The Grid’s Ideal Campaign Platform

The_Grid_logoHave you read The Grid’s Steal This Platform article yet? If not you should because it’s a realistic, doable guide for how our next mayor (please not Rob Ford) should run the city.

Written by Edward Keenan, it’s an article that any reasonable person should mostly agree with. The bulk of it is these “five incredibly smart ideas:”

1. “Raise taxes”: Yes, yes, a hundred times, yes. OK, I’m not sold on Keenan’s proposed 2 per cent local sales tax but I completely agree with his suggestions of boosting property taxes, bringing back the car tax and backing David Soknacki’s idea of indexing the land transfer tax to housing inflation.

2. “Build more housing—way more”: Another no-brainer though I’m cautious more Keenan’s suggestion that we need a new system that makes “it easier for developers to get permits and approvals for mid-raise buildings.” But I do like his suggestion about more laneway housing and subsidized spaces.

3.”Get on the bus”: Yeah, there’s nothing glamorous about buses but as Keenan points out, they’re cheaper than anything else, easier to implement and they work.

4. “Hire a customer service czar”: I’m sort of surprised that this hasn’t happened yet since it’s such an obvious idea that could be quickly put into place (maybe alongside neighbourhood-specific project manners).

5. “Quit yapping and just do it, already”: No matter what your politic beliefs are, I think we can all agree with Keenan’s comment on how in this city, “A simple idea finds itself debated and redebated to the point of standstill.” His solution? “Whenever people have a great idea, just let them test it out.” That sounds like a good idea to me (well, most of the time).

Toronto_neighbourhoodsThe article also features 21 “small ideas” though “small” refers more to the length of the copy than the scope of the ideas. Of these, the five I would add to any ideal mayoral candidate’s platform are:

  • “Raise the first-time-buyer exemption of the land transfer tax to be the same as the average price of a house in the city.”
  • “Tear down the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis, then impose tolls on the remaining section of the road to cover its maintenance costs.”
  • “Go ahead and build the downtown relief line, already.”
  • “Put at least $100 million a year for the next 10 years into Toronto Community Housing to address its capital repair backlog.”
  • Pledge to “to end homelessness within 10 years”

There are also some “nice to aim for” ideas including “establishing a debit card for low-income residents that gives them free access to city recreational services and attractions,” “participatory budgeting,” “allow(ing) people to drink alcohol in public parks” and connecting the city to the waterfront by placing “a giant green roof over the railway lands just north of the Gardiner.”

But there are some ideas that I’m not too keen on including adding credit and debit cards as TTC payment options (because that won’t slow down boarding), ending “the enforcement of municipal standards on the length of grass on lawns, along with all those other persnickety bylaws” (because sometimes those bylaws can be useful) and I’m not yet sold on a 4 am last call (but maybe that’s just because I live near a bunch of bars).

However, I would happily vote for any candidate who supported those ideas if s/he also promised to make a serious, realistic attempt to implement the downtown relief line (please, please make this happen).

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