Posts Tagged ‘politics’
NOW Toronto‘s Enzo DiMatteo writes about racism in Toronto, both that directed towards Olivia Chow and that evidenced by continuing support for the Ford brothers.
She has the best grasp of the inner workings of City Hall among the top contenders for mayor. She has the most political experience and the resumé to prove it. In the spring she was the overwhelmingly popular option to save the city from Rob Ford.
But for most Torontonians, Olivia Chow just doesn’t fit the bill, according to public opinion polls. Too stiff. Too scripted. Maybe too Chinese. I know you didn’t want me to go there, Toronto. But the racist attacks have been a little too overt to ignore, haven’t they?
The question of race has certainly dominated the campaign discourse of late.
Chow is reluctant to comment on what effect the fact that she is a visible minority is having on her electoral chances. As she told NOW’s editorial board Monday, October 6, she’ll leave that to the pundits. She always says that when she doesn’t want to answer a question directly.
But much like the anti-gay undercurrent that helped kill George Smitherman’s chances against Ford in 2010, disdain for Chow’s foreigner status may carry more weight than we’d like to admit.
It’s an uncomfortable reality to contemplate for a city whose motto is “diversity our strength.” Maybe we’re not so world-class. Just how did a guy like Rob Ford with a track record of racist and homophobic remarks get elected in the first place anyway?
In 2010, voters knew about his Air Canada Centre tirade. They knew about his AIDS comments. His bigotry was no secret. They knew exactly what they were getting.
Toronto transit expert Steve Munro is critical, at Torontoist, of the latest iteration of the Ford brothers’ plan for more subways as recently presented by Doug Ford. He makes the argument that it’s unworkable, being too expensive for the city as it is likely ever to exist and that cheaper and better alternatives exist.
Ford proposes subways on Eglinton East, Sheppard East, and Finch West. Building these would require Toronto to accept that transit and road networks should be completely separated—transit can’t even be next to traffic lanes, but only under them—regardless of the financial impact this would have on the City’s capital and operating budgets. That is an oddly profligate attitude for a family noted for its parsimony with public spending. Capital expenses may come out of thin air (more about that later), but operating a subway where ridership does not generate substantial revenue—and these subways would not—can only lead to higher costs for the municipal government, or operating cutbacks elsewhere. Toronto already faces an operating deficit with the Vaughan subway extension, and a much larger network of subways will only worsen the problem.
A common question for any transit proposal is, “Where will the riders come from?” Part of Ford’s funding scheme includes taxes from new development spurred by his subways. However, that development depends on new construction in the immediate vicinity of stations, not along whole routes; if the Scarborough subway is any indication, there will be long gaps where would-be riders would have to hop on infrequent surface buses. What Ford’s plan does not tell voters is the kind of city we’d need to build to support his plan—just how much we would need to increase development in order to produce that new tax income. And “higher density” is a phrase many voters dislike almost as much as “higher taxes.”
[. . .]
Overwhelmingly, Doug Ford’s transit platform is about subways and the benefits of moving people underground. In a clear case of subway envy, he compares maps of Toronto with New York, London, and Tokyo, but conveniently forgets that decades ago these were huge cities with a market for rapid transit, while Toronto was still operating horse-drawn streetcars serving a fraction of their population. Those networks arose from the scale and histories of older, denser, larger cities—something that would be very difficult and expensive to duplicate today. Toronto certainly should have a more extensive transit system, but a subway line under every main street is an unattainable, unreasonable goal whose pursuit only distracts us from what we can and should achieve.
Oh, Olivia Chow. If only you were more likely to be our mayor. Katia Dmitrieva of Bloomberg tells the story from an international perspective.
Olivia Chow plans to emulate the affordable housing policies of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the traffic-fighting strategies of Chicago if elected to run Canada’s largest city.
Chow said she’d seek to allocate 20 percent of each new residential tower to affordable housing in a push to add 15,000 low-income rental units in Toronto, reminiscent of De Blasio’s platform. She would also fight gridlock by raising the fee developers pay when blocking city streets during construction like Chicago does.
“I learned from New York,” Chow said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office yesterday. “We have similar challenges. We have a prosperous city, but we also have some neighborhoods where people are getting left behind. Bill de Blasio in New York said ‘No one should be left behind’ and a focus on investing in children is where I’m coming from.”
House prices in the city of 2.6 million residents soared 7.7 percent last month to a record and drivers face one of the longest rush-hour commutes in North America. Congestion costs the city and its surrounding area as much as C$11 billion ($9.9 billion) a year, according to the Toronto-based nonprofit research institute C.D. Howe Institute.
[. . .]
After a strong start at the beginning of the campaign Chow has fallen behind, garnering 22 percent of support in a Forum Research poll of 1,218 voters conducted yesterday. [Doug] Ford, who like his brother has emphasized tax cuts, surged to 37 percent support, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. [John] Tory is in the lead at 39 percent, the poll said.