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Mayor John Tory's Toronto

Northern Light

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This is why I say that amalgamation was a bad idea. Things were better when it was Metro and everything was it's own city.

I don't like what was done with amalgamation, or perhaps more correctly the 'how'............yet I find this statement over-reaches just a bit.

I think consolidating the fire department made all the good sense in the world; seeing as ambulance and police were already at the metro level, there were no material cuts to fire service, and coordination was improved.

Toronto Public Library is still an excellent institution, one which was initially going to be cut by Council until public opposition snuffed that idea; as a result we have vastly better library service in East York, Scarborough, York and Etobicoke that has been largely brought up to the standards of the former Toronto and North York.

Likewise, the front yard free-tree program is now City-wide; Bikeshare (a post-amalgamation creation) will soon be City-wide.

Are there things that went backwards? Yes.

Parks has suffered badly in many ways, through budget cuts, and bureaucracy, notably the former Toronto's fee-free model for Rec. Centres was scrapped at considerable cost (having to install cash registers, point-of-sale systems and means for taking debit/credit etc were not inexpensive, while introducing a financial barrier where none existed before.

Suburban councillors did slow down some bike lane projects, but mostly in the suburbs with a couple of notable exceptions (Jarvis, and Bloor/Danforth).

I would still favour a small re-org of the City; but its important not to oversell/overstate the benefit; or under-estimate the costs of true de-amalgamation.

Not sure where your evidence is. As far as I remember, most of the "new' Councillors were simply the old ones recycled - in fact some, like Frances Nunziata, are still with us. The real problem is the division of power between City Council and the Community Councils.

The Community Councils are supposed to replicate the "old" separate Councils but far too much was reserved to City Council. Though there is certainly a risk of parochialism (yes, Etobicoke - that's you!) but if Community Councils had more decision-making power it would stop suburban Councillors interfering with the more progressive downtown ones (and vice versa!)

Following on the above, and applying it your comment, I would be inclined to devolve (not delegate) most of Parks to the Community Council level. The distinction I would make is essentially to make each parks district completely independent (south district, east district etc.) and leave only a select few parks (the valleys and waterfront) in the hands of the big City, along with certain specialized functions that could be shared.

I think by-law enforcement, and 311 might be better on devolved level too, with people closer to the ground and able to be more responsive to a given community.
 

Northern Light

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We need to be a city state. Yes I know it is complicated - complicated like coming up with a DNA genome for an unknown virus and a series of vaccines to deal with said virus? Let's face it we can do incredible things when we want to, it's just that those in power are too busy managing the crap Colonial admin structure to develop any imaginative or creative solutions. In response to the medias most recent obsession with car jacking (remember the leafs losing another play off game? probably not, that was last week) Tory has yet again written a bloody letter to upper government to whine about his own citizen's behaviour. Hey, Mayor how about telling people to raise their children properly, with morals and self-control? *crickets* It's nowt to do with government funding, these clowns are driving around in cars with guns, what do you want the feds to do about it?
We need to be a City state.... until "the wrong people" are in charge of it. There's a lot of assumptions made by those in favour of this idea that it will always be people who agree with them on everything that will run it. It won't be like that.

I'm not at all certain that a constitutional city-state is the answer; though I agree that some constitutional amendments might well be useful.

It is worth saying here that a Toronto-specific amendment would only require Ontario to consent and the Feds, not the other provinces, and is certainly do-able.

That said, getting Ontario to agree to much that's meaningful (ie permanently shifting a power away from Queen's Park) is likely a substantial challenge.

I think there might be some narrow amendments that wouldn't unduly offend QP and that one could get the leading parties to agree to; but again, one shouldn't overstate what that would amount to.

I can foresee full delegation of speed limits on city roads, and like traffic-safety measures, I can see most powers already in the City of Toronto Act being constitutionalized; and I can imaging perhaps 1 new delegated
taxation power, with limits. (ie. the power to have a sales tax, but with the CRA as tax collector and limited to 1% except with provincial approval).

But near-provincial status is almost certainly not on the table, nor do I see the changing anytime soon.
 

