Comment 95557

By RobF (registered) | Posted December 05, 2013 at 12:15:05 in reply to Comment 95553

Royson's column gets a lot right, but it's a mistake to treat "downtown" and "the suburbs" as things ... since the 1980s the ethnic and socioeconomic profile of each within the City of Toronto has changed dramatically. Those penny-pinching suburbs that scrimped on social services and insisted on user-fees for recreation programs, that he talks about, have become places divided between lower-middle-class and middle-class homeowners and the working poor living in basement suites and tower blocks. The suburbs that Royson is talking about are experiencing decline and are stuck half-way between city and suburb ... they aren't fully urban or suburban (social and economically more urban, but physically more suburban).

Despite the image that Rob Ford projects ... he won because he appealed to a sense of alienation that exists (or existed) amongst the working poor and struggling lower-middle class found on the edges of Toronto. I lived in South Riverdale/Riverside and was a "downtowner" at the time. Few people on my block could fathom him winning or even being taken seriously. I had spent time watching council and thought the "Tommy Boy" caricature was an apt one. But as the election approached I was doing work in Scarborough and I noted the difference in how people viewed the city there ... sure, some older people saw things in pre-amalgamation city-suburban terms. But even for many of them it was issue specific, they didn't like Ford, but also didn't like LRT or the way that urban intensification was being "rammed down our throats". David Miller became a stand-in for "downtown elites" (urbanists, planners, etc) who came out to their neighborhood to lecture them on how they had to change, and what that change had to look like. They voted against what they thought Miller represented, and not so much for Ford (he did a masterful job of constructing himself as the anti-Miller). For the newer working poor and lower-middle class residents, among whom a large proportion are immigrants and ethnic minorities, i don't think it registered the same way. They were upset with TTC fare hikes, the threat of transit strikes, overcrowded buses, unaffordable and poorly maintained rental housing, childcare shortages, and the seeming contempt and disdain that downtowners, who they saw as rich Canadians, had for their part of the city. Sadly, Miller was actually focused mostly on dealing with inner suburban problems ... Tower Renewal, Strong Neighbourhoods, and Transit City were all directed at addressing issues in the city's inner suburban districts.

Comment edited by RobF on 2013-12-05 12:27:03

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