Toronto's Problems Are Bigger Than Rob Ford

Sure, having a boorish crack-smoking mayor who refuses to get help or step down is a problem. But Toronto's existential problems are structural, writes Richard Florida. The city's "outmoded growth model and system of governance" threaten its success.
November 8, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Danielle Scott

Toronto has an economy as big as Sweden’s, plentiful high-paying jobs in key sectors, and a rapidly growing population. "But Toronto has reached a true inflection point," says Florida, "and the problem is not high taxes or fiscal profligacy, as many have framed it. ... Toronto’s biggest problem is its growth model, which has far outlived its shelf life."

"When a city region like Toronto – or Atlanta, Washington, Dallas or Miami – hits the 5.5 to six million mark in population, it can no longer grow based on cars and sprawl," he explains. "It has to grow upward as well as outward and has to become much more oriented to transit."

But the city's challenges aren't limited to land use and mobility. "Toronto does not just need a new and better mayor to save it. It needs a new governance system that is adequate to the new challenges it faces," Florida argues. "Part of that is clear recall provisions that allow for the ouster of a dysfunctional mayor. But it needs to go far beyond that."

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Published on Friday, November 8, 2013 in The Globe and Mail
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