Sara Mojtehedzadeh’s Toronto Star article suggesting that Toronto can prepare for the worst by learning from the example of Cleveland is hopeful. It even has a certain degree of superficial plausibility to it. It’s just that, as she concludes, this does not transform underlying issues significantly, that while hundreds might benefit from Cleveland’s example in specific neighbourhoods tens of thousands would be left untouched. There’s hope here, but it’s thin on the water.
If you’ve ever imagined a worst-case scenario for Toronto, it probably looks something like this: a burst housing bubble, massive job losses, crumbling roads, rapid economic decline and spiralling inequality.
That’s the nightmare that Cleveland has already lived in spectacular style.
The silver lining? It survived, thanks in part to an ambitious undertaking known as the anchor mission, which harnesses the massive spending power of a city’s so-called “anchor” institutions, such as universities and hospitals, to keep business and opportunity closer to home.
Think of it as a live, buy and hire local project on a grand scale.
The strategy has been so successful at reviving the Rust Belt town, now affectionately known as Comeback City, that Toronto is taking notice.
The city has begun a yearlong partnership with leaders at some of Toronto’s largest public employers to explore what an anchor mission might look like in a Canadian context.
“People had all these big dreams,” says Denise Andrea Campbell, director of social policy for the City of Toronto, who is heading up the city’s efforts. “I was very inspired by that.”