Is the ONDP promising to break up "Greater Toronto"? If not, why the hell not?

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
Is the ONDP promising to break up "Greater Toronto"? If not, why the hell not?

The voters within Toronto proper(the old city limits)hate the consolidation.  The Liberal government didn't do anything to even modify it.

Were it not for the consolidation, Toronto would NOT be living at the mercy of the Ford brothers and the life-hating suburban haters.

It seems like deconsolidation would guarantee an ONDP sweep of the Toronto ridings, and knock the Liberals for a major loop.  And almost nobody who votes for the Fords and hates urban Toronto would ever even consider voting for the NDP, so it isn't as though they's have anything to lose.

Junkyard Dog

In addition: Isn't it also possible the city-haters among the suburbs might be glad to wash their hands of Toronto? This could be a move they'd be willing to support. Wasn't Mel Lastman originally against consolidation because he thought it wasn't in North York's interests?

Bacchus

It will never happen. The costs would be horrific and none of the cities involvd could afford it

Todrick of Chat...

And I would like to see Toronto and the GTA kick out of the province, most of us rural folks hate being tied to you tax grabbing urban types.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/27/increase-hst-tax-gas-and-levy-business-parking-to-fund-toronto-area-transit-metrolinx-says/

Metrolinx says a regional increase in the HST to 14 per cent from the current 13 per cent would bring in $1.3-billion a year if applied only in the greater Toronto and Hamilton region.

But the report says that due to the administration and collection of HST at the federal and provincial levels, it may be necessary to increase the tax across Ontario. It says if that happens, revenue collected outside of the GTHA would be exclusively directed to priorities outside of the region.

NorthReport

Wasn't it your team that did the merger - yes? Wink

Todrick of Chatsworth wrote:

And I would like to see Toronto and the GTA kick out of the province, most of us rural folks hate being tied to you tax grabbing urban types.

Todrick of Chat...

It wasn't my team that wanted the mergers; I am not on any team as far as I am aware of. I think the mergers were a large mistake from the start.

Junkyard Dog

Well, you have Mike Harris to thank for the merger, Todrick. He and the monied forces he represented were entirely responsible for the formation of the 'Mega-city.' Or didn't you know that?

Todrick of Chat...

Junkyard Dog, I am quite aware of Mike Harris and his policies. I am aware that the "mega-city" policies were also force onto rural municipalities such as mine.

 

 

 

Michelle

Then why are you calling us "you tax grabbing urban types"?  Can't have it both ways.  If we're all tarred as "you tax grabbing urban types" then I guess we get to tar all of you as "you Conservative-voting rural types".  That's now your team.  Right?  Isn't it fun to have people stereotype and define you? 

I'm kind of surprised, actually, because I agree with you on so much around here!  We're not the enemy - we just have different needs in a large city. And I also don't agree with raising flat taxes in order to pay for stuff that anyone needs, whether urban or rural.

I don't think amalgamation has been good for Toronto or any municipality (and yes, de-amalgamation happened before I moved to "the centre of the universe" - I've spent most of my life living outside of Toronto, although most of my adulthood living in Toronto).  "The Municipality of Prince Edward County" is one of the ridiculously stupid signs along the 401 as a result of amalgamation.  I think it's important for municipalities to have more localized governments, especially in cases where the interests are so different from town to town, or city to city.  Quinte West is a good example of several discrete towns and cities being amalgamated into one municipality.  Trenton and Belleville are two separate cities, with different characters, layouts, and interests, and they're forced to be "a city".  But even more ridiculous is that small towns like Stirling and Frankford, and other rural areas north of the 401 are included in Quinte West along with the two former cities.  What the hell does Stirling have in common with Belleville except that they're down the road from each other?  Nothing.

Same with Toronto.  Downtown Toronto has completely different issues than suburban Etobicoke or Scarborough.  It doesn't make sense for them to be the same city.  If we get a "downtown" mayor, the suburbanites are resentful that their issues are ignored, or that they have to go along with a downtown vision for the whole city.  Now that we have a suburbanite mayor, we in the downtown core are resentful that he doesn't "get" downtown issues.  It's ridiculous - our ways of living are very different, and our ideas of how cities should function are different too.  Why are we being forced to make decisions on issues where our viewpoints are diametrically opposed?  The point of municipal government is to be local.  It's not local when you amalgamate rural towns and villages with medium-sized cities, or six very different boroughs of a major city together.

