Ferris Wheel Of Fortune

September 11, 2011

(Repurposing of our Wednesday post over at Torontoist, with bad grammar and possibly poor spelling reinserted from an earlier draft.)

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As the battle begins over a new vision for Toronto’s waterfront, the Fort Sumter shot fired by Councilllor Doug Ford’s commercial heavy, where’s everybody going to shop by the lake dream, what it all comes down to is a fight over the public realm. The Ford’s have no taste for such a thing, might not even understand what it means. Those who have been in on the process since Waterfront Toronto’s inception more than a decade ago believe it should be the driving force behind the development.

Invest in the public realm, and private investment is sure to follow. That’s the view of former Toronto chief planner Paul Bedford. Meanwhile, if you put the private sector before the public realm, you get Queen’s Quay. Now adjunct professor of city planning at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, and senior associate at the Canadian Urban Institute, Bedford came to City Hall yesterday to speak before council’s Executive Committee, which was meeting to discuss the mayor’s new plan for the Port Lands.

This idea, of investment in the public realm coming first, lies at the centre of the current flood control plan. (The Port Lands surround the mouth of the Don River, which like all rivers can sometimes overflow its banks. Flood protection measures must be implemented before any building on the surrounding land can occur.) Team Ford says that there’s no money in place to fund it. Ipso facto, they go on, let’s hit up the private sector– their go-to answer for almost everything. In return for a sweetheart deal on any nearby land, said private sector would, maintain the Fords, happily build the needed infrastructure. Just like they’re lining up to do for the Sheppard subway line. (Cough, cough. Cough, cough.)

Conversely, those who favour investment in the public realm before selling to developers argue that if the public sector builds the flood control infrastructure, the nearby land will increase greatly in value, and the City won’t have to unload properties at a cut rate price. This means more money flowing into government coffers to help offset infrastructure costs. (This is the exact opposite of the argument the Ford administration made about their proposed Sheppard subway line. Of course, they are now having to go to the province, cap in hand, to ask for some seed money to get things rolling. Cough, cough. Cough, cough.)

Never mind the fact that some might argue that it’s the role of government to build infrastructure and not to leave such a vital component for a healthy society to the vagaries of the market place. Some might argue. Unless, like the Fords and their neo-con herd of sheep on the Executive Committee, you believe the less a role government plays, the better. End stop.

Mayoral brother Doug Ford’s disregard of the public realm is such that he couldn’t be bothered to stick around after the entirely predictable Power Point (and not at all jaw-dropping) presentation of this new proposal and defend his vision to just one or two of the 30 or so deputants who were there to stand up for the current plan. Instead he took to the friendlier environs of a media interview/infomercial to take on “ferris wheel hypocrites.” (You heard it here first, folks.) This allowed the councillor to get out ahead of the sense of dismay and alarm that was building amongst the deputants and crowd at his half-baked, half-cocked waterfront plan in Committee Room 1.

Whatever it is going on in their noggins seems to be completely contrary to the actual facts on the ground. If Tuesday’s Executive Committee meeting showed us anything, it’s that whoever is behind this move to blow up ten years of planning and replace it with something slapped together under the cover of darkness has no idea what is actually going on on our waterfront. Or if they do, they don’t want their supporters who they’ll need to push this thing through council to know.

They tell us that nothing’s going on down there. (There is.) They claim that the whole entirety of Waterfront Toronto is the biggest boondoggle they’ve ever seen. (It isn’t. In fact, it isn’t a boondoggle at all. Don’t believe me? Ask a real life, honest to God conservative, former mayor David Crombie. Or even a less than honest to God conservative, federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty.) They say the cupboard’s bare and there’s no money anywhere to proceed any further. (Wrong, wrong, wrong.) All of it wrong.

It’s almost as if they can’t stand to see government in action actually succeed. To have to admit that a slow, deliberate, inclusive, democratic process is able to create something special that this city can truly be proud of. That the so-called public realm not only needs to be nourished but if it isn’t, everything else becomes simply a crass, sterile money grab.

Yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting did not show us two competing waterfront visions. What it revealed was two competing visions of urban planning. One, which deputant after deputant advocated for and defended, is a strong, vibrant public realm as the basis for strong, vibrant communities, neighbourhoods and cities. A fundamental belief that planning must involve engaging the wider community at every step of the process just as Waterfront Toronto has done. The dreary, time consuming aspect of public consultation that gives the appearance of `nothing being done’ to those who hold citizens’ views as little more than an afterthought. Those who see planning as nothing more than grand announcements with little substance and much ad hockery. A desiccated public realm, picked clean and sucked dry by those needing and looking for a quick buck.

It’s city building versus city exploiting. The first isn’t always pretty but the second masks its ugliness behind bright lights and shiny baubles until it’s too late for us to get a good look at it.

repeatedly submitted by Cityslikr

Don’t Speak Unless You’re Spoken To

September 8, 2011

Another outrageous, highly dubious plan of action crawls up and out, Creature From the Black Lagoon style, from the mayor’s office. Another outbreak of indignant cries of foul (and worse) from opponents, compromising the typical cadre of left wing kooks, academics and not Toronto Sun readers.
Predictable, really.

Why doesn’t everybody just chillax, take a pill. The mayor’s just one vote on council, we’re told. What he says doesn’t automatically go. You’re just being hysterical. Team Ford loves making you hysterical. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

OK but, upon assuming office the mayor declared Transit City dead and in its place, Transportation City and a Sheppard subway that remains very much in a pie in the sky state.  He then pushed a plan through council for a report – and a report only — on privatizing waste collection west of Yonge. Now he proclaims throughout the land that he’s privatized waste collection west of Yonge. And on Tuesday, the mayor’s rubber stamp Executive Committee challenged council to stop him from seizing control of the Port Lands plans and disfiguring them completely.

It’s hard not to see this as a pattern. Mayor Ford declares it. The court of public opinion says it is so.

One can’t blame the media entirely for continually giving him a soapbox and bullhorn. It makes for great reading/viewing. Crazy statement ensures over-reaction. Conflict, conflict, conflict. That would be, what do you call it, their bread and butter.

But it is does a great disservice to our discourse, front loading it with what appears to be a done deal and foregone conclusion, relegating those standing opposed to the mayor’s moves to rolling the rock back up the hill. Why are you continuing to argue about this? What’s done is done. Let’s move on to the next apple cart we can tip over.

Without substantive pushback, the mayor isn’t just one vote of 45 at city council. There is an atmosphere of fait accompli in everything he does, everything he says. Councillors who defy his wishes are either whining left wing kooks, their noses all out of joint because they no longer have any power, or they’re obstinately denying the will of the people who gave Mayor Ford a mandate to do anything he wants.

Now, as in with every other criticism of the mayor, the usual response is that David Miller did the exact same thing. Well, bad behaviour should not beget bad behaviour. Post-war German leaders did not go on holocaust sprees and turn around in their defence and claim Hitler did it too. (Just for the analogy-challenged: in this particular instance I did not compare Mayor Ford to Hitler. I compared David Miller to Hitler. How’s that for bipartisanship?) Besides, a quick look at who Mayor Miller surrounded himself with, those that sat on his Executive Committee, reveals that it was nowhere near as ideologically hidebound as the current administration’s crop of councillors; nor were they as happy to simply sit around, silently nodding in agreement, ready to raise their hands in automatic agreement. (See the Saga of Brian Ashton.)

