Sunday, May 06, 2007

The usual hokum about "Jane"

That's Jane Jacobs in case you were wondering.

This is the woman that the reactionary left in this city have virtually canonized - almost deified. Jacobs was very involved - some would say instrumental - in stopping the building of the Spadina Expressway. Her legacy in this is mixed.

Old neighbourhoods remain unscathed and undistrubed. However, rather that escaping polution and congestion, the neighbourhoods are home to some of the most severe traffic congestion in the central area of the city. Eglinton Ave West is often a parking lot. When I was in the process of moving to Toronto - now almost nine years ago - the real estate agent showing me around resorting to hopping through laneways. Streets such as Davenport, Dupont and Bathurst are also choked.

The ironic thing is that in a the tawny Forest Hill neighbourhood many of the side streets don't have sidewalks. If ever there were a sign of urbanity, it would be sidewalks.

In my mind, Jacobs was an enclavist rather than an urbanist. In latter years she clearly went off the deep-end. In one of her last battles she raged against a local school's plan to build an addition. She used apocalyptic terms. I guess cities are for people, not cars - but they aren't for sidewalks or schools either.

Toronto needs to move on from the ideas of this diletant. Surely we can look ahead and behind at the same time.

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