Toronto city council's top 5 accomplishments in 2012
The transit file dominated at Toronto city council this year, not just via the initial debate about a return to an LRT-based approach to transit expansion but later with the OneCity proposal, which caused quite the initial stir but ultimately had no legs. But even if transit remains the most talked about political subject in the city, there were plenty of other topics on city council's agenda in 2012 — be it bike lanes, service cuts, casinos or pedestrian spaces. Here's a glance at some of the better stuff that council got up to in 2012. Add your suggestions for additional accomplishments in the comments section.
NEUTRALIZING ROB FORD
Truth be told, this process started in 2011 with the vote to kill Doug Ford's looney tunes vision for the Port Lands, but after the ball was rolling, council never slipped back into the Ford-dominated funk that it had slipped into prior to that watershed moment. By the time the 2012 budget debate was all said and done, many of the service cuts the mayor was after had been reversed. And there was the whole transit file. No matter how many times he said the word, Ford just couldn't convince council to go along with his subway
THE RETURN OF TRANSIT CITY
As far as single achievements go, and depending on your point of view, this is was city council's major achievement this year. Transit issues do, of course, remain divisive in Toronto, but the decision to stick with LRT lines for which there's funding in place rather than a subway line with monetary question marks galore was just logical and will certainly serve the city as a whole far better than the alternative, which was never really an alternative at all.
INTRODUCING SEPARATED BIKE LANES
Sure, they might be full of cars and delivery trucks, but Toronto took a tentative first step towards a network of separated bikes this year. The work on Sherbourne Street officially wrapped up this week and new bikeways are coming for Queens Quay and Wellesley-Hoskin in 2013. Despite the Jarvis' debacle, "swimming with the sharks" has might just be getting better in Toronto.
SAVING THREATENED SERVICES
All-round belt tightening meant all kinds of nice things from libraries to lawn bowls were threatened with closure or serious cutbacks in 2012. Thanks to a series of deals and cash recoveries from other revenue sources many of the things that make life in Toronto a little more fun, like affordable access to sports fields, were rescued.
There are lots of places in Toronto that would more than likely benefit from the removal of cars (Yonge-Dundas anyone?), and despite the mayor's love of the automobile the city added (or consider adding) pedestrian-only spaces at Kensington and St. Lawrence markets as well as on Gould, Willcocks, and John streets.
NOT BUILDING A CASINO
As the bag ban shenanigans proved, things are capable of moving in the blink of an eye in the clamshell. When casino companies came knocking with batted eyelashes and and pockets full of cash, city council didn't go weak at the knees. A major gaming facility is still on the cards but at least council is taking time to look at the numbers and hear from local residents.
Writing by Chris Bateman and Derek Flack