This is what happens when the public good is an objective in urban planning.
Another battle at the Ontario Municipal Board may be brewing over Reservoir Hill. The city's planning committee will vote today on whether to approve changes requested by city staff to a site plan submitted by Ayerswood Development Corp:
In response to an urban planner who has given thoughtful input on the subject of urban planning (October 12 and October 21): Is profit a scary thing when compared to the "checks and balances" provided by statist planning? This kind of politicking and waste of time and money sound much scarier to me. Checks and balances sound good, but the social and environmental factors of which planning is supposed to be mindful cannot be measured by or stated in anything but arbitrary terms at best and completely politically self-serving terms at worst. Is the public good served by having only one 12-storey building rather than two on the site of historical and environmental significance? How? And who determines the hoops through which the developer must jump to use its own property? Is the building too close to road or too far from the road? Nobody seems to be able to make up his mind.
Any conception of the public good is necessarily arbitrary to the individual who makes his own rational judgment about what is good for his property. There is no tenable or definable concept of the public good for there is no such thing -- there is only a number of individuals. These individuals may freely associate and possibly in such numbers that they might consitute a majority in a given area at a given time -- this is your ballot box -- yet to call the common interest of such an association the public good is to regard it as something superior to the individual good of others who are not part of that assocation and to maintain a precedence over their interests. This cannot be done without resorting to coercion or interference. In a totalitarian society, individual interests do not even have to be acknowledged. But in our wishy-washy planned state, we pretend to acknowledge the rights of individuals to own property and at the same time try to hold collectively established notions of the public good over what people can do with their property -- whose property is it anyway? This results in arbitrary distinctions of what is good or not according to the collective vs. the individual because nobody knows where the individual ends and the collective begins -- and it sounds completely ridiculous to me. The public good is a seemingly disinterested objective that is decided by humans who are interested in maintaining their publicly funded status -- or if we wish to be fair, the advancement of the public good only coincidentally serves the interest of those who are paid to advance it.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Posted by MapMaster on Thursday, November 11, 2004