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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Toronto’s Governance

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There has been much talk recently that the City of Toronto’s governing structure needs to be reformed, and earlier this year the City appointed a three-member panel to review its governance and propose reforms.

The panel released its report on Nov. 23, 2005, to mixed reviews. As expected, it proposed strengthening the office of the Mayor — something that many pundits have been calling for. It also paid attention to increasing citizen involvement and the role of the four community councils, and proposed some modest reforms in that direction as well. These reflected in part a submission by Ryerson professor Pamela Robinson about the state of civic engagement in Toronto (PDF).

By contrast, at the book launch of uTOpia, a panel including CityTV reporter Adam Vaughan and Toronto Public Space Committee founder Dave Meslin proposed far more radical decentralizing changes to Toronto’s governing structure. To considerable approval from the large audience, they proposed creating smaller and more numerous local governments within Toronto that wield real power. They would create community governance with a closer connection to citizens. Interestingly, this was also the strongest direction (of many) in the responses from citizens (PDF) in the public consultation held (perhaps somewhat belatedly) on November 15, 2005.