Tag Archives: infrastructure development
Matti Siemiatycki – Toronto Star
In recent months, a sense of doom and gloom seems to have taken hold regarding the sorry state of Toronto’s infrastructure, and its negative impacts on our city.
Whether it is our transit system, roads, social housing, schools or sewers, the story is the same. There has been a lost generation of infrastructure investment. And our failure to invest is causing chronic losses in economic productivity and competitiveness, environmental setbacks and social exclusion.
Worst of all, our political system is gridlocked and dysfunctional, making it impossible to address our regional infrastructure deficiencies.
There is no doubt that this narrative of pessimism has elements of truth — as confirmed by a shelf full of expert reports.
Yet this “glass half-empty” view overlooks the vast transformation of our infrastructure that has already begun right across the region.
Shovels are currently in the ground on no less than: a new subway line to York University and beyond, a busway in Mississauga, the complete rebuilding of Regent Park, CAMH and six hospitals in the GTA, and fabulous new parks and the sea wall along the waterfront showing signs of the transformation taking hold there.
In reality, these investments are just a down payment on the next generation of infrastructure development that is so critically needed in Toronto. There is a lot of hard work still to do to gain consensus about what should be built next, where and how it should be paid for.
As these debates play out across the region, six principles should guide the discussions.
First, Torontonians should quit our envy of innovative ideas developed in exotic “world-class” locales. While we can always be open to learning from elsewhere, we should be our own trendsetter, building great spaces and great infrastructure that are designed to meet the needs of all Torontonians. And let’s not be surprised if these made-in-Toronto solutions get copied elsewhere.
Second, for reasons of both cost and capacity constraints within the construction industry, we will never be able to simply build our way out of our infrastructure deficits. Instead, we need to find ways to use existing facilities more efficiently.
Are there travel trips that can be entirely eliminated or shifted to off-peak times if acceptable incentives are set? And how might we use technological innovations to encourage greater water and energy conservation to avoid the need for costly infrastructure expansions?
Third, we need infrastructure investments that stitch together a region that for too long has operated as less than the sum of its individual parts. This means providing connections that recognize that people, goods and ideas don’t only flow into and out of the downtown core, but increasingly from suburb to suburb and at all times of day.
Fourth, the infrastructure of tomorrow must emphasize creative mixed uses, built through creative partnerships. Whether it is the tight integration of condos and a school at North Toronto Collegiate Institute or the repurposing of Maple Leaf Gardens by Loblaw and Ryerson University, these mixed-use partnerships bring investment capital and foot flow to make these projects successful.
Fifth, we desperately need a rational conversation about how we will pay for this infrastructure investment. Sure, national funding programs for transit and affordable housing are critical. But we also need to discuss which big revenue raising tools are most acceptable to finance municipal infrastructure: an increase in property taxes, a regional parking tax, a regional sales tax, road tolls, additional gas taxes?
Finally, project management matters. In order to maintain public support, it is critical that our biggest and most ambitious infrastructure projects are well managed to minimize local disruption, delivered on time and on budget, and meet their performance expectations.
Much depends on how well we meet Toronto’s infrastructure challenge. Maintaining our economic vitality and quality of life requires that we get it right.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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