So what is it with the Ford Bros. goons and their anti-urban henchman, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, and Waterfront TO? Following along at Executive Committee yesterday as the 3 of them took turns taking swipes at the agency in charge of redeveloping the city’s long forlorn waterfront, you had to wonder what the hell was in that tree they were all barking up. Get that squirrel, Dougie! Get that squirrel!!
“This is the old hokey-pokey,” said Councillor Ford about the alleged shenanigans down on the waterfront. Hokey-pokey being, I guess, the kissing cousin to the boondoggle, and a safe way to hint at corruption without the worry of having to prove it.
“Councillor Doug Ford has turned a dark shade of purple as he rants about Waterfront Toronto,” Toronto Sun reporter Don Peat tweeted.
“You’re looking at a million dollars for 36 umbrellas and a rock, two rocks, two big rocks,” Mayor Ford pointed out about the design of Sugar Beach. “Two rocks. Where did these rocks come from?” he asked staff, pretty much rhetorically. “A rock is a signature piece?”
“This is a cancer we must cut out,” the mayor declared. The Gravy Train, yaddie, yaddie, yaddie, switching up into campaign stump speech.
“It is emblematic of Waterfront Toronto that they just don’t get the value of a dollar,” Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong stated, as if he alone in his tight-fisted, small-mindedness, understood.
“You’re missing the point in Sugar Beach!” Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly told the Executive Committee.
Ahh, yes. You’re missing the point. Especially you, TweetleDum, TweetleDumber and TweetleDMW.
My initial reaction was to look for deeper meaning or intentions in such intemperate outbursts although with these guys it isn’t an irregular occurrence. The Fords have a tendency to turn various shades of bluster whenever they open their mouths. Councillor Minnan-Wong, he develops a certain tone of smug petulance.
But you will remember back nearly 3 years ago, Councillor Ford had big plans for some of the waterfront. Such monumentally huge plans that he appeared to have left his brother, the mayor, out of the loop. Ferris wheels. Monorails. Shopping malls.
You know, a place where people would actually want to go to visit and not some high concept, artsy-fartsy park.
With those plans shot down and the first leg pulled out from under the Ford mayoralty, I immediately thought, so what are these guys up to now? What plans had they hatched that were under threat by the slow but steady march of redevelopment by WaterfrontTO? What were there wanting to build down there?
Of course, at this point, that may be over-thinking things, giving the boys way too much credit. Perhaps Christopher Hume last week summed it up best when he took exception to Councillor Minnan-Wong’s tirade about WaterfrontTO. “The problem is Minnan-Wong’s Toronto is dull, sterile and cheap,” Hume wrote.
Like the Fords, the councillor’s view of the public realm extends only as far as the roads he drives on. You want green space? It’s called a backyard. With a lawn. The suburbs like those his Don Mills ward is located in were intended to do away with the need for the public realm. Public realm? That’s what we have malls for.
I don’t want to get all high-falutin and world class city-ish here but truly great cities are measured by their public spaces. Think London, Paris, Barcelona, Washington DC, New York, Vancouver and what immediately comes to mind? I’ll let you fill in the blanks but chances are it’s all about public spaces.
“That’s all well and good but do we really need all those fancy gargoyles around the place?” asks the medieval French version of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong when looking at the plans for Notre Dame.
But Toronto’s no London, Paris, Barcelona, etc., etc. We’re Toronto. We don’t do public space. We keep our taxes low.
What’s really annoying about all this is, these so-called fiscal conservatives cluck, cluck, cluck over $12,000 umbrellas and $500,000 rocks while steadfastly ignoring the fact that, according to Mr. Hume, projects like Sugar Beach have contributed to bringing some $2.6 billion in private investment to the waterfront. The public sector, working with the private sector, to enhance the quality of life for residents of Toronto. Just like Councillor Ford is always on about.
Maybe that’s what’s really stuck in their collective craws. The very idea that government can work, that government can actually contribute to the well-being of the city it’s in place to serve. Sure, it might cost some money but it isn’t always about a zero sum equation. We can have roads and beautiful parks too!
Or maybe, it’s all just about crass, retail, low rent politics. As has been stated many times by many people during the course of this administration, it’s about the cost of everything and the value of nothing. A sad reflection of the penurious imagination too many of us bring to table when talking about Toronto.
— sow’s ear-ly submitted by Cityslikr