Vital Signs 2010

Today the Toronto Community Foundation released its “Vital Signs” report for 2010.

The report reviews many aspects of Toronto’s economy using that word broadly — hard services like transportation, the benefits of environmental and cultural initiatives, the challenges faced by a community diverse in origins and income.  This report will be the framework for a Mayoral candidates’ debate tonight (October 5) at the Glenn Gould Studio in the CBC Broadcasting Centre on Front Street.  This will go live-to-air on Radio 1 at 7:30 pm.

The debate will have three major themes: incorporating newcomers to the city, a vision for transit and the need for a Mayor with a global view.

Vital Signs includes observations about transit and transportation:

  • Weekday vehicle traffic entering Toronto has grown by 56% from 1985 to 2006.  This is measured at the city boundary (the outer edge of the 416).  However, from similar sources we know that there has been almost no change in the number of vehicles entering the core area.  All of the growth is in the suburbs where land use favours car trips and transit has not kept up with the growth in demand.  This is precisely the area where a substantial number of lower-paid jobs are located and where poorer families live.
  • Toronto “ranks last” in congestion with the longest average commute time of major cities.  This statement has been challenged before on the grounds that the methodology and information are inconsistent from city to city, but without question Toronto’s sprawl and low transit share (on a regional level) are major problems.
  • Although several revenue sources have been proposed to generate the billions of dollars needed annually to construct and operate an extensive transit network, the commitment from Queen’s Park is lukewarm.  “… the current level of funding requires postponing (perhaps indefinitely) a planned 22.5 km of track and 25 stations that would serve some of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods, and delays construction of four other major projects by several years.”
  • Transit fares are very high in Toronto relative to other cities because of the comparatively low rate of subsidy.
  • Growth in the transit system has been almost nil while population and potential demand for transit soared.

Vital Signs contains much other information reported previously, but consolidated here in one document.  Whether our mayors-to-be will address the information, or simply trot out their tired campaign speeches remains to be seen.

6 thoughts on “Vital Signs 2010

  1. I am glad you have offered some perspective on the figures reported. Vital Signs reports on a lot of topics, yet the analysis is poor. Traffic into the central area cordon is down by 11%.


  2. Very interesting report. It provides solid evidence for David Miller’s repeated statements that Transit City is a social justice endeavour by providing transit to enable workers in deprived neighbourhoods to get to jobs.

    One very distressing element of the report is its pervasive pattern of religious bigotry. So, for example, we get statements such as this (from page 14):

    “Employment in the full range of arts and culture occupations (including arts, entertainment, recreation and sport, film and video, publishing, broadcasting and heritage institutions), grew over the year by 9.3% from 81,400 to 89,000 in 2009.”

    I wonder which major cultural employer just got airbrushed out of existence? A little hint: employs a lot more people than many of the other categories mentioned.

    This completely unacceptable bigotry tarnishes and discredits the rest of the report.


  3. Am I the only one who has absolutely no idea what Kevin Love is talking about?

    Steve: Yes, I think Kevin owes us an explanation. Over to you, Kevin.


  4. @Kevin Love: I’m clearly more than a little thick here, but which “major cultural employer” are you talking about?


  5. Perhaps I was a little obscure.

    I was reacting to the religious bigotry in the report that repeatedly discussed subjects but simply ignored the religious institutions that have a major impact upon these areas.

    For example, when looking at cultural employment, religious institutions employ a lot more people than many of the other categories enumerated by the report. But this cultural employment was simply ignored. That was the point of my previous post and previous quotation from the report.

    For another example, from page 14 of the report:

    “Toronto has over 750 cultural facilities – 30% of which are owned by the City”

    The only way that I can make that 750 number work is if I systematically exclude all cultural facilities associated with religious institutions. Needless to say, I strongly object to this systematic exclusion as a manifestation of religious bigotry.

    Ditto with the report’s discussion of volunteerism. There are extensive discussions of arts volunteers and volunteers for political organizations. Guess what is the number one source of volunteers in Toronto – and is virtually ignored by the report? Yes, religious institutions.

    Ditto with the report’s discussion of inclusion of visible minorities in leadership positions. The report discusses political leadership, business/corporate leadership, mass media, etc. But religious leadership is totally ignored. For example, immigration to Toronto from Asia and the Caribbean since the 1960’s has transformed the face of the Anglican Church, which recently ordained Toronto’s first visible-minority bishop. But that was totally ignored in the report.

    For many immigrants, religious institutions provide their strongest tie to the community and are the only public institutions that provide a wide variety of services in their native language. But when the report discusses immigrants adapting to Canada, guess what gets ignored?

    I believe that this is enough examples to establish my point: the report is seriously flawed by pervasive and systematic religious bigotry.


  6. ‘economics of low transit fare’ lowering TTC fares for seniors will save money to taxpayers/governments and many other benefits,there is a big picture to it.!Anyway.LTF,50 cents a ride/free to encourage seniors to use the TTC and other public transit systems-get them walking,active & healthy.
    Result:healthier senior pop. and fewer visits to doctors. Means savings to health min. Savings can be used to fund & support public transit. A healthy senior pop. is big savings today.
    Congrates to province gov. for banning junk food and drinks in schools re:healthier kids today and big savings tomorrow to the health system. Thanks for reading, ray.a. Tamkei.


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