Toronto, a once great city, in decline

TORONTO – No, I am not contemplating seeking the Mayor’s chair at Toronto City Hall. I had to beat back the tsunami of people anxious to vaunt my incredible gifts of administrative competence (happily as yet uncontested), unassailable philosophical and ideological acumen (I am taking a page from “The Narcissist’s Guide to Self-Adulation”) and impeccable ethical credentials (even though Prime Minister Trudeau says only the former Governor General fits that description). 

I think my mother wrote that paragraph while strolling through the Garden of Eden. She must have been doing what other mothers in the same idyllic environment were conjuring up: embellished qualities to cover for the unfortunate shortcomings of their terrestrial children.

But this is Toronto. Incredibly, the number of candidates for mayor is in danger of fast exceeding the number of residents. Happily, that means there will be no shortage of candidates with heretofore underutilized or unrecognized intellectual talent, overflowing with empathy for the perceived underprivileged in the far-off netherworlds still unreachable by airborne supersonic space travel.

Anyway, the beauty of a “democracy”, like Toronto’s, lies in the fact that anybody who meets three [very] basic criteria can seek electoral office: (1) have a residence within the borders of the city, (2) be a citizen and (3) be over the age of eighteen. It helps if you are still breathing. That’s it.

It’s even better if you can come up with a relevant plan for moving the City forward. Shouldn’t be too hard – it’s been stuck in reverse for at least ten years and more.

Speaking of moving… that clearly does not apply to vehicular traffic unless you are a cyclist. As conversions of previously accessible car lanes for motorist are converted into “bike lanes”, more and more time will be spent going to and from work. Unless, that is, the TTC “steps up its game”. For nebulous reasons (some of which are beyond the current management’s ability to alter) it has ceased to be the reliable “better way”.

The main throughways – including the highways traversing the City – resemble clogged parking lots or are in constant state of being “under repair”. Ditto for the drain and storm sewer systems. Oh, to have one of those contracts!

One could go on with a long litany of shortcomings in the City’s service sector. The only positive in doing so would be to underscore that there is no shortage of material available for problem-solvers to ply their talents. The Provincial government has made it so much easier for a person of action and vision to secure the regulatory mandate to “get things done”.

Maybe the Province should simply place the City government “under supervision” and entrust the Vision and Operations to an individual who will work hand in glove with the Provincial Cabinet.

Cabinet/the Premier is the other major policy-maker and funder of municipal initiatives targeting urbanization and competitiveness. Individual Councillors can always continue to tilt at windmills.

Toronto’s democratic institutions allow for that as well. Let’s see if anything substantive will emerge.

One of the many endless construction sites in the city (photo from the City of Toronto website