Car Troubles

December 2, 2015

Last week, Toronto writer, Shawn Micallef, fired off the following tweets:

It’s been a bad few years for pedestrians in Toronto, deaths up 90% over the past 4 years, 34 so far this year (and counting), compared to 18 in 2011. speedingcarsAs Jessica Smith Cross wrote in Metro over the weekend, that accounts for 59% of road deaths in Toronto this year. In the first 10 months of 2015, over 1500 pedestrians have been struck by cars.

And the official response from those tasked with the oversight of street safety, the Toronto Police? Do The Bright Thing. “We have to put ourselves in the position to be seen,” Constable Hugh Smith informs us.

How twisted is that? Those most vulnerable, the ones not behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle, sanctioned to go lethal limits of speed, those of us with the least control, are held responsible to make sure we don’t get run over. Because, you know, drivers have places to go, people to meet.

So even when we are full in our rights, crossing a street legally, as Micallef pointed out, we have to check and re-check around us to make sure somebody’s not rushing to make it through that light or checking their phone or just simply zoned out, unburdened of any consequence of their inattention. overthespeedlimitHow many of us pedestrians have had to stop up short in an intersection out of fear that driver may not have judged his stopping distance correctly? Who amongst us pedestrians haven’t had cars blow through a well-lit crosswalk or open streetcar doors?

Why just yesterday, in fact, I had to pick up my pace crossing a street at a green light as some fucking jag off making a left turn, committed to going despite me being in his way in order to avoid a collision with oncoming traffic. A collision, no doubt, that would’ve harmed me, the literal innocent bystander, more than any of the occupants of the cars involved. And in the end, invariably written up as an “accident”. An unfortunate “accident” but an “accident” nonetheless. Harm but no foul.

Drivers go about their driving business with relative impunity. Even the most egregious transgressions, like impaired driving or vehicular manslaughter, are rarely met with the severest of punishments. intheintersectionJail, sometimes, but usually not for very long. How many people do you know who’ve ever had their licence revoked permanently?

Is that too much to demand from someone who’s got into a driver’s seat drunk and killed somebody as a result? Never mind incarceration. Should they ever be allowed to drive again?

Or how about those driving at dangerously high speeds, just one little unforeseen glitch away from losing complete control of their vehicle? They do so knowingly, not only at the risk of their own lives but everyone who just might be in their path. Another tragic “accident”.

How much over the speed limit is too much? 20 kilometres an hour? 40? 50? At what point do we say, you know what? Maybe you shouldn’t be driving a car?

We know a car travelling at 30 km/h puts the odds of a pedestrian dying if struck down at about 5%. At 50 km/h? 37-45%. 64 km/h? 83-85%.pedestriandown

We know this and yet, as Mr, Micallef pointed out, cars whipping down Jarvis Street are regularly travelling at 10-20 kilometres over the legally posted limited of 50 kp/h. That puts them right smack dab in the high probability kill zone if they hit a pedestrian or mow down a cyclist. Even without the possibility of casualties, racing cars make for an unappealing environment for anyone else not driving in the area.

We know all this and still, not only do we put up with it, we accommodate it with wider lanes to compensate for driver error, tearing up bike lanes which, according to Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation under then-mayor Michael Bloomberg, slow traffic down and greatly reduce the rate of road fatalities. pedestriandown1New York has recently experienced the fewest traffic deaths in a 100 years! But here in Toronto, whatevs. Mom’s got to get home a few minutes quicker to have supper with the kids.

My intention is not to demonize drivers here. I’m demonizing the system that continues to coddle them, entitle them, under-charge them and very, very, rarely penalizes them appropriately for the life-altering and often life-ending choices they make (largely for others) when they are behind the wheel of their vehicles. The political and societal clout the cult of the automobile is far greater than any good it delivers, often falling short by orders of magnitude.

Others cities throughout the world have recognized this and are attempting to reorder the hierarchy of their transportation system. Not just European cities. Cities we here in Toronto look to in terms of inspiration. New York City, for example. De-escalating our car dependency can’t be written off as simply some lifestyle choice. deathrace2000It is now nothing short of an absolute necessity.

