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Toronto, The City of Misapplied Superlatives

TORONTO – Not true, really. No; I am not pouring salt on the wounds of Maple Leafs hockey fans. Like many pre-teen and teen-age boys my age, at the time, I lived at the local outdoor, city-run, ice hockey arena.

We waited for our chance to develop and show off skills among the hundreds of like-minded, aspiring superstars who crowded the ice pad all at once. The “Maple Leafs Forever”, written by rocker Neil Young’s father, was de rigueur reading material for every aspiring NHLer.

Frank Mahovlich, Leaf superstar, later a Senator in Parliament, autographed the envelope containing an acceptance award – not for hockey – when I “graduated” from elementary school and entered De La Salle Oaklands.

I digress; we are talking about what makes Toronto [one of] the greatest cities in the world. Surely, the reasons must include the “boosterism kool-aid” all citizens drink as a pre-condition of residency. It is tough to fight off its consequential dulling of critical analysis.

There are exceptions of course. At the close of registrations on Friday, no less than 102 candidates had met the [basic] qualifications required by the Electoral officer to list them as bona fide aspirants to the Mayor’s Chair.

None of them are asked to be superstars. None of them have even mentioned the one person most responsible for this election. It seems we had an election just last October, when the field was small and the voter turn-out a mere 29%.

Well, this time around, we may actually find out about Toronto’s “dirty little secrets” that have kept the criticism of the obvious under a cloak of silence. Some words come up more often than they should in respect of City Council and its governance: indifference, incompetence and corruption.

That is what the 102 are hoping to address. The task will not be easy. Many City-owned and City-run agencies and “partnerships” are operated or governed by Boards whose membership is determined by and comprises members of Council.

Of the ten members on the Board, six members (including the Chair) are from Council and four from the public. The Board then appoints a Vice-Chair from among the public members. The members may be paid a remuneration (or receive an honorarium) as fixed by Council.

The current TTC Council Board members will be there – no matter what happens in the mayoralty race – until the end of 2024 at least. As of December 8, 2022, they are: Jon Burnside, Ward 16 Don Valley East; Paul Ainslie, Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood; Stephen Holyday, Ward 2 Etobicoke Centre; Nick Mantas, Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt; and Chris Moise, Ward 13 Toronto Centre.

While it may be unfair to hold the current members (appointed only last November) responsible for the mess that has become our public transit system, the public/consumer will focus increasingly on who is legally responsible.

Public transit in Toronto now has the same level of respect as the Maple Leafs, best of talent and worst of results.

Image from TTC’s Facebook page

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