Thursday, October 20, 2005

NIMBYs The Flip Side of Referenda?

When do the actions of a small group of neighbors to get what they want (or, more likely, stop what they don't want) next to their homes run contrary to the benefit of the overall community?

Take, for example, the story of a small group stopping a streetcar line in a Toronto neighborhood. Did they save the neighborhood, or stymie transit for the overall city? What if they had stopped a new freeway? Would we feel the same way?

A good story about this in the Toronto Star this week. Usually, such moves involve a relatively small group of residents who don't want to see something happen near their homes. "'It does beg the question as to how a city is supposed to proceed with any agenda, either positive or negative, when communities have the ability to stop what's meant to happen,' says Mark Guslits, chief development officer for Toronto Community Housing and the former manager of the city's affordable housing file."

In a way, this is also the flip side of the referenda issue -- it is another tool in the arsenal that residents opposed to certain actions use to stop the proposal, and is often focused on only a small group that is opposed.

I am heading out of town for a few days over UEA break (my wife is a high school math teacher -- everyone's favorite subject!) and I'll be back on line next week. See you soon.

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