In case you missed it, this past August, Jennifer Keesmaat — Toronto’s outspoken chief planner — announced she was resigning her position.
It was an embattled five-year run, which saw Keesmaat frequently clash with Mayor John Tory on numerous policies, including over whether or not to tear down part of the Gardiner Expressway.
Obviously, this has created an opening for the post.
We think we’ve got just the man for the job.
He goes by the name of Aubrey Graham, but you probably know him better as Drake.
Okay, okay… hear us out. It’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Really!
For starters, a central part of what a city planner does is to identify community needs, and develop short-term and long-term strategies to create, grow or revitalize them.
Consider, then, Drake’s familiarity with — and more importantly, his influence in — Toronto’s dizzying array of neighbourhoods.
I take Eglinton to 401 East and exit at Markham Road in the East End [from “Connect”]
This ain’t the son you raised who used to take the Acura // 5AM then go and shoot Degrassi up on Morningside [from “Worst Behaviour”]
15 Fort York sh*t, y’know? [from “Know Yourself”]
If Gilla call shots, no questions, G-Way ’til I’m restin’ // But we still got love for the West End [from “No Long Talk”]
It’s no real stretch to imagine Drake — in the role of Toronto’s city planner — meeting with public officials, developers and the public regarding development plans and land use. Or gathering and analyzing economic studies, censuses and market research data. Or conducting field investigations to dissect factors affecting land use. Or reviewing site plans submitted by developers.
That type of thing.
His passion is certainly there. And it’s not like we didn’t give him the key to the city. Only in an official capacity, he could play a more tangible part in shaping it.
Moreover, Drake has long been at the forefront of bringing awareness to Toronto’s at-risk districts — a must for any city planner, who would subsequently help those quarters manage related economic, social and environmental issues.
Just look at how perpetually he shouts these places out!
I got real ones livin’ past Kennedy Road, I got real ones with me everywhere that I go [from
How did I finesse all of this sh*t from Jane and Weston [from “Still Here”]
Vaughan Road Academy, star player [from “Two Birds, One Stone”]
This sound like some 43-01 sh*t [from “Pop Style”]
As our city planner, it’d compelling to see how Drake went about sheltering the homeless, proposing new spaces and making those zones more attractive to businesses, or what have you. Especially when you factor in how Drake’s multicultural background reflects Toronto’s own evolving cultural mosaic.
It’s not like he doesn’t have a bit of experience in launching the kind of fruitful initiatives necessary, either. The success of his ambassador role with the Toronto Raptors, his partnership with Susur Lee to open Fring’s, in hosting his annual OVO Fest and, generally, in making Toronto ‘cool’ all speak volumes to that.
Finally, as far as conversations that move the needle in Toronto go, you better believe Drake’s on that tip, too — from the hot-button transit topic, to the Toronto’s intoxicating sports culture, to the city’s vibrant culinary scene, to our emerging global identity.
You was ridin’ TTC metro, I had the place boomin’ [from “Weston Road Flows”]
I got a club in the Raptors arena // Championships, celebrations during regular seasons [from “30 For 30 Freestyle”]
After hours of Il Mulino or Sotto Sotto, just talkin’ women and vino [from “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2”]
This that OVO, that SZN, this that new Toronto [from “10 Bands”]
Clearly, he’s fluent in this language.
It all goes to suggest that our man, Drake, is maybe far more in tune with the pulse of Toronto than its actual planners. Truth be told, that alone makes him as qualified — if not more so — than many of the dilettantes we’ve got working in our government today.
Hey, he’s already building a 35,000 square foot mansion that he bought for $6.7-million, then subsequently mortgaged for $3.825-million. And from the sounds of it, this promises to be quite the spectacular living environment.
For his next trick, let’s give him the entire damn city to work with. At least for a week, or month, or year.
After all, wouldn’t it be something to see Drake run through the 6 with his woes once again, only this time straight through City Hall?