Saturday, 11 January 2014

How to fix Toronto for good

Toronto needs better hard power or infrastructure and better soft power or cultural efficiency. Both powers are best practiced on a generational timeline.

Children continually hear they are the future, but its always admonished in a glib nebulous way, " you can be anything you want" sorry no you cant, you have opportunities, but in fact everyone can not be anything they want.  This is the foundation of the lie politicians use to win short sighted victories.

The TDSB should have a How to be the Future curriculum. In the early years its mostly stories of heroes and villains. Rob Ford would make a perfect villain.  The story should be factual like how his use of a wedge issue on Subways ruined a best case transit plan. Rob Ford lied to make his case and the people fell for it, hey kids do not fall for the future Rob Ford. Then we could have heroes like R.C Harris. Children great men build for the future, great men plant seeds for which they will not get to enjoy the fruit. When your looking at who will determine your future ask yourself are they a future builder, a present consumer or worst of all a past seller. In later years just document the cause and effect good and bad decisions have had on Toronto. Who sold the ideas and how they sold them.
The first past the post system is an Anglo Saxon anachronism designed to not only prevent change, but stifle candidates who do not have a large power block. We need a runoff or similar device to pick political winners.

Term limits must be imposed, ten years and your out.

For every dollar a lobbyist or contributor makes to a candidate or political action syndicate, they must make an equal contribution to public art.
Every transaction the city government makes must be on the internet in clear accounting format. In Camera transactions must be revealed ten years later. The city charter should be changed so that no law suit can be settled without public viewing.

Shorten the campaign, a year is ridiculous and once again limits potential candidates.

Three ethical violations in a single term and your term ends, position to be replaced by a vote of council until the next election.

Wipe out the taxi license system. Determine how many taxis are needed. License that many cabs. Not every cab must be disabled capable, but some formula must ensure that a correct number are on the road. Every cab lic must have at least 3 people listed as owners. You can not own more than one cab lic. Every cab must be at least a hybrid. Lic are granted on a 5 year basis by lottery for qualified applicants. If more cabs are needed or licenses are taken away in the interim have an interim lottery but the license still expires when the overall five year hits.

Every new construction must meet four new criteria. Passive house Standard, architecturally interesting. climate change resistant, and have a four hour battery as part of a citywide smart grid. All rooftops must be 50% green with 25% of that solar panels.
Vinyl siding and asphalt shingles are banned immediately.
Increase the density around Toronto housing apartments by making a deal with developers. They build new housing for the existing residents and they can build or re imagine the existing builds as high as they wish for private sale. Copy the public housing scheme of Singapore which is integrated into the transit plan.

Congestion CBD pricing like Singapore

All GTA transit including TTC operates as a one publicly traded provincial crown corporation like Singapore SMRT and Hong Kong MRT. Both of which turn a profit BTW.  Singapore with a population and size similar to amalgamated Toronto has starting from zero in 1987 built 169 kilometers of Subway by 2013. The TTC has 69 kilometers total. The Hong Kong Airport express operated by the MRT runs at 130 Kph every ten minutes and covers 34 kilometers in 24 min with a one way cost under fifteen dollars. The construction cost hardly more than double the cost of a two station subway extension in Scarbourgh. This includes crossing one of the longest bridges in the world and a two kilometer tunnel under Hong Kong Harbour.

Zone space for a Gas Plasma garbage converter ( they do not incinerate) at Downsview.

Mandate a grade separated east west  north south continuous city wide  bike path

Pay for all of the above with a vehicle registration tax. This time do not allow cottage owners to opt out. If you have a house or apartment in Toronto you have to pay, and scamming is a thousand dollar fine.
Allow seniors and students to buy an offpeak pass for the TTC for a nominal fee.

Allow cafes in Youngsterdam to operate under the same blind eye as Amsterdam. Use all the millions in revenue for arts funding.

Infrastructure is far more expensive than life changing words.  Priority of problem areas are as follows, Transit, power, water and waste.

