On my usual morning walk to work today, I had a thought inspired by our recent trip to the UK.
Why doesn’t Toronto run a lottery like the UK Millennium Commission does? The proceeds could be earmarked for use in city-improving buildings, environmental projects, celebrations etc. in much the same way it’s done in the UK. Not to line the pockets of business, not for rebuilding the TTC, not for paying garbage men or running libraries, but for new improvements to the city.
The funds could be used in all sorts of non-infrastructure projects. For example, they could be used to turn the Hearn Generating Station – a decommissioned, 20th century dinosaur carcass of a coal-fired generation plant sitting on our waterfront – into an art gallery, like the Tate Modern in London. Imagine an AGO Modern! This would allow us keep Toronto’s industrial heritage and architecture, but put it to a greener, more responsible use.
Bridges could be built, former industrial lands turned into public spaces, refurbish our museums and galleries, and enhance and modernize the city, in much the same way that the Millennium Commission funds have been transforming London and the rest of the UK with projects like the Falkirk Wheel, the London Eye or the Millennium Bridge.
God knows Toronto will never get funding for such projects from the Federal or Provincial levels of government. They won’t even fund Toronto’s transit system, which moves the workforce of the largest economic engine in Canada. Killing the golden goose via starvation.
Toronto needs to be modernized. It is, in my opinion, uniquely positioned to become an influential, modern world-class city that is seen as a destination and model of the way things should be done. But getting there requires leadership and vision, and it requires a lot of money. I don’t know when we’ll get the leadership or vision, but this might be a way to get the money.
It’s probably a pipe dream, but at least it’s a happy one.