My Toronto Idea: Neighbourhood Project Managers

photo (7)The other day, a member of the Ossington Community Association Facebook, pointed out what he, in my opinion, politely called a “blunder.” Back in October, the City painted bike sharrows onto Shaw Street. Then last week, it ripped up a good section of north-bound Shaw Street in preparation to resurface it. Yes, that’s right, it spent money and time painting symbols onto a road that it then weeks later destroyed.

I mentioned this story to someone who’s familiar with municipal infrastructure and he wasn’t the least bit surprised. He explained to me that work at the City is very “silo-ed,” meaning that the person who oversaw the painting likely knew nothing about the upcoming road construction. This, to me and probably to you, is just flat-out stupid.

It also got me to thinking about something… Maybe what the City needs is something like neighbourhood project managers.

This new group of City employees would each be their assigned their own area, which would be created using existing neighbourhood divides (things could even be broken up ward, if that makes the most sense and is manageable workload-wise). The PMs would be responsible for knowing exactly what was planned for their area, whether it was construction, zoning changes or even an event, by the City, Hydro, Bell and any other agency that physically alters the cityscape. The PMs would then coordinate these various activities so that they rolled out in a logical, cost-effective manner.

Here’s how this would have worked for Shaw Street. The Trinity-Bellwoods PM would have been made aware of the plans to paint the bike sharrows as well as resurface the road, as soon as the money for those projects was approved. The PM, being an intelligent, highly organized person, would quickly realize that it makes the most sense to resurface the road and then paint the symbols. She would then get in touch with the people responsible for executing those tasks, explain what she noticed and work with them to create a plan and timeline that would accomplish the necessary tasks in a logical way.

And that’s it, it’s that simple.

Maybe I should submit my idea to the Star Talk: Toronto Idea Jam. Set for Monday, November 25 at the Toronto Reference Centre, this evening event asks, “What does Toronto need most? Bring your best idea and share it with participants and our panelists: Writer Shawn Micallef; City of Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmat; and Seema Jethalal, Managing Director of Regent Park’s Cultural Hub, Daniels Spectrum.” It’s also free though you need to pre-book tickets.

I’m thinking of going though I don’t know if I will have the guts to stand up and share my idea. Maybe the organizers will give you the option of writing things down on paper and stuffing it in a box.

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