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What's Going on with the Gardiner?

Elections, despite Kim Campbell's assertion to the contrary, are times for ideas; they are the perfect vehicle for discovering and debating the candidates' views on how our city should ideally function.

Toronto Council however, seems to be gunshy at the thought of debating anything controversial. They've moved to table a number of decisions until after the election and now, as the Toronto Star reports, they're doing it again.

The Gardiner Report, which examines four possible alternatives for what do do with our downtown freeway, is at the heart of any attempts to revitalise the waterfront. While it certainly wouldn't be impossible to being rehabilitating Torontonians' connection to the lake without knowing what to do with the Gardiner, it certainly would be missing a step. The Gardiner Report is a major piece of work that the incumbants (but not the challengers) for council will know about, and know their opinion about it - but they don't want us to know what they think of that.

Of course not, that might lose them votes.

Everybody knows that a Gardiner debate is going to be a vote loser - especially for the downtown candidates. Regardless of where you stand on the debate, there's going to be a large group of people - probably larger than any group that supports your view - that will oppose, and bitterly so whatever we do to the Gardiner. So it's no surprise that council wants to bury the idea until January, when they're safely ensconced in their newly lenghtened four-year terms.

The combination is crippling for local democracy. A council that doesn't want to let people debate the big issues combined with a longer term of office, causes us to make uninformed choices that will reverberate for nearly half a decade.

Let's just hope this leaks; at least then we'll know how to ask the right questions.


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