City of Toronto Archives
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William Peyton Hubbard, the son of American slaves who in 1837 fled Virginia via the Underground Railroad to take up farming in Canada, was Toronto's first black elected city councillor, representing one of the city's wealthiest and whitest wards and often presiding over council as acting mayor.
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Differences are what enrich our lives and make Toronto the fabulous, unique, successful city it is. Xenophobia (a fear or hatred of strangers and foreigners) has no place in a city built upon these differences. It threatens the very core of who we as Torontonians are. It is also what motivated the horrific and unacceptable attack in which a woman was beaten and robbed by two young men. They tore off her hijab and told her to "Go back to your country."
In rapid succession, several tweeters made the same joke -- did Rob Ford just trick Toronto City Council into giving him his dream job? He'll now have a lot fewer boring meetings to attend and lot fewer contentious decisions to make, and can instead devote his full-time attention to the one part of his job that always interested him most to begin with -- the symbolic.
When the Pride Society, one of the most influential activist organizations in Vancouver's prosperous and politically active gay community, comes knocking, Vision Vancouver, the current rulers at city hall, and the NPA, the loyal opposition, bow down. And when a trumped up "report" goes to council claiming attendance figures so outrageous they deserve their own float in the parade, nobody bats an eye. If a parade eclipses the 400,000 attendee threshold, it qualifies for the maximum amount of money available to civic parades. The Sikhs and the Chinese didn't come close. But according to the Dobrovolny report, the Pride Parade attracts "crowds close to half a million people." Cha-ching.
Human tenants can just as easily ruin walls by putting nails in them, or allowing kids to draw on them. They can ruin carpets by walking around in muddy shoes in-house -- and by a multitude of other more creative ways. Arguably, some pets are better than their human counterparts. In fact, many pets are perfect citizens with impeccable manners. Some are not.
We'll drive, copilot, change the tunes, serve up the beverages, adjust the heat and ensure government doesn't fall asleep... but someone has to open the doors so we can get in the car. Unlock the doors of government and let citizens in, that is the mantra of imagineCalgary, now firmly in the hands of hardened bureaucrats. The language of imagineCalgary is not their mother tongue and they are struggling with just the basic translation, let alone the incredibly lofty and epic targets found within the imagineCalgary tome.
We've heard the discussion about how Vancouverites suffer from a reported epidemic of loneliness and isolation. This notion (of which I am a firm skeptic) has triggered a policy initiative from Vancouver's ruling Vision party. So what does civic engagement actually mean to the party? Sadly for Vancouver, it already equals less access to city hall, reduced citizen involvement in shaping our city, and a top-down approach to decision-making.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker inherited a $30 billion debt in 2010 and has since reduced it to a $150 surplus. If Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is really looking to cut back on his city's debt, he should take out a page from Walker's book and cut the bonuses that city managers receive for simply turning up for work.
In a recent poll found that 32.5 per cent of Torontonians oppose building a waterfront casino. To Mayor Rob Ford, an enthusiastic supporter of the idea, this may be a warning as he looks ahead to his uncertain re-election campaign in just over two years.
Flickr: The Enchanter Tim
David Miller is one of the more well-known people I have taken out for lunch. It is a bit strange when everyone in the restaurant recognizes the person you are lunching with. But I was lucky enough to get him to sit down with me to chat about the "Future of Cities," and the TTC.
While the mayor fessed up to talking on a cell phone while driving, he claimed giving "the bird" to a taxpayer was a "misunderstanding." So, he did it, but didn't mean it? The offended taxpayer wasn't his target, just collateral damage? Sorry Mr. Mayor, what we have here is a failure to communicate