Urban Planning

Affordable housing. Flood-proofing. Rewilding. A massive project to reroute Toronto’s Don River is pushing the boundaries of green infrastructure. : urbanplanning

My hometown, population 35,000, is currently heavily dependent on federal and state funds to help its crumbling infrastructure limp along (and yet they build more). This is also true of the schools and pretty much every project the city undertakes which, when announced, always includes something like “thanks to X grant”. Its current fiscal policies and business restrictions tend to drive people to live outside of the city limits and into the county. The schools are terrible and, per capita, it has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

Many remnants of the “old city” are still visible. Beautiful buildings and a park system that’s still pretty great, but must have been amazing 70 years ago. In the 50s, the schools were good. Kids walked to school and could come home for lunch. They went to schools corresponding to the ward in which they lived (now the wards seem to just be a formality), much like the numbered schools of NYC (PS100, etc). The downtown was a thriving business district and, 30 years earlier, the city even had interurban light rail. The population then was roughly the same as it is now.

It’s my understanding that federal/state funding at that time wasn’t what it is today. There were many places like my hometown. How did they pay for everything? If municipal taxes were enough to provide such a high quality of life, why is that no longer the case? Do city managers in places like this still want to be able to cover the bill, or is that an antiquated idea?

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