Five things that need to change in Weston / Mount Dennis: Part 3.

3. The Public Domain.

Yesterday’s article covered the state of retail in Weston / Mount Dennis.

One of the factors that makes a big difference to an area is the public domain. Anyone who has been to Europe will know how well the public domain is looked after.

A car free street in Cartagena Spain. Note the lack of high-rise buildings and overhead wiring.

Far less public domain money is spent here in Toronto and especially in Weston / Mount Dennis where spending is further suppressed as our BIAs have smaller budgets, our Section 37 money is scarce and our politicians have an unfortunate obsession with keeping property taxes (the lowest in the GTA) at or below the rate of inflation. Spending initiatives that could improve public facilities are often voted down.

From Jennifer Pagliaro via Twitter. Click to enlarge.

As a result, the things that can help iron out differences between rich and poor are suppressed. The homeless are treated with contempt. Public housing is in disrepair; cycling and walking are dangerous, our library, recreation and and parks system are underfunded and garbage and leaf litter, is allowed to accumulate. Cars dominate our streets while the TTC receives the lowest subsidy of any major city in North America. Climbing the social ladder is harder than ever because politicians worry that they’ll be voted out of office if they support tax increases. A recent study by the World Bank has discovered that when inequality goes up, there is a corresponding increase in the murder rate.

What has to change? Our political system is a shambles – more on that tomorrow. We need leaders at all levels of government who understand the connection between adequate public domain funding and helping people move out of poverty. Gentrification is often seen as a solution to our problems in WMD. It’s not. It simply forces poor people to relocate instead of helping them climb the ladder out of poverty.

The answer is more money spent on helping the poor help themselves. More money, for example,  to fix the appalling repair backlog at Toronto Public Housing, more money to properly fund our public institutions and spaces. We also need to beautify our streets here in WMD and reduce the enormous amounts of real estate given over to the car. Will it be Weston or Mount Dennis that gets the first traffic free street in Toronto? (Toronto is one of the few cities in the world without a public pedestrian / bike only street.) We also need to find ways to improve access to the beautiful Humber River that meanders through WMD.

In summary, we need to tell our elected representatives that our priority is improving the public domain and not keeping taxes low. Poverty sucks and feeds on itself. It won’t go away without heroic efforts.

From Twitter.

The constant, artificial shortage of tax dollars puts the squeeze on the most vulnerable among us; people who traditionally don’t apply political pressure and can’t make generous campaign contributions. Even more insidiously, the constant trimming of budgets is designed to make public institutions fail and the private sector look good by comparison.

Make no mistake, underfunding the public domain impoverishes us all and lowers our quality of life.

4 thoughts on “Five things that need to change in Weston / Mount Dennis: Part 3.”

  1. Yes, yes! The public space needs tax money, especially in our neighbourhood where so many people need to walk or use TTC and Weston Rd is unwelcoming, even dangerous with so many schoolchildren and parents walking to and from school daily, and seniors needing available shopping and sidewalk space.

    Our Councillor needs to take responsibility to advocate for the hard-pressed and vulnerable people in her constituency who need the library, food stores and safe pedestrian access, and not empty storefronts and speeding traffic.

    1. Who uses the library still!? Not this generation, the young kids prefer video games, community centres or online learning. Speeding traffic?? HAHA! With so much congestion there is no such thing as speeding traffic. The roads are for motor vehicles anyways! It’s advisable that silly hippies don’t wander on the road even with their silly bikes. “Glad”, I do get the sense you came from the horse/carriage days? Regarding empty storefronts, I rather see that than see ridiculous cash advance stores or even those clothing stores that I’m sure don’t make any revenue (not with Walmart in town).. surely they are a front for vices the poor in this ward do not need!

  2. Ha-ha-ha!
    (Ho-ho-ho!)

    You’ve exceeded your wildest dreams, you two, right from both sides of the beautiful, Humber River valley.

    Real Robin Hood’s & Santa Claus all wrapped up into one.

    Nice.
    Good timing.

    Hey, run for office, Roy.
    Any one of them – orange, red or green.

    And Glad, assist him, will ya.

    Good luck with your utopian dreams.
    (Dream never dies, just the dreamer.)

    Merry Christmas!
    Good health & happiness to all.

    (And as always, thanks for your posts.
    Sometimes, head shakingly humourous.)

  3. BTW & FYI,

    To add to your earlier thoughts on regional train travel, if you’ve not yet seen it, it’ll air twice more tonight (Dec.24) on the CBC News Network.

    The Passionate Eye discusses “Why Trains Crash” – with many case studies from around the world.

    However, it does wrap up the doc with some interesting, positive and yes, expensive methods being used presently in Asia, with the next wave of super speedy travel on the way for those very populated regions.

    But, the question still remains, will North Americans ever adapt?
    (There are a few signs indicating we might.. way down the proverbial road.)

    Anyway, worth seeing – for the negatives & positives.

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