Unless Toronto’s car-bound leadership recognizes that fact, we will jeopardize whatever competitive advantages we have as an international city. We have to stop pretending that somehow Toronto’s different than other places. We aren’t. We built this city on the belief that prioritizing car travel was the future. It wasn’t or, at least, that future didn’t last. It is our duty to now fix that mistaken but hard to shake belief.

demandingly submitted by Cityslikr

Challengers To Watch VII

July 24, 2014

Normally when I set out to write up something on a city councillor candidate, I like to go and meet them on their home turf, observeget the lay of the land, feel the ground beneath my feet. Observe the species in their own habitat. I’m hands on, if nothing else.

But when it came to writing about Ward 7 York West, I was a little uneasy, if the truth be told. After hearing incessantly for the past 4 years from the long serving incumbent how Ward 7 never gets anything except for the short end of the municipal stick, all I could imagine was this barren wasteland with a mythical tall, tall flag pole and the regular u-turning of transport trucks. Surely only the forlorn and demented would call such a place home. I mean, where’s a guy going to get a latte while up there?

But I was convinced by candidate Keegan Henry-Mathieu to face my fears and head up Jane Street with him on a crowded, rush hour bus run. Squeezed on right from the outset and never really emptying out for the entire ride, we chatted about the campaign. From under one nearby armpit and over another backpack, I asked if transit was an issue for residents in Ward 7.

Spoiler alert: it is.

While we have these high concept transit debates – subways versus LRTs – crowdedbusToronto residents find themselves packed on buses and streetcars, oftentimes with unreliable service and long wait times. This is particularly true in the bus-dependent suburbs of Toronto. Ward 7 will wait a 100 years for subway! declared its local representative, a stranger, I’m assuming, to using public transit to get around the city.

“You think you just got unlucky, getting onto a crowded bus,” Keegan tells me. “But the next one’s exactly the same. And the one after that.” And don’t get him started about waiting for a bus out here in the winter.

In what is becoming a trend for me as I talk to candidates in the suburban areas of the city, they face an uphill battle in engaging residents they meet in their wards. After years, decades, generations of largely being ignored by the people they send to City Hall, ward7it’s difficult convincing them that it can be different, that change can happen. Civic engagement can’t just be flicked on.

So candidates like Mr. Henry-Mathieu knock on the doors of residents who don’t tend to have their doors knocked on by politicians seeking office. People whose connection to the city government is tenuous at best. Those who are usually not part of the wider political discussion.

He tells me he sees it most in the apartment buildings he canvasses, many of them in states of ill-repair, trash tucked away up in the ceilings in some. And property management MIA can be traced back straight to an MIA councillor. Vote for you? Why? What have you ever done for me?

For many residents in many wards of this city, it is a valid question.

After hopping off the bus long north of the 401, officially into Ward 7, Keegan and I continue to walk up Jane Street. janeapartment(Turns out I’m not the first one he’s taken out for a neighbourhood stroll.) There are the usual strip malls and gas stations you would expect to find in these parts. But he points out all the largely unused green space on either side of the street, most of it surrounding apartment buildings.

With even the slightest bit of imagination and initiative, install some benches, tables, bbqs, you could create a real sense of community. Instead, what you have is a whole bunch of fenced in, unused space.

Don’t even get him started on slightly more ambitious ideas. Perfect spots for local farmers markets to bring healthy food into the neighbourhood. What about food trucks? Eye-balling it, I’d say there are plenty of areas 50 metres from the nearest fast food outlet. Why not bring some choice to a part of the city that lacks much of it?

Why not bring all sorts of fresh thinking to a part of the city that’s been lacking it for years now?

Henry-Mathieu is no stranger to talking and pushing policy ideas. timeforchangeHe was part of the Toronto Youth Cabinet at City Hall for the better part of a decade before resigning recently to pursue a council seat. While certainly a natural progression, it stems also from a little bit of frustration.

His activism as a Youth Cabinet member helped deliver incremental change. He now wants to try and push harder, make bigger advances. Starting with improving opportunities for those living in Ward 7.

By all rights, this should be an open ward and a more level playing field for Keegan to take a run at. The sitting councillor, Giorgio Mammoliti, has spent much of this past term fending off, let’s just call them, greasy allegations. The latest, a damning report from the city’s Integrity Commissioner, accuses Mammoliti of pocketing some $80,000 from an illegal fundraiser attended by developers and other business types doing business with the city. shirtlessmammolitiAnd that’s just a ‘for example’.

In an ideal world, Giorgio Mammoliti would’ve been barred from seeking office again.

