The Toronto Megacity: Destroying Community at Great Cost

iStock_000004975400XSmall.jpg

Regional governance is all the rage in some circles in America. But the Canadian experience demonstrates it might not have all the benefits advertised. More than a decade ago, the Ontario government forced six municipalities to amalgamate into the megacity of Toronto. This was not done by the residents of the six jurisdictions. Separate referenda in each of the municipalities (North York, East York, York, Etobicote, Scarborough and the former city of Toronto) all indicated strong disapproval.

The government claimed that an amalgamated Toronto would be more efficient and that the city would be more competitive. More than $300 million was to be saved, according to the accounting firm hired by the government to study the issue. Early on it was clear that the efficiency claims were bogus. University of Western Ontario urban policy expert Dr. Andrew Sancton quickly raised questions about the analysis, pointing out that the harmonization of labor contracts and services among the six jurisdictions could only lead to higher costs and higher taxes.

The government was wrong and Professor Sancton was right. By 2003, the Toronto City Summit Alliance reported the amalgamation of the City of Toronto has not produced the overall cost savings that were projected. The Alliance went on to blame “harmonization of wages and service levels.”

Things have only gotten worse. The city of Toronto budget increased in constant dollar terms and the $300 million in savings have long since evaporated.

Meanwhile, there is no point in arguing that amalgamation made Toronto more competitive. Despite the impressive residential development in the core, Toronto’s growth rate has become anemic --- little more than one-half that of population growth whipping boy, Italy. Between 2001 and 2006, the first full census period after amalgamation, the city accounted for only five percent of the metropolitan area’s population growth. In the period immediately preceding amalgamation (1991-1996), the city-to-be accounted for 30 percent of the growth --- six times that of the more recent period.

None of this is to deny that municipal amalgamations can produce economies of scale. They do --- for special interests, not the people. Large corporate interests find larger governments more susceptible to their influence. So too do public employee unions and other well-organized interest groups.

As city hall is moved farther away, voters have less control over what goes on. There is not only a loss of income for taxpayers, but there is also a loss of community. Indeed, if larger local governments are more efficient, why not abolish municipalities altogether, or even provinces. Surely if all garbage collection were administered out of Ottawa, things would be better, to take the logic of the consolidationists to its extreme.

Maintaining a sense of local community remains an important virtue. Equally critical, local governments have been proven to be far more cost effective and responsive. This is not just true in Toronto, it is true almost anywhere. There is good reason why municipal consolidation is unpopular --- it costs more and it makes city hall more inaccessible. This is the principal reason cities forced into Montreal fled when given the chance. It is why municipal consolidation has led to demonstrations this year in the Australian state of Queensland. Where the scale of government is bigger, people are smaller --- something the centralizers never seem to understand.

Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.”

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Actually I read it yesterday

Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written.
buy facebook fan page likes cheap

chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer choosing

d it makes city hall more inaccessible. This is the principal reason cities forced into Montreal fled when given the chance. It is why municipal consolidation has led to demonstrations this year in the Australian state of Queensland. Where the scale of government is bigger, people are smaller --- something chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer choosing

The government was wrong and

The government was wrong and Professor Sancton was right. By 2003, the Toronto City Summit Alliance reported the amalgamation Read Full Report

Ontario government forced

Ontario government forced six municipalities to amalgamate into the megacity of Toronto. This was not done by the residents of the six jurisdictions. Separate referenda in each of the http://www.everycode.co.uk/store/debenhams/

english

Ontario government forced six municipalities to amalgamate into the megacity of Toronto..
visit homepage

The city of Toronto budget

The city of Toronto budget increased in constant dollar terms and the $300 million in savings have long since evaporated. Jacamo Voucher Code

This was not done by the

This was not done by the residents of the six jurisdictions. Separate referenda in each of the municipalities (North York, East York, York, Etobicote, Scarborough and the former city of Toronto) all indicated strong disapproval. buy facebook likes

how smoking pot helped the

how smoking pot helped the creative process, and how he wrote his bros into the lives of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. njphotobooth

The city of Toronto budget

The city of Toronto budget increased in constant dollar terms and the $300 million in savings have long since evaporated. sora license renewal

Ontario government forced

Ontario government forced six municipalities to amalgamate into the megacity of Toronto. This was not done by the residents of the six jurisdictions. messages to send with sympathy gifts

... and we have in Russia a

... and we have in Russia a lot of questions))
... there is a problem - two problems:
fools and roads :)

Detox 7 Day Cleansing Program