December 14, 2006

toronto the bad

Toronto Star urban-design critic Christopher Hume weighs in on one of his favourite topics: how bad TO’s planning process is – and how (relatively) good Vancouver’s is. Key quote:

The fact is that in Toronto, local councillors have more influence than the planning department. But because their main focus is getting re-elected, they tend to do what they think voters want, not what’s best for the city. This has lead to a system that favours NIMBY concerns over civic interests.
As former Vancouver chief planner Larry Beasley pointed out, “You (in Toronto) are in a system that is more prone to political interference and politicians’ tastes.”
Beasley blamed the ward-based system that turns local representatives into ward bosses. In Vancouver, voters elect councillors-at-large. That city has also eliminated politicians from the development process.
“We keep negotiations out of the hands of politicians,” he explained. “Government leads, not individuals.”
Given the unseemly closeness of politicians and developers throughout southern Ontario, the Vancouver approach makes obvious sense.

The complete column is here.

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