Toronto needs a holistic, dramatic new vision: Ken Greenberg’s Big Idea

As Toronto undergoes an extraordinary transformation, it’s more important than ever to understand how all of the city's issues are interconnected.



What if . . .we could see the big picture? Toronto is experiencing growing  pains as we go through an extraordinary transformation. We  have failed for decades to make the serious investments in public  transit and hard and soft services that are urgently needed to  accommodate growth.  

But what if we saw addressing this gap as an opportunity to make  the inevitable shift from an unsustainable way of life to a more  sustainable one? What if we could appreciate how everything is  connected, that it is not about how we address a single issue —  jobs, housing, mobility, climate change or public health — but  how we do everything? What if we embraced the new paradigm  for sustainable economic development that emphasizes quality of  life and “place”? What if we had a larger inclusive vision for our city?  

How would your big idea transform the city?  

We will get more for scarce resources and make better judgments about what to do with the  Gardiner, the Island Airport or how to accelerate investment in mobility alternatives. We will  overcome many of the false dichotomies that divide us. We will see that it is possible to grow  greener while getting denser, become more prosperous while getting less polarized. We will  become a humane and equitable city known not just for its ability to absorb people from  around the globe but for its quality of life for all its citizens. We will restore a measure of  civility to public discourse by taking off the narrow blinkers that reduce complex issues to  sound bites. We will tap the extraordinary energy and resourcefulness of civil society and the  shared intuitive understanding of what makes a great city.   

How much would your idea cost?

In fact there are immense savings to be realized through “efficiencies” and resourcefulness when we acknowledge that everything is connected, that every chess piece we play contributes to the larger game and that single moves can address multiple problems. 

InterviewsKen Greenberg