A semi-strong mayoral system that we now employ courtesy of the City of Toronto Act allows for our mayors to have an elevated upper hand. Great if you like the mayor who’s in power, not so good if you don’t. It’s the criticism of the mayor’s critics that seems new. While Royson James of that lyin’ rag, the Toronto Star, has set his sights on the performance of Mayor Ford, let’s not forget his shrill anti-Miller voice in the waning days of that administration and his single-minded crusade to chase Adam Giambrone from last year’s mayoral race. Did the Toronto Sun and its followers call him out on any of that? Was he just some kind of right wing kook then? David Miller was fair game and all criticism was justified.

Now, we’re supposed to sit back, keep our opinions to ourselves since Mayor Ford was elected with a mandate from the people of Toronto. To question is to whine. To disagree is simple jealousy or just disenguousness to use Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s favourite new word.

Reasoned disagreement doesn’t seem to stick. Much of that has to do with the fact that, well, facts seem to be irrelevant currently. The Port Lands debate is a good case in point. Of the mayor’s allies only Budget Chief Mike Del Grande is being upfront about what the administration is doing. “The truth,” Royson James claims, “is [Del Grande] needs revenues from the sale of the Port Lands to fix holes in his budget.”

If that’s the case, let’s debate the issue on that basis. Quick cash for a one time budget solution. Pros and cons? Instead, we must contend with obfuscation, misdirection and an outright distortion of the truth. We hear that Waterfront Toronto is a bloated, boondoggle of an organization that has done nothing to earn its keep. There is no plan. At the Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Minnan-Wong deliberately blurred the roles both Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto Port Lands Corporation play in the waterfront development. Read this from Jonathan Robson to see just how disenguous the councillor is being.

Faced with such an onslaught of ‘truthiness’ (and I’m being very generous using that label) what recourse do we have except to scream and holler and continually call out bullshit? If one side insists on conducting business in the mucky goo of misinformation and innuendo, some of us have to wade in there with them and start slinging mud. It may be noble and honourable to take the high road but it leaves us lagging behind in the race to save our city.

loudly submitted by Cityslikr

Ferris Wheel Of Fortune

September 7, 2011

Great title, eh? Wasn’t ours. It was the good folks over at Torontoist where we’ve posted our thoughts about yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting.

Until tomorrow…

multi-taskingly submitted by Cityslikr

Not Your Grandaddy’s Conservatism

September 4, 2011

(Hey ho, people. Listen up. An auspicious Sunday as we introduce a guest contributor to All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, Sol Chrom. Not only is he an occasional commenter here but he’s also been known to blog over at Posterous, tumblr and OpenFile. A busy, busy man. So we are honoured to have him appear with us. Hopefully the first of many.)

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I’ve tried to avoid the easy snark in reaction to Doug Ford’s musings about turning what’s left of Toronto’s waterfront into a megamall-themed, monorail-adorned, Ferris-wheel-festooned amusement park. It doesn’t do any good to get all riled up and turn into indignant sputtering caricatures of Left-Wing Kooks every time Brother Doug has a brain fart.

But it turns out it wasn’t just a brain fart. Turns out it was something that arose out of a series of private meetings with real estate developers and mall operators. Isn’t this very much like the corruption and backroom dealing Councillor Rob Ford used to rail against and promised to do away with if he was elected mayor? You know, transparency and respect for taxpayers and all that?

There’s not much point in spending a lot of detail on the obvious political arguments. “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” is the easy question. He doesn’t have the mandate to singlehandedly tear up years of planning and consultation, flushing millions of tax dollars down the drain. An easy criticism, and not likely to dissuade anything.

It’s also pretty easy to point out that pawning off capital assets in a one-time fire sale in a half-assed effort to make up an operating deficit isn’t exactly prudent management. Weren’t these guys supposed to be the antidote to years of socialist fiscal ineptitude?

One could also ask why this is getting fast-tracked to Executive Committee, but again − easy question. That’s how this bunch operates. Spring it on us with almost no warning and give us less than a week to absorb and discuss. No surprise there either.

