Toronto is set to fight it out about its official plan
If you haven't been politically active, waiting for a particular issue to really draw your interest, let this be your issue.
The proposed Toronto official plan is a blueprint for positive change in this city for years to come. It will define the character of your home, both for yourself and for your children. It will have a greater impact on your life than any single political decision made by City Council, Queen's Park or Ottawa.
And it is vital that this plan be passed, not only for Toronto's sake, but for the sake of the rest of Ontario as well.
Between now and 2020, the Greater Toronto Area will be adding two million people to its population. These people will arrive without government incentive or intervention. The growth is going to happen no matter what we do, short of building a barbed-wire fence and patrolling the perimeter with armed guards. The real question is, where are these two million people going to settle?
The City of Toronto's plan will accept half of that number, and will move them about in a city that's pedestrian friendly and not auto dependent. If Toronto's plan fails, all of that number will locate in our suburban hinterlands, Toronto's streets will clog with cars, and businesses will start to vacate from the city proper. Sprawl will push out into the Oak Ridges Moraine, into Escarpment Country. Satellite cities such as Peterborough and Waterloo Region will progressively fall under the GTA's influence.
A GTA stretching from Brantford to Courtice and north to Orilla would be impossible to manage socially, politically and economically. The environmental and economic consequences would be devastating for all Ontarians.
Instead, let us fight for a denser, pedestrian oriented Toronto, where suburban stripmalls have been replaced by mixed use promenades. Let us fight for a Toronto where you can leave your car at the border and take transit the rest of the way. Let us fight for an economic engine of our province that's healthy and environmentally sound.
Frustratingly it is a battle only Toronto residents can fight. To all Toronto residents, I ask that you call your city councillors and tell them that you support the proposed Official Plan. Tell them that your friends support the proposed Official Plan, and that you and they will work especially hard at election time to ensure the Official Plan becomes a reality. Tell your councillor that he or she opposes the proposed Official Plan at their political peril, because this issue is important. You are defining your quality of life thirty years from now, and surely that is worth fighting for.