But this being Toronto city council, things don’t work out quite like that. Instead, he’s allowed to run for re-election, backed by questionable money and having delivered nothing of substance for his ward during his nearly 25 years in office, as M.P.P, North York and Toronto city councillor. Over the course of the last 4 years, he’s been nothing but a disruptive and destructive force, doing little more than establishing a name and reputation for himself.

If residents of Ward 7 are disengaged with local politics, it is almost exclusively to do with the fact that their elected representative at City Hall doesn’t care. It works to his advantage. Voter apathy is the key to a bad politician’s success.

Keegan Henry-Mathieu represents everything the man he’s trying to oust doesn’t. Optimism. Enthusiasm. Inclusion. commissoA belief in positive change through both little and big steps. An expectation that things can be better through collective action.

The guy even found me a more than serviceable latte at a place called Commisso’s, located on a side street, in between two tire stores.

There’s no telling what he could do if voters in Ward 7 give him a shot at representing them at City Hall.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr

No City For Young Children

July 13, 2012

I have seen the urban-suburban divide, and it’s name is Doug Holyday. Councillor Doug Holyday. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday.

If not the political father to the Ford Brothers, he is their political godfather. A lean, mean libertarian and last mayor of pre-amalgamation Etobicoke, Councillor Holyday’s the antiest of anti-government types. There is no aspect of governing (except maybe policing) the man doesn’t believe can be done better and cheaper by the private sector. Government as a source for out-sourcing.

Despite the political and territorial affinity between the Deputy Mayor and the Fords, Councillor Holyday must bear a little ill-will toward their late father, Doug Sr. As a backbench MPP for the Mike Harris government, Ford-pere helped smash the 6 former municipalities of Metro Toronto into one unwieldy beast. This leashed the Deputy Mayor’s beloved ol’ Etobicoke home to the licentious, rapacious, elitist grab all downtown.

Arcadia was under threat. Progress’s shadow drew nearer, bringing darkness ever closer to the perpetual 1950s sunshine of Toronto’s gateway to Mississauga.

Since 1997 Doug Holyday’s picket fenced mind set has been besieged by the onset of the 21st-century. Urbanism. Multiculturalism. Diversity of views and lifestyles that include… wait for it, wait for it… children growing up in downtown highrises with no place to play other than the traffic.

Yesterday’s well-documented dust up between the deputy mayor and Councillor Adam Vaughan (if you want to see it for yourself here’s the link, scroll through to 149:46) over the requirement for 10% of condo units to be 3 bedroom in a King Street West development proposal revealed the deep hostility directed at the downtown core from the suburban leadership elected to represent the entire city. “I personally wouldn’t want to raise my kids on King Street or Yonge Street,” the deputy mayor said. “Some people might, and if they do, that’s fine. … I’m saying I personally wouldn’t want to be on the 47th floor of a condominium building at the corner of King and John with three kids.”

“I can just see it now,” ‘Where’s little Jenny? Well, she’s downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park’”.

When the city’s acting chief planner Gregg Lintern suggested that encouraging families to live in every part of the city including right downtown “…makes for a healthier city” the deputy mayor wasn’t buying it.  “It makes for a healthier city to have children out on King Street where there is bumper-to-bumper traffic, people galore all night and day? I just think of raising my own family there. That’s not the place I’d choose.”

Apparently, if you choose a lifestyle contrary to one Doug Holyday deems acceptable, well hey, god bless you, you’re on your own. Briefly stepping back from his Grandpa Simpson mode, the deputy mayor wrapped himself in his comfy libertarian cloak and railed that government shouldn’t be telling the private sector what they can and cannot be building. In putting forward a motion to delete the 10% 3 bedroom requirement for the development proposal, he suggested that it should be left up to the free market to sort out.

“I’m not going to dictate to a developer,” the Deputy Mayor said, “that they must provide 10% of their units in the three bedroom form when there may or may not be a market for it.”

If there’s such a clamour for family condo units downtown, developers will respond. That’s just Economics 101. No matter that bigger units/development mean fewer units/development and less money overall. Developers aren’t concerned about money in the long run. They just want to respond to market demand.

