Monday 10 February 1997
City of Toronto Act, 1996, Bill 103, Mr Leach / Loi de 1996 sur la cité de Toronto, projet de loi 103, M. Leach
Mr David Cathro
Ms Catherine Cragg
Mrs Mary Church
Mr Neil Naiman
Mr Joe Kaposi
Mr Russell Christianson
Mr Douglas Browne
Ms Abby Bushby
Ms Lin Grist; Mr Aaron East
Mr Carlos Torchia
Ms Melissa McClellan
Ms Ruth Croxford
Mr Michael Creal
Mr Don Weitz
Mr Michael Baxter
Mr Rob Degoeij
Mr Sterling Beckwith
Mrs Jacky Kennedy
Mr Nick De Carlo
Ms Kristen Fahrig
Miss Suzanne Lawson
Mr Paul Foster
Ms Tanny Wells
Ms Bev Watson
Mr Jamie Smith
Ms Madeleine Fleming
Mr Jeff Sharpe
Mr Scot Blythe
Ms Marjaleena Repo
Ms Kim Storey
Ms Shoshana Fainsilber
Ms Rosa Barker
Ms Isabel Blair
Mr Steve Crossman
Mr Stefan Gutkowski
Mr Mark Irish
Ms Anne Dother
Mr John Huot
Mr Charles Middleton
Dr Jacques Kornberg
Mr Michael Craig
Mr David Hanna
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président: Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York PC)
*Mr MikeColle (Oakwood L)
Mr HarryDanford (Hastings-Peterborough PC)
Mr JimFlaherty (Durham Centre / -Centre PC)
Mr MichaelGravelle (Port Arthur L)
Mr ErnieHardeman (Oxford PC)
*Mr RosarioMarchese (Fort York ND)
*Mr BartMaves (Niagara Falls PC)
*Mrs JuliaMunro (Durham-York PC)
Mrs LillianRoss (Hamilton West / -Ouest PC)
Mr MarioSergio (Yorkview L)
Mr R. GaryStewart (Peterborough PC)
Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre / -Centre PC)
Mr LenWood (Cochrane North / -Nord ND)
Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre / -Centre PC)
*In attendance /présents
Substitutions present /Membres remplaçants présents:
Mr JimBrown (Scarborough West / -Ouest PC) for Mr Stewart
Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber PC) for Mrs Ross
Mr SteveGilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC) for Mr Hardeman
Mr BernardGrandmaître (Ottawa East / -Est L) for Mr Gravelle
Mr JohnHastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC) for Mr Young
Mr MonteKwinter (Wilson Heights L) for Mr Gravelle
Mr DanNewman (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC) for Mr Flaherty
Mr John L. Parker (York East / -Est PC) for Mr Tascona
Mr TonySilipo (Dovercourt ND) for Mr Len Wood
Also taking part /Autres participants et participantes:
Mrs ElinorCaplan (Oriole L)
Ms AnnamarieCastrilli (Downsview L)
Mr AlvinCurling (Scarborough North / -Nord L)
Mr JohnGerretsen (Kingston and The Islands / Kingston et Les Îles L)
Mr PeterKormos (Welland-Thorold ND)
Hon AlLeach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Mr DavidSpring, senior counsel, municipal and planning law,
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Clerk pro tem /
Greffière par intérim: Ms Lisa Freedman
Staff / Personnel: Ms Susan Swift, Mr Jerry Richmond, research officers,
Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 0903 in room 151.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR LA CITÉ DE TORONTO
Consideration of Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto / Projet de loi 103, Loi visant à remplacer les sept administrations municipales existantes de la communauté urbaine de Toronto en constituant une nouvelle municipalité appelée la cité de Toronto.
The Chair (Mr Bart Maves): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the standing committee on general government. Our first deputant this morning is Mr David Cathro. Welcome, sir. You have 10 minutes this morning to make your presentation. At the end of that 10 minutes, if there's any time remaining, I believe it will go to the opposition caucus for questions, to the Liberals. Go ahead, sir.
Mr David Cathro: I'd like to thank you for allowing me to appear. In view of the fact that the government seems to have no interest in the opinions of citizens and has promised to ignore our views, I'd particularly like to thank those who have worked so hard to ensure that at least some hearings would take place in spite of the clear attempt to ram this legislation through with a minimum of citizen participation.
I'll attempt to express my opposition to this bill in relation to the costs of amalgamation, how it affects the representation of citizens, how it suspends democracy and, time willing, I'll suggest a few amendments that in my opinion might be made.
