Selected candidates’ campaign rhetoric to the contrary, Toronto is not, at this moment, teetering on the brink of a fiscal precipice, about to tumble headlong to its inevitably gloomy fate. In fact, it isn’t even a city in decline. It is vibrant, it is growing, and while that growth is accompanied by the predictable pains, we remain fundamentally a city characterised by promise rather than decay. The mayor and councillors we elect will be charged with managing this growth and nurturing this promise, doing everything from deciding which areas to target for increased density to deciding whether a developer is allowed to add seven extra units to the rental building being renovated next door.
Planning and development have gotten rather short shrift in this campaign, and to a large extent throughout the past few terms of Council. Despite the fact that it is the bread-and-butter of what goes on at City Hall (half the items on a typical Council meeting agenda will fall into this general area), the nature and trajectory of Toronto’s growth hasn’t emerged as a focal point for discussion in recent years. (Transportation planning has, but though that is essential, it is but one aspect of a much bigger set of policy questions.) In a city that is arguably beset by an urban/suburban divide—a divide whose very definition lies in differences of built form—and which is amalgamated but not yet unified, this represents a missed opportunity of epic proportions.
Hoping to call attention to these issues is People Plan Toronto, a grassroots organisation which advocates for better managed, more transparent, more inclusive urban planning, and for a strong community voice in the planning process. This Saturday, PPT is hosting a free, public forum to discuss how Toronto’s planning process can improve, and how Toronto’s politicians can become more responsive to residents about planning issues. With a morning of presentations by some key leaders in the field and an afternoon of working group sessions focused on the election specifically, “A City for Everyone” will set the stage for the mayoral debate PPT is holding (and about which we’ll be telling you more soon) early in October. With any luck, it’ll set the stage for some more widespread discussion, too.
To learn more about “A City for Everyone,” head on over here.
Get more municipal election coverage from Torontoist here.