Turns out the Deputy Mayor isn’t as laissez-faire on the matter of planning when it gets closer to home. During the ensuing debate, Councillor Vaughan pointed out that a few years back, when a developer proposed building rowhouses — OMG not townhouses! — in Etobicoke’s single family enclave, Mr. Holyday wasn’t so invisibly handy as he was toward downtown development. So it’s free reign for the private sector when it comes to situations the Deputy Mayor doesn’t approve of but let’s get all state controlled if it imposes on his lifestyle.

I don’t  believe that a majority of those in the suburbs reflect Deputy Mayor Holyday’s cloistered views. People live outside the core for many reasons. Space, affordability, just a preference for that way of life. They don’t judge those who make their homes downtown as dimly as our deputy mayor does.

I agree with writer Shawn Micallef when he referred to Mr. Holyday’s opinions as ‘creaks from the grave of thought.’ They’re shocking because it’s difficult to believe anyone still thinks like that. It’s a dying breed kicking and screaming against modernity.

Unfortunately, Mr. Holyday isn’t just anyone. In theory, he’s the 2nd in command of the largest city in the country. A rapidly evolving metropolis of some 2.5 million residents that has long since outgrown the strictures of sleepy, small town governance. More worrisome is that the mayor, his actual right hand man, Councillor Ford, and a small cadre of similar anti-urban minds now have their hands on the levers of power.

All of them are unfit for the positions they are currently in. They don’t understand the needs of the city they’ve been elected to represent. The only thing they seem determined to accomplish is to roll back any and all evidence of the 21st-century.

The Deputy Mayor’s comments reflected that and underline the need to resist every antediluvian idea he and his cohorts try to inflict on the city.

corely submitted by Cityslikr

Coming Soon To A Neighbourhood Near You

April 18, 2012

It’s funny what escapes your notice when you’re looking at the bigger picture. With casinos, transit battles, a general mayoral malaise keeping my mind focussed on city wide issues, I completely missed this for months, right in my back yard. Well, OK. Not right in my backyard. My front yard, actually, and then across the street and into the nearby alley.

RioCan has descended on the west side of Bathurst Street, almost smack dab in the middle of the block between College and Dundas Streets. Nearly 100 metres of storefront, according to the National Post last October (Last October?! Where the hell was I?) and 13, 000 square metres and 3 tall stories of retail-ly goodness. Hanging over right there in my neighbours’ backyards.

Hoo-rah! My first development battle as a homeowner. You will build there over my cold, dead body!

Now, I don’t think anyone would deny that this particular strip could use some sort of facelift. It is a drab run of real estate, shabbily occupying space south of a beer store and incorporating some industrial looking buildings (including Kromer Radio, a local institution that’s been in its current location since 1974) and ending with a parking lot. Largely uninspiring, long in the tooth, somewhat decrepit even, yeah sure, let’s do something with it, gussy things up a little.

But seriously? A generic box store thingie? Really? That’s the best anyone could come up with? As the plan stands right now, RioCan has tossed a bone to local residents and businesses, giving the ground floor to small retail outlets – A Little Kensington Market Just Steps From The Heart Of Kensington Market! – while keeping the upper two floors for the type of franchise they usually favour. Loblaws? Walmart? Target?

Yes, there are probably areas of the city, neighbourhoods where such kind of stores would fit in even less. But not many. If it goes grocery, why? Kensington Market is 5 minutes away. There’s a Metro supermarket about a twenty minute walk west along College Street. For that matter, RioCan’s new development featuring a massive Loblaws is 15 minutes to the south-east by foot at Queen and Portland.

As for some sort of department store? Again, Queen Street West is a hop, skip and a jump away. If you can’t find what you need there, get on the Queen streetcar and arrive at the Eaton’s Centre in fifteen minutes or so.

This kind of development in this area of the city seems so unnecessary, redundant and not just a little intrusive.

The back of the building, ranging in proposed height anywhere from 21 to 24 metres will loom over an alley and, I imagine, similar to its front footing, nearly 100 metres or so of backyards. Aside from the usual issue of shadowing and blocking out of the morning light which the plans attempt to alleviate with the use of some setbacks, as it stands on paper right now, all the building’s mechanicals – heating, cooling etc. – impose themselves on the row of houses to the west, promising residents a motorized symphony of humming, belching and farting not just morning until evening but all through the night.

