Ever since Rob Ford took office, Toronto City Hall has resembled a civic psychodrama more than a house of government. A seemingly neverending series of gaffes and scandals has taken the focus off policy. Darcy Higgins—executive director of Food Forward, a local non-profit advocacy organization—is tired of the drama: “I want to see something interesting come from City Hall.”
So Higgins booked a committee room on City Hall’s second floor for last Thursday evening, and hosted what he calls #1000mayors—a place for anyone to contribute and discuss ideas they would implement if they were mayor.
As 15 attendees sat in chairs normally reserved for city councillors, they traded ideas from the practical to the radical: A visionary bike network, more community gardens, and even privatizing the TTC, having independent operators compete with one another. That idea was received frostily—though the consensus seemed to be that we’ll get a sense of how that might work in few years, with Metrolinx planning to outsource the Eglinton LRT line to a private operator.
On his way out of City Hall, 25-year-old attendee and food advocate Lucas Lu explained the value of the discussions.
“Food just happens to be one of many ways to build communities,” he said. “It could be art, it could be sports. They’re vehicles that allow us to build more vibrant communities.”
Lu then left with Higgins and the rest of the group, heading out to continue the discussion over drinks. And though they currently have no plans to make any of their ideas into formal proposals. They are, said Higgins, “considering how to
bring the spirit of the even to City Hall.”