A sweeping vision is in the details
I’m really having a hard time getting excited about any of the candidates or issues being discussed in the municipal races to date. I know it’s only April and October is a long time away but this should be the time when big ideas are being generated, promoted or at the very least tested.
Instead, I just keep hearing the same old issues and complaints without a real sense of what should be done about them or in which direction Toronto should be headed.
We all know the TTC is lacking in customer service and needs to be transformed to become more customer focused. But how? It’s clear that the Province’s cutting of transit funding will delay (if not kill) Transit City. Beyond complaining, how should we respond?
More bike lanes are a great idea for some and seen as social engineering against the car by others. That’s nothing new and therefore the controversy around them is not surprising.
But these are simply debates about issues that were framed by the last Council. It’s important to debate the merits of current initiatives but where are the new ideas? Who is articulating a new Vision of where Toronto should be headed. Wouldn’t it be great if we started to hear some great new proposals?
What about promoting urban agriculture in a big way and setting a target that 10 per cent of food consumed in Toronto be grown within its borders. Vancouver has made great strides in expanding backyard food production to include eggs from poultry and Toronto could go much further.
Why are we hearing so little about the environment? Car companies are desperate to expand the market for hybrids and electric vehicles and need cities to put in place infrastructure like plug-ins at parking stalls and gas stations. Why is Toronto (or anyone else in the GTA) not looking to put such infrastructure in place and revamping its parking policies to match. Aren’t we an automobile manufacturing centre?
These are only two simple ideas. Many others are imaginable. Increasing the diversity in our municipal Council and municipal staff to better reflect the city. Installing dual water pipes in buildings so that we don’t need to shower with drinking water or flush it away. Finally recognizing that waste from energy is a laudable and environmentally responsible strategy. Signing a long-term agreement with the school boards so that instead of spending $20 million per community centre we could actually use the publicly-paid-for gyms and swimming pools and meetings spaces that too often sit empty.
I almost no longer care what the idea is, as long as it is a positive look forward and not simply a negative attack on the present. I’m desperately waiting for someone to articulate a Vision and get me excited about this election.