Nick Cluley (a great guy, in my opinion) has written a long blog post explaining why he supports changing the name of the Toronto Cyclists Union to ‘Cycle Toronto’. As I’ve already written, I’m a fan of keeping the name as it is. But more importantly, I’m a fan of democracy and debate, and I’m glad Nick has contributed to the online debate, and I think it’s great that this choice is being carried out in a democratic way, with all members having a say.
I encourage members to take the time to read Nick’s post, and then vote however you wish. The main thing is that after the vote, we all get back to work and focus on our shared goal: more bikes on the streets, and safer roads for everyone. Continue reading
On May 2nd, members of the Toronto Cyclists Union will vote on a proposal to re-brand the organization and change the name to Cycle Toronto. I’m encouraging members to vote ‘no’, and this blog post explains why.
First, let me say that I think the discussion is a healthy one to have, and I think it’s great that the Board of Directors has put this proposal forward. Re-evaluating a brand, and exploring re-branding is a positive exercise for any non-profit or corporation.
In the end, there will always be benefits and drawbacks to a name-change. So, the question is simply: do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? So, let’s explore both. Continue reading
A couple of months ago, I was thinking about how difficult it can be to explain the ways in which our voting system is a total scam. When given 15 or 20 minutes, it’s easy to break down the mathematical insanity that we call “first past the post”. But if you’ve only got 2 or 3 minutes, it’s hard to describe the polarising, divisive and unfair characteristics of ‘vote-splitting’ and ‘strategic-voting’.
So I designed an “Election Quilt” that would allow someone to easily facilitate an interactive presentation, in mere minutes, that clearly shows why our voting system is a national disgrace.
Last year, Toronto City Council voted to remove the bike lanes on Jarvis Street. This was done without any public consultation, without the support of the local Councillor and against the advice of City Staff. It was a political move that puts the safety of hundreds of cyclists at risk. Luckily, the bike lanes have not yet been removed.
I’m working on a project, with Cycle Toronto, called ‘Drivers for Jarvis‘. We want to show that the debate about Jarvis Street isn’t about cyclists vs drivers. It’s about safety vs rhetoric. It’s about sharing the road vs hogging the road. It’s about common sense. Continue reading
17 recommendations going to City Hall this week
It’s been three months since I launched the ‘Fourth Wall’ exhibit, exploring ways to make local politics more inclusive, accessible and participatory.
The response has been overwhelming, with hundreds of people attending the gallery including student groups, City staff, City Councillors, journalists, the mayor of Calgary, and my mom.
Last year, just before the municipal election, I launched the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT) with a group of colleagues and friends. Now, a year later, we’ve got great momentum, and the support of City Councillors from across the political spectrum.
Today we just announced our first ten official endorsements from City Council, and there will surely be more to come in the New Year!
I’ve written a couple of of blog posts recently that are critical of the Monster LED Billboards that have been proposed for Toronto’s highways and residential neighbourhoods.
I don’t like to always be negative, so I’m going to write something positive today: Continue reading
It’s been just over a month since the Fourth Wall exhibit launched at the Urban Space Gallery, and I can’t tell you how inspired and amazed I am by the public response. I knew that a handful of municipal geeks would be into it, and some long-time urban activists… but I didn’t expect a non-stop flow of students, civil servants, politicians, journalists, etc.
I’ve been leading tours through the exhibit, almost daily. And each group brings with them a different point of view and different suggestions/questions. And no matter what their age, or background, or career, they all seem genuinely interested in the subject matter – even the students who are forced to be there!
Two months ago I wrote the following:
When Dundas Square was proposed, and public concern was raised about the proliferation of annoying LED billboards in the city we were told not to worry. “This is ONLY for Dundas Square”, we were told. “We won’t allow huge electronic billboards in other areas of the city”.
Well, guess what? Once again, the incremental intrusion of the Outdoor Advertising industry is about to take a huge leap forward – and it’s NOT in Dundas Square.
A report is going to the Planning and Growth Management Committee at City Hall tomorrow, proposing SEVENTEEN new LED screens in Toronto, at ten locations. These locations include many residential areas – including the neighbourhood I grew up in – York Mills and Leslie.
The next day, a small group of citizens went to City Hall and spoke to the Planning and Growth Management Committee, asking for the opportunity for proper community consultation. The Committee agreed, and a public meeting has been set-up. This is your chance to speak out against the growing commercialization of our public spaces. Please write this in your calendar:
Monster LED Boards – Public Consultation
Wednesday December 14th, at Toronto City Hall
6:30 to 9:30pm
Additional information: Sign Bylaw Unit
In 2006 I produced a fun project called ‘City Idol’. We encouraged citizens of all ages from across Toronto to stand on a stage and compete – not with songs, but with their ideas. We attracted 70 candidates, and over 600 audience members. It was one of the largest events of the 2006 city election. We ended up with four diverse winners, one for each part of the city. The ‘prize’ for each winner: an election campaign. We helped all four candidates run for office in the real election.
I learned many things during the process. But the main lesson I took from the City Idol process was this: young candidates, female candidates and visible minority candidates suffer under our current voting system. I saw with my own eyes, over and over again, how our elections result in vote-splitting, strategic voting and candidates being pushed out of races.