1 Exhibition Place deep-sixing a harebrained scheme for an aquarium on the CNE grounds. Officially, proponents couldn't come up with a plan that was "compatible" with the city's vision (read one that could turn a profit). But the waterfront and CNE need more than fishy tourism quick fixes to float as a year-round attraction.
2 Justice Denise Bellamy's report on the MFP computer leasing scandal . Bellamy laid bare in no uncertain terms the rot that permeated both council and bureaucracy under Mel Lastman's misspent mayoralty. The MFP inquiry cost a bundle, but it was a tab worth paying to rid the city of sleazeballs stealing from the public purse.
3 The $18.4 million the city committed to boost the ranks of outreach workers and create 1,000 new affordable housing spaces for the homeless . A bold stroke for a city squeezed by a raft of other budget priorities.
4 The City Of Toronto Act . It doesn't come with the kind of powers we all hoped for. But it's an historic document that gives powers to Toronto that no other city in Canada now has. It's a significant first step in getting T.O. out from under the thumb of its provincial master. Now, if we could only get the province to up some more cash for downloaded public transit and social services.
5 The unceremonious dumping of police chief Julian Fantino . He thought he had the votes on the police services board to force an extension of his contract behind closed doors. He didn't count on new sheriff in town Mayor David Miller holding sway. In the end, the same arrogance Fantino ruled with got him axed. Karmic.
6 Council's takeover of the management of Dundas Square . Hallelujah. Maybe now we'll have a truly public square not a commercial facility where kids can congregate and, yes, skateboard, without being thrown for a loop by screwy rules and overzealous security guards. The square is finally finding its place in the hearts of the people. Hopefully, those gated events will soon be a thing of the past, too.
7 Olivia Chow's grace . It was tough to see her go, but when it came time, Chow retired from council displaying the class and wit (she couldn't resist a jab at the malcontents on the right) that marked an illustrious 20-year career in local politics.
8 The city's opposition to Portland Investments 13-storey condo at Richmond and Portland . In an all-too-infrequent show of planning principle, the city fought the development, which would have blocked light to the historic Alex Wilson community garden, all the way to the development-friendly OMB and won. This victory is doubly delicious because the OMB also took into account the fact that the building, if approved, would have cast shadows on the solar panels of a nearby live-work studio.
9 Council's decision to defer spending on the $90 million Front Street Extension . We understand that the proposed roadway would help alleviate congestion in the west end, but one too many friends of council own land along the proposed route. And unless the Gardiner comes down, that money would be better spent on public transit.
10 Grounding of plans to put a Home Depot on the 14-acre former Tent City site at Lakeshore and Cherry . Area councillor Pam McConnell made it clear to the big-box retailer that there's no room on crucial waterfront land. A 70,000-square-foot home improvement centre that would suck jobs from small businesses in the core isn't what the city needs on a site that acts as a gateway to the waterfront.
1 The mayor's refusal to even consider making the token gesture of debating a $1 million gift to help victims of the tsunami in South Asia . True, the city was already helping with other relief efforts. But in times of extreme tragedy, symbolic gestures can be just as important as concrete ones. The way this whole affair was mishandled only made Toronto the Good look callous.
2 Tourism Toronto's pathetic Toronto Unlimited advertising campaign . An embarrassment, to be sure, but when TT put the kibosh on bringing Live 8 to T.O. (the show ended up in Barrie) because there weren't enough hotel rooms available, it highlighted a more fundamental problem. Tourism Toronto is primarily a hotel and convention association. Its priorities aren't city-building ones. Time for the city to take over TT and its $24 million annual budget.
3 That the extra cash for the homeless coming with a proviso: a ban on sleeping in Nathan Phillips Square and other public spaces . Tough love for those with few housing options and little support is not a policy for the homeless. It only gives cops more licence to arrest them.
4 Council's about-face on a plan to turn Queen West into a pedestrian-only zone on international Car-free Day . Other cities close several blocks, but councillors here gave in to whining by business owners and left us gagging on the smoke they blew as excuses. Worse still was the tepid criticism by eco-heads worried that a sharper public rebuke would hurt chances of street closures in the future.
5 Any and all talk of bonehead councillors Rob Ford and his gorilla sidekick, Giorgio Mammoliti, running for mayor . We're sure the mayor was licking his lips at the thought of going mano a mano with either of these intellectual lightweights. That the idea has even been seriously entertained by, among others, the Toronto Star indicates the depths to which political discourse has at times sunk around City Hall.
6 The city's crackdown on graffiti . The gritty laneways and byways of our fair city are crammed with wonderful street art. Try telling that to city 'crats who pushed their attack on urban art under the aegis of the mayor's vaunted beautification plan, even threatening to fine businesses that had commissioned works on their storefronts and backs. The beautification plan wasn't supposed to be a Rudy Giuliani Broken Windows knock-off.
7 The takeover of our sidewalks by space-sucking billboards masquerading as garbage bins . Trying to reduce waste by putting more ads on street corners encouraging people to buy more stuff seems hypocritical to us. In fact, these corporate monuments to consumerism are stinking up our streets and doing nothing to reduce waste . T he receptacle for butts is bigger than the one for recyclables.
8 Councillor Michael Thompson's cheap publicity grab at the height of this summer's gun violence . You'd think a black councillor from Scarborough would have an appreciation for the root triggers of gun violence. Instead, Thompson, acting on his mayoral aspirations, played bogeyman and encouraged cops to target black youth.
9 The Bike Plan is going backwards. Sad fact is, we're falling behind most other cities in Canada . Only 59 kilometres of the 485 promised under the plan have actually been built. It's not necessarily about money; it's about establishing a mindset that considers cycling when planners consider development proposals. We need to break out of the current malaise jamming up the works of city bureaucracy and give cycling priority over cars. New bike lanes must be separated from traffic by boulevards and other physical barriers so cycling becomes a viable transportation option for more people that is, if we truly want to make Toronto a safe, breathable and livable city.
10 The bylaw enforcement unit's anti-idling "crackdown." While the city wilted in the oppressive heat and smog choked the streets, rendering the air so unbreathable that those who could retreated to the air-conditioned indoors, just how many enforcement officers were sent out to save us from exhaust-mongers? Six. The limp response was an embarrassment and a tragic reaffirmation that car-loving pols are not serious about tackling smog even if it's killing us. A tree planted to absorb the pollution would have acted faster.