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10 February, 2018

Legacy

William James was taking about having a Legacy.

So, what legacy will outlast the members of Toronto’s city council? Their leadership legacy will undoubtedly be a byproduct of the historical decisions they make during their time on council. Now their legacy can be good, bad, or in most cases somewhere in between. So ultimately will council and the mayor be characterized as visionary, bold and progressive or status quo, timid and regressive? Will the future Wikipedia coverage of today’s city council be glowing with a list of value added civic accomplishments, or full of horrible decisions that set back Toronto for years?

Today I am worried about the legacy our civic leaders are going to leave for Toronto. They are continually approving some important new initiatives, but then never seem to fund them or when do they are often watered down because of external pressures. I also worry that they don’t have the courage and political will to increase desperately needed city revenues, nor are they capable of walking back from over budget disasters like the one stop Scarborough subway. Frankly too many on city council seem to be more concerned with getting reelected then doing what is right for the long-term livability of Toronto.

So, what legacy projects would I like to see from the remaining months of this council and the new one that will be elected this October?

Value-based Transit: the Scarborough subway and the Hybrid Gardiner will waste $4.4B and counting. Replace the subway with a multi stop LRT. Tear down the Eastern Gardiner and replace it with a boulevard. Make the Relief line a major priority and invest funds to significantly speed up its implementation. Introduce numerous BRT (bus rapid transit) lines modelled after Bogotá to address short term transit needs and compliment long term transit investments. Increase the service frequency of existing TTC bus and street car lines.

Safe streets: council approved a Vision Zero plan well over a year ago, but with very little action and pedestrian and cyclist deaths still at record levels it is a joke. The Vision Zero models for success are out there in LA, NYC; and where it originated in Sweden. But to truly move to zero deaths will take significant funds. Councillors please attend the Vision Zero Conference in Toronto Feb 28 - March 2 to see what is possible if there is a true commitment to making safe streets happen.

Climate action plan: it is absolutely clear now that climate change represents probably the biggest threat to the future of humankind. Fortunately, it’s impact can be dramatically reduced or eliminated by aggressive action by countries, cities, corporations and people. Toronto has a climate action plan called TransformTO, but like so many city initiatives it is not receiving the urgency and investment it deserves. In the 2018 fiscal plan the Budget Committee has only allocated $2.26M for the plan which is $4.5M shy of what council identified when the plan was first approved. C40 cities like NYC, Paris, Copenhagen ++ are really stepping up their commitment and investments to make a real difference. As a major world city Toronto has to be a leader not a token follower.

Affordable housing: from lack of cold winter shelters, to the homeless, to lack of TCHC housing inventory and a significant repairs’ back log, to those with the most precarious residential needs; housing has been a major city issue for many years. Subsequently Toronto has a major black eye when it comes to our city’s housing situation. Council has to invest significantly more money in solving this issue. And by stepping up with major funding the City will prove to the other levels of government that we are prepared to do our share.

Forbes magazine had an interesting article entitled “6 Principles of a Leadership Legacy” which went on to say that:

“ …leadership is not easy. In addition to the responsibility of making tough decisions everyday there is another critical component that pervades a leader’s thinking. Something that he or she can’t help but wonder from time to time and that is - what will be my leadership legacy?”

So, if council members truly wish to leave an excellent leadership legacy that helps Toronto be more sustainable, healthy, inspiring and inclusive what action will they take on my four mayor initiatives?

As Yoda once said “do or not do. There is no try”

Richard

Passionate city builder.

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