DSC

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The guys trying to connect the new CIBC building to the sewer and water system have been working there for weeks and this is clearly a major problem.

May 23, 2022

City of Toronto temporarily closing Yonge Street between Front Street East and Lake Shore Boulevard for emergency road work

As of tonight at 7 p.m., the City of Toronto is closing Yonge Street between Front Street East and Lake Shore Boulevard to vehicle traffic to allow for emergency road work. The road closure is expected to last for at least three days as crews work to locate and address a substantial flow of ground water under the intersection of Yonge Street and The Esplanade. To accommodate the closure, the westbound Gardiner Expressway Yonge Street exit will also be closed.

The issue was identified on Saturday, May 21 by a City contractor carrying out work at the intersection of Yonge Street East and The Esplanade. After further investigation and attempts to manage the ground water flow beneath the street, City staff determined excavation of the intersection requiring road closures is needed to locate the source of the water and make critical repairs.

Throughout today, dewatering efforts continue at the site and the location is being monitored by City staff. Tonight at 7 p.m. the full closure will take effect as crews work around the clock to repair the issue and have the roadway reopened as soon as possible. Both the work site and detours will be clearly marked with signage and City staff will be on site to ensure safe implementation of the closure.

The City is making every effort to ensure sidewalks along Yonge Street remain available to pedestrians. Members of the public making essential trips to the area are asked to plan ahead, choose an alternate route when possible, follow detour signs in place and be patient. People travelling to the area can use the City’s Road Restrictions map to plan essential trips and get updates about the closure: www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/road-restrictions-closures/restrictions-map/.
 

zang

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The argument being that every jurisdiction should be a fiefdom that doesn't look out for other areas? Classic Canada.
No, more that there's an imbalance. Cities are far more cost-efficient. This makes the whole fact that those who live in cities receive *less* services an even greater travesty than it appears on the surface.

Nowhere should any location be robbed of being liveable, but that moves both ways. Those who choose to live in cities (and especially urban cores) do so for many reasons; less driving, better for the environment, accessibility. And yet, that is viewed by government as something to be punished through cuts to the very same programs that small, rural towns get in spades. Governments incentivize the very thing (small town/rural/exurban living) that costs us more to service. We are dysfunctional, and never seem willing to learn from cities who pulled themselves out of similar dysfunctionality a half century ago or more.
The whole "we build towers" thing is self-imposed. If the provincial government imposed sensible zoning, there would be a contingent of people who'd cry that they were working on the orders of rural areas. Toronto gets investments that other parts of the province doesn't get - highways, transit, and so on.

Toronto doesn't get the investment in highways, or at least it's predominantly not Torontonians who benefit from the highways that pass through its borders. And the transit investments are few and far between, and again, at an imbalance (see Ford's free-local-transit-to-a-GO-station, which conveniently doesn't include the TTC).

The TTC benefits locals, but it's also one of the most-cash starved transit systems in the province. Don't conflate scale with investment.
Besides, I'd imagine that the suburbs would dominate a Toronto-province. Hardly the argument you seem to be making.
Why? They already do. Autonomy could be a means to better representation and more equal spending. Right now, forcing our wards to be equivalent to provincial ridings (already imbalanced as it is), means a vote in Ward 10 is worth about 77% of that of a vote in Ward 23, just based on population-per-representative. How about we start by just making every vote equal, instead of continually putting greater power over the city in a smaller number of hands. Especially when study after study has been correctly predicting the growth of urban areas and population decline in exurban.
 

DirectionNorth

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No, more that there's an imbalance. Cities are far more cost-efficient. This makes the whole fact that those who live in cities receive *less* services an even greater travesty than it appears on the surface.

