As Rob Ford’s run for the Toronto mayor seat gathers steam, popular Ajax Mayor Steve Parish fears what it means for the suburban regions as they grapple with critical issues such as traffic congestion and “smart growth.”
“There’s a lot of people in the suburbs that are riding on the same angry, government-is-bad vote,” said Parish, who believes Ford’s “low tax and government is also wasteful” message is resonating in the 905 regions. “I’m sensing that it is spilling over.”
Anti-incumbent fervour, he says, may support developer-friendly politicians and councils who are at odds with the province’s plans to control growth. The provincial Places To Grow plan is forcing municipalities to grow up and not out as a way to curb sprawl and tackle the host of ills that come with it.
“By and large,” said Parish, “these are conservatives, small-c or capital-c, that believe in an unrestricted free market, which means they believe the development industry should be allowed to do everything they want.”
Such candidates often offer simple solutions to complex questions: Wider roads to combat gridlock, rather than investment in public transit; putting more traditional subdivision homes on agricultural land, not denser building.