Is Toronto a Ghetto in the making?
Are you tired of unchecked development? You are not alone.
It seems wherever you turn in the greater Toronto area there not only construction cranes but billboards announcing new developments and pre-sales opportunities. In addition, there are the TDSB signs warning buyers that there is likely not any room in the local schools for their children – so don’t expect to go there (I paraphrase).
We are constantly being told that density is going to happen in certain areas but not others. These densification areas seem to have no plan; no rhyme nor reason for the soaring residential towers. I say that as the majority of new construction is residential. Few, if any of the proposed new projects showing any sort of commercial/ residential combinations.
When you stop and step back, do you ask yourself – where is the planning in all this? It is becoming terrifyingly evident that there are too many hands in the pot for the discussion making. The results are those with the most money get the decisions they want. Isn’t it time to have a plan that is actually adhered to? One that can not be over ridden by some individual or special interest.
Here’s a simple yet effective solutions: put a moratorium on all new multi-unit permits in the GTA for a minimum of 5 years. Reason being, the infrastructure is at least 1/2 a decade or more behind the development. Developers are not being required to assure the residents (current and future) that there will be the services to support them in the area. There is a lack of public schools spaces for all grade levels, lack of assurance of water and sewer capacity. There is a major lack of hydro services to support the growth (as evidenced by Toronto Hydro trying to convince large condos to put gas power generation plants on their roofs). Toronto Life reported on the lack of hospital capacity or any forward thinking on this level. There area a lack of park space (for people and pets), lack of community centres and entertainment areas. The list goes on. We hear the Mayor talk about a Billion Dollar Park yet what about water and power supply to the city?
Developers have long had the upper hand in decision making for construction in this province. When a municipality or city says no, they head to the OMB. This single appointed person faces a massive team of lawyers and chart makers paid for by the developer. They regularly get what they want or close to it. This costs money, which developers pass on through their sales pricing. They never lose a dime. The losers are the small resident councils, the singular voices of the people and neighbours. Neighbourhoods lose their character because a builder/landowner wants to capitalize on their investment, at all costs.
What about the City’s Code of Ethics?
I have yet to hear a city councillor disclose how many builders, construction companies, engineers, architects or other building trades persons, have contributed to their campaign war chests. I believe there is an ethics agreement that all councillors must (or should be required to) sign. They are required to declare any conflicts of interest when voting on or discussing matters before them.
My belief is that if all building, zoning and planning matters required these ethical disclosures, there is likely not one of the elected officials that should be voting on such matters. I therefore suggest a city planning department and city planner that are independent from city hall. They should be removed from the debate and stick to a city plan for healthy and thoughtful development. Other cities have been able to accomplish this (Vancouver and Seattle are just two bright examples). Let’s end the era of builders and developers dictating what the city will look like and be like. End the square box developments that lack any architectural significance. End renters losing their light and open spaces to the new condo eclipsing and imposing on their space.
It’s time to tell the builders and developers what to do not visa versa. Create a liveable city not a series of boxed-in ghettos in the making.