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Being exemplary


Yesterday morning I had coffee with a good friend of mine and fellow city geek. We don’t connect nearly as often as I’d like, but when we do we always have great conversations about cities and about Toronto.

One of the things he asked me was whether I was still loving Toronto. And I responded by saying absolutely. We then both agreed that there are a lot of exciting things happening in the city right now. 

But I qualified this statement by saying that I wish we were bolder. I wish we took more chances. Because while it’s great that we’re doing things like building more bike lanes and intensifying our growth centers, lots of other cities are doing those things as well.

To be a leading city, you have to be prepared to do things that other cities think are wrong or won’t work and that are truly remarkable. Whether you’re city, company, or an individual, following trends is never enough.

Take for example the dramatic anti-pollution measures that were recently announced by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo:

By 2020, no diesel fuel at all will be burnt within Paris. Regular cars will be banned outright from its more polluted roads, which will be open solely to electric and hybrid vehicles. Meanwhile, the city’s most central districts (the first four arrondissements) will be barred to all but residents’ vehicles, deliveries, and emergency services, transforming Paris’ Right Bank core into a semi-pedestrian zone. As a counterbalance, the number of cycle lanes will be doubled by 2020, while the city will fund an extended electric bikeshare scheme to encourage more people to get on two wheels. “I want us to be exemplary” Mayor Hidalgo has declared. 

That’s how you win hearts: by being exemplary.

As always though, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future. Toronto has a new leader at its helm and I know that there are a lot of passionate people in this city who care deeply about its future. I am certainly one of them.

Image: Not my actual coffee (via Flickr)

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