Please Toronto, stop wasting money. In memory of Jack Layton 1950-2011

I wrote this views a few months ago, but once I heard the news, I couldn’t wait anymore to publish it. Today, Jack Layton passed away. I was certainly not a follower of the NDP and I did disagree on a lot on his political views. Today, my opinion on partisan politics matters less than ever as all of Canada pays tribute to, as someone mentioned today, The Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had. I admire Jack’s passion for Toronto, Ontario and Canada and only hope he would have been around a lot longer to push all the issues, on the right or on the left with his unique style and enthusiasm.

Jack Layton, you will be missed. Our City, Our Province and Our Country miss you already.

A few days ago, the United States approved raising the debt ceiling. A futile exercise if you ask me. Never did it cross my mind that the mighty U.S. would run out of cash.
Just a week earlier, our municipal government, had gone overtime, trying to cut expenses and services to a level we can afford.
But I’m sure that the circus going around about closing libraries, swimming pools and other services is also another one of those shows that politicians have to put together every once in a while to show how much they care, or not, about the services the city is supposed to provide to its citizens.

I’m no politician, economist or urban planner. But just by mere observation I can see the vast amount of money our city wastes every year, and no one seems even to notice. And I’ll share only a couple of examples.

In the few years I’ve lived in my neighbourhood, Roselawn avenue has been repaved at least three times, some because of the decrepit state it was in given that for some reason the pavement used there can never survive a full Canadian winter, as if the influence of extreme temperatures and the amount of rain and snow the city gets comes as a complete surprise to whoever plans these things.
Most amazing, the street and sidewalk have been torn apart so many times, not only because of the inclement weather and lack of durability, but also because of the once, the gas lines we replaces and only a few years later, it was the water mains turn. On every occasion, phone and cable lines have been ripped out with no knowledge from the communication giants. What I don’t understand is the reason of doing this works in such a fashion. Is there any planning in this city on the constant costs of fixing roads and sidewalks over and over again? Wouldn’t logic dictate that all infrastructure should be replaced at the same time, and perhaps use better pavement on our roads? Yes Mr. City Planner, next year there will be snow, and if I’m not mistaken, winter will be cold, so don’t tell me the roads are falling apart because of the weather. If you didn’t know we are getting snow, you are not qualified to do your job. Sending a guy with a bucket full of amorphous asphalt in the middle of the winter because the potholes are starting to look like craters, doesn’t count as fixing the road. It’s just another way to show of incompetence and a complete waste of time and money, which by the way, we don’t have.

And how about the constant fixing of the streetcar tracks?
Again, I’m not a city planner, but my logic indicates that if we replaced the streetcars with fuel efficient buses, the city would save a bundle if cash. (Jack, we needed you here more than ever). Let me elaborate.

First, there is the direct cost of replacing the tracks every few years and the constant maintenance to the ugly web of overhead electrical wiring. This must cost millions and millions of dollars, followed by the tremendous cost of lost productivity of people sitting in their cars given the amount of traffic chaos created during the construction season.
Then of course, there is the lost revenue that the unfortunate businesses on these streets have to bare. Plus there is the even largest cost of health care associated with the pollution generated by the traffic, but that we will never account for, I’m sure.

The streetcars of Toronto seem to be an untouchable subject, yet it is hard for me to understand why we need to use this archaic system. Just take a stroll on King Street and see the traffic that stops on every lane just because the car need it’s doors. A bus would have stopped one lane only. And if for some reason on the them breaks down, we are faced with the amazing sight of an endless row of stopped streetcars going nowhere.

Some people argue that the streetcar shows the heritage of our city. I don’t think so. It brings an unwanted symphony of screeching wheels.
The cable car in San Francisco may bring some flavour to their city, our streetcar brings a lot of waste to ours.

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