Rob Ford No Longer Mayor of Toronto

Rob Ford has been the worst mayor of Toronto and as of today he’s officially no longer mayor. I say officially because he was stripped of his real power over a year ago. Why is this good news though?

Ford divided the city in a way no other politician was able (or willing) to do; he pitted the people who care about the city against people who only care about lower taxes. In Toronto this basically meant the “old” city of Toronto and the “new” inner suburbs of the city. Divisive politics is not a good thing and already the new mayor of Toronto, John Tory, has said one of his aims is to unite Toronto.

Other problems with Ford came from the fact that he openly lies about anything from quitting drinking to the state of municipal coffers. Here’s a big list of Ford’s incompetence.

Readers of this blog already know that bicycles are the present and future of urban transportation. Ford, on the other hand, thinks that cyclist deserve to die. Ford spent $300,000 to remove bike lanes in the city despite that bike lanes make the roads safer for everyone. He literally made the city a more dangerous place for road users.

On the other hand, North America’s largest city expanded their bicycle infrastructure and are reaping the benefits.

Ford also hates the environment, which is ridiculous since it’s basically hating the air. When Toronto got hit by a ton of rain in a very short time I posted this:

Yesterday Toronto got more rain in two hours than it normally does in a month which meant some serious flooding happened. This got me thinking of a program that Toronto (alleged crackhead) Mayor (busted for DUI) Rob (loves pollution) Ford (reads while driving) cancelled. The cancelled program promoted green roofs to help with flood control while lessening wear on existing infrastructure.

So the ineptitude of the current Toronto mayor got me thinking of how things could have been different with forethought of climate change. It’s worth noting that Rob Ford spent the flood idling in his SUV:

Rob Ford is still in politics in Toronto but this time as a councillor. He lacks the political sway he once had and it’s now not a good thing to associate with the tarnished and former mayor.

May we never see another mayor so malicious, evil, self-serving, and desperate to cling to power as Rob Ford. Hopefully today marks a political restart for Toronto.

Long live Toronto the good.

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Growing the Green Roof Industry in North America

Green roofs are great! They help alleviate a lot of issues that arise in urban living while making cities more beautiful. There is growing interest in making sure that urban green roofs take off and it looks like it is working.

While other countries like Germany have been using green roofs since the 1980’s, North America has been playing catch up. Toronto, however, is a city enamoured with renewable energy and sustainability. Ryerson’s engineering building on Church St., the new Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex and Toronto City Hall are all notable examples of green roof early adopters.

A pioneer in North America, the city requires all new builds with a minimum gross floor area of 2,000m2 to include a portion of vegetation on roof surfaces. It also offers a grant of up to $75/square metre to offset the cost of green-roof installation. Similar incentive programs are being instated in Washington DC, NYC and Chicago, but Toronto is the first to actually mandate builders to include a vegetated roof – or face a hefty fine.

And with good reason. Green roofs divert waste, help manage storm water, moderate ‘urban heat island’ effects and improve air quality. They also reduce noise and can save significant amounts of money. In a warehouse complex, for example, the evaporation characteristics of a green roof can lower the inside temperature from between three to five degrees celsius.

Read more.

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ArtsVote Toronto Mayoral Debate Monday 29th

The Toronto municipal election is happening next month and this coming Monday there will be a debate between mayoral candidates regarding support for arts and culture. Hosted by ArtsVote at the TIFF Lightbox, the candidates will answer questions from culture leaders in the city. Each candidate will be able to discuss their plan for the future of culture in the city.

The best part is that the moderator is Damian Abraham from the band Fucked Up!

Date: Monday, September 29
Time: 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Location: Cinema One, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West (map)
Tickets: free general admission seating. Box office opens at 10:00 AM. Doors at 11:30 AM.

Progress is easy when we’re all working together toward something we all believe in. The ArtsVote community cares about mobilizing our collective talents, ideas, and passions for the benefit of Torontonians – and it’s not hard to see how much energy and enthusiasm the people of Toronto have for arts and culture. You can see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and feel it in parks, schools, churches, community centres, alleyways, markets, sidewalks, and all kinds of other spaces around our city. So where do our municipal candidates fit into this picture? Do they believe they have a role to play in growing audiences for the arts, and encouraging cultural participation?

Check out ArtsVote!

Disclosure: I’m an ArtsVote committee member.

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Bank: Toronto’s Trees Worth $7 Billion

One of Canada’s largest banks has announced that their economic research has concluded that in Toronto alone the tree canopy is worth $7 Billion (CAD). The non-monetary value of trees is obvious to most people and usually that’s enough to justify keeping trees around. However, there are people who only think in monetary terms and to those people we can now use the results of economic research to prove the greatness of trees.

If Toronto’s trees are worth $7 Billion, just imagine what the total value of trees are around the world!

It’s also well known that trees help manage temperature, both by blocking cold winds in winter, but also keeping the city cool in summer. Alexander said the net cooling effect on the city of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners, running 20 hours a day.

“On their own, these effects might seem small, but over the long term, these benefits make a significant contribution to environmental well-being,” Alexander said.

Beyond mitigating the need to belch out any more air pollution to cool the city, trees also provide an important role in storing pollutants already out there. The total amount of carbon currently stored in Toronto’s urban forest is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes — roughly the amount emitted by 700,000 cars a year.

Read more here.

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Toronto: Bring Back the War on Cars

This year Toronto is witnessing a mayoral race between the worst mayor the city has ever seen and a few people who want his job. Not one candidate has come out to support bicycle based transportation (instead they debate how to better get cars through the city and not people). This isn’t a good thing. Last year in Toronto roughly 40 people were killed by car drivers, more than murdered by non-car homicides.

Local online press, Torontoist, has reacted to this by calling for people in the city to bring back “the war on the car”. People in Toronto ought to join this growing chorus of people demanding an end to car-dominiated culture and crack-smoking mayors.

Toronto should learn from every other major city in the world and build for people-not cars. Just look at all this good news about bicycles and all this good news related to reducing car use.

The hard lesson from New York and dozens of progressive European cities is that you can’t make gains for cyclists, pedestrians, and the life of the city as a whole without restricting car use—removing lanes, widening sidewalks, lowering speed limits, and redesigning intersections. And as JSK and others have proven, that is not a politics for wimps: we need warriors.

Read more at Torontoist.

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