Richmond Hill Post - - News -

The core idea is that the scale of our govern­ment needs to match the scale of our prob­lems.

No sin­gle mu­nic­i­pal­ity is go­ing to solve traf­fic con­ges­tion on its own, for ex­am­ple. To the ex­tent the prob­lem can be solved, it will have to be a con­certed ef­fort be­cause com­muters — whether they take cars or tran­sit — cross bor­ders ev­ery day.

But, irony of ironies, now the ar­gu­ment is turn­ing back to a Har­ris-es­que, ev­ery­one-forthem­selves at­ti­tude. Peo­ple like Florida and for­mer chief plan­ner for the City of Toronto Jen­nifer Keesmaat [on record as say­ing, “The facts show that tran­sit is over­whelm­ingly a lo­cal ser­vice”] drag out Jane Ja­cobs to back up their point about the im­por­tance of lo­cal power, but though few ur­ban plan­ners like to ad­mit it, Jane Ja­cobs was not ac­tu­ally in­fal­li­ble.

She loved the An­nex and Green­wich Vil­lage — two places few can afford to live in to­day — and had lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of, or em­pa­thy for sub­ur­ban­ites, even though they con­sti­tute the vast ma­jor­ity of North Amer­i­can city­d­wellers. She didn’t much care if peo­ple out­side of city cen­tres liked how they lived; the best way to live is the way she did.

For Toronto or any other city to think that its po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic well-be­ing is di­vorced from that of its sub­urbs is naive. More peo­ple live in Peel, York and Durham Re­gions than Toronto (and more in Scar­bor­ough, Eto­bi­coke and North York than down­town), and it’s sad to see twoway an­i­mus be­tween what should be seen as two parts of the same uni­fied whole.

Don’t get me wrong: we can’t be sat­is­fied be­ing car-de­pen­dent bed­room com­mu­ni­ties, and we can’t rely on Toronto’s sub­ways in­stead of bol­ster­ing our own in­ter­nal tran­sit.

We should cer­tainly de­bate where it makes sense to work to­gether (tran­sit sure seems ob­vi­ous) and where more of a lo­cal ap­proach is war­ranted, but whole­sale dis­missals of re­gion­al­ism are only go­ing to un­der­mine the long-term suc­cess of Toronto and the re­gion. If we want to get bet­ter, we’re go­ing to have to start think­ing big­ger.

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