It also essentially cuts off the east-west pedestrian flow. Where you can now make your way through an alley off Markham Street through the parking lot on Nassau Street across Bathurst and into the middle of Kensington Market, those on foot or bike will have to head up either to almost College or down to Dundas in order to move make the trip. This isn’t simply about inconvenience. Essentially the building will act as a barrier between the eastern boundary of Little Portugal/Italy and the western edge of Kensington Market, serving as a division between the two neighbourhoods.

Now, I’m no Shawn Micallef but I’d say that’s just flat out bad planning. Shouldn’t the idea be to integrate development into its surrounding area? To fill in a missing piece of the puzzle in order to promote proper and sustainable neighbourhood growth? Instead, RioCan proposes to bulk down an edifice on its landing pad like a Death Star, sucking all life forms into itself.

And then there’s the vehicular traffic.

As anyone who’s ever travelled that portion of Bathurst Streets knows, whether by car, streetcar, bike or foot, it already can be a nightmare. Now RioCan wants to introduce some 300 or so underground parking spots into the mix at one entry point (for both customers and delivery trucks) at the south of the development. So picture this, a regular stream of northbound cars on Bathurst, further snarling up traffic, waiting to make a left turn into the parking lot. The southbound right lane bottles up traffic in that direction, waiting to make their way in.

Right now, cars exiting the street level parking lot on that spot are prohibited from turning left onto Bathurst or going straight onto Nassau. The proposal wants two lanes of exiting traffic, north and south but it’s not difficult to imagine drivers, seeing the mess on Bathurst will push straight forward into Kensington Market in an attempt to escape the madness. A radiating circle of traffic snarls in a location already burdened by them.

That the initial traffic impact study submitted was rejected by the city is telling. One of the reasons given, apparently, was that the study didn’t look at traffic patterns on Saturdays, a seemingly egregious oversight since, you know, we’re talking retail here. Saturdays are kind of their go-to time, aren’t they? It causes one to wonder if RioCan was trying to avoid a serious discussion about what could turn out to be a major, major sticking point.

“What I can tell is the result of broader retailers’ desire to locate in the core,” RioCan vice president Jordan Robins said last fall, “is that they had to adjust their prototypical format to suit an urban environment.” He talked of a ‘seismic shift in retail development’ in order to adapt what is typically a suburban approach to an urban setting. Yet there’s little evidence of any sort of shift in mindset with this particular development. It still caters to car dependency in an area surrounding on 3 sides by public transit. The proposed building imposes itself rather than blends in or compliments its surroundings. If one of the usual RioCan tenants sign on as the signature outlet, it’ll bring almost nothing new or original to the area.

Despite their bland assurances to the contrary, it seems like RioCan is attempting to adjust the urban environment to their prototypical format rather than the other way around. Hardly surprising then when they meet with the inevitable resistance from local residents and business. Being a bad neighbour will tend to elicit that response.

residently submitted by Cityslikr

Getting The Ball Rolling On Project 23

August 5, 2011

Glorious monuments and grand architecture do not make great cities although they certainly give them a certain air of grandeur. No. What makes cities great is the positive civic life they nourish and build. Accessible and affordable public transit for all neighbourhoods. Inviting public spaces that draw you into them. An open environment that enables an engaged interaction between people from all walks of life.

(Shawn Micallef writes about this much better than I can. Go read him. You’ll see what I’m trying to get at.)

Such civic mindedness in Toronto is now under attack by Mayor Rob Ford and a cadre of determined anti-urbanists and rigid ideologues. For them, running a city is nothing more than the bottom line. Making do with paying less (unless of course user fees are factored in). Their view of city life comes from out behind a car window or over the fences of their backyards. In their eyes, the role of municipal government boils down to just two things: personal safety and clean, drivable roads. End of discussion.

This should come as no surprise from the mayor. He’s said it over and over again, and voted that way over and over again during his 10 years as councillor. His anti-government views have been right there in the shop window for all to see.

Views we need to stop thinking will ever change no matter how reasonable an argument or passionate a deputation Mayor Ford’s forced to sit through. No more wasting our time and energy attempting to do so. Here’s some descriptors that immediately come to mind when writing about the mayor: intransigent, incurious, indefatigable in the certainty of his cause.

So far, the Mayor Rob Ford has surprisingly managed to corral 25 councillors to his city demolition cause at least 50% of the time on important votes (as I read Matt Elliott’s scorecard over at Ford For Toronto). Some have been easy to sway as they share a similarly hidebound neo-conservative orthodoxy. Others have been cowed into following marching orders through the use of bully tactics while another segment are simply political opportunists, basking in the glow of power or blowing with the political winds. Then there are those councillors who have left no lasting impression as to why they’ve signed on to the mayor’s agenda. Could you speak up a little, councillors Crawford, Crisanti and Grimes? We can’t hear you.