First of all, looking at the cost, the now famous or infamous flyer, Toronto for All of Us, states, "One Toronto means savings." How these savings are to be achieved remains a little unclear to me, but we're told that an accounting firm, KPMG, has done a report which says this is the case,
There's also a TV commercial I've seen in which I think an amateur electrician shows us how a few brightly coloured cables are less susceptible to short-circuits than a larger number of ugly cables. From this I took the meaning that municipal organizations created by electricians are always preferable.
Not convinced by this advertising, I wanted some way of predicting what might happen when a group of municipalities such as ours is amalgamated.
Like the government, I have neither the expertise nor the experience to make such predictions, so I started to search for information. Fortunately, reports have been prepared, I found, based on examples where such amalgamations have been carried out and the results on costs are available. Common to all such examples is that amalgamation has resulted in increased costs, not savings. Although the salary of one mayor is clearly less than the combined salaries of seven, for example, there are other factors which mean that the total costs of operating a megacity are not only higher but much higher than those of the original group of municipalities. There's clear evidence that there are "diseconomies" of scale which operate to cancel out the specific items on which savings are made and result in an overall cost increase.
I'll not attempt to go into specific numbers in the time available here, but I'm sure the committee is familiar with the report, for instance, by the Wendell Cox consultancy, to name but one such report, which has clearly presented data based on several examples from the United States. There does not appear to be any example on record where amalgamation has resulted in reduced costs for running a megacity.
We must thus conclude that based on the evidence, a megacity will not result in savings. It will instead cost more to run than what we have at present.
I'll turn now to representation. Under the heading "Nurturing our Neighbourhoods" in the same flyer, Toronto for All of Us tells us that although municipal boundaries will disappear, individual communities will not. The streets will still be the same streets, the people the same people. This seems reasonable and quite believable but it misses the point. The relevant change made by the proposed legislation will be in how people are able to access their elected representatives.
The same reports that deal with costs also give a good idea of what is to be expected in this area. It's been found that the larger megacity governments are less accountable, less responsive, more susceptible to control by moneyed interests and less attuned to community and neighbourhood needs. The examples show that secession from the megacity has become an issue in many of these cases. The central core residents of one megacity seceded with their feet by moving out. I found this interesting since I've already had several acquaintances mention that this is how may vote on the megacity in Toronto. This sounds like a recipe for the traditional American city core: empty and dangerous when offices close in the evening.
Based on the case studies available, the megacity will not serve the population as well as the current system, as well as costing considerably more to run. There's nothing to suggest that our megacity will be an exception to this rule. It is not a good deal for the citizens of Metro, and this clearly reduced efficiency is the exact opposite of the declared intention of the government.
I'll now turn to this threat to democracy. I don't suggest that the government intends to end democracy. It's been duly elected and will face the electorate again when it should do. However, the board of trustees and transition team clauses of Bill 103 suspend democracy for an indeterminate length of time. These parts must be opposed as evidence of an erosive force which could lead progressively to a government which one day may proclaim when election time comes, "We have no choice; we can't afford it," a phrase we've heard in other contexts many times in the last few years.
The board of trustees, first of all: Reading these portions of the bill, I felt I was in a bad dream and had to pinch myself several times. The bill says that the government will appoint a board of trustees and will fix its rate of pay. Although Bill 103 has yet to become law, this unelected body has already been created and is operating, as far as is known, behind closed doors.
The board of trustees, responsible to the minister, is charged with controlling the operations of the old councils we elected at the last municipal elections to carry out our affairs until the end of 1997. By creating the board of trustees, Bill 103 effectively nullifies these elections. The decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court. On or after January 31, 1998, the minister "may" dissolve the board.
So we have a troika, appointed by the government, responsible only to the minister, above the law and charged with running our municipal affairs. They're already in office and will be at least until January 31, 1998, on which date the minister "may" dissolve the board of trustees. I understand "may" to infer that he "may not." If, as I suspect, the amalgamating process is not as smooth, unlike what an amateur electrician led us to believe, a year from now the minister may, even if acting in good faith, keep the board of trustees in place to complete the difficult job. The elected representatives of the new city now would also be under control for a further indeterminate period.
There are similar points against the transition team, which is also above the law. It deals more with transition rather than with controlling the old councils, but it's also very undemocratic in its origination and its mainly being above the law.
