: The 2018 Toronto election is shaping up to be a very sleepy affair. The only two candidates who have publicly mused about running are Doug Ford and John Tory. Every person I have spoken to about the race agrees that there is no way that they would ever vote for Ford. But if you want to build Toronto and make it a better city than it is today voting for Ford is the better option.
I keep seeing and hearing from progressives and people who want to make Toronto a better place lamenting that the 2018 election is already lost.
Let’s set aside that there are 188 days – just more than six months – until nominations even open for the 2018 municipal election and that there are 369 days – just over a year – until election day.
First of all we should recall how John Tory won. In short: barely, and only with the assistance of a constituency that votes against candidates rather than for them. What has Tory accomplished? For all of Tory’s fast talking, he has nothing substantive to point to in the last three years. Going into 2018 we see Tory on a charm offensive to try to sell hot air and a laughably easy to pop “vision”.
Part of the rationale for amalgamating the six Metro cities into the new City of Toronto in 1998 was that it would realize cost savings and efficiencies. As noted in the Chief Administrative Officers report on the amalgamation process to Council in 1999 seventy three percent of the value of the operating budget at the time of amalgamation had already been harmonized through programs and services operated at the Metro level of government. It was only within the remaining twenty seven percent that efficiencies could be derived.
Nearly twenty years later and the dream of a fully harmonized City of Toronto still eludes us with councillors fighting tooth and nail to preserve historically derived services that are exclusive to only a few communities within the city. Besides the cost implications there is also the questions of equality and fairness by having the residents of the whole city pay for services enjoyed only by residents in parts of the city.
You might be surprised to learn that it is. It is a Privately Owned Public Space – POPS for short – which means that although it is private property and maintained by a private owner it is meant to be a space which is accessible and used by the public.
But more and more owners of these spaces are going to great lengths to discourage the public from using these spaces. Designs that incorporate walls along the street, constructing gates and fences, and displaying signs that gives the impression that the space is for private use only.
Jennifer Keesmaat’s love and passion for urbanism cannot be doubted. Through her speeches she demonstrated a breadth of knowledge and experience that few possess. That she has made herself into a hero to urbanists, progressives, and the media cannot be denied. But as the Chief City Planner, a civil servant, I am glad to see her go.
Keesmaat viewed herself and her role not as being a Director in the Toronto Civil Service but as a Commissioner in an American style strong mayor administration, along with the publicity and prestige that such a public office holds; think Janette Sadik-Khan. However, because of the way that she ran her office, real damage has been done to the trust and integrity of the planning department and to Toronto’s transit system.
“I think in an ideal world, a lot of these projects would have been advanced a long time ago,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s chief planner. “We’ve approved the growth. In many instances we’ve already built it, but the transit has been lagging … Suffice it to say, we need to catch up. We desperately need to catch up.”
She’s right. But stopping and going back to square one is an odd way of catching up, particularly when you’re already behind. That’s what’s happening this fall as Toronto City staff have outlined a two-steps back proposal to “reset” the long-awaited Waterfront LRT project.