When did the City of Toronto lose its edge? When did the world-class wannabe cease being a model for North American urban planners and become just another so-so urban sprawl looking to cities like Chicago for inspiration? The slide, I believe, started more than a decade ago, but it seems to have accelerated in the past half dozen years.
In fact, Toronto has lost much of its lustre since it elected David Miller as its mayor. Just as Premier Dalton McGuinty has greased the skids under the Ontario economy to the point that the province has become a “have not,” David Miller has bungled his time as mayor to the point that Toronto has become a “have not” city always whining and begging for handouts.
Miller’s term in office has been marked by gun violence with innocent people being shot in the streets, a public transportation system that has become a money pit into which taxpayer dollars disappear faster than the province can shovel them over, and a public school system that enriches teachers, but which is in desperate need for facility repair and proper security in its halls and playgrounds.
Political correctness has replaced common sense and forthright debate. Corruption and mismanagement at city hall has become common place; accountability is but a dim memory there.
Toronto cares more about its employees’ welfare than ever it does about its hard working, long suffering residents. Rather than maintain some sanity in its pay scales, Toronto closes school pools and extorts land transfer taxes and regular annual increases in real estate and business taxes. Entry level workers such as those who cut the grass are paid almost twice the Ontario minimum wage. Receptionists are paid at private sector management wage levels.
Who can point to one single thing that David Miller has done for the real betterment of the city and its residents since he took office in 2003? Other mayors left their marks, Miller will leave only scars.
Employees who are on strike, ludicrously, are allowed to dictate who can and who can not enter city property to drop off their garbage. Garbage piles up on the streets and the city’s managers and its mayor sit on their fat butts and suck their thumbs. Where are the replacement workers? Where are the private firms who are available to replace the fat-cat city employees who withhold their services in the midst of the country’s worst recession in decades?
Pickets have effectively seized control of the city. In Nathan Philllips Square, the city banned the weekly farmers’ market, but let the strikers hold a rally there. Meanwhile the mayor has abandoned his responsibilities at city hall and fled to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to hold city council meetings instead of in the council chamber.
“Toronto the Good” has become “Gun Town” and “Toronto the Dingy,” with weedy, litter-strewn sidewalks and streets with some of the worst pot holes of any major centre in North America.
And it’s getting worse each day.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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