“We have great problems!” I like to say, in the midst of all this craziness.
This outlook certainly applies also to being a Toronto-based planner: yes, the politics can’t seem to rise to the challenges and opportunities of our times; yes, it’s expensive to live here; yes, home-owners seem to loathe intensification as much as sprawl; yes, residents expect world class (whatever that is) services but don’t want to pay for them; yes, we squander much of our collective wealth and social capital on small thinking and even smaller tax increases; yes!
But I’ll take these problems any day, any time. I’m actually thankful for them.
Growing up in Ontario’s Rustbelt we didn’t have these problems because, frankly, we didn’t have much of anything else. Politics? The stakes were low so no one really cared. Expensive? Cheap living is a product of no jobs and people (like me) leaving town. NIMBYISM? You need growth and change for that. World class aspirations? Only in music and pizza. Squandering our riches? You can’t squander what you’ve lost long ago.
Yes, Toronto often drives me nuts but it’s because there’s so much at stake – there are so many reasons to care. What a place we live in! Generally accepting and open (we’re not as “diverse” and “inclusive” as we’d like to think, but I’ll save that one for a later post). We value things that other big cities, especially in the U.S.A., have long-forgotten or willfully ignored. As Toronto’s “civic laureate” and fellow Essex County expat Shawn Micallef recently reminded me, “We have great people here. People who care.” Indeed, and thanks to you Shawn!
As for that unmasked elephant in the room, COVID-19, it is far from a “good problem”. But I’m thankful to be enduring it in Canada, and in Toronto.