On The New Urban Agenda

On The New Urban Agenda

Posted on May 26 by Bill Freeman in Recent Releases
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Pinterest

Writing a book about cities is a natural for me. I have always lived in cities and love their energy, the crush of people, and the fascinating things to do. But cities are in trouble, and that is true of the Greater Toronto, Hamilton Area – the urban complex that sprawls along the north-west shore of Lake Ontario that I write about in this book.

The New Urban Agenda details the changes and problems of the GTHA, but it is still an optimistic book. There are solutions to all of our urban problems. It is not for want of ideas or technology. Even the financial problems can be overcome. What is missing is the lack of political will – the adoption of a practical urban agenda that can shape the changes we need.

I have been absorbed in the problems of cities all of my adult life. Years ago I was the lead author on a book about Hamilton. I have written about urban politics, the history of cities, and political participation. In fact I have participated in a number of community groups over the years. Most recently I have been involved in the struggle to stop the expansion of the Toronto Island Airport.

About thirty years ago I moved to Toronto Island, and living in that small community just off shore from the downtown core of the city, was another major influence on this book. I am a full time writer of books, plays, documentary films and children’s television programs. I work at home and when I travel into the city I am like a foreign visitor seeing the big urban conglomeration with fresh eyes.

I have visited cities in Europe, South America, and the developing world, but it is the large centres of the GTHA that fascinate me.

Every time I walk up Bay Street at rush hour, it makes me think of the conflict between cars and people on foot. I have been a first-hand witness to the transformation of Toronto’s core into a forest of high-rise office and condo towers. The city’s cultural life has come alive in the last thirty years. Even Hamilton, and the vast suburbs around Toronto, are on the threshold of exciting changes. 

“Write about what you know,” is the best advice given to writers, and this book comes out of my experience more than any other that I have written, but another piece of advice is perhaps more important, “know your audience.” This book is written for the political activists of the GTHA, and there are hundreds of thousands of people like that, but there is another audience I hope to reach.

If progressive political change is going to come to the GTHA, it will be the young who will make it happen. Mobilizing the next generation of activists, and providing a realistic agenda that can help to guide their actions, is my hope for this book.

Bill Freeman

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Bill Freeman photo

Bill Freeman

Bill Freeman is a Canadian urban issues writer and winner of the Governor General's Literary Award. He has authored nineteen books, including The New Urban Agenda. Bill lives on Toronto Island.