Rob Ford, the Liberator? Toronto’s mayor takes on the city’s love of rules

Rob Ford, the Liberator? Toronto’s mayor takes on the city’s love of rules

Helium balloons on city property: yet another thing not allowed in Toronto 

Here’s something that might actually span the political chasm in this town: getting rid of some of Toronto’s more absurd rules and regulations. Rob Ford and some of his allies on council are looking to drop some of the rules that make life in the city a little less easygoing than it ought to be.

The Toronto Star reports:

There are rules against: playing ball hockey in the street, cutting down trees in your own backyard, having yard sales on the sidewalk and selling bottled water in civic buildings.

Toronto is the city that tried to liven up its street food offerings by writing a textbook of new rules in the failed A La Cart program.

Fact: Helium balloons, including the releasing of said balloons, are not permitted on City of Toronto property. Read it for yourself on page 19 of the Special Events Planning Guide.

We’ve all heard about the nightmare that was the A La Cart program, but even in the less rigorous regime that’s starting to take root in this city, one vendor had to get advance permission to sell pre-cooked baked potatoes. Helium balloons, street food and ball hockey are all things we hope the city relaxes its grip on. But some of the other rules that Ford’s allies are looking at might be a bit harder to axe.

Take the pet registry: yes, most people who own cats or dogs ignore it. Yes, it costs as much or more money for the city to administer as it pulls in. But when a cat hoarder is found in Josh Matlow’s ward with 50-plus animals, he might think twice before pulling the plug. (Alternatively, he might point out, correctly, that the registry did nothing to stop the problem. See? Being in the middle is fun!) In the Star article, Michael Thompson gets at the heart of the problem: “On one hand, people always say ‘there ought to be a rule about this!’ but then at the same time they say ‘there’s too much government.” In other words, voters are contradictory. Sometimes they want a more liberal city, but then they go and elect a council that keeps the city’s strict patio rules. But, hey, baby steps.

Will Mayor Ford put some fun into rule-obsessed Toronto? [Toronto Star]

(Images: City Hall, Robert Scarth; balloons,