Of course all this is a slow process, the speed of which is inversely proportionate to the sophistication of the type of organism in the ecosystem. From the standpoint of individual creatures within it, environmental upheaval can be extremely unpleasant.
For some reason, our urban planners and municipal politicians foolishly behave as if humans are immune to the rules that govern every other living being on this planet. Toronto's Municipal Plan calls for an extensive increase in population density. Metropolitan Toronto's population is already four times as large as it was in the 1970's. The streets are vastly more crowded, and we have gang crimes of a type this city has never known before. Growing up downtown, I used to see five or six regular panhandlers, as we used to call them, or "bums" before that term became politically incorrect, in the entire area bordered by Bloor, Bathurst, Yonge and Harbord/Wellesley Streets. You got to know them and most were pleasant, if unusual characters. One particularly memorable street eccentric was a heavy-set blond woman of Amazonian stature who wore a harem outfit and a sash with lettering that said "Swedish MP." Generally, these people were quiet and never bothered anyone. Now you can't walk thirty paces on a major street downtown without encountering some aggressive street person demanding money from you.
Toronto now has the distinction of having the worst traffic congestion in North America. A recent study showed it takes longer to get a mile by car in our fair city than anywhere else in the continent.
So what do our politicians and urban planners want to do? What they usually excel at - making a bad situation worse. The plan is to build more and more condominiums along every major artery in the city, blocking out the sun from residential neighbourhoods, putting greater demands on the infrastruture, making our public transit more crowded and less desirable, while traffic becomes a nightmare. While this is happening, public housing has multi-year waiting lists and the city can't control it structural deficit caused by having to pay welfare and disability payments to vast numbers over which it has no say.
The real solution is to manage population growth. Toronto receives about half the immigrants coming to Canada. But the city isn't capable of sustaining that growth and maintaining the safe, small town-like big city feel that distinguished Toronto since its inception.
The federal government wants to keep immigration numbers high, but in doing so is creating crises for the major urban centers who cannot accommodate them all. A new immigration policy that would direct immigrants to less overpopulated centers for the time prior to attaining citizenship would go a long way to alleviate the problem. Canada also needs to look at the idea of building new cities in the 21st century, and not just push out the borders of the old ones.
|Is this where Toronto is headed?