Do I think we should de-amalgamate?  I don't know.  I don't think that what we ended up with in this province is helpful to the way things run, or for democracy itself.  But I also wonder whether it might be like trying to unscramble eggs.  I think that it would be difficult to figure out the costs of just suddenly de-amalgamating again.  It would be nice if it could happen organically - if cities and towns could, for instance, vote to stand separately from their amalgamated municipalities.  But as Bacchus mentioned above, without some kind of overall recognized mechanism put in place for raising funds, it could be financially unviable to do it that way.

Amalgamation happened when I was a young adult and not very familiar with municipal politics, so I don't have a politically informed personal memory of what it used to be like before amalgamation, or what issues led to amalgamation.  Maybe that's another subject for me to read up on sometime.  Strangely enough, I didn't get really interested in municipal politics until I moved to Toronto.  Not sure if that's a function of age (got more interested in politics in general in my early to mid-20's) or of the fact that local politics is more prominent in Toronto than in the smaller municipalities I've lived in.  I do know that if I ever move away from Toronto, I will be taking a strong interest in local politics wherever I go now. 

lagatta

We had a partial de-amalgamation here on Mtl island, and it is rather a disaster, because of course it is the wealthier suburbs - and the "inburbs" of Westmount and Ville-Mont-Royal - that have opted to de-amalgamate.

Because of their small scale, rural areas have been accused of being "expensive tax-grabs" as well. I don't think the place anyone lives should be defined only in terms of number-crunching. Areas outside large cities also need public (and active) transport upgrades. So much has been lost, including many rural rail lines. Even trams/streetcars served a surprising number of areas outside urban centres before cars and trucks became the single solution for mobility.

I guess "The Municipality of Prince Edward County" and "Quinte West" (Hastings County?) border one another. Yes, very odd amalgamations. So it Ottawa that begins, coming from Mtl, in the middle of a forest...

Bacchus

Before amalgamation Michelle, Metro Toronto was responsible for Police and a few other agreed upon resources but otherwise every municipality (east york, north yorkm etobicoke, toronto, scarborough) was responsible for ambulance, fire, hydro etc etc. So there was 'metropolitan Toronto' which was a group of the municipalities and then there was the individual cities as well. As there was constant friction between A city council and Metro council on vision, what should be included, funded etc.

You would have to get all the former municipalities to agree and then work on agreements for what would be a city responsibility and what would be a metro responsibility (assuming there was a entity created). It would be a nightmare of 'Im not paying for that' or 'you cant dump that on us'

 

And you know who would ultimately suffer? The poor as all the social agencies now existing, would disappear with a inability (or unwilling) for the individual muncipalities to pay for everything and the first to go is social stuff like that.

Not to mention the higher tax burden everyone would pay and the sudden 'shell' game that companies would play, looking for the best tax deal to move their company (and tax revenue ) to.

All you would have to do is have one muncipality (lets say North York) have the cheapest business tax rate and all the companies move there. Which means the tax revenue base would be property tax on homes and apartments (yes you pay property tax if you rent an apartment, its rolled in) and condos. And wouldnt the toronto yuppies scream at that

kropotkin1951

I am glad that so far in BC our right wing governments have not amalgamated Metro Vancouver.  I like my city counsel in Burnaby and I know that if Metro Vancouver was amalgamated it would mean the end to left leaning government were I live. Burnaby has no problem attracting businesses even though it is in the middle of the municipalities when it comes to tax rates. It also asks for way more in amenities from developers in the city than some other municipalities but that has not stopped them from wanting to build in Burnaby.  Geography and good government make this a good place to build and the race to the bottom that places like Surrey engage in has not superseded those concerns for business people.

Junkyard Dog

Bacchus, I don't doubt for a second that "de-amalgamation" would be a logistical nightmare, quite apart from all the other concerns you bring up. Which are all obviously quite serious. So, no, I don't really see it happening myself. My earlier comment was intended to point out that, hypothetically, it may be possible of selling it to rural and suburban voters in such a way that it would be something they'd support...in the admittedly exceedingly unlikely event that such a plan ever came to fruition.

Todrick and his "tax-grabbing urban types" bullshit would seem to indicate that. Shades of the "Red State/Blue State" divide south of the border. American rednecks are fully convinced that the eee-vull Democratic Blue states are sucking away all the their hard-earned tax dollars, when the exact opposite is the truth: It's the cities (and Federal government tax money) that are largely supporting them. Our system isn't the same as theirs' so our situation is obviously more complicated...but I doubt if the suburbs and the bedroom communities surrounding Toronto can do without us as easily as they apparently like to think.

