The view from 905
Good morning Toronto, this is really going to be fun. Asking a citizen of Mississauga to Blog on Toronto is akin to appointing a Canadian as the White House critic for CNN, and if you remember we did burn that little house down in 1812. Today is not a day for playing with matches though; today is a day for just playing.
Toronto has many wonderful attributes that its citizens are inclined to criticize and those of us living in the 905 flock to adore. The recent alterations to the Art Gallery and the ROM are two perfect examples. Some people hate them; some people love them, but isn’t that what interesting architecture is about, creating a conversation. Your good fortune is that you have a real art gallery and a real museum and you now have an opportunity that no other city in Canada will have for years to come. Intrigued, read on.
On March 31, 2011 the federal government is going to shut off the tap for infrastructure funding, the province will follow suit, and as we have been forewarned, get ready to make sacrifices. Ironically, on April Fools Day 2011, we will all wake up with a collective hangover that will make the day after the U.S.-Canada Gold medal game seem like a very minor headache.
Everyone that is except for Toronto.
You will all be basking in the glow of an additional $3 billion in committed funding leading up to the Pan Am games in 2015. Toronto will receive $765 million for the Seneca subway extension, $1 billion for the West Donlands project, and an additional $1.4 billion for legacy infrastructure.
History has demonstrated repeatedly that every host city for the Pan Am or Olympic Games has always, with only two exceptions, gone over budget and generally by a large margin. The total federal, provincial and municipal investment coming to your city may be as high as $4.5 billion, all at a time when every other municipality is being forced to reduce spending. Please don’t blow it. As one of my friends rather crudely pointed out “they’re going to be the only pig at the trough.”
This is why this election matters to you and why you need to get out and vote, and why you need to convince your friends and neighbours to vote.
Toronto has a rare opportunity to re-imagine its legacy infrastructure in a truly exciting and far more sustainable way than at any time in memory. The key to realizing this opportunity will be who leads the ship and how hard the deck hands work. Go to the debates, find out what the candidates will do to change the culture at city hall, ask them what their plan is to create more efficiency in governance, and most importantly, listen to their vision for the future of Toronto.
If you do all of that, Toronto will become the great city we all, in our hearts, believe it to be.