Nowhere should any location be robbed of being liveable, but that moves both ways. Those who choose to live in cities (and especially urban cores) do so for many reasons; less driving, better for the environment, accessibility. And yet, that is viewed by government as something to be punished through cuts to the very same programs that small, rural towns get in spades. Governments incentivize the very thing (small town/rural/exurban living) that costs us more to service. We are dysfunctional, and never seem willing to learn from cities who pulled themselves out of similar dysfunctionality a half century ago or more.
I haven't seen the dysfunctionality.
Toronto doesn't get the investment in highways, or at least it's predominantly not Torontonians who benefit from the highways that pass through its borders. And the transit investments are few and far between, and again, at an imbalance (see Ford's free-local-transit-to-a-GO-station, which conveniently doesn't include the TTC).

The TTC benefits locals, but it's also one of the most-cash starved transit systems in the province. Don't conflate scale with investment.

Why? They already do. Autonomy could be a means to better representation and more equal spending. Right now, forcing our wards to be equivalent to provincial ridings (already imbalanced as it is), means a vote in Ward 10 is worth about 77% of that of a vote in Ward 23, just based on population-per-representative. How about we start by just making every vote equal, instead of continually putting greater power over the city in a smaller number of hands. Especially when study after study has been correctly predicting the growth of urban areas and population decline in exurban.
The proportion of seats to population, that the City of Toronto has, is 1:1, almost exactly. If the issue is the population of ridings within the City of Toronto in the Legislature, a new province seems like an excessive fix.

I've seen complaints from every part of Ontario on these urbanism forums (ssiguy with SW Ontario, swimmer_spe with Northern Ontario, the entire Ottawa forum in SSP) about how the provincial government is neglecting their part of the province. The perception is that Toronto holds all the power. Maybe we should just abolish Ontario altogether, and turn it into a bunch of small kingdoms.

I'm not arguing that Toronto should get less investment than Goderich or Wawa, but division will lead to new complaints about power balances. It's a never-ending game.
 

Rufus8

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We need to be a City state.... until "the wrong people" are in charge of it. There's a lot of assumptions made by those in favour of this idea that it will always be people who agree with them on everything that will run it. It won't be like that.
It would be called accountability, which we don't have in the current model. When Ford was mayor it became clear that there was no way apart from criminal charge, trial and conviction that an elected official could be removed from office, that is still the case. It hasn't happened, they rarely turn on themselves. If you create a new admin structure you can factor in a recall/dismissal process. Like I said we could do it if we wanted to.
 

zang

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I haven't seen the dysfunctionality.
Car-centric city building is dysfunctional. Photo-friendly capital-only funding of transit programs is dysfunctional. Provincial control over zoning within city bounds is dysfunctional. A toothless and easily-vetoed City of Toronto Act is dysfunctional.
The proportion of seats to population, that the City of Toronto has, is 1:1, almost exactly. If the issue is the population of ridings within the City of Toronto in the Legislature, a new province seems like an excessive fix.
The seats themselves are disproportionately distributed.

Kiiwetinoong represents 33,000. Etobicoke-Lakeshore represents 129,000. A voter in an ultra-low-density riding with vastly non-urban concerns has nearly a 4:1 imbalance of power over a voter in E-L. Regardless of what party is in power in that riding, do you think that's fair? Do you think someone in Kiiwetinoong should have more power over the city of Toronto than someone in Etobicoke? Do you think the province is going to sweep in any time soon and decide these many rural/small town ridings should cede some of that power back to Toronto?
I've seen complaints from every part of Ontario on these urbanism forums (ssiguy with SW Ontario, swimmer_spe with Northern Ontario, the entire Ottawa forum in SSP) about how the provincial government is neglecting their part of the province. The perception is that Toronto holds all the power. Maybe we should just abolish Ontario altogether, and turn it into a bunch of small kingdoms.
Perceptions aren't fact. They're subjective, and often perpetuated by the politicians of the very same imbalanced ridings mentioned above.
I'm not arguing that Toronto should get less investment than Goderich or Wawa, but division will lead to new complaints about power balances. It's a never-ending game.
Taking the power out of the province's hands then seems prudent, no? No one can then complain about the spending of provincial resources if the city of Toronto has its own (proper, irrevocable) taxation power and is no longer officially part of the province, can they?

