Signing off: City State’s top three unanswered questions
This is the end. City State is being discontinued as of this post. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by these pages, especially the regular readers and contributors. Perhaps we’ll find another meeting place somewhere in the blogosphere. In the meantime, here are three questions I’ve been pondering.
1. Why does David Miller so rarely smile? It is a rare sight indeed to see our mayor’s mouth curl upward with delight or enthusiasm. Maybe it’s just the effect I have on him when I’m in the room. Maybe he’s hiding some bad dental work. But my best guess is that he takes himself too seriously. He has a patrician air about him and, in this sense, he merely reflects the city he governs. There are no laughing matters in Toronto. To wit: I am a regular reader of the Spacing Wire, a communal blog written by a bunch of young urbanites. At its best it’s full of good information, sometimes useful, sometimes arcane. At its worst, the posts read like a bunch of Prince Charles lectures on architecture (and urban design and planning and cycling and walking and trees and park benches and on and on). This city needs to lighten up and poke some fun at itself.
2. Why the hell is the city rebuilding my street? Last month city contractors showed up and starting tearing up and replacing sidewalks on my street, a prelude to resurfacing the road. It’s been great fun for the local kids to watch, and the crews themselves have been cordial and pleasant—except, of course, for the two-week period in which they left two stinking, rotting bags of takeout-lunch trash on the sidewalk, which the garbage collectors conveniently managed to ignore. But here’s the thing: no one who lives on my street thinks our sidewalks needed rebuilding. One neighbour summed it up like so: “I’d rather see the money spent to keep pools open.” A transportation department with a state-of-good-repair backlog of $310 million can apparently afford to fix what ain’t broke.
3. Why isn’t Kyle Rae mayor yet? There are a number of city councillors who ought to run for mayor in either 2010 or 2014. Among them (and what they would bring to a campaign): Adam Vaughan (independent thinking), Karen Stintz (crisp debates), Denzil Minnan-Wong (salesmanship), Shelley Carroll (honesty, integrity, a funny bone), Rob Ford (chaos). But the one city councillor who, more than all of the above, ought to be mayor is Kyle Rae. I say this not just because it’s pride week, nor because Rae has won me over with his charm—in fact he’s quite prickly, and of late won’t even return my calls (bitch!)—but because he, more than anyone else, would plainly be good at it. He has been on council since 1991, so he knows the institution inside and out (including, no doubt, where all the bodies are buried). He has a passion for architecture and design. He understands what 21st-century cities must do to grow and to attract business. He picks his battles carefully, then fights to win. He is witty, which is the kind of humour that doesn’t ruffle patrician sensibilities. My suspicion is that he doesn’t want the job. My hunch is that he should have it. And I’ll leave it at that. Bye.