No. There’s a much larger and more overarching issue here: whence this pathological compulsion to tear things apart? First Transit City, and now this? Years of planning, study, consultation, remediation, standard-setting, consensus-building, and Team Ford wants to attack it with sledgehammers, tear it to shreds, and set fire to it – and for what? How does this benefit the public? There’s got to be something deeper and more disturbing here than mere impatience with process or the childish desire for payback against David Miller and the nefarious downtown elites.

Once again, it’s worth taking a step back and trying to view this in a larger historical context. While I’m usually reluctant to categorize things in terms of labels, I’m willing to make an exception here, if only because on the surface there seems to be such a correlation between people who identify as “conservative” and support for Team Ford.

But is there? An open letter to the city’s Executive Committee from the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance is urging caution on the Port Lands proposals for pretty much the same reasons: it’s not prudent to make wholesale and irrevocable changes to a large body of existing work and tear up years of planning without undertaking a rigorous and transparent process of public consultation: The proposed changes to be discussed at your next meeting are very significant, are not well understood and were not the subject of any substantive debate or discussion in the last municipal election campaign.

Despite the imprimatur of noted local Trotskyite John Tory, this doesn’t sound like wild-eyed revolutionary zeal; it sounds more like an attempt to stop it, or at least slow it down.

Back to the historical context. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution was reverberating throughout Europe. The established social and political order was facing its most fundamental challenge since the Protestant Reformation. In England, the statesman and orator Edmund Burke was reflecting upon the French Revolution: I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases.

Remind you of anyone?

Burke’s words resonate here because he’s frequently cited as one of the fathers of modern conservatism. It’s worth taking some time here to reflect upon the meaning of the word; to the extent that I understand it, it carries connotations of care, civility, preservation of tradition, honouring the most worthwhile aspects of our collective past, learning from our mistakes, and trying to leave things as clean and orderly as possible for the people who come after us. It means identifying and retaining the best parts of our history and the lessons it’s taught us. We have a body of intellectual and political tradition that’s been cultivated and developed over decades, over generations, over centuries even. Sweeping it all away with a dismissive wave of the arm is not the hallmark of responsible or careful governance.

You don’t have to identify as a conservative to acknowledge that it’s an honourable tradition – one that’s stood the test of time and has much to teach us. In that light, it’s hard to see the Ford “plans” for the waterfront as anything but antithetical to genuine conservatism.

So where is this coming from? Given what we’ve seen from this bunch, I fear that it’s not “conservatism” as we understand it at all, but something more sinister: atavistic autocratic bullshit, aided by a sophomorically gleeful narrative encouraging the bull-in-the-china-shop approach because … well, just because. It’s not an ideology or a collection of ideas and tradition at all. It’s rule by fiat. Might makes right. We’re doing this because we have money and power and you don’t, so step out of the way, peasant. We don’t even have to pretend this makes sense from a financial or infrastructural point of view, and we don’t have to address your insolent questions.

When was it that people used to act this way? Oh, that’s right. Medieval times. Or perhaps under the feudal system.

It’s not as if this started with Team Ford. It’s just particularly blatant because it’s served up with such an overwhelming air of triumphalism and belligerent ignorance. It’s not a pleasant realization, but the first step in confronting it is recognizing it for what it is.

As the Civic Action letter makes clear, this is going to have ramifications that go well beyond the mandate of the Ford administration and its successors. Screw this up and the damage could be irreparable. Executive Committee members and city councillors contemplating whether to get on board should keep this in mind.

— submitted by Sol Chrom

(To read the original post Team Ford goes Godzilla on the waterfront: this ain’t your grandpa’s conservatism in its entirety, click here.)

Disrespect For Democracy

September 2, 2011

Phee-ew. That’s a relief.

It seems when Sideshow Doug started spewing forth his twisted vision of a Disneyland waterfront earlier this week, he wasn’t just flying by the seat of his pants, making shit up as fast as the words could tumble from his mouth. No. We hear tell today that, in fact, this has been in the works for months with developers and designers already chiming in with their thoughts and ideas. There has been a plan taking shape, quietly out of public view…

Wait, what?

