Tuesday, September 27, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: TORONTO THE BAD?
According to the survey conducted by the magazine, Toronto ranks "dead last" as the most desireable place to set up shop. Factors include cost of living, taxes, building permits, crime rate, unemployment and other figures.
But never fear, along comes Globe scribe John Barber to tell us all is well in the Big Smoke. Since he's behind the Great Subscription Wall of Greed, let me offer up his defence of Le Status Quo:
"Every one of its top-10 cities -- including St. John's, Charlottetown and Thunder Bay -- is either struggling to attract investment, actively shrinking or (q.v. Quispamsis) insignificant. And yet the 10 worst cities -- including Markham, Mississauga, Richmond, B.C., Vancouver and Oshawa -- are job-producing powerhouses."
Okay, and why do you think Markham, Mississauga and Oshawa ARE "economic powerhouses"? Because those jobs are fleeing Toronto! Should we take comfort in the fact that Toronto might be losing jobs, but at least they aren't going very far?
"Like many others of its type, the latest ranking naively assumes that low cost is all that makes a place attractive. Thus it elevates all the cities where prices are cheap -- an accurate reflection of the fact that they are the least attractive locations -- far above the cities where costs are high precisely because they are more attractive."
Well, no, the survey actually looks at crime rate, unemployment, cost of construction, amongst other factors. Even with a low crime rate, Toronto still came in last. I would guess Toronto ranked even lower than the average in the other categories.
But still, I reject the premise of his thinking--the more expensive a City is, the more attractive it is? What kind of garbage is that?
I havenever understood the whole "well, it could be a lot worse" theory that people like Barber use in justifying the mediocrity that is the status quo. Yes, you're right. We could be Shantou, China.
"Imagine if the magazine had extended its survey to include London, New York and Tokyo, three of the world's most successful and costliest cities. Bay Street would empty as traders rushed to dig peat in low-cost New Brunswick."
Again, should we take solace in the fact that we're not the most expensive? Well, we're not a global capital, either. Rare are statements like: "And this new business trend is sweeping the globe in cities like London, New York, Tokyo.....and Toronto".
I call Toronto the capital of lost opportunity. There is no question Toronto at least has the potential to be a top notch, cutting edge city. There is little crime, no language barrier, (relatively) easy to get to and we have a well-educated workforce.
But why would a business set up shop here? High taxes, crumbling infrastructure (remember, John? That's why the "new deal for cities" was so important), gridlock, homelessness, an unfriendly Council. It goes on and on.
An attitude of "we don't need you, we're doing just fine" is why Toronto will never become a world class city. Until the Toronto leadership recognizes that businesses and the revenue they create (taxes, jobs etc) allow them to do all the things they want (social programs, transit, etc), this city will stay right where it is right now. Which is around "tastes like tapioca pudding" on the "cool ass city scale of flavour".
I don't know what that means.
Anyway, Toronto and Canada need a stint on Dr. Phil: "You only get the life you feel you deserve". Apparently, we only feel we deserve weak-ass leadership and a Council that thinks they are doing investment and commerce a favour by letting them bring their business to Toronto.
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