Nov 7, 2016
Tory Firing at the Wrong Targets - Condo Projects Causing Traffic Mayhem
When John Tory was elected Mayor 2 years ago, there was joy among all rational individuals and businesses in the City of Toronto. It was a breath of fresh air to have a moderate, well-spoken and intelligent individual like John Tory take the helm of this great metropolis.
As a professional who earns his living in the real estate development business, I certainly have a vested interest in the development industry thriving. But I am also an individual who lives in the City and is well aware of the impact of development on neighbourhoods and on street blockages, but also the job creation and economic prosperity that the development industry brings to the City.
Unfortunately, as part of Mr. Tory's focus on improving traffic congestion, he approved in his first 2 months of office, a proposal to increase the costs that builders paid the City to temporarily block streets while constructing buildings, anywhere from 500% to 2,000% resulting in costs escalating to several million dollars for large projects. These costs will ultimately be absorbed by the consumer.
It is interesting that the Mayor decided to pick on an industry that has brought growth and prosperity to the City and created more jobs than any other industry in Ontario. It is not as if builders want to incur additional costs and to block streets to build their buildings. The City has strict guidelines that require buildings to be built to their lot lines. So as Steve Deveaux, the Chairman of BILD, said in his interview with the Toronto Star, http://tinyurl.com/jybmdoy where does the City expect builders to park their vehicles for construction purposes especially during the foundation stage? There is a cost to development and the need to block off streets is part of that. Can it be minimized? Sure. Can it be eliminated? No. Should the development industry be accommodated and encouraged and supported? One would think the answer would be "yes", subject to reasonable restraints.
The Toronto Star also reported on a Forum Research survey of 757 participants, 45% who agreed with the statement that "continuous construction downtown makes it difficult to get around". I am not certain what that is supposed to mean. Clearly, closing off lanes will make it more difficult to get around, just as street and track repairs make it difficult to get around and just as vehicle parking for films make it difficult to get around. Apparently as well, 76% of those surveyed disagreed with contractors and developers closing off sidewalks and traffic lanes for long-term projects. I don't believe the participants surveyed were requested to provide alternative means to permit construction to proceed for these types of projects.
Now let's look at the film industry. The City bends over backwards to encourage films to be made in Toronto and to provide street parking on a temporary basis for film crews. Is there a charge for these street shutdowns? Unless there are parking meters, there are no charges. The City has a special department to facilitate film productions so that they can get their permits to film on the street where appropriate. Does the film industry create employment in the City? For sure. Does it create anywhere near the type of employment or economic spinoff that the development industry has? The answer is definitely no. And yet, the City's love of the film industry allows streets to be blocked all over the place for free or for minimal cost. And I do not see the Toronto Star publishing an article saying that the "Mayor says the City will no longer "rubber-stamp" long closures" for film crews. .
For some reason the development and construction industry has become the whipping boy for all politicians. Sadly, John Tory appears to have joined that group. This is an industry that gets no subsidies and no government assistance whatsoever. It is probably the most regulated industry over the last 12 years since the Liberal government took over. It is about time that someone stood up for this industry and said thank you for being City builders and seeking no government handouts.
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