Time To Ease Up On Population Growth

Catherine Smith, Toronto Star, Aug 5, 2006

Why are Torontonians surprised that traffic gridlock appears to be getting worse every year and that infrastructure like hospitals and schools are in short supply? Of course, Toronto has a crisis and it will only get worse. It may not be politically correct to say so, but you cannot have more than 50 per cent of immigrants to Canada decide to call Toronto home each year (let alone those who move from other locations in the country) and not experience the negative aspects of growth.

Statistics Canada states that more than half the population of Toronto was born outside Canada and about half of those arrived in Canada within the last 10 years. According to UN statistics, Toronto is now the second most diverse city in the world and Canada has one of the world’s highest immigration rates.

In the misguided belief that massive immigration is needed and squeezing will make everything fit, Canada is pouring more and more people into a limited amount of space. Something has to “give.”

While a multicultural mosaic has made Toronto a vibrant world city, there is increasingly a need to see the downside of unfettered influxes of hundreds of thousands of people per year. Acres upon acres of farmland ploughed into suburban lots and shopping centres, garbage collection and pollution challenges, underfunded social programs for education, health and immigrant support services, and yes, an overburdened road system.

Perhaps it is time to take a deep breath. Stop the quest for growth at all costs. Ease up on the levers of population expansion. Rethink the economic imperative of “bigger is better.” Because the gridlock will not disappear, no matter how many roads are built, until growth takes a back seat to sustainable development.

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