EDITORIAL: Why Toronto is in dire need of an electoral reformation to prevent another “Ford Fest” from happening
All aboard the maegacity bus: Now that the Ford Brother’s gravy-train has
left the station, can we focus on improving our transit system?
By Christie AD
It’s time to acknowledge that the reasons for Old Toronto’s amalgamation in 1998 into a megacity, have failed to come into fruition. Meanwhile, to compensate for a lack of progress on matters of infrastructure and community development for over a decade, the electoral process has deteriorated into nothing more than a reality tv media circus, in which candidates are forced to compete with the real issues at hand for the most attention. On the bright side, the international mockery made of Toronto City Hall by the Ford Brothers’ may have finally been the straw that broke the camels back. Finally there is a substantial reason why the electoral reformation debate should be in favour of striping the suburbs of their ability to veto the core’s vote.
When Mike Harris radically changed the old way of doing things Toronto was still considered a small, clean and livable city, and the skyline showed no signs of condo developments going up on a weekly basis. In the year of the amalgamation, Old Toronto was 37.51 sq mi in size and had a population of 675k. As of 2011 that population had grown to 736,775. That’s a 60k person increase in a city that has hadn’t expanded it’s downtown subway system since 1978, when the population was somewhere between 599-716k (according to census data from 1971 and 1981). Now consider that the TTC has a daily ridership of 2.76 million people, and that the megacity has a population of 2.6 million spanning 240 sq mi. The downtown and it’s infrastructure is being accessed daily by as many people as the borders populate, and yet service development continues to be concentrated along the borders of the city and in the suburbs, and on the maintenence of developments that show no signs of disrepair. The justification? Mike Harris promised that amalgamation would cut down the tax money expenditures of households on services such as fire and garbage collection. In reality, these areas only began to see a definitive rise in cost after the amalgamation occurred, according to a report by Bird & Stack in 2008.
Never has the insanity of this system been so clearly illustrated as when the Ford brothers took office. Ford Nation was epitomized by racist antics, drunken and public tangents by the former mayor, and countless incidents of corruption and lobbying for development projects that no one in council could agree upon. Voters used their emotions to decide, and so the suburbs were drawn in by promises of smaller government and cost saving measures. In reality, Rob Ford saved the city no money. He withheld money that was rationed a decade ago for each year according to inflation for the first three years of his term, only to spend all that he saved up in the fourth year, bringing the budget back on target but in excess of what had originally been projected (this observation is based on the budget data available on the Toronto city website for the past decade).
Despite these facts, a successfull reformation of the amalgamation is hard to imagine happening, because there is a perception that the downtown core only want’s it’s power reinstated so they can vote left and serve an elitist liberal agenda. Yet, there are alternatives available which would be suitable to the politic of both parties. In London, UK, the megacity is divided into districts overlaping individual wards, so aside from the mayor for the entire city they elect ceremonial mayors for each borough, and one for the entire downtown core. By introducing a level of government that encompasses and is representative of the space that falls between a ward and the whole of the city, Toronto could bridge the gap between the authority of the mayor and the councilors.
In the current voter system representation of the regional and the local aspects of a ward are divided between separate councilors, but what good does this really do when the borders for the land they hold authority over are the same? What we see as a result is a division of labour between two individuals rather than an execution of the concept behind the separate positions.
Ultimately, in order for Toronto to see the changes it desperately needs, the Mayor needs to start addressing the concerns of the core without dismissal due to prejudice. The Ford’s refused to hold themselves accountable for neglecting the needs of the heart of the city because they were privileged enough to never experience the issues for themselves. Until you have walked the streets from the perspective of the marginal and neglected populace, you won’t have empathy for the struggle and blame will be projected the wrong way for the issues at hand. Instead of pitting councilors against each other, the competition aspect needs to be abandoned and a system erected that will benefit the co-operative behavior and favour the needs of the poor. City council should be concerned with those who’s spirits remain downtrodden due to inadequate services, and to the people who feel exploited, rather then cater to the complaints of the already well provided for.
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Emerson Tavares is a prominent hip hop drummer hailing from Toronto. We asked him a few questions to see what he’s about.
How long have you been drumming for?
I’ve been drumming for about 9 years now pushing 10 Right now
What have you been working on lately?
I’m working with Camm Hunter From DWW we got some shows coming up next month.
Your mixtape featured electro as well as hip hop, are there any other genres you dabble in? Any hardcore rock?
Yea I grew up playing rock music listened to bands like the red hot chill peppers, rage against the machine, stuff like that wasn’t really into hardcore metal growing up, not a fan of double kick..
How many takes do you need to put together a remix?
when I’m putting a remix toget in all honestly I hear it in my head Nd then I just do it. I’ll record 3 takes played through. Then I pick which 1 I like more outta the 3 takes.
What are some records you’ve played on?
I’ve played on a bunch growing up being in a band and all bit a big record I’m proud to be apart of is a record called SuperBangerWockeez. The dance crew the Jabbawockeez has an album called Prism and that records on it.
Any exciting memories/stories as of late worth sharing?
Man I got a bunch of stories, maybe the next interview I’ll get into more detail with that
Any upcoming shows?
upcoming dates I’ll be performing with Camm Hunter
dates may 8th London May 15th Toronto May 23 Montreal
Yohiji Yamamoto’s latest men’s collection debuts shabby chic layering and bold rock and roll as well as floral graphics. His choice of models on the runway were unconventional and ranged from urban youth to vagrant-esque aging men. There was a certain Les Miserables appeal to the whole affair. The floral overcoats were a favourite of mine and reminded me of Yohiji’s original philosophy of designing men’s clothes for women to wear. ““When I started making clothes for my line Y’s in 1977, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes. I jumped on the idea of designing coats for women. It meant something to me – the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman’s body. I wanted to protect the woman’s body from something – maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind.” This collection is successful in delivering a form of street wear fashion that has a contemporary couture edge. The nuances of pattern and the form in which they fill achieves the quality of a beautiful suit with the comfort of an over sized hoodie. Zipper details further the feeling of pre-worn by creating the appearance of tears in the fabric, without having to damage the garment in order to achieve the look. I consider this to be a beautiful collection and I think that Yohiji outdid himself this year.