At this stage of reading Bill 103, I consulted a map to make sure I was in Metro Toronto, Ontario and Canada. I was embarrassed, ashamed and angered to find that I was. But I'm not alone in finding these sections of the bill repulsive and completely unacceptable in my city, province and country.
It seems that we're being given a piece of legislation that will create for us a megacity which will result in less responsive local government and at a higher cost.
In order to ensure that this is put in place, it will be necessary to suspend democracy for at least a year. Further, we're paying for an advertising campaign to convince ourselves that: "It's all right. Don't worry." In a word, it's unbelievable even for this uncommonly senseless revolution.
Understand that what I'm saying here is with the idea of perhaps making amendments, so I have a few suggestions.
The board of trustees should be dissolved immediately. There shouldn't be a board of trustees.
The proposed transition team should be made within the law, stripped of its dictatorial powers and be responsible to a broader base than simply the minister.
The time schedule, this rushing through, should be slowed down. There have been attempts made at this which have to a small extent succeeded, but the time schedule must be changed.
Further, Bill 103 should become law only if there's a clear majority in its favour in the coming referenda, plebiscites, whatever you want to call them.
I've one other amendment which isn't on the printed paper, but I'd like to end on a humorous note, though I don't intend to be frivolous. I object to the name "Toronto" being used for the new city. I have a name which might honour the founder and predict the new city's chances of success. The name I'm suggesting would be the city of Leachmake in English; in French it could be pretty well the same thing. That's in one word. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Cathro. You've effectively used up your allotted time. I want to thank you for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee this morning.
The Chair: Would Catherine Cragg please come forward. Good morning, Ms Cragg, and welcome to the committee.
Ms Catherine Cragg: Good morning. My name is Catherine Cragg. I live in Toronto. I'm not a member of any political party. I don't even vote for any one party with any consistency. However, I vote and I try to keep informed.
I am here today because, for the first time that I can remember, I am appalled by what my government seems determined to do. I do not understand why this government is pushing Bill 103 and I don't think the public is being offered any satisfactory explanation.
First of all, the appointment of trustees to oversee current activities of the various Metro councils and the appointment of transition teams to implement Bill 103's provisions: We have duly elected mayors and councillors to whom we have entrusted the administration of our cities. Why are their functions being transferred to provincial appointees? I am especially thinking of their mandate to appoint senior administrators. Where is the justification for abandoning established democratic process? It's as though we've been conquered by some invading army and we now have to submit to their authority and give up our traditional practice.
Second, the government's insistence that it will not consider any major change to the substance of the bill: I read the papers; I listen. Those who are critical of the megacity plan and of the downloading of the costs of soft services are not just members of the opposition parties doing the knee-jerk thing. Critics include people whose profession is the study of the workings of cities and the impact of various policies on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, responsivity and the like. They're economists, political scientists. They have studied cities in America and Europe. Other critics specifically include those whose advice has been sought in this context of what we do about the greater Toronto area and its governance to respond to the situation now.
There's the Golden report and the Who Does What report; both are not in line at all with Bill 103's downloading of soft services, nor is the board of trade. Where are the experts of comparable credibility, of comparable qualification, who think that Bill 103 is just fine? I haven't seen any of this.
Third and last, why does this bill have to be passed and its provisions implemented with such indecent haste? The changes proposed are massive and complex. They will directly affect everyone in Metro Toronto certainly, and I expect eventually everyone in the province, yet much of the detail, both financial and organizational, has yet to be articulated. Somehow the people of Ontario are supposed to accept unquestioningly that government knows best. But a lot of real, valid, difficult questions have been raised and they aren't answered. We can't buy into this.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs opened these hearings by saying: "We're at a historic moment in the life of this city. We have a one-time opportunity ahead of us to take advantage of the best ideas in government innovation and planning." Yes, we are at a historic moment. There simply have to be changes made to create some kind of structure, a coordination plan or something for the greater Toronto area, but the changes proposed in Bill 103 seem a weak response to that need. More to the point, the "best ideas in innovation and planning" are something they clearly are not.
Please, back off from Bill 103 and come back with a proposal that respects our tradition of local democracy and that answers the very serious errors in the present bill. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have almost five minutes remaining for questions from the government caucus.
Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): Thank you very much for appearing before us this morning. In the presentation that you've provided, you've hit three particular areas that are of concern to you. You were concerned about the haste with which you felt this was being suggested. When you look at the studies and the promotion of the need to find some answers to the issues that face us today, do you not regard those as legitimate forms of research and input in order to be able to make some changes?