The fact is, the door to the notwithstanding clause has been opened, and it's use is only going to grow in time. Often as a battering ram against a perceived enemy. A lot of times that's going to end up being Toronto.
 

ShonTron

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I'm willing to give Northern Ontario a pass for its low population ridings because of the huge areas that those ridings cover. Northern Ontario gets just two more ridings provincially than what would be proportioned to it using the federal boundaries.

The problem is that the GTA - especially south Etobicoke, Downtown, and parts of the 905 - are shortchanged because of population growth, while the federal ridings are set based on counts from the 2011 census. It won't be until 2026 that Brampton gets a sixth seat, and Toronto gets one more - with shifting boundaries that should address declining populations in some of the inner suburban yellowbelt ridings.
 

DirectionNorth

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Car-centric city building is dysfunctional.
That's arguably on the municipalities rather than the province. You can't compare the province to a best-case-scenario, you have to compare it to a realistic scenario where the province was broken up. We'd still have car-centric city building, but worse, because the province is finally interested in less-car-centric urban forms (413 aside, but seeing Brampton's plan ... ugh, our municipal politicians make Doug Ford look like a genius).
Photo-friendly capital-only funding of transit programs is dysfunctional. Provincial control over zoning within city bounds is dysfunctional.
The City of Toronto hasn't been doing much better. Without the resources of Ontario, you'd get the same budget for the TTC, but without the new projects.
A toothless and easily-vetoed City of Toronto Act is dysfunctional.
That I can agree with.
The seats themselves are disproportionately distributed.

Kiiwetinoong represents 33,000. Etobicoke-Lakeshore represents 129,000. A voter in an ultra-low-density riding with vastly non-urban concerns has nearly a 4:1 imbalance of power over a voter in E-L. Regardless of what party is in power in that riding, do you think that's fair? Do you think someone in Kiiwetinoong should have more power over the city of Toronto than someone in Etobicoke? Do you think the province is going to sweep in any time soon and decide these many rural/small town ridings should cede some of that power back to Toronto?
The seats are absolute bonkers, but the City of Toronto has 20.1% of the province's population and 20.2% of the seats. Might just be a population growth thing.
Perceptions aren't fact. They're subjective, and often perpetuated by the politicians of the very same imbalanced ridings mentioned above.
Your argument so far seems to be that breaking up jurisdictions is the best solution to neglect. If so, we can break up every jurisdiction, since everybody claims that their region has been neglected in favor of other areas. It's feudalism and identity politics at its worst.
Taking the power out of the province's hands then seems prudent, no? No one can then complain about the spending of provincial resources if the city of Toronto has its own (proper, irrevocable) taxation power and is no longer officially part of the province, can they?
People will then complain that urban areas or suburban services are being underfunded.
The fact is, the door to the notwithstanding clause has been opened, and it's use is only going to grow in time. Often as a battering ram against a perceived enemy. A lot of times that's going to end up being Toronto.
And a lot of times, that's going to end up being other areas.

In the end, I'm just not convinced that smaller jurisdictions will be able to handle affairs better. We already see complaints about the suburban-dominated nature of Toronto's city council, and I see no reason to believe that a Toronto or GTHA province would be able to handle affairs better, given the dysfunctionality of City Council as well.
 

zang

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That's arguably on the municipalities rather than the province. You can't compare the province to a best-case-scenario, you have to compare it to a realistic scenario where the province was broken up. We'd still have car-centric city building, but worse, because the province is finally interested in less-car-centric urban forms (413 aside, but seeing Brampton's plan ... ugh, our municipal politicians make Doug Ford look like a genius).
The province doesn't need to be "broken up" in order for the economic engine of the country to gain a reasonable level of autonomy.
The City of Toronto hasn't been doing much better. Without the resources of Ontario, you'd get the same budget for the TTC, but without the new projects.
Without Ontario interference, we'd have highway tolls. We'd be able to have our own sales and income taxes. We'd have zero zoning interference. We'd be able to distribute power more equally amongst the city; rather than be forced to be what the province says we should be. We'd be able to determine where more of our income is spent (the province sure does like sending money to the Police). We'd have less obligation to support outside municipalities with our highway systems (lest we forget, the city of Toronto pays for the DVP and Gardiner; two major routes for commuters from outside Toronto).

