Seek­ing prob­lem-solv­ing politi­cians: ap­ply ASAP

Time to stop kick­ing se­ri­ous city is­sues down the line

North York Post - - News - by Ron John­son RON JOHN­SON

There has been a lot of de­bate over the past few months of city bud­get­ing. Ev­ery mu­nic­i­pal­ity has held meet­ings and stud­ied the best way to use its rev­enue.

In Toronto, de­spite an out­cry over the im­por­tance of af­ford­able hous­ing, home­less shel­ters and other so­cial is­sues, Mayor Tory has made it a point to keep taxes to a min­i­mum.

It’s not sur­pris­ing, given we are in a mu­nic­i­pal and pro­vin­cial elec­tion year. But con­sid­er­ing the out­cry over home­less­ness and af­ford­able hous­ing and the em­pha­sis the city is plac­ing on in­no­va­tion, it is not good enough for the many cit­i­zens look­ing for vi­sion from their elected of­fi­cials.

There are some is­sues faced by the city that will only get more dif­fi­cult and more ex­pen­sive the longer we wait. I’ve men­tioned two. Oth­ers in­clude cli­mate change, tran­sit and pub­lic space.

Our in­fra­struc­ture is very old. And, yes, we can play sink­hole tag and busted wa­ter pipe bingo un­til the cows come home. But, band-aid so­lu­tions will never get us ahead.

As the cli­mate warms, new prob­lems will be added that also re­late to our in­fra­struc­ture and the city’s abil­ity to adapt to change. We will flood more. We will have more heat waves. We will have more ice storms.

If we don’t pay now, it will cost much more later. The trou­ble is, pay­ing now is po­lit­i­cal sui­cide.

Sadly, there are those who think the all-pow­er­ful, al­l­know­ing “mar­ket” or some ex­ter­nal force will guide us through our times of cri­sis. It doesn’t work like that.

We need a mas­sive in­jec­tion of cash to re­pair ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture and adapt to cli­mate change. We need more money so that peo­ple stop dy­ing on our streets. We need a mas­sive in­vest­ment in tran­sit, pub­lic spa­ces and cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture.

What we don’t need is a gov­ern­ment — at any level not just mu­nic­i­pal — kick­ing these prob­lems down the road to the next term or wasting bil­lions on big-bud­get items that make no sense in the fu­ture be­cause it helps them get elected to­day.

Yes, I’m talk­ing to you, ones­top Scar­bor­ough sub­way.

So when I see politi­cians be­ing overly cau­tious and vot­ing on is­sues based on how it plays to the elec­torate not on how well it helps to build the city for the fu­ture, I take note. When I see, for in­stance, ac­tual elected coun­cil­lors pos­ing with of­fen­sive stat­ues or flip­ping the bird to the city be­cause of a pro­gres­sive tran­sit pi­lot pro­ject, such as that on King Street, I take note.

When it comes to the elec­tion, I’m go­ing to vote for can­di­dates who pro­pose so­lu­tions to big prob­lems be­cause it’s the right thing to do de­spite the po­lit­i­cal costs. Peo­ple who build in­stead of tear down. That’s real lead­er­ship.

John Tory needs to look be­yond the next elec­tion

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