As Toronto has grown, the share of Toronto-born-and-bred residents of the city is ever smaller. As part of that diminishing minority, I’ve noticed that many people who move to the city later in life are blissfully ignorant of the significance of being from one part of the city or another. Overall, this is a good thing, although it does mean that the history (not to mention geography) of neighbourhoods is extremely flexible, with many neighbourhoods seeming to lack anyone with more than 5 years’ of institutional memory (“Yes, the Annex used to have a large number of Hungarian businesses”/”Actually, the streets of Riverdale have not always been lined with Maclaren strollers and large dogs”).
Whether non-native Torontonians notice or not, however, in many aspects of Toronto life, the same power group still presides. They own all the cottages within a reasonable driving distance of the city, they hire each other’s children in the financial industry, their children go to private schools, Lawrence Park, or Humberside, and, as John Barber points out in a brilliant column in Saturday’s Globe (Globe Insider sub. required), they really, really, don’t like new taxes:
You can hear the tom-toms from the sidewalks next to Sporting Life. The ancestral heart of the powerful tribe of white folk, North Toronto, seethes with resentment at the latest perceived attack on the white clan’s diminishing authority.
Barber points out that the land transfer tax is actually potentially most beneficial to higher-valuation householders, who currently bear a large share of the city’s property tax burden. But all the explanations have fallen on deaf ears:
For it is written in the sacred beige runes of North Toronto that taxes are taboo, and believers refuse furiously to permit rational analysis of this fundamental belief.
(Ever come across anyone like this? Thought so.)
Misguided faith, as is often the case, comes with a potentially catastrophic price:
The old alliance that once empowered North Toronto blonds at City Hall is broken. the white folk are outsiders, prisoners of identity, blind even to their own economic self-interest — seemingly incapable of assimilation into the mainstream.
But, though its empire may be shrinking, the blond brigade is not yet down for the count. Salvation may be on the horizon, according to John Lorinc’s profile in the same section, in the form of Ward 16 councillor Karen Stintz, who “could make a plausible run for Mr. Miller’s job in 2010.”