Rob Ford and many on city council do not yet seem to have a grasp on
this concept of the living city. It was Ford, after all, who proposed during his mayoral campaign
that we discourage immigration of new people into Toronto until we
figured out how to deal with the population we have. Despite what Mayor
Ford may believe, however, we cannot just hit the pause button while we
figure things out. Any attempt at planning or governing a city through
the pause button is like building a box around a growing plant: the
plant will still grow, but it will become distorted—and eventually it
will burst through, whether you want it to or not.
In cancelling, modifying, or delaying projects—some already funded
and ready to go—Ford has begun to pick at this city, pulling the ends of
what he deems to be small, useless threads. The thing about the city,
though, is that what may seem like small, expendable threads turn out to
be woven and connected to so many other things, that when you tug on
them hard enough something you didn’t expect begins to unravel too.
The greatest mistake of this administration, and the one that will
leave the most lasting legacy of harm, is the simplistic view of the
city as something to be managed and not something to be built, or fed,
or nurtured. The view that aspirational projects are elitist and thus
not worthy of consideration. The view that public spaces suck money and
offer nothing back. The view that if we just squeeze our public services
tight enough a few pennies will pop out.