The malice that made the megacity.

Toronto as a megacity turns 20 this year. Canada’s largest city has once again opened the nominations for its city council to be elected in October. It will be another lost opportunity. It will produce another council of dilettantes and wannabes to argue over meaningless issues. Former conservative premier Mike Harris can continue to enjoy his revenge on the city.

As part of a program to sharply reduce the number of municipalities—and to dump more provincial costs on them—the Harris government amalgamated Toronto’s five boroughs and the inner city in 1998. The most vocal outcry against the move was from the former city. It was Mike Harris’ specious claim that it would save millions in duplication of services.

Since most of the costly municipal services had already been amalgamated under the former Metropolitan structure, Harris’ promises of savings turned into increases in costs. His revenge for their fighting him on the amalgamation was to fail to offer the city any new tax revenues to help handle the increased costs.

The latter-day Queen’s Park liberals have taken back some of the people services, offered Toronto a few new tax avenues and promised additional grants. Yet there has been no move to giving the city a workable government structure. The system that the city has, does not work.

And to make matters worse, a schism has been worn into city hall council chamber that has separated the downtown councillors from the suburbs. The mayor can use an archaic appointment system to try to improve things but the frustrations are always with them.

This division was clearly evident in the tumultuous term of Rob Ford and his brother at city hall. There is no foolishness less understandable than the one-stop subway to Scarborough. It was forced through by the Ford’s, more to prove their point than to solve an infrastructure problem. Toronto, like many cities, is caught up in failing infrastructure in a rapidly growing city.

But to show you how much they care, the inner-city councillors devote their time to bicycle lanes and throttling down the accessibility of the city to automobiles. Toronto voters need a mayor and councillors who can come to them with a clear platform of city reform that they can promise and deliver. Until then Mike Harris’ revenge continues.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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