TORONTO - There are more people living in the municipalities immediately adjacent to Toronto than there are in the City (area code 416) itself.
Economic Development, Transportation, Transit, Housing, Health Care, Post Secondary Education, Public Security are the political themes in every one of those “suburbs”. Every single one of them interacts with Toronto in a quasi-seamless web, whether their political infrastructure and leadership chooses to recognize it or not.
Their citizens consider themselves residents of the GTA. Like their “Big Brother” cousins in Toronto, they are either indifferent to the machinations of their political leadership or chronically truculent and distrusting of any large-scale projects. They have trouble seeing the bigger picture, so to speak, and tend to be completely absorbed with local, internecine squabbles.
In Vaughan, for example, where The Developer is still King, it seems they punish vision and forward- looking planning. Lay low, stick to photo-op politics is the extent of their ambition. Mind you, Sunder Singh and Mubarak Ahmed are trying to show a little courage. The rest of the aspirants to office appear submerged in blasé indifference. It’s understandable.
After ten years of futile efforts to get a hospital, residents dumped the Provincial Minister who finally delivered a state-of-the-art facility. That same Minister brought Vaughan a subway, a highway extension in the west end and improvements along the highway #7 – billions of dollars in infrastructure. Politically and metaphorically he should have invested in an anti-projectile vest. Current competition for elected o.ce revolves around [seemingly made-to-measure] lawsuits designed to smear the fiscal reputation the outgoing Administration.
Meanwhile, in Brampton, a city with twice the population, immediately to the west of Vaughan, a real struggle to bring the municipality into the 21st century has emerged. The language of the public debate is most kindly described as “no holds barred”. Words like “incompetence, corruption, indifference towards proper process or fixed procedure” flow freely from the lips of politicians.
The epithets are directed towards the all-too-cozy relationship between bureaucrats and elected officials of the “Old Guard” representing an out-dated business model of rapacious developers. An open, battle royal is taking place, coalesced around Mayor Linda Jeffrey and challenger Patrick Brown.
Their teams are advocating for a University/Community College, improved funding for hospital care, closer working relationship with Metrolinx and a streamlined, predictable, economic development strategy to bring investments into the city.
Brampton is one of the most culturally diverse municipalities in the GTHA. To the credit of both campaigns, they reached out to the Corriere.
The online TV interviews are available at corriere.ca. In the Greater Hamilton area, a city of similar size but gifted with more enviable infrastructure councillor stands out, providing stability continuity and vision: Maria Pearson. Mississauga, the city you go through to get somewhere else, would seem content with its emerging reputation as the Big Snooze.
Yet there is some gifted and dynamic political leadership potential resident in the municipality. It is still under a bushel. There’s hope. In Markham, Council under the leadership of Mayor Frank Scarpitti is pushing the envelope to make the city a destination point for business and recreation investment.