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”.
A drain feature. “I cannot justify spending … $1.96 million for a ‘drain feature’ in the St. Lawrence Market redevelopment,” John Tory announced, never mind the actual cost that is up for debate is pegged at $1.64 million.
Toronto is a young city built on land with a rich heritage. Around the time that colonists started arriving the land on which Toronto is now built was home to the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. In 1786 land was purchased by the colonial government from the Mississaugas to establish a new settlement which would eventually be named York.
After the war of 1812 with the Americans, York grew quickly attracting workers and merchants. It grew too quickly though, faster than the infrastructure needed to support residents, and the town earned the nickname “Muddy York.” This lead to the incorporation of Toronto in 1834 and lead to its first democratically elected mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie.
I love the idea of the Rail Deck Park, a plan to deck over the railway corridor from Blue Jays Way to Bathurst and build a park on it. At 21 acres it would be the largest new park to open in Toronto since Downsview Park in 1999 and a vital infusion of green space in the already under-parked and ever intensifying Downtown Toronto. But when you look into its impact on other parks, how to pay for it, and how the idea originated, the lustre on the Rail Deck Park starts to fade.
The moment of inception for capital projects is usually not hard to trace; a report identifying a need, a milestone reached and the need to make a decision, etc. Not so with Rail Deck. One day it was nothing, the next day John Tory announced it; a fait accompli. But before work started on the park proposal there was the condo proposal.
I listened with great interest and puzzlement to a story by Mary Wiens of CBC Radio about the daily transit odyssey of a man named Oladipupo — no family name given. Oladipupo describes his gruelling daily two hour journey from Finch and Morningside in Toronto’s extreme northeast corner to Steeles and Islington near its northwest corner and laments the great cost of time and energy that he must endure.
It is well known among Toronto transit planners and enthusiasts that the TTC is not geared to accommodating journeys described by Oladipupo. The system has been designed to funnel riders from all over the city to rapid transit lines — the subway — which all lead towards the downtown core. This system works for the majority of Torontonians but leaves many — like Oladipupo — in the lurch.
Oladipupo describes his journey as taking two hours each way. This can be easily verified using Google Maps which lists his journey as taking 1 hour and 33 minutes — in ideal circumstances — with a total trip length of 31.7km. Couple that time with road congestion, passenger causes delays, and a wait at Finch stations and rounding up this can be interpreted as taking 2 hours.
In her piece Wiens segues and asks Oladipupo to show her SmartTracker. This is where the story begins to fly off the rails.