We are a creature of the province, not a child of the province. We're responsible; we don't need to keep begging for the car keys or $20 to go hang out at the mall with friends.
The seats are absolute bonkers, but the City of Toronto has 20.1% of the province's population and 20.2% of the seats. Might just be a population growth thing.
Any urban projects fight an uphill battle because of it because urban projects are voted on by ridings that have zero interest. The ridings as they are don't reflect democracy. The system as it is, fights against cities in favour of unsustainable exurban fantasy.
Your argument so far seems to be that breaking up jurisdictions is the best solution to neglect. If so, we can break up every jurisdiction, since everybody claims that their region has been neglected in favor of other areas. It's feudalism and identity politics at its worst.
Not breaking up the entirety of Ontario; rather create a form of governance, that once a city reaches a level of influence/% of GDP/Size/whatever, gets applied. It's not like this is any kind of a new idea. It's been working relatively fine in many other cities around the world.

Don't get me wrong, there should be special considerations made for certain types of areas, including rural. But perhaps there's a better way than just painting everything with the same brush. Maybe greater level of power for all regions, or new regional powers?

As it sit right now, we have a provincial government pushing to have *more* power over municipalities and their favoured regions, while ignoring (and wholeheartedly willing to privatize) their bigger picture responsibilities like education and health care.

In the end, I'm just not convinced that smaller jurisdictions will be able to handle affairs better. We already see complaints about the suburban-dominated nature of Toronto's city council, and I see no reason to believe that a Toronto or GTHA province would be able to handle affairs better, given the dysfunctionality of City Council as well.
Right now, Toronto fights for scraps of what the province is willing to give us and tells us on what we should spend it. You're assuming it additional power would mean a "province"-like structure. It doesn't need to be. We can create a system for large cities that doesn't just split a province into smaller provinces and with all the same requirements. We already have "provinces" and "territories" with differences in governance. Why can't it be "provinces", "territories" and "large cities"?
 

zang

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Missed this last week, but 99% Invisible did an entire podcast/article on Toronto's missing middle and exclusionary zoning problems. Worth a listen if you need extra rage fuel for upcoming elections.


Addendum: It only briefly talks about the land as an asset/investment problem adding to the housing problems.
 

afransen

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Bikeshare (a post-amalgamation creation) will soon be City-wide.
I think Bikeshare really should be the target of a lot of investment. It seem like a very cost effective way to provide mobility that takes pressure off and complements transit. When the province or feds are hosing money around, why can't they find a few tens of millions of bikeshare programs? I'd also like to see a seamless bikeshare network eventually across the GTA to improve last mile at GO stations, etc.


On the subject of whether Toronto should become a province. I can't see it working without including the GTA. The City of Toronto already has a larger budget than several provinces. I would be open to it taking on more a 'super city' or Charter City role where it is given more autonomy and fiscal freedom to govern itself. Ottawa and perhaps Hamilton would be other candidates for this treatment. The problem with anything short of full province status is that sub-provincial governments are basically just useful fictions that the provincial government can meddle with as they please.
 

zang

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I think Bikeshare really should be the target of a lot of investment. It seem like a very cost effective way to provide mobility that takes pressure off and complements transit. When the province or feds are hosing money around, why can't they find a few tens of millions of bikeshare programs? I'd also like to see a seamless bikeshare network eventually across the GTA to improve last mile at GO stations, etc.

$5 says the Bikeshare won't include the Toronto Islands. Even though the current Toronto Island Bicycle Rental is more expensive, has limited quantity, limited hours, and operates only a few months a year.
 

afransen

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$5 says the Bikeshare won't include the Toronto Islands. Even though the current Toronto Island Bicycle Rental is more expensive, has limited quantity, limited hours, and operates only a few months a year.
I suspect there is some contractual limitations on bike rentals on the islands that needs to expire. Even still, managing demand on the islands during the summer might be challenging for BikeShare.
 

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