I thought the Ford Administration was going to be all about openness and transparency. Out there on the campaign hustings last year, fresh-faced candidate Rob promised if elected that he would put an end to all those backroom, sweetheart deals that were, apparently, going on around City Hall during the Miller era. I have no idea if the waterfront plans he’s concocting will qualify as a sweetheart deal but they certainly are looking awfully backroom-ish at this point.

Where have you gone, honest Rob-io? Ford Nation turned its lonely eyes to you.

Try as you might to parse it favourably but it’s damn near impossible to see this as anything other than backroom wheeling and dealing, and another broken campaign promise to toss in pieces onto the ever growing list of broken campaign promises. During the campaign, the mayor said Toronto couldn’t afford to develop the waterfront. Now he’s looking to assume control of a portion of it from the senior levels of government so the city can develop away. But it won’t cost us a thing, of course, as everything will be left up to the magic of the private sector. So I guess that technically doesn’t count as a broken campaign promise. Just slightly altered with a pinch of wishful thinking.

How many times does this have to happen, this easy discarding of platform planks that got the mayor elected, before there’s a significant bleeding of support by those who had put their hopes in Rob Ford not being just another dishonest politician with a disregard for those who voted for him? Accountability, he pledged. Respect, la la la. Now, in a desperate bid to keep from inflicting massive services cuts that he guaranteed wouldn’t happen, Team Ford has set its greedy sights on a sellable city asset, fucking with a plan for the waterfront that’s already in place and that has the support of more than just simply left wing kooks and the downtown elite. What’s that you say, John Tory?

During this week’s hubbub over Doug Ford’s backroom vision for the waterfront, a minor set-to bubbled up when Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam sent a letter to the mayor, decrying his kingly decree that Toronto would not express any interest in hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Whether or not it was a good idea to pursue such a venture is entirely beside the point. It’s the manner in which the mayor decided, by ‘fiat’ the councillor wrote, that should be of concern. Hardly the open or democratic style the mayor promised his administration would be. Another thumbing of his nose at Ford Nation.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong was dutifully summoned to defend Mayor Ford in the obtuse, petulant styling that is his trademark. “… if the mayor actually had said he was supporting it [an Olympic bid], she would be the first one to criticize the fact that he was moving forward with this without going to council to begin with.” Uhh, yeah councillor, she probably would. That was the point of the letter. The unilateral way the mayor’s office announced a decision on an Olympic bid from Toronto. Did you actually read it before publicly popping off?

The mayor didn’t say that he was against pursuing a bid but if council thought it was a good idea, well hey, that’s how democracy works. No. He and his brother and the deputy mayor simply stated we couldn’t afford it. End of story. But how about that ferris wheel, folks?

Isn’t that the very antithesis of the openness, transparency and accountability the mayor promised he’d institute if elected? He’s not even pretending that he’s listening to the voters at this point. Gone is the usual claim of receiving hundreds of calls from taxpayers demanding we not try for the Olympics or that we put a monorail and shopping mall in place of the waterfront plans that have been in the works for a decade now.

It would appear that the trappings of power have gone to our once humble, folksy, just one of youse guys mayor. He’s become quite comfortable regally pronouncing policy, avoiding debate and votes when he can, bullying the necessary numbers at council when he must. It’s disconcerting that so many councillors have simply accepted their role as nothing more than fawning courtiers but the real tragedy is if the once feisty and outspoken Ford Nation falls submissively in line as His Worship’s loyal subjects.

in a (Gar)funkely submitted by Cityslikr

Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day, Councillor

September 1, 2011

I have been desperately trying to put Councillor Doug Ford’s hideous back room vision for the East Portlands waterfront from my mind. These attempts have including long, long, Nyquil induced naps, binge drinking and.. well, just those two things. Nothing seems to work. My dreams have been filled with images of amusement park grotesqueries and the retail wasteland south of the Eaton Centre.