Ms Cragg: I'm sorry. Which do I regard as --
Mrs Munro: Specifically, things like the Golden task force and the Crombie recommendations and so forth are all areas of research and of consultation and so forth, and yet you see this as a process that in your opinion has been very hasty.
Ms Cragg: No, I don't see that as hasty. It's the introduction of the legislation and the time line within which it's expected to be passed and implemented. No, the reports, I think, are very valuable and I am disturbed by the bill's deviation from the recommendations we have. Where is the explanation for that? Advice has been sought and presented and disregarded.
Mrs Munro: Not entirely.
Ms Cragg: Not in toto, but in major senses.
Mrs Munro: Is there someone else on the government side? Otherwise, I have another question.
The Chair: Yes: Mr Newman.
Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): Good morning. My question, because I know we're running short on time and I want to hear what you have to say: Can you elaborate on your vision of what the future of municipal government would be in Metro?
Ms Cragg: I certainly have not much authority to speak but --
Mr Newman: If Bill 103 isn't what you see as the answer, can you suggest something for me and for the government side?
Ms Cragg: I think somehow we have to keep the local units a governable size. I can't remember the number but there have been figures cited; instead of amalgamation clear and simple, coordinating bodies for those things that do involve several jurisdictions.
Mr Newman: Is six plus the regional municipality the answer that's there today, or do we go to two or do we go to three or four?
Ms Cragg: I'd like to see it down to about two.
Mr Newman: So clearly what's there in place is not working. Is this what you're saying?
Ms Cragg: I don't think it works for the greater Toronto area, but could we get something to pull that together without losing the local accessibility and responsivity of what we have now, slightly larger but not huge?
Mr Newman: Okay, that's fine.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Cragg, for coming forward this morning and making your presentation.
Ms Cragg: Thank you very much for hearing me.
The Chair: Would Mary Church please come forward. Good morning, Ms Church. You have 10 minutes this morning to make your presentation.
Mrs Mary Church: Honourable members, my name is Mary, but most people call me Babs Church. I have been living and working in Toronto for the past 25 years.
No one is more surprised than I am to be sitting here today and to have the opportunity to speak before a committee of 14 members of the Legislature. I have stepped forward, however, because, although I would describe myself as an apolitical person, I am trying to understand what Bill 103 means.
I am generally acknowledged to be a fairly intelligent person and I have certainly been a conscientious citizen. My husband and I have raised four children. They are strong, independent people who have their own responsible lives. I have worked as a teacher, a television producer, I've worked in advertising; I have done a lot of things. As a citizen, I have always thought it was important to study the issues, to try to understand them and to vote for the people who would work towards making our country a fair and a good place to live for all of us. As a citizen, I pay my taxes, of course, and have thought it important to volunteer my time in the community.
One of the things I have felt most blessed by in this very fortunate life I have led is that I live in Canada. I have seen our country as a place of civility, a civilized society where there is a compact between the elected representatives and the citizens. Although our jobs are different, I see them as part of a whole and that we each value the contribution of the other. It would seem to me that it is my job as a citizen of such a country to be as thoughtful and well informed as possible and to concern myself with the issues at hand. For the second time in my life, I find myself stepping forward to ask some questions and to become more publicly vocal in this pursuit of my role as citizen.
I am here today because I do not know enough about this new creation, this megacity. Will it be a good place to live for me or the other 2.5 million people who call Toronto home? I find it strange that the government -- my government -- has introduced legislation that by all accounts will change many aspects of my life and yet appears to be indifferent to what I might think, what I might contribute. Where can I find the information I need to understand the ramifications of the new legislation? I've heard a number of political speeches and read some passionate editorials, columns and letters to the editor, but nowhere have I seen the kind of thoughtful and reasoned debate that the proposed changes merit.
I understand it is the intention of the government to have Bill 103 passed before the end of March. I gather that this urgency to move ahead with the legislation is to enable the politicians who are interested in serving on the new council to prepare themselves for the municipal elections to be held in November. What about moving those elections to the spring or fall of 1998? That must be within the power of the Legislature.
It seems to me that in addition to the lack of information, there is a great deal of misinformation. It would seem to me too that, convinced as they are of the rightness of the new initiatives, the government can offer citizens an opportunity to hear their arguments and thoughts on the subject, and interested citizens and groups can add their ideas to the mix. Who knows what interesting new solutions might arise?
