But you guys are still trying to play with other people's money. If you really deeply care why not donate 10% of your annual salary to investment in the public realm. Or to put it another way, if I made a surprise visit to your living space right now and took photos for everyone here what would I see? How is the maintenance and investment there? I'm not saying don't complain. You should complain. What I am saying is that your complaining is meaningless unless you back it up with influence.
... and when it comes to basic civic housekeeping or the expression of pride in our shared public realm some may be excused if they expect our civic leaders to sort of figure it out and 'make it work'. Our leaders don't though because they know that most Hogtown hosers don't care a whit about silly things like beauty, innovation, design or sustainability as long as they have their hockey and healthcare, never mind demand standards... and they know moreover that the 'socially responsible' among us would be front and centre to cry foul if we did. You do the math!
Beautification of the city is important; it's where we all live and it says something about us and how we keep 'house'. And although I'm reluctant to turn this into an either/or debate, it seems to me that if we have the money for considerable beautification, perhaps we should prioritize some more immanent concerns like homelessness and social housing. The two aren't mutually exclusive--that's to say, they're both important and therefore should be accommodated appropriately--but I'm not sure I agree that beautification should be weighted more than it currently is, considering other ways social funds could be invested right now.
The mechanisms are already in place for funding, be it through taxes, development fees, and even donations. I had the money to donate for a park revitalization, new square, or burying overhead wires I would. Lots of corporations and individuals would and already do in front of their buildings. Ordinary people volunteer their time towards improving the public realm. Donations should be directed towards specific and ambitious plans. Wills are a similar source of money. Lotteries and casinos can also be "voluntary taxes" towards improvements. We can be financially responsible and overhaul the public realm to a higher standard visible in many other cities.
The most ironic thing in this discussion, however, seems to be that my original comment was about something that wasn't even monetary. It was a matter of coordination, of avoiding redundant infrastructure like poles because it looks ugly. The issue is so marginalized that even when money isn't a factor, it's still not recognized. We buy traffic signals already, why not use more attractive designs in prominent urban areas? This issue is poorly championed to the point that something that everyone is aware far beyond Urban Toronto slips through the cracks and it starts to seem as if no one cares.
Why things are the way they are is debatable. People's private homes aren't relevant; public space is completely different in its visibility and prominence. I'm sure that in some cities, the more polished public realm was achieved by a few strong planners or leaders when it could have been said that the public at large did not prioritize the issue. It may be the media or certain political leaders who advance it; the grassroots may or may not be involved. There are many routes to that higher standard. We ought to take one or several. Some people always say that we should ignore the issue so long as there's homelessness, but in reality both should be addressed. It's a matter of proportional allocation of money.
Last edited by junctionist; 2012-Feb-07 at 15:26.
Look, sadly there will always be homeless people among us, and people among us needy of many other things too, but the idea that you can 'cure' these problems by throwing every last cent at them is simply naive... and not only naive but wasteful because now not only do we still have social problems but we also have a shameful public realm. Nobody here wins.
^^Good to see the resident Scrooges getting in their 2 cents (and no more!). Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
Of course, every last cent is not thrown at the poor. The biggest draws on the City's purse are, in order, Police, Transit, Debt Charges (which is essentially the current cost of capital projects), Fire Services, Housing, Parks, Employment & Social Services, Transportation Services and Library. Those services which primarily serve low income residents make up less than 20% of where your tax dollars go (Housing, Employment & Social Services, Children's Services, Long Term Care, Public Health). The amount of the City's purse that actually goes to "homelessness" per se is tiny unless you consider the provision of public housing in and of itself a reaction to homelessness. The suggestion that these services are provided in an attempt to "cure" the problems of homelessness and poverty rather than being programs to simply improve the health and welfare of the less fortunate in our society has no basis. Are you suggesting we should take this 18% of the City's tax dollars and stop providing public housing, stop providing public health, stop providing children's services, and provide no assistance to the unemployed in finding work, and instead improve our streetscapes? If so, fine, state your position. We will know where you come from. The homeless will sleep on streets paved with gold.
No one suggested slashing the money allocated for improving life for the homeless to improve the quality of the public realm. I can certainly see that the latter needs more investment, and perhaps the former does as well. So why marginalize one or the other when there are some serious deficiencies? I'm not homeless, I support the services provided and would consider more if reasonable, but I also want the public realm to be beautiful. I want the homeless to live well, build a better life with stable housing, and have a beautiful city to enjoy with the rest of the city's residents.