So I’ve spent some of my waking hours clicking through the Executive Committee’s item under consideration, Toronto Port Lands Company – Revitalization Opportunities for the Port Lands, Waterfront Toronto’s website and various media accounts of what’s been going on and what Councillor Ford’s proposal – such as it is – might mean.

One conclusion I have drawn is that things have not been going anywhere near as slowly as the councillor or the mayor claim. A trip in person down there shows a constantly evolving scene, with spots like Sherbourne Common just opened up this summer. In the comments section of John McGrath’s piece at Open File, What’s next for the Port Lands development?, Canadian National lists everything that’s happened so far, what’s currently under construction and what’s on the dockets, both in the near future and beyond. It is a pretty impressive list.

The idea of slow in these matters is very relative. Check out the provincial government’s Executive Summary just of the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project environmental assessment. It is exhaustive. Whenever you get all three levels of government working together on a project, speed is not going to be of the essence. On pages 3 and 4, count the number of ministries involved at both the provincial and federal levels, in addition to the zoning, permit and bylaw approvals needed from the city. There’s something like 18.

Now, small government fans like the councillor and his brother-mayor will point to that as the problem, evidence of the red tape and regulatory burden that slows everything down to a crawl. Unleash the private sector, they cry, and behold the power of unfettered free enterprise to work its magic. I’ve got a two word response to that: Queen’s Quay.

Speed kills smart development. While yes, there’s very likely slow motion progress owing to the involvement of 3 levels of bureaucracy, intra-governmental disputes and the electoral politics of changes in who holds what office, the deliberate approach Waterfront Toronto has been taking since its beginnings is ultimately a good thing. It helps in finding mistakes or bad ideas before they get too far along in the process. New, better ideas may emerge. It allows for a wider consultation process and broader community engagement which, ultimately, means more happy campers as an end result. As has been noted often since this debate erupted, there are surprisingly few critics to what’s happened so far under Waterfront Toronto’s watch outside the mayor’s circle.

It’s hard to say exactly what the mayor and his brother’s motives are in this struggle. Maybe Councillor Doug is really that razzle-dazzle pitchman who has little time for mundane things like mixed-use development and inclusive public spaces that aren’t malls. We certainly know that urban planning is not the man’s forte. Or maybe it’s just a plain ol’, grubby money grab. A quick sale of valuable city assets so that budget holes can be plugged while cutting and freezing taxes, and an impossible campaign promise kept.

Whatever it is, let’s not give him the foothold to claim Waterfront Toronto is moving too slowly. Judging by the results to date, I’d offer everything’s operating at just the right speed.

slow as molassasly submitted by Cityslikr

On The Waterfront

August 30, 2011

So it seems the quiet whispers of hope that the federal finance minister and Ford family friend, Jim Flaherty, would exert a (ahem, ahem) moderating influence on the brothers’ irrational hatred of all things Waterfront Toronto were nothing more than wishful thinking. According to the Globe and Mail, “The administration of Mayor Rob Ford is moving to seize control of development on the east side of Toronto Harbour, paving the way for ambitious building plans in the Port Lands at the mouth of the Don River and private-sector investment.” Flaherty appears ready to play ball. Rather, he seems prepared to punt it, along with common sense and years of careful consideration. “With almost $492-million of the $500-million federal investment spent, federal participation is winding down,” the minister’s press secretary told the National Post, “Waterfront Toronto will now work more closely with our provincial and municipal counterparts on the next phases of development.”

Boondoggle, you say? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

If we’ve learned nothing else from Team Ford’s previous seizing of a tripartite government agreement and making it its own, we should know this. Do not let them do it until they have a fully realized replacement plan down on paper, costed out to the last dime. Remember Transit City. Declared dead and replaced by Transportation City. All money to be used to bury the Eglinton Avenue LRT. A Sheppard subway line will be built with entirely private sector money. Except maybe not. Hey Queen’s Park. Can you front us a little dough, say, $650 mil to get things up and running?

