Toronto council has made a bad move. They are, in effect, fighting ‘city hall.’ Because city hall for cities in Canada are the provincial and territorial governments. I am not saying the Toronto councillors definitely will not win against Queen’s Park reducing the number of councillors but they are not likely to get anything other than a ‘stay of execution.’ And nobody wants to be hung more than once.
The problem is that to delay the change to half the number of councillors for four years is a very costly and unnecessary step in the modernization of city hall. It solves nothing. It changes nothing. It simply extends the ongoing waste of time for an already unworkable system of civic government.
This is not a problem for the judiciary. It is a problem for a plebiscite by the citizens of Toronto. Toronto needs to build a partnership with the province. It is a growing city of almost 3 million people and needs a system of government that allows it to raise the funds needed to manage the city properly.
It requires the infrastructure of a city, not a province. It requires governance that makes high density living workable. As a city it requires the constant flow of people to and from the greater metropolitan area and that is the key reason for the partnership with the province.
A city is more than just so many people per hectare, it is a centre for commerce, for trades people, for learning, for banking, for living and the amenities. A city requires an entirely different political view than a country or state. It consumes the products of the countryside and creates the artifacts the surrounding lands require. It creates and regulates the trades, it teaches and advances the sciences, and it offers services and entertainments.
And cities also offer the opportunities to politicize, to experiment, to grow in knowledge and in culture, in the arts and in professions. Great cities develop unique cultural entertainments. They develop an accent and a political view. A knowledgeable traveller can almost sniff the air in a city and easily identify their location.
A city is a unique part of life experience. It can evoke strong loyalties. It has its own patterns of entertainments. They become strong tourism destinations in themselves. They have to earn their plaudits.
Autocratic politicians who take on a city most often get their comeuppance.
Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry
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