Toronto Lucky to Have David Pecaut

By Ben Bull
Published December 14, 2009

David Pecaut, the ex-Head of the Toronto City Summit Alliance, has died today.

Pecaut, who the Star called "The Best Mayor Toronto Never Had", recently penned "A love letter to Toronto", articulating what he felt the city could achieve and how it should move into the future.

Imagine a city where civic entrepreneurs are everywhere and the process of bringing all the parts of civil society together to solve a problem is really how the city defines its uniqueness...

Good ideas and civic projects with a strong consensus and collective support will attract resources. Proof would be the new cultural buildings like the Opera House and revitalized ROM and AGO that were created despite naysayers who suggested it would be impossible to raise competing donations.

To me, the potential of Toronto lies not so much within its architectural or economic or social possibilities as in what it could represent to the world as a place where amazing things get done.

Unlike Hamilton's City Summit initiatives, which have been largely ineffective, Pecaut's Toronto City Summit Alliance has engaged thousands ofpeople in various city building projects, from immigrant integration to income security reform.

At last count there have been over 6,000 volunteers involved in Alliance activities. Some of these are working on large current projects such as DiverseCity (partnered with the Maytree Foundation), or Greening Greater Toronto - both of which came out of our 2007 Summit. Others have contributed to smaller and more informal activities. The work of the Alliance these past seven years has rested firmly on the many contributions of these volunteers drawn from all sectors of civil society.

In his sign-off to Toronto, Pecaut remarks:

Toronto is lucky to have so many people who care so much about making this a truly great city.

Toronto was lucky to have had an advocate like David Pecaut.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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