This is the exact same nonsense. Take a project out of the public sphere – a project, by the way, with very few critics except for the mayor, his brother and those mindlessly parroting their views – with the promise of a miracle from private investment. “We’ve got to get this city booming and tell the rest of the world about it,” [Councillor Ford] said. “This will be the most spectacular development in all of Canada. Your jaw will drop when you see this.” Sounding just like the carnival barker/snake oil salesman he has turned out to be, the councillor seems shockingly oblivious to the fact the waterfront, along with other areas of the city, is already undergoing a healthy redevelopment.

Too slow for the Fords’ liking, apparently.

“[Councillor Ford] expects that with the proposed new arrangement, the revitalization can be completed in five or six years, compared to the 25-year horizon in the current plans.” Holy cow. That is indeed a jaw dropping claim. Surely the councillor has the paper work to back it up, right? He wouldn’t just be pulling numbers out of his ass again, would he? Again?

To show he’s dead serious this time, ixnay alktay about a new stadium to lure his beloved NFL north of the border. Similarly, nary a mention of a monorail. It’s all business now. “The multi-use development [Councillor Ford] envisions,” says the Globe, “would include impressive shopping malls, waterfront hotels, bike paths and possibly…” Wait for it. Wait for it. “…the world’s largest Ferris wheel.”


See, what all you artsy fartsy, fancy pants urban planners with your university edgamacations don’t get, and the likes of Rob and Doug Ford just know instinctively, deep down in their guts, is that what makes cities like London great, what makes them highly desirable for people and investment boils down to one thing, and one thing only. Great big fucking ferris wheels. Bright shiny gadgets, trinkets and gew gaws. Cities as amusement parks, where the well-to-do come down to play and everyone else ekes out a living ensuring that their stay is an enjoyable one.

This is nothing more than a money grab, pure and simple. A bull-headed expropriation of a city asset for a quick sell off in order to plug budget holes created by this administration’s refusal to govern responsibly and realize taxation is a legitimate source of revenue. What’s even more galling is that they are once again trying to float the idea of the private sector sailing in to the rescue, picking up the pace, picking up the tab including hundreds of millions of dollars for flood protection. City Manager Joe Pennachetti is playing along with the mayor’s little charade, citing Waterfront Toronto’s inability to come up with the money for the project.  “Given that the existing governance structure has been in place for ten years and has not produced a viable funding plan for the Port Lands,” Pennachetti writes, “it is timely to explore a new delivery model for this area, including the opportunity for private investment to front-end the implementation of flood protection and other infrastructure requirements thereby reducing reliance on public funds.”

Yeah. We all know how the private sector just loves to hand over cash for infrastructure development. (See paragraph 3.)

While Mayor Ford ran roughshod over Transit City by claiming to have a mandate from the voters to rid the roads of streetcars and build subways, I never heard him promise that if elected he’ll stop all the boondoggling on the waterfront and conduct a fire sale of everything not nailed down there. “We have great expectations for the waterfront,” Councillor Paula Fletcher told the Globe. “It belongs to Toronto. It doesn’t belong to one councillor.”

Or one mayor.

If there was ever a time for council to draw a line in the sand, it would’ve been last December. But it’s never too late to grow some stones and start taking a stand. This one should be easy even for those councillors still frightened of the mayor’s shadow. His plan is half-baked — as usual — based on dubious claims that have already been proven ill-considered on one proposed mega-project. There is plenty of high profile resistance from the public toward any malignant mucking with what are, in fact, slowly coalescing development ideas. The mayor looks to take something and replace it with worse than nothing.

Which seems to be the dominant motif of his administration to date. The question is, how long are we going to let him go on razing things before we encourage the adults to step back in and assume control? The city’s future well-being depends on it happening sooner rather than later.

soggily submitted by Cityslikr