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Big, bold, and global

I love the way that urban planner Joe Berridge thinks about Toronto and city building. He is constantly considering our position on the global stage and urging us to fight for a top position by executing on real and meaningful projects. 

Here is a recent article from the Toronto Star which lists some of those projects. They include everything from a new convention center to creating a fourth university (in addition to the University of Toronto, York, and Ryerson).

Here’s a snippet:

We could get “lost in domesticity — very nice, but that’s not enough,” he says, drawing on his experience leading urban renewal projects around the world.

Toronto’s social cohesion is enough to attract 125,000 new people each year to the region. But they won’t stay if we can’t employ them and provide opportunities. And that requires global thinking.

Berridge says it is the city’s “moral obligation” to use its taxing power, its wealth, its status as Canada’s only global city and the historical advantages of public education, public health and public services to propel Toronto into super city status.

Cities will often talk in nebulous terms about being “world class.” That isn’t all that helpful. Let’s be specific and also acknowledge that great things cost money. Are we a top tourist destination? Are we a top convention destination? Are we attracting the smartest people in the world with the best schools? Do we have the best transit and health care systems in the world?

Toronto is a great city and so it’s perhaps easy to become complacent. But past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes. We need to think in global terms. We need to keep in mind that this is an international competition. And every day all of us step onto that field.

Thank you Joe for constantly reminding us of that.

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