There’s a fundamental contradiction at the heart of civic life in Toronto. On the one hand, the city is booming. People are pouring into the GTA; the downtown core is more vibrant than ever; an unprecedented wave of construction is changing the face of city life; we’ve vaulted into the front rank of urban centres in North America. At the same time, down at City Hall, our politicians conduct themselves as if they were presiding over a middling burg with an uncertain future. They can’t, or won’t, think big. They shy away from presenting a vision of the future for fear that we, the voters, will turn on them if it involves actually paying a bit more. This is especially true at budget time, when the wishes of the politicians and the people must be translated into concrete proposals – and backed by actual dollars. This year is no exception. On Feb. 12-13, city council will vote on a proposed budget that, once again, falls short of what a burgeoning metropolis like Toronto truly needs.