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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Dale Duncan at City Hall: Jan. 18 2007

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Spacing‘s managing editor Dale Duncan writes a weekly column for Eye Weekly focused on City Hall. Each week we’ll post her columns on the Spacing Wire.
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The Gang of Six unveiled their plan on Oct. 12, 2006: the election was on and a group of candidates for council led by former mayor John Sewell announced their strategy for reshaping council: meetings every two weeks! Strong community councils that control their own budgets! A task force! Then (as now) there was much hoopla over how the new City of Toronto Act would give the city more power and change the way council was run (including the addition of a brand new executive committee, which met for the first time on Monday), but Sewell and the gang promised to fight for more tangible and democratic reforms to help right the wrongs of amalgamation. It was enough to give some of us hope.

To no one’s real surprise, former Citytv reporter Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) was the only member of the Dirty Half-dozen to get elected. So: will he follow up on these promises solo? Maybe.

“There’s been a wholesale overhaul of the committee structure,” Vaughan told me over the phone last week. “I think it’s fair to take a wait-and-see attitude until summer, at which point in time I’ll have to review it with colleagues”

Vaughan wears the label of “independent” like a kid wears a toy sheriff’s badge. While some have tried to brand him a Liberal out to provide opposition to the mayor’s loyal band of NDPers, Vaughan insists he’s not ideologically attached to any side. “To me, it’s about trying to make ideas work,” he says. “[Council] works best when a group of independents work together to move forward.”

Still, he’s planning to light a fire under David Miller’s backside. “We’ve talked about giving community councils more power, but not money,” Vaughan says. “There’s the sense that the budget belongs to the budget committee and not to local neighbourhoods.” Vaughan says city council could give community councils the power to levy fees for things like front-yard parking pads or garbage pick-up.

“I respect and understand the mayor’s need for revenue from the sales tax,” he says of Miller’s favourite hobby-horse, “but the housing crisis isn’t going to wait for the province and the federal government and the city to get to the same place. We can’t afford to wait.”


“City bureaucrats aren’t experts at marketing garbage-can ads … so let the private sector, which is really good at marketing, take that over and we’ll take a commission,” Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) said in The Globe and Mail this week. You’d think this proud environmentalist would demand our garbage bins be made by garbage bin experts, instead of people who are skilled at marketing. Even there, it’s questionable. Eucan, which maintains the 4,000 silver recycling and garbage bins scattered throughout Toronto, now says it can’t afford to fork over the full $1 million a year it promised the city. So much for a commission, too.



  1. While I respect Adam Vaughan’s wait and see approach to the committee structure and that he has several innovative ideas around funding local projects, taking a stab at Miller’s approach to the City’s funding crisis like that is a little much. Especially because he doesn’t suggest a viable alternative to requesting a portion of the sales tax. I doubt that Adam really believes that user fees for garbage pick-up and/or front yard parking would generate the revenue to build housing.

  2. “You’d think this proud environmentalist would demand our garbage bins be made by garbage bin experts, instead of people who are skilled at marketing.”