I joined this forum because of the discussion on Rob Ford, but I'm also very much interested in issues of urban planning, and it seems apt that this thread is hosted on this website. As someone who has lived in Europe and New York City prior to moving to Toronto, I'm still often shocked by the lack of public spaces and the extreme over-reliance on cars that I find here, which in my view contribute to this current crisis of civil society. Much of Toronto is inhabited by people who are deeply annoyed by the fact that there are other people around them. They don't like to live in cities, because to them urbanity means being stuck in traffic and not being able to find parking.
I regularly take the 35 bus on Jane, or the 41 bus on Keele. Looking out the window, or getting off at various stops, I just get depressed by pretty much everything I see, and I feel sad for the people who keep squeezing onto the packed bus and who have to live in, what to me is a nightmarish environment. Once you get north of the Junction (or, let's say north of Eglinton, to be generous), all you see is drab strip malls and lonely people in their cars, decrepit apartment buildings or sidestreets of ugly little fenced-in bungalows with driveways, but no sidewalks. It's a hostile, mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly boring environment, where there are no real public spaces and healthy human relationships seem an impossibility. I've often thought, half-jokingly, that I would kill myself if I had to live there. So smoking crack seems like a good option, actually.
In short, I feel that this whole crisis, with Ford and his supporters being who they are, is ultimately the outcome of a colossal failure of urban planning that has shaped the inner suburbs over the last 50 years or so. People who stay south of Bloor (and I myself do that whenever I can) can pretend that this world doesn't exist, but this Halloween it has come back to haunt them.