Liveable or laughable

My final 2013 property tax bill arrived today and was accompanied by a very interesting list that showed how our tax dollars are spent by the City of Toronto. The top four are predictable: police, fire, TTC and debt repayment. From the average homeowner who pays $2,532 (plus $1,005 in education tax) police services receive the most at $634.

The surprising thing to me was what was at the bottom of the list – city planning – which gets all of $9.58. Less than $10 per average householder goes annually to fund the people and the department that looks to the future. No wonder Toronto looks so ugly with cheapjack condos flooding the land west of the Rogers Centre, others blocking the view of the waterfront, and more being stuffed into every corner of all downtown intersections.

Anyone who’s been to Chicago knows what a big city waterfront can look like. Lake Shore Drive is a wonderful 30 km. long showcase of architecture and views. A couple of years ago Chicago announced a $4 billion plan to extend it south. All we’ve got is arguments about patching or dispatching the Gardiner Expressway. I’ve lived on the Toronto waterfront. It’s nothing to crow about, all cut off from the city.

People tell me the waterfront area east of Yonge is going to be different and certainly the Corus building is a good start. People also say Sugar Beach is terrific. To me, it’s a ridiculous, stranded sand bar with little to look at and no swimming.

It all proves you get what you pay for. There are no visionaries at City Hall and, if there were, my $10 a year along with yours isn’t going to bring about many new and compelling planning ideas.

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