Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The good old days

So we're in the run-up to a municipal election here in Toronto, and so far most of the headlines (if not most of the polls) have been dominated by a clown named Rocco Rossi. Specifically, Rossi has grabbed the spotlight by slamming bike lanes, claiming that the creation of the Jarvis bike lane (removing a redundant 5th car lane from a major arterial road and turning in to bikeways) was "undemocratic" despite having been approved in a full council vote.

Rossi ran John Tory's losing campaign for mayor of Toronto in 2003, and seems to largely be trying to get a do-over: pile the outer boroughs of Toronto against the city core to eke out a win. This plan is dubious enough mathematically (the core of the city make a large plurality of voters, who vote more enthusiastically than their outer-borough brothers and sisters) and politically the reasons it probably won't work can be summed up by saying John Tory is a better politician than Rocco Rossi and lost trying to do exactly this.

The larger question is of course whether Toronto has learned anything from the last fifty years or so. The Miller years have been some of the best for cyclists, transit users, and pedestrians in this city for a long time. Car drivers have face some new, relatively trivial obstructions, but the real problem for drivers is simply that there are too many to reasonably fit in to the city core -- there's no car-based solution to the problems for car drivers anymore.

Nevertheless, Rossi and his not-inconsiderable followers are happy to play on the resentment of the not-quite-privileged-enough: the wealthier, whiter residents of the outer boroughs who, disdaining the city they work in so much they would never live there, choose to spend hours in the hermetically sealed cultural environments of their cars.

Christopher Hume, one of the best city writers for the Toronto Star, put it rather succinctly.
Despite all this, Rossi's desire to eliminate change rather than promote it amounts to little more than a vain attempt to turn back the clock. It's easy to understand the lure of nostalgia, of the good old days, but they are finished, over, caput. And never should it be mistaken for public policy. That would be disastrous.

Needless to say, Torontonians know better than this. Support for transit as well as the Jarvis remake is overwhelming. That's why Rossi will lose.

As long as there have been politicians, they have appealed to our most selfish instincts. Rossi's pitch is just more blatant and unashamed than we're used to in Toronto.

Though it's early days still, already it's clear that if Rossi wins, the city loses.
I know they say there's no such thing as bas publicity, but youch.

1 comment:

Zack said...

I will, as ever, be looking to Dymaxion World to tell me who to vote for