A Profile In Courage

God bless the politician who stands up for the downtrodden, gives voice to the voiceless, goes to bat for the tiny, puny, infinitesimal, often overlooked 3%. godoggoYou are a testament to daring and guts. A folks hero.

“Minnan-Wong vows to save the Gardiner Expressway” states the headline of Don Peat’s Toronto Sun article from last week.

“I did not get elected to increase congestion, I did not,” the deputy mayor speechified. (He also doesn’t like your hat.) “I was elected to solve congestion problems.”

“Cars are a fundamental reality.”

Finally.

Somebody representing the beleaguered car drivers of this city and beyond.

The proposed downing of a 2.4 kilometre stretch of the easternmost portion of the Gardiner Expressway must not stand. No attempted buying off with a 6 to 8 lane replacement boulevard will suffice. A boulevard?! What is that exactly? Sounds like something the French promenade down.

And as everyone knows, our deputy mayor isn’t really a Renault man. dmw1He’s more a Porsche guy, a Beemer type although, owing to family obligations, he’s now quite content in his Subaru Forester. Driving in from North York, watching the sun glint off those downtown towers, more of which there’d be if the eastern bit of the Gardiner Expressway came down and opened up acres and acres and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in new development opportunities.

Ahhh, irony.

Car enthusiasts are clearly too distracted by shiny objects to appreciate stuff like irony.

What’s getting lost in all these high-minded (and high-handed) plans for the future of Toronto is the convenience of drivers to get around this city. If this part of the Gardiner is brought down, the unlucky 3% of commuters who currently use it during the morning rush hour can expect as much as a 5 minute increase in their commute times. 5 minutes!? Do these politician not realize just how important a car drivers’ time is? You’ve read the numbers. Billions and billions of dollars of productivity lost annually in the GTA due to congestion. Only by continuing to do what we’ve been doing for 50 years now – making room and time for private automobiles – can we start to turn things around.

And if this part of the Gardiner is brought down, where will it end? What happens if the traffic chaos and heavy congestion doesn’t materialize? What if everything works out just fine or, heaven forbid, gets even better? The rest of the Gardiner will not be safe. The radical anti-car types will start agitating for more of its destruction. dmw2A city cannot survive such a grievous assault on its urban expressways.

This is a slippery slope, folks, and all that stands between us and such an unimaginable future are politicians like Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

And please, don’t talk to him about the higher cost of building his beloved hybrid replacement option. Can you really put a price on freedom… to drive? Even if you can, even if you say, sure, in this particular case it’s that number between $919 million and $461 million, should you? In the end, it’s only money.

“Our (total) capital budget over 100 years is somewhere around $300 billion,” the deputy mayor said. What’s a half billion or so within that sort of time frame? Chump change.

Unlike those $12,000 umbrellas at Sugar Beach, located not far from the shadows cast by the Gardiner. That’s a spending outrage. $12,000. For an umbrella. Take a moment and let that sink in.

For car loving warriors like Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the only public space we should throw insane and unconscionable amounts of cash at are those that allow cars to drive on or over or park on. dmwAs it’s always been (since the 1950s anyway), so it must always be. Everything else is just gravy, to use the parlance of the time.

This issue is of such vital importance to the deputy mayor that back a few years ago, in his then role as chair of the Public Work and Infrastructure Committee, serving under fellow automobile zealot, Rob Ford, he felt the need to sit on the city council requested environmental assessment looking at future options for the Gardiner Expressway, delaying its release until finally this past week, to the tune of some $20 million. Money that would have probably gone to other useless public realm projects. (Denzil Minnan-Wong Googles: How many $12,000 pink umbrellas would $20 million buy?) Now that the EA has been released, there is only one viable option. Build that hybrid! Build that hybrid!

Sure, building the hybrid option of the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway will lock out hundreds of millions of dollars in potential development and future property tax income for the city but should the well-being for an overwhelming majority of Torontonians bulldoze the right to drive for the vulnerable 3%? dmw3Somebody’s got to stand up for the minority. Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong has a long and established track record of public service doing just that.

Remember that time he… ummm…. did that thing where he definitely defended the… uhhh… boldly fighting for their right to, you know… ummm…

Well anyway, resistance to change and pandering to car drivers has to start somewhere. It’s a thankless task, far from the spotlight and reactionary applause a civic leader like Minnan-Wong normally prefers to operate in. Agree with him or not, you can’t ignore the fact that he is a principled politician representing the best interests of the entire city with every decision he makes.

totally admiringly submitted by Cityslikr

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