There are many excellent some of them extremely cheap solutions for transit out there.

Use cameras for all speed and stoplight enforcement. Thus not only saving millions of money, but also eliminating cars from the road. Enforcement would be constant certain and virtually impossible to defeat. Think again about how much money would be saved.

The next lowest hanging fruit is one way streets. Believe me the governance of Kula Lumpur is not going to embarrass Toronto City council with their cleverness. However their ground game is better. Kula Lumpur traffic improved tremendously when they brought in one way streets.
Next biggest bang for the buck is the oft mentioned greater utilization of Go Transit. Run trains from four points like Downsview to Bloor every  15 mins during peak. Build huge parkinggarages at the external points. Make better connections between Go and TTC with moving walkways and in some cases levitated cable cars like are used at Pearson. Funding could come from congestion charge, taxi license and vehicle registration.
Instead of a relief line first  run a express train on the Young line. It would mean adding tracks at express stations at Lawrence, Bloor and King instead of building a whole new Subway. This should easily add 50% more capacity on peak,  and frequency of express could be reduced to save money during low demand.

Run an elevated levitated cable car between Malton Go and the Airport. For those without Grey Pupon in their backback.

Trade GO parking land to developers who must build affordable housing and pallet parking garages. Every Go station in the GTA should have high rise residential in densities equal to that of Hong Kong and Singapore.
Reduce speed limit on residential roads to 30 Kph.  This is a proven solution to pedestrian death. How come in the case of speed limits better practices does not apply to pedestrians? On high speed roads build pedestrian flyovers at key intersections complete with elevators for the stair avoiders.

All Transit stations should have safe bike parking, either a room/cage that ID must be provided to enter and leave (electronically no human attendant) or palletized containers to store bikes.  Bike theft is a bigger deterrent to bike usage than lack of grade separation.

Cover all 400 series roads with townhomes along the edges, bike paths/emergency vehicle routes down the middle and parkland/greenhouses everywhere remaining. The south side of the canopy use for massive solar farms. These canopies would fund themselves by selling the townhouses, power produced and savings from having to plow roads. Overall maintainer costs, delays and accidents would be added incentives.

Hospitals,  Police Stations,  and Fire stations must install natural gas powered fuel cells like Google uses. In addition to emergency use they are used as part of the smart grid for power smoothing.
Demand the province hand over the sandbar five kilometers offshore from the Scarbough Bluffs. City of Toronto will install four of  the biggest windmills possible there with the cable connecting at Ashbridge Wastewater.

Police must wear personal video recorders when not on break. Three failures to record job is under review. Computers are used to audit recording and GPS data for quality control. This would save millions, make the Police more productive and eliminate citizens concerns about police encounters. From the Justice side its going to mean huge reductions in court time and overall administration of Justice.

Politicians must wears same cameras from nine to five. Lets see where the mayor spends his daylight hours?

As part of the east end waterfront development construct Movie Set neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods that look like Paris, Amsterdam, Beijing or Tokyo. Turn Toronto Island airport into a min canal Venice. Copy Singapore's widely successful public housing program.

On big pipes install Mazzei injectors to start Aeration upstream thus increasing the capacity of wastewater treatment during storms. Install Mazzei injectors at wastewater plants instead of fine bubble diffusers to cut electricity costs and maintenance costs in half.

Close Younge street to traffic between College and Dundas Sq. Heat the plaza in the winter so no salt or slush is going to be there. Set up a permanent stage and let local acts play during appropriate times.
Make a statue of Jane Jacobs shaking hands with R.C Harris in Dundas Square.  They should be standing under a full sized model of the Avro Arrow. On a plaque describe the significance of all three art works.


  1. Toronto culture is most famous in all over the world . here in this post dear blogger you have really great work about vehicle registration tax especially it is value information for toronto airport taxi

    1. Sara you are correct Toronto has a very healthy arts culture. I am suggesting the ruling culture needs radical change.