I am not so cynical as to think, as has been suggested to me, that there is some kind of vendetta against Toronto from those in the rest of the province. I know we Torontonians all take ourselves far too seriously at times and think that unless it started from the big town, it doesn't exist, but I can't believe the members in the Legislature could or would act on such feelings. No, I refuse to feed into that particular paranoia.
I guess one of the other compacts that we all took for granted is that although every provincial government has authority, the legal right and in fact the responsibility to oversee municipal affairs, provincial governments do not interfere with the affairs of municipalities unless there is a most serious emergency: a bankruptcy, say, or a blatant misuse of municipal power. What are the demands of this time that compel the government to break this compact? What is the emergency which calls forth the need for a board of trustees, not one of whom is an elected representative of the affected municipalities?
What better way to find out than to shift my point of view for a while and to walk a distance in your shoes, to change sides in the debate and to try to see things from the government's point of view?
Speaking as an elected representative, I have promised to save money and to lower taxes, to streamline government and to get rid of unnecessary levels in government and the civil service, surely a sensible course. Who could argue with that? But what would be the best way to accomplish this major challenge?
This is a job that will take a great deal of thought and study and, because of the profound effect it will have on people's lives, I will need to spread the word, talk about what I am going to do and get a broad understanding and consensus. This process, of course, takes time and can be rather messy. That's one way to go at it.
Perhaps there is another way, a way that could avoid all that trouble: "These are complex issues and ordinary people won't be able to grasp the intricacies of it all. Most of them don't really care, so why not administer the difficult pill in one big gulp? That way we'll be able to see if it's the right medicine, and of course, if that doesn't work, we can always adjust the prescription or try a different remedy entirely." I would certainly follow this course if I thought the patient were comatose or was showing no wish to live.
So as an elected representative I'm faced with two difficult choices. Which is better for the province and which of the two is more likely to be remembered positively by the electorate at election time?
I'm back in my own shoes again, and I'm much more comfortable; they are not such a snug fit as yours. I have decided to take another route to try to understand Bill 103. I'll tackle the bill piece by piece.
Section 16 strikes me as one of the more puzzling ones. Why, I wonder, do we need a transition team? But after a quick referral to business practice, I see that every merger needs a transition team to oversee the effective integration of the various disparate parts into a new and smooth-running whole. Okay, I'll buy that. But what power does this team require to get the job done effectively? And what about the newly elected council of 44 and their new council head? What is their role vis-à-vis the transition team? Are any of the members of the transition team elected by me or by my fellow citizens? And how long is this transition team to be around?
Another section catches my eye, section 18: "The decisions of the transition team are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." What does that mean and what are the limits of power on a group of people who are not elected by me or anyone else in Toronto? Is it possible that their actions cannot even be seriously challenged by anyone except the Minister of Municipal Affairs? Is that what that section means?
I can think of only one or two large cities in North America that have such a vibrant core of small neighbourhoods and communities. Section 4 of the bill suggests that the concerns of these neighbourhood communities will be represented by committees. How will these committees be created? Are they to be appointed? Elected? What kind of authority will they have?
What will be the effect of this legislation on the business community? How do they feel about the changes that are proposed? Will they stay, flee to the 905 area or to Ohio? What kind of projections have you made of the effect of this community on the economy?
I have raised a number of questions and there are many more. Do you not think it might be wise to slow down to try to answer some of them, to postpone the legislation for a few months and to develop a real dialogue with the people of Ontario?
Perhaps you will recall that at the beginning of the submission I mentioned that this is the second time I have stepped into a public debate about a public issue. The last time was in Quebec. We had moved to Montreal in 1954. There I was confronted with a government that worked to silence any kind of public debate about issues. It was the dying days of the oppressive Duplessis regime. I became part of Jean Lesage's Quiet Revolution. Once again public debate is being threatened, and so I come before you today.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs Julia Munro): Thank you very, Ms Church. You have timed it exactly right.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call upon Neil Naiman to come forward. Good morning, Mr Naiman, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Neil Naiman: Thank you, members of the committee. My name is Neil Naiman and I was born in what was then the borough of York and I have lived and worked in the cities of Toronto and North York for the rest of my life and have come to the committee today.
Though I would like to devote the time I have in front of this committee to state my personal opposition to Bill 103 and present my strongly felt beliefs that this bill is an affront to the history of democracy in this city and province and is nothing more than an autocratic assault on our way of life, our institutions, our schools, our neighbourhoods in a malevolent attempt to attack the most vulnerable people and groups in this province, I will instead use my time to address the hearings on behalf of those who are unable to address the panel, the hundreds, thousands in fact, of English-as-a-second-language students I have taught over the last almost 25 years, some of whom have still not gained the linguistic skills, or certainly not the confidence, to appear before this committee.
