Why Toronto needs a night mayor
Technically, we already had one (may he R.I.P), Rob Ford was someone the nightlife industry could count on...because he liked to party.
He also didn't cowtow to real estate interests and supported small businesses that relied on thousands of people flooding into the downtown corridor to enjoy nightlife. He also liked to stick it to the "Lefties" on city council, including Adam Vaughn.
The man who singlehandedly altered the face of Toronto's nightlife because he was able to leverage fear and ignorance.
He put hundreds of young people out of work (one of my bar backs was the sole system of support for his mom and working as a bar back allowed him the flexibility and cash to help her...he also didn't have a strong command of the English language, so this work was a god send for him) cost the city (and the province) millions in tax revenue (when I owned my club, my HST for one quarter alone was upwards of $30,000.00) and also put other more "reputable" businesses in the firing line.
From the hot dog stand run by immigrants to franchises like Pita Pit and even Toronto favourites like the Jerk Spot. All saw their businesses drop or are out of business now, because he was able to paint the Entertainment district as a place for "hooligans and thugs".
Restaurant Row on King St is pretty much going bye-bye thanks to the wheels set in motion by the decimation of our entertainment district. Restaurants that have been in business for 20+ years are in danger, no thanks to the city.
What that being said, Brandon Donnelly of Architect This City (one of the top city building blogs in the world) is launching a call for a "Night Mayor" for Toronto. Basically a champion for all things arts, culture and nightlife who actually has some power in city hall.
This week the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans for a “Night-Time Commission”, a six-month assessment of how to protect and manage the city’s £66bn night-time economy which is likely to recommend the creation of a “night-time champion” role.
Berlin is considering it too, and in April, Amsterdam will host the first global Night Mayors’ Summit.
Why is this happening? Simple:
“Late-night people are typically young, educated, creative, entrepreneurial – people you want in your city, and who work in the creative industries and startups you also want. If places like Berlin have flourished, it’s not just because of low rents. It’s because they’re nightlife capitals.”
If we had someone in this position in city hall during Adam Vaughn's reign of terror, changes would have been made to preserve and improve as oppose to decimate. All those condos going up may have been good...but quality of life isn't going to be...simply because the downtown core wasn't built and doesn't have the infrastructure to support this massive explosion of condos and all the people that are moving into them.
There would have been balance, something that a night mayor would bring.