Seeking problem-solving politicians: apply ASAP
Time to stop kicking serious city issues down the line by 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