Bacchus

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I am glad that so far in BC our right wing governments have not amalgamated Metro Vancouver.  I like my city counsel in Burnaby and I know that if Metro Vancouver was amalgamated it would mean the end to left leaning government were I live. Burnaby has no problem attracting businesses even though it is in the middle of the municipalities when it comes to tax rates. It also asks for way more in amenities from developers in the city than some other municipalities but that has not stopped them from wanting to build in Burnaby.  Geography and good government make this a good place to build and the race to the bottom that places like Surrey engage in has not superseded those concerns for business people.

You're lucky. After the fact its too late as we found out in Toronto.  

I don't think the suburbs/bedroom communities surrounding even all of present Toronto get it. They want Toronto to pay a greater share for metrolinx but they are the heaviest users. 

407? 400? 404? These are highways out of Toronto people use to get here yet they would have Toronto pay for the upkeep (like is done for the Gardiner)

 

kropotkin1951

Ever time I go to TO and try to get from the airport to anywhere I am reminded of the saying, "Build it and they will come." They keep building more and more freeways and they just get more and more congested. Like Metro Vancouver the question is who should pay for the desire of some residents to save on their housing costs by increasing the distance they commute?  Should it be the people who live close to their employment or the people who want the cheaper housing prices? We have begun tolling our bridges and may even look at charging fees based on kilometers driven in a year. That to me is much preferable to sprawling suburbs that do not have the density to make transit economically viable.

I suspect that if it was put to a referendum the people of the GTA would vote to have smaller cities. I think most voters believe that local government is better than amalgamated cities.

 

Bacchus

Realistically local government has the greatest impact on your day to day life. So the more hands on and practical it can be, the better.

 

Which argues away from amalgamation

 

Junkyard Dog

I don't think the suburbs/bedroom communities surrounding even all of present Toronto get it. They want Toronto to pay a greater share for metrolinx but they are the heaviest users.

I tend to agree. I don't think they get it, either. (Or, at least, a good-ish percentage of them don't.) And a lot of that is, natch, based on tribalism, willful ignorance, ego, and petty ideology: "Fuckin' el-ee-tists and pointy-heads and fhag-ets! Who needs 'em?" And a lot of it is the pure selfishisness of those who want all the goodies that come from taxes but who don't want to pay their fair share.

The latter probably recognize what's what, but the former? I think they'd definitely support reversing amalgamation, and on largely ideological grounds.

DaveW

I'm so old I can remember when the city-suburbs flashpoint was construction of the Spadina Expressway ...

Bacchus

Laughing  Sooo old Dave *kidding*

 

Now the argument is more between 'bedroom' suburbs like Barrie and the city.  Which means the 400. And geez dont even get me started in why Allen Rd is so useless

 

Bacchus

I remember Sewell and Crombie for that matter. Miss them both

DaveW

Bacchus wrote:

I remember Sewell and Crombie for that matter. Miss them both

in my high-school years, Sewell and Jaffery (sp?) were the terrible two on Council for pro-development lobbyists;

a friend's father was big in TO real estate and routinely referred to them as "Sewer"" and Jaffery,

not sure where the latter ended up ...

DaveW

... no kidding! my 1970s roots are on display Cool

 but that Spadina fight was really energizing, the whole Annex was mobilized, writers like Jane Jacobs and Marshall McLuhan among others, and eventually it led to John Sewell getting elected ...

Bacchus

really? I always remembered Sewell as being more left wing greeny

Bacchus

 

This is the Sewell I remember:

 

Sewell first became active in city politics in 1966 when he joined the residents of the Trefann Court Urban Renewal Area in the fight against the expropriation and levelling of the working class and poor neighbourhood.[1] Sewell was also involved in opposing to the building of the Spadina Expressway in the late 1969s and early 1970s.[2] He was first elected to Toronto City Council in 1969 as alderman for Ward 7, a predominantly working class area including St. JamestownRegent Park, Don Vale, and Cabbagetown.[2] He also initiated the founding of a community-owned newspaper, Seven News, seen as an alternative to Toronto's corporate-owned daily papers. Sewell went on to become the leader of city council's reform wing. He was elected Mayor of Toronto in 1978.[3] In the 1978 election, the right-wing vote was split between two mayoral candidates, David Paul Smith andTony O'Donohue.[4] Sewell was able to win the election with less than 50 percent of the vote as he garnered 71,305 votes, while O'Donohue received 62,173 and Smith receiving 45,071.[3]

