Community causes are gaining ground at City Hall, and we're seeing prouder, more aggressive progressives on council. But in the interests of staying grounded, here are the year's five worst bumps on the road.
1 GIFT HORSE IN WHOSE MOUTH THE FEWEST HAVE DEIGNED TO LOOK
The coordinated street furniture program funded entirely by ads. Advertising revenue is like money you have to pay for. As corporations start making the (strings-attached) payments on public infrastructure, it can only get harder to secure public funding. Are we giving up control of our common realm?
2 MOST UNFORTUNATE IDEOLOGICAL BLIND SPOT
The untendered contract with Bombardier for new subway cars. Is the TTC getting a good price? Yes. Is the decision to prioritize regional buying encouraging? Absolutely. Are these sufficient reasons to forgo an open tender? No. A tender designed to prioritize regional economic benefits and labour rights would have pointed to Bombardier anyway - while defusing the right's concerns about Howard Moscoe 's dealings. It would also have set an enlightened precedent for future administrations. Council lefties argued that since Bombardier was the front-runner, there was no point in going public. But by that logic, we didn't really need to have a mayoral election either.
3 LEAST MONEY WHERE ITS MOUTH IS
Council talks a good game on getting people out of their cars, but Toronto's car-free gem, Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington , got no city funding, and the Community Bicycle Network 's much-loved but cash-strapped BikeShare program recently closed up shop when that particular chain finally lost its grease. BikeShare could have been saved if the city had just chipped in with a pittance compared to what it spends on, say, parking enforcement.
4 BIGGEST STRAIGHT-UP EMBARRASSMENT
The TTC's continued botched populism (botchulism?) . From the so-bad-they're-good anti-litter ads to the overwhelming banality of new transit merch store TTC Stuff, the Transit Commission's recent stab at branding seems like a school project its mom threw together the night before. Two of the hip, speculative T-shirt sketches made by designer and Torontoist contributor Marc Lostracco were recently displayed at indie fair Canzine - but they're a no-go for the TTC. Between staff's indifference to Matt Blackett 's iconic subway buttons and the threat of a lawsuit over John Martz 's anagram subway map, it looks like the TTC will continue to reward the tributes of transit buffs with contempt and confusion.
5 MOST DESERVING OF A SECOND ROUND
The public consultations on the new governance structure were both inspiring and disappointing. People felt engaged with City Hall, new relationships were made, and many ideas were cross-pollinated. Unfortunately, the two most common demands - involve community councils in planning, and don't institute a strong mayor system - were answered with small progress on the former and a slap in the face on the latter. The new system may be a boon to all, but we can't say yet, and, more to the point, those involved felt abandoned once the business was taken into committee. An invigorating start, a bumpy departure. Let's work to make consultations be all they can be.