This Legion of Doom has wielded power very, very effectively although small cracks in the alliance are beginning to show. Ford diehards like Speaker Nunziata, TTC Chair Stintz and Councillor Pasternak have openly disagreed with the mayor on different matters recently. None, however, have defied his wishes much when it’s come to council votes.

Yet it may point to the fact that Mayor Ford’s council support is soft. Remember, he needs 22 councillors to push through his agenda, and 25 is razor thin. All it would take is a slight nudge here, a little cajole there and suddenly the mayor’s on the losing side of votes.

Thus, let me get the ball rolling here on Project 23.

Too often, it seems to me, councillors are able to operate under the radar. Of course there are those who seek a higher profile because they are good at it, media savvy or have their eye on a bigger prize than just being a mere councillor. We all know who they are. But hands up those of you who aren’t City Hall junkies who have heard of the following names (aside from this post): Ana Bailão, Michelle Berardinetti, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Frank Di Giorgio, Mark Grimes, Norm Kelly, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Ron Moeser, Cesar Palacio, John Parker (not including Twittergate and helping to kill the Jarvis bike lanes), Jaye Robinson?

Some of these folks are brand new to the job and are still finding their political legs. Others are the strong, silent constituent type who stick close to home and work diligently for their ward. Not everyone can be a council superstar.

But some go about their business happily out of the spotlight in order to avoid scrutiny. It’s hard to keep tabs on what they’re doing, how they’re voting and, most assuredly, why they’re voting the way they’re voting. In such self-imposed darkness they are able to avoid being held responsible when the chips are down, to support something one time and vote against it two years later without having to justify their change of heart.

There are a lot of wards out there to hide in, far from the media glare. Even during election campaigns if you’re seeking to duck coverage it can be done. The resources aren’t there to thoroughly cover all 44 ward races plus a mayoral campaign. This is one reason incumbency and name recognition means so much at the municipal level.

With Project 23 I want to start attaching faces to names on all our councillors. To leave no stone unturned or murky corner for any councillor to skulk silently in. We want each and every councillor to be held accountable for the decisions they make, the votes they take. We’ll be watching you.

How can this be done, given even big media conglomerates have trouble staying on top of every ward and councillor in the city? Well, that’s where it gets tricky. I barely manage to keep content a-rolling here even with what little assistance I receive from a couple layabout contributors. On top of which, I sometimes can’t remember how to turn the computer on in the morning. Technology is not my forte.

But I envision a website, a little spot of cyberspace, with the working title, Project 23: Council Watch. There we will have information on every councillor in every ward of the city. What’s happening with each one at City Hall. How a councillor voted and why. (I’m thinking of what Matt Elliot is doing at Ford For Toronto when he presents video coverage of the deputations at last week’s Executive Committee meeting. We can show councillors speaking at council meetings about why they’re voting the way they’re voting. Or if they speak up for themselves at all.)

Interactivity will be key for Project 23. It has to be a place where people in each of the city’s wards can report what’s going on where they live and how the decisions their respective councillors make are affecting them. Many of those who signed on to the vaunted Ford Nation are only now realizing exactly what the mayor and his wrecking crew mean when the talk about respect for the taxpayers and ending the Gravy Train. Project 23 should be a place where they can have their say.

That is the thrust of Project 23. Making sure everyone who we elected to city council is aware of the fact that their decisions will be known, will have consequences. They will have to answer for them come 2014.

Consider this. Vincent Crisanti won Ward 1 by just over 500 votes. Gloria Lindsay Luby won Ward 4 by just over 300 votes. Peter Milczyn won Ward 5 by just over 100 votes. Anthony Perruzza won Ward 8 by just under 400 votes. Maria Augimeri won Ward 9 by 89 votes. James Pasternak won Ward 10 with just 19.2% of the popular vote. Frank Di Giorgio won Ward 12 with just over 27% of the popular vote. Jaye Robinson won Ward 25 by just over 500 votes. John Parker won Ward 26 by just over 500 votes. Kristyn Wong-Tam won Ward 27 with 28.3% of the popular vote. Paula Fletcher won Ward 30 by just over 200 votes. Gary Crawford won Ward 36 by just over 400 votes and with 25.2% of the popular vote. Ron Moeser won Ward 44 by under 200 votes. Even Team Ford’s quarterback, Giorgio Mammoliti, only garnered 43.8% of the popular vote in Ward 7 even after his high profile, unsuccessful campaign for mayor.

