Have you been thinking that a post-Rob Ford Toronto is ready for sane voices in dialogue on the difficult issues of the day? Voices for reform?
We certainly have been. That made our discovery of The New Urban Agenda: The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area such a nice thing we knew we had to share it. Bill Freeman is looking to construct a reasonable vision of a well-managed city moving forward with democratic, humane, reasonable responses to popular needs. Freeman is a sociologist with a long record of publishing on urban and other issues. The voice of a calm and rational adult considering complex socio-economic and socio-political issues of place without resort to a crack pipe, and from a bicycle or bus rather than a Cadillac Escalade, ought to be the preferred manner of discussion. So much is at stake for Toronto in an unbalanced world that the failure to be grown up about our city is to ask for disaster.
For obvious reasons, suburban-poverty.com went ahead to the second chapter, devoted to inequality. Chapter seven came next, the one dealing with Toronto’s affordability, or rather its big-and-increasing lack thereof. The GTHA cannot continue to let things slide on either file. The author fully recognizes suburban poverty as one of the GTHA’s issues, distinguishing between the older inner suburbs and the sprawling outer suburbs. Transit, politics, the environment, and the planning process make up the rest of the book’s content. Freeman mixes solutions and positive examples into his descriptions of problematic situations. All of it is well handled.
Freeman obviously cares. He made his way to the company of a series of experts for insight when writing the book. More in the way of maps and infographics would have been nice. These things lend themselves so well to the topics at hand, even if they add to the cost of the book, that they are really obligatory. The jacket on this book, with its map that chops off part of Hamilton is kinda ugly, giving zero encouragement to bookstore browsers to think there might be a topic of enormous material importance between its covers.
Millions are directly affected by the problems and potentialities described in The New Urban Agenda. After the twisted and depressing Ford years with their lies, anger and general sickness there is a big need for Freeman’s brand of brainy yet warmhearted good sense. Professionals, elected officials, journalists and interested citizens as well as teachers and students in this broad area can journey into this book and find many things of interest. Hopefully that will happen to good effect for Canada’s biggest urban area.
As we say when we like one: “buy this book.”