Mayor of Toronto [edit]

Sewell was portrayed as a radical in the media and was dubbed "Mayor Blue Jeans" by the Toronto Sun at a time when wearing denim was still considered an identifier of thecounterculture. As an environmentalist famous for riding his bicycle to council, he opposed the development of banking and convention centres in the central business district that would become the hallmark of the mayors who followed. Sewell also established himself as a leading critic of the Toronto Police, demanding greater accountability to the public, and was a leading defender of gay rights, endorsing gay rights activist George Hislop's 1980 candidacy for city council, at a time when it was rare for public figures to express support for same-sex rights.

In the 1980 election, after two years of controversy, pro-development Conservatives and Liberals united behind the candidacy of Art Eggleton. Although Sewell maintained the support of many Red Tories, reform Liberals and New Democrats and won more votes and a larger share of the vote than in 1978, he lost the mayor's office to Eggleton.

 

Bacchus

Ahhh fortunately I dont remember him.

 

I remember him and crombie most fondly

DaveW
DaveW

 

anyway, memory fools you,and I forgot Sewell was Mayor just 2 years, 78-80 ...  more of an impact than many subsequent mayors ...

it was Karl Jaffary,for the record

Bacchus

Ahhh really dont remember him at all.

Dont know why tho, maybe he just didnt get enough headlines at the time

 

Bacchus

Well I liked Crombie more for his views on development that anything and Sewell for his enviromental stances (tho at the time I decried his anti-police stance)

DaveW

I followed city politics pretty closely in 1970-74 or so, and he was big ... a bad word for some people, but still big on the city scene; also a big '70s moustache as I recall...

Crombie was mediagenic in a way he and Sewell were not, really, and he was elected mayor in, what, 1973??

 .........

oops, 1972:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Crombie

 

Michelle

Bacchus wrote:

Realistically local government has the greatest impact on your day to day life. So the more hands on and practical it can be, the better.

Which argues away from amalgamation

I don't understand this. To my way of thinking, amalgamation makes it less likely that your municipal government will be as localized as it would be if each town had their own government, as opposed to one big regional municipal government.

Bacchus

Thats what I said basically

Michelle

I'm an idiot. I was thinking you wrote "de-amalgamation".

Don't worry, I'll be okay once I go soak my head. :)

Todrick of Chat...

 

Michelle,

Sorry was in a bit of a foul mood yesterday when I posted. Of course you (and a few others) are correct about the stereotyping issue, it was in poor judgment of me to do so. It is interesting several posters said I was a conservative voter based off my “urban tax grabbers” comment.

I am just disappointed at the default setting of raising taxes in order to fund Toronto and the GTA transportation needs while rural issues are never a priority. My township’s hospital plans were crushed because a lack of funding yet the GTA always seems to get funding for their capital projects.

Anyways please forget my comments from earlier in the thread.

Michelle

Ah, no worries, I was being a bit testy too. :)  We agree on way more than we disagree, that's for sure!

And it's certainly a disgrace, the difference between access to medical care for people in larger centres and rural areas, that's for sure.  I have become acutely aware of that in the past year or so.  About six months ago, I had an elective but necessary surgery that I waited for 13 months to get, and that's here in Toronto.  (Although many people in Toronto get it faster than that - some have as little as a six month wait time.)  And yet, there are people in other parts of the province who have been waiting for over 2 years for the same surgery, especially people up north.  It's so wrong.  And I know that access to other medical care in smaller centres, as well as hospital closures or cutbacks in service are a real problem, too.

janfromthebruce

I'm with Todrick of on that one - rural and northern communities often feel like "resource extraction" places to prop up Toronto.

Bacchus

No worries Michelle, I was a little confused to

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

De-amalgamating the City of Toronto could be done but it would be a little bit like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.    It could be done but it would be extremely messy.

Merging together collective agreements for various city employees was a mess.    You naturally had a situation where the employer wanted to "red circle" the higher paid employees until the salaries of the lower paid employees caught up.    The unions of course wanted to have a formula to bring the lower paid employees up to the salaries of the higher paid employees.