Many close votes, an awful lot of just unders and just overs, my friends. Many sitting councillors are not sitting pretty. Twenty of the council seats as well as the mayoralty were won by margins of less than 50% of the popular vote. Any little shift in public opinion will force them to sit up and take notice. Let’s start making them sit up and take notice.

That is my goal with Project 23. So let’s begin making firm plans via the interwebs and in-person get-togethers during the month of August. Let’s aim to have things up and going come fall when Team Ford attempts to get down to the business of eviscerating the civic life of Toronto. We need to assist those councillors who will be fighting to defend the city and, perhaps more importantly, make it known to those intending to travel down the mayor’s path that we’ll be watching them.

In the words of Flavor Flav, let’s get this party started right.

feistily submitted by Cityslikr

We Don’t Know Hockey But Know Somebody Who Does

September 9, 2010

(Just in case you’re getting tired of hearing the same old nat-nat-nattering from these quarters, we thought it’d be good to change it up a bit today. So, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a guest commentator…)

*  *  *

This week in Eye Weekly, Shawn Micallef wrote a perspicacious open letter to George Smitherman, urging the Toronto mayoral candidate to be more like Wendel Clark than Tie Domi. Although I am not a Maple Leaf fan, I’ve watched the team for decades and inevitably started wondering what Leafs our former mayors most resemble:

* David Crombie = Ted Kennedy

Okay, I never saw Kennedy play—I’m not that old—but many hockey historians consider him the greatest Leaf ever. Captain for eight years, “Teeder” helped the team win the Stanley Cup five times and was the last Leaf to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Mayor from 1972 to 1978, Crombie led a reform council that left a legacy the city has coasted on for decades. We still remember him fondly as Toronto’s Tiny Perfect Mayor.

* John Sewell = Frank Mahovlich

A big, supremely talented player, the Big M helped the Leafs win the Stanley Cup four times. And yet, management mistreated him and fans booed him. Sewell had been a smart and scrappy activist alderman, but after he had the temerity to suggest Toronto cops were anything less than tops, he lasted just one term as a bike-riding, rights-defending mayor. Pearls before swine, I guess.

* Art Eggleton = Inge Hammerstrom

An ineffectual player, Hammerstrom could, according to owner Harold Ballard, “go into the corners with eggs in his pockets and not break one of them.” Eggleton was equally ineffectual. Unfortunately, he lasted longer as mayor than the Swedish winger lasted as a Leaf—and a lot of things broke in Toronto while he was in office.

The Other Swede

* June Rowlands = Tie Domi

A classic NHL goon, Domi served as Leaf enforcer. Rowlands ran for mayor on a law and order platform, but is best remembered for banning the Barenaked Ladies, an innocuous Scarborough pop group, from performing at Nathan Phillips Square. While both Domi and Rowlands were embarrassing, the big difference between the two was that Domi was, inexplicably, wildly popular in Toronto.

* Barbara Hall = Mats Sundin

The only Swedish player to score 500 NHL goals, the talented Sundin was a rare likable player on a team full of unlikable ones (Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson). Hall was mayor during Premier Mike Harris’s war on the city. Like Sundin, she served with class during a difficult era.

* Mel Lastman = Tiger Williams

A notorious bad boy, Williams remains the NHL’s all-time penalty leader. Some hockey fans thought he was a goof; others found him entertaining. Ditto for Lastman.

* David Miller = David Keon

When I was a kid, the hockey magazines I devoured regularly referred to the small, skillful Keon as “pound for pound the best player in the NHL.” Although he was one of the greatest players to ever don a Leaf sweater, his relationship with the team eventually soured and he split. As mayor, Miller had smarts, skill and vision—and was equally underappreciated. But many of the mayor’s supporters have a nagging suspicion that, like Keon, who won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player, the mayor would have been even more effective if he’d had Gordie Howe’s elbows.

skates strapped on-edly submitted by Tim Falconer, author of Drive: A Road Trip through Our Complicated Affair with the Automobile