T.O. mayoral candidates lack solid vision: Stinson
By Harry Stinson
The real estate development business appreciates clarity and consistency.
Development is a long, slow, costly process and if the planning principles, political direction and economic health of a community are unstable, developers tend to seek other pastures.
The current crop of mayoral candidates is unnerving. The policies are thrown together, inconsistent and impractical. The clichés and rhetoric make American Idol seem sincere in contrast.
Penny-wise; pound foolish.
Frankly, the only candidate with a shred of sincerity, who gives the impression he has done his homework, would probably strive to keep his word, and thinks before he speaks, is Joe Pantalone.
Joe may not offer the dramatic gestures and plans of his competitors, but frankly I feel more comfortable with a stable “Nat Phillips” type of mayor than being offered meaningless big promises, whether absurd tunnels or promises to save billions. It is fair to assume that no candidate is in favour of wasteful spending. Ergo, it’s a meaningless subject.
The “Toronto vision” I’d like to see would involve serious urban intensification, like New York, London or Paris. Restructure development charges and planning procedures to discourage sprawl and encourage mixed, high-density, mini-cities-within-the-city.
Disallow one-level (suburban-style) parking lots. Force shopping malls to redevelop their parking lots by giving them, say, a five year development fee/building permit holiday, then hammer them. No government has the money to solve the transportation (and pollution) problems with adequate new subways and highways.
Toronto has the most sophisticated multi-unit builders in the world, and the reality is that people are still moving to Toronto in larger numbers than housing units are being produced. Sail with the wind.
Harry Stinson was one of the first Toronto developers to recognize the potential for urban condominiums, to develop residential lofts, and to convert old office and warehouse buildings into residential spaces. His current project is the Stinson School Lofts, an 1894 heritage building in Hamilton, Ont., that he is converting into stylish and affordable lofts.