My deputation to Toronto's Planning & Growth Management Committee, June 19, 2014

Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Good morning. My name is Sean Boulton and, a little over nine months ago, I sat at this very table, and I told a group of councillors much like yourselves that the city was about to make a huge mistake if they approved a plan that Ryerson University was proposing to commemorate the Sam the Record Man sign, rather than putting it back up like they had promised to do. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one saying that at the time, and enough of those councillors agreed that the recommendations they passed that day didn't look the same in the end as they did when the meeting started. But although they were better, the recommendations put forward to Council still weren't the right solution.

And so, we had a sign to save. For the next 29 days, our merry little band of concerned citizens — many of whom met each other for the first time at that community council meeting — did all the things that people are encouraged to do in a democracy. We contacted every single city councillor, and either one-on-one or as a group, we sat down and met with any of them who'd give us even five minutes of their time. We called the Mayor's Sunday radio show — I'm sorry — which got us two meetings with the Mayor, senior staff, and area business leaders at the table. We tweeted and shared on Facebook. We talked to newspapers and blogs. We did TV interviews and radio hits. We got involved.

Now, we weren't the only people who cared about this issue, and there were certainly councillors who were already sympathetic without talking to us or seeing the fuss we were causing. But I believe we had an impact and, in the end, Council ended up kicking the ball back to the Deputy City Manager to try to work out a better solution.

Which brings us to today. The recommendations you have before you to put the sign up at 277 Victoria Street are the result of a very thorough process undertaken by City staff, who researched, and consulted, and planned, and consulted some more, and consulted even more than that. They are thoughtful and nuanced. They both recognize and address some very real limitations of the suggested solution. Staff deserve your thanks and appreciation for a job very well done, and they certainly have mine.

Is this the right solution? No, it's not, but while I wasn't prepared to be pragmatic nine months ago, it'd be foolish not to be pragmatic now. It's not the right solution, but the right solution is no longer feasible, if it ever was. However, it is the best solution available — I can support it, and I can come here today and tell you that I support it without feeling the need to go home and shower afterward.

I hope that you'll support it today too, and that City Council will support it next month. And if that happens, I'll look forward to that day this time next year when I'll be able to stand at Yonge-Dundas Square, and look up, and watch those great big neon records lit up and spinning again for everyone to see just like they should have been years ago.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Thank you for your time.