Then of course in the old six separate municipalities you had situations where sometimes different unions would represent employees doing the same job in the separate municipalities.    When the municipalities were amalgamated, on some occasions there were OLRB elections so that workers could vote on which union would represent them.

Settling all of this stuff took time...years in fact. 

"Mega city" did suck and muncipal government is larger and less responsive than it used to be.    On the other hand changing it back would cause more problems than it's worth I think.   At some point you have to cut your losses and move on.

 

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Interestingly in light of the Ford scandal this op-ed appeared in the Toronto Star yesterday.

DaveW

that is very well written and thought through, EXCEPT the writer did not get into the problems of de-amalgamating;

btw, while I was reading this, a colleague walked in who lives in Pointe-Claire, a de-amalgamated west-end suburb of Montreal, saying the amalgamation period was a "nightmare"" with fewer services and more inefficiency,

so it is not exclusively urbanites who are against the Big City concept ...

jerrym

janfromthebruce wrote:

I'm with Todrick of on that one - rural and northern communities often feel like "resource extraction" places to prop up Toronto.

This is a universal phenomenon. I grew up in small town eastern Ontario and have now lived in both urban and rural BC. In rural communities everywhere, they feel they never get an equitable distribution of government resources. If the NDP were to address this issue it more forcefully it might find greater support in rural areas. 

onlinediscountanvils

DaveW wrote:
so it is not exclusively urbanites who are against the Big City concept

 

Yes, same with Ottawa, where amalgamation not only consolidated urban and suburban neighbourhoods, but huge rural areas as well. The forced marriage didn't work out well for anybody. In the rural areas, signs advocating for a de-amalagamated Carleton County are ubiquitous.

mark_alfred

Article in the Star on this.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Don't forget the forced amalgamation of Dundas, Flamborough and Ancaster into the city of Hamilton.  The only good result is that every time a PC candidate tries to run provincially here, s/he gets enraged residents on the phone or at the door who remind the candidate just WHO forced the amalgamation after promising not to do so. 15 years on we are still mad as {bleep} and if the NDP came out with a policy even of mitigating amalgamation and trying in concrete ways to return local services to the local community, they might be surprised at the support that is potentially out here.  Since amalgamation, services have gone to h in a handbasket, as the saying goes, and you have to go to downtown Hamilton for a lot of simple things like license renewals (can't even do them online for crying out loud). It's a mess.

socialdemocrati...

People are posting articles saying that Rob Ford has natural support among the suburbs. One goes so far as to say that the suburbs will keep putting guys like Rob Ford back in office.

Do they know ANYTHING about Toronto's neighborhoods?

Do they have ANY real friends who are visible minorities?

The biggest racialized communities aren't in the core. You need MONEY to live in the core.

http://restructure.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/racial-segregation-in-toronto/

Toronto is a multi-racial city with a marshmallow centre (or two). The suburbs surrounding Toronto have a greater percentage of visible minorities, while large patches of Toronto’s core are inhabited by whites.

 

The question isn't how to get downtown out from under the boot of a fat white guy. The question is how progressives could be so toothless, so poor at organizing, and so oblivious to other communities, that visible minorities voted overwhelmingly for a fat white guy.

There is no magic bullet. Get to work.

mark_alfred

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

The question isn't how to get downtown out from under the boot of a fat white guy. The question is how progressives could be so toothless, so poor at organizing, and so oblivious to other communities, that visible minorities voted overwhelmingly for a fat white guy.

There is no magic bullet. Get to work.

That was also the opinion of Edward Keenan in the Grid.  link  Not sure if I agree or not.  But, I do feel that attacking the ONDP on this issue is silly.  I think the ONDP is doing a great job with the cards they've been dealt, and the question of this thread is somewhat frivolous in my opinion.

PrairieDemocrat15

Its interesting how in Winnipeg amalgamation was opposed by conservative suburban intrests and supported by urban progressives. Schreyer's NDP amalgamted Greater Winnipeg so taxes raised in the wealthy suburbs could be spent in the poor city core.

 

DaveW

this is the pattern in the U.S.; cities want a larger tax base ...

Aristotleded24

PrairieDemocrat15 wrote:
Its interesting how in Winnipeg amalgamation was opposed by conservative suburban intrests and supported by urban progressives. Schreyer's NDP amalgamted Greater Winnipeg so taxes raised in the wealthy suburbs could be spent in the poor city core.

Ironically enough that hasn't turned out well for anybody regardless of where in Winnipeg you live.