Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Richard Florida - the anti-Barber

Richard Florida is a welcome addition to the Globe & Mail. His recent column:

Wake up, Toronto – you're bigger than you think

implores Torontonians to think of this city as the hub of a large regional economy - which Florida labels as “Tor-Buff-Chester”.

The concept of a megalopolis is not new - in fact I have a book from my childhood identifying 'Bos-Was' and 'Chi-Pitts'. Now we have the extra-extended Golden Horseshoe.

It is important to realize that we can leverage our place in a regional economy. Improvements to the transportation links are important - but so is mindset.

Of course, for the prototypical downtown Toronto socialist dinosaur, thinking of Toronto as part of a region is going to cause headaches - especially when that region extends into the United States.

A "prime" example of the non-regionally aware dinosaur is Florida's fellow Globe columnist John Barber. Barber writes as though Toronto consisted of the very center of the city - and even more restrictive view than simply the 'old' city of Toronto. Barber doesn't seem to recognize North Toronto as part of the region. (hmm - but the Muskokas probably are.)

Barber is not alone. I still see signs up in my neighbourhood opposing the Megacity.

I do disagree with Florida on his assertion that regions are economic engines. Companies, institutions and people are the engines - not the region itself.

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