Toronto For Sale: the Destruction of a City

Stein, David Lewis
Publisher:  New Press, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  1972
Pages:  141pp     Dewey:  352.0084
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6607

An account of how the Toronto City Council rezoned land to maximize land densities, favoring the interests of private developers over the public in the 1970s.

Stein argues that the Toronto City Councilors in the early 1970s had prioritized the demands of private developers over the interests of their constituents. Specifically, he believes that city aldermen had on several occasions agreed to rezone land to maximize density that would profit the developers, at the expense of the people of Toronto.

The majority of the book focuses on the interaction between developers and city council that resulted in rezoning residential land from single-family housing to high-density apartment buildings. In particular, four accounts are examined: St. James Town West, Bloor-Dufferin, McCaul Street and the intersection of Quebec and Gothic Avenue.

As a result, Stein holds that on one hand, the developers benefit from increased profits. On the other hand, the public suffers when lower-income families are unable to purchase expensive apartments. Moreover, the public loses publically accessible parks that cannot be replaced with privately landscaped space such as tennis courts and gyms. Despite this, the public is the one who has to subsidize the developer's projects by paying for such costs as road reconstruction to accommodate increased population densities. Consequently, Stein names specific aldermen in his accounts and calls for the public to hold them accountable for their actions; he even includes the council's residential rezoning voting records of the four accounts in the appendix.

In the end, however, Stein concedes that the developers themselves are not the problem; they are only working within the rules of the system. Furthermore, while self-identifying as a socialist who is critical with the system, he does not believe revolution is the answer. Instead, Stein concludes by challenging the average Torontonian to join civic organizations, be informed, and politically participate in the democratic process if they want a city worth living in.

[Abstract by Jared Ong]

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