I’m honoured to have been included in The Grid’s 34 Big Ideas To Make Toronto Better issue. However, the big idea I originally submitted to them was just TOO CONTROVERSIAL for noted censor David Topping and his consensus media crony Katie Underwood. Either that or it was TOO SCATTERED and UNFOCUSED to fit into the feature they were putting together, so they reasonably helped me adapt it. I can’t be sure either way, though, so I choose to assume they were motivated by corporate censorship, likely dictated by their Torstar overlords.
Anyhoo, here’s what I originally submitted:
The Idea: Go Rogue
Many of the important things Toronto needs to do require provincial approval even though they should, by any reasonable analysis, fall within the domain of the city. We could implement congestion fees in the successful model of London, England in order to get traffic moving and fund much-needed transit expansion. We could introduce Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, a tried-and-tested way of paying for home energy retrofits through investment bonds. We could require inclusionary zoning for new developments in order to alleviate our massive deficit of affordable housing.
We could do all of that and more with provincial approval that’s currently expected to arrive sometime between too-late and never. It’s time to take a page from the Richard Daley school of municipal governance and do it anyway. Mayor Daley famously bulldozed Chicago’s downtown airport in the dark of night without notifying the state or the FCC as he was legally required to do. (The city was forced to pay a fine, but in the long run is better off.) Nothing I’m proposing for Toronto is nearly as reckless as that action, which stranded planes and disregarded fire department helicopters that used the airport. Either way, Toronto, the sixth largest government in Canada, can no longer wait for the official sanction of a disinterested provincial government to get aggressive on congestion, renovate our inefficient building stock and rapidly build affordable housing.