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Now personally I have never voted for John Tory, since he’s a Tory after all, and after hearing his argumentation on the Gardiner I vowed not to vote for him even more. The best I can say is that in 2014 he was the Lesser Evil. I took it with a carload of salt when, with no significant civic names on his side on the eve of the big council meeting, he declared that he was “mayor of the whole city, not just of one faction or party, not just of the downtown developers” — another shout-out to the self-designated outsiders of Ford Nation.
The Boulevardiers had sensed for weeks that they were headed for defeat, now that the mayor was parti pris. Their only chance was to somehow induce a few suburban councillors to switch over. That's why they repeatedly invoked the memory of Saint Bill Davis, the suburban conservative who killed the Spadina Expressway. And since desperate times call for desperate measures, they made nice to the likes of Mammoliti who in turn teased them by pretending to be undecided.
“I was wondering why people who normally detest me were being nice to me,” Mammoliti said later. “And then I realized, it’s because they want my vote.”
It was beginning to look like the Boulevardiers didn’t have a lot of bargaining chips, unless you want to include Mihevc’s implicit threat that “if we don’t achieve consensus, we could be faced with four or five years of fractious council.”
Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre-Rosedale), tried to appeal to council’s better nature. She said this decision was about “what type of city we want to build, what values we are putting out to the world, and to ourselves, and to the citizens.”
Nevertheless, what the Boulevardiers didn’t do very well was portray themselves as representing the larger interest. It often seemed that what was at stake was merely a new neighborhood for centre-left yuppies, with an idyllic waterway for their urban kayaking adventures. They couldn’t articulate how this grand boulevard was going to radiate value throughout the One Big City. They didn’t hammer home the cars/global warming connection nearly as powerfully as they might have. Maybe they didn’t dare discomfit what suburban support they had. Or maybe they didn’t want to upset their own constituents. The car ownership rate, at 1.3 per household in the burbs, is 0.9 in old Toronto with less excuse.
The Hybros, for their part, were fixated on a single criterion: travel time by car, which was where the Boulevard fell short. Their position was predictable, given their political reality. Mark Grimes (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) complained that congestion is “the biggest issue we hear at the door.”
For those councillors who spend an agonizing hour or so driving to work, it was a personal matter too. Frank Digiorgio (York South-Weston) practically wept. “Why do you want to interfere with the Gardiner?” he remonstrated. “There are lots of avenues where you can have all the urban design you want.”