This from Mayor Ford at yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting during a debate over recommended increases in development charges. Development charges are fees the city receives for development that increases demand on necessary infrastructure like roads, public transit, sewage and water delivery. Fees this city charges are significantly less than many in the surrounding regions and as anybody who tries to get from point A to point B or who’s had their basement flooded knows, our infrastructure needs have not really kept up to all the new growth.
Councillor Paul Ainslie put forward a motion asking for a staff report on “… mechanisms for development charge discounts along main avenues in our Strong Neighbourhoods, and adjacent neighbourhoods.” A Scarborough councillor, Ainslie pointed out that with development charges the same throughout the city, developers tended to go where they would get the biggest and quickest return on their investment which is almost always downtown. As with most things planning related, the city is constrained by provincial law in its ability to manipulate development charges in order to spur growth in areas needing growth. The councillor was just looking for possible ways to work within such restrictions.
But the mayor was having none of it.
Have conservatives always been this dumb? Are those of us of a certain vintage deluded when we talk about the halcyon days of the red Tory – Joe Clarke, Hugh Segal, Bill Davis, David Crombie – when conservatism was entirely reasonable?
Development charges, by their very nature, are the government getting involved. It takes money from the private sector in order to help offset the costs of growth which, in turn, makes the development more attractive, therefore increases the value of the development. Higher value, higher tax base. A win-win for all involved.
In voting in favour of the staff’s report to phase in development charge increases over the next couple years, Mayor Ford voted in favour of government involvement. But somehow, in an effort to figure out ways to encourage growth in areas of the city in need of it, that was just too much meddling for the mayor’s taste. It would surely precipitate a complete disaster.
The irony (and I believe I’m using the word correctly) is that this anti-government outburst from the mayor came a day after he declared victory in securing federal funding and sealing the deal for a Scarborough subway. An infrastructure project exclusively funded by the government which, in the mayor’s very own words, would stimulate growth and development in Scarborough.
But when Councillor Ainslie and another Scarborough councillor, Gary Crawford, request a report to propose ways to help stimulate growth and development along Kingston Road in their neck of the Scarborough woods? No way. People shouldn’t be dictating. Let the market decide!
It’s like this iteration of conservatism has taken all the easy, self-serving, short term aspects from the ideology while jettisoning its more complicated features. They’re like the third clone in Michael Keaton’s Multiplicity, the ones who eat toothpaste. Pale shadows of their forbearers who can’t or conveniently don’t remember the fuller version of their political philosophy.
There’s no pattern or logic. It’s just partisan addled sloganeering outbursts at words or ideas that don’t sit well with them. Like single-celled organisms reacting to the light. Single-minded entities reacting to things they don’t understand. No thought. Just visceral, opportunistic grandstanding.
Modern conservatism is nothing more than an empty brand masking its one true operating principle: blind, anti-government reactionism. Openly adopting such a stance, however, doesn’t play well with the voting public. So you try and smooth out the rough electoral edges by maintaining a soothing name that reeks of tradition.
A tradition that I now call into question if Mayor Ford and his ilk represent its legacy.
— sins-of-the-fatherly submitted by Cityslikr