I have been teaching English as a second language for more than 20 years in North York and in Toronto, and in that time I have heard hundreds, thousands of stories of immigrants who have come to this city and their reasons for choosing Toronto. They have heard from relatives, friends, in refugees camps, all over the world but also by word of mouth, that Toronto is a welcoming city, a city full of vibrant communities, a city which encourages immigrants to maintain their own culture while integrating into the new society, a city which designs unique programs to meet their different needs. They have all heard of the successful multicultural and multiracial experiment that Toronto is and have chosen to come here and work extremely hard and build a better life and participate in the growth, harmony and prosperity of Toronto.
Many have left their homelands to start a new life with relatives. Many others have left their lands for better economic opportunities for themselves and their children. Others have left to escape regimes where democracy did not exist and have come here to seek the opportunity to participate in a democratic society where their voices might be heard.
They have told me they love Toronto, a city where neighbourhoods are vibrant and they can maintain their ethnic roots. They have told me about the variety of programs in language, citizenship, retraining, counselling and settlement that have been set up in the different cities in Metropolitan Toronto, programs they feel were set up to respond to their unique needs and to the unique needs of their community.
They are thankful for excellent public transportation, which has allowed them access to all parts of the city. They have even told me about their gratitude for the translation and other special services in their communities which allow them to understand and participate in their children's schools and in the broader society.
One student recently told me about a friend of hers who felt despondent because she could not help her child to learn to read in English because she herself did not understand enough English to help her child with her basic readers. The Toronto board, in its understanding of the needs of our large immigrant population, has provided labels in a variety of languages to accompany these readers so that parents can understand their children's work and participate in their education. This is but one small example of how our present structures have evolved to respond to the needs of our communities, including the different non-English-speaking communities.
This is the city they have chosen in hundreds of thousands. Without the influx of these immigrants, our community would not have grown and prospered and served as an economic engine for the whole province and, in fact, the entire country.
But now my students are troubled. Why, my students have asked me, should things change now and so quickly? Why, my students ask me, is the nature of the city going to change when these cities have learned to respond so well over the years to their needs? Why, my students ask me, is the government saying it will not listen to their voices in a referendum?
Why, they ask me, is the democracy they came here for being eroded? Have we not elected representatives to city councils and school boards who understand their needs? Why are we taking away their powers and putting these councils and school boards under non-democratic trusteeships, they wonder. How, they ask me, will they be able to communicate with an elected representative or school board trustee when they will be only a few of the tens of thousands of constituents, particularly when many of them do not have the language skills or confidence to make their wishes and demands heard.
Just as an aside, because I heard this on my way in this morning, the whole discussion from a colleague of mine in fact, at York University about how the wards are going to be decided. In fact the wards traditionally have represented communities. There need to be public debates on how these wards are going to be set up, or else they will not represent any communities. These people will find themselves even more without a voice than they are now.
Many of them say this process reminds them of the situation in their countries which they ran away from. What is so terribly wrong with the way things are now, they ask. What is the terrible hurry, they wonder. If the government is trying to save money, they wonder, who is ultimately going to have to pay for their valued programs and services? Where is the proof, they ask me, that any money will be saved? They are afraid that they will lose many of their cherished services and still end up paying more in taxes and rent. They are scared and bewildered, for many have seen this process before and only know too well what can happen when democracy is hijacked.
These are their questions, asked in many languages and based on experiences that are beyond our wildest imaginations. They are scared and so am I: for them, for myself, for my family and for our city.
Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Thank you, Mr Naiman. I appreciate your attempting to speak for a lot of people who maybe are unable to speak here today because of the language challenge. In terms of your general thrust, you're in essence saying you have this fear for what's happening to basic fundamental rights and democratic rights. Now the government is saying this is an exaggeration, that they're following their mandate, being elected, and that, really, all this talk about democracy being threatened is an overreaction. Could you respond to that?
Mr Naiman: What can I say? I guess what some people would say and what my students have told me is that these things all begin with what appear to be, for some people, small, little erosions, and then it's one step at one time, and then the next day it's another step and the next day it's another. Before you know it, what was once democracy no longer exists.
The previous deputant to this committee talked about the various components of Bill 103 which by themselves take away people's ability to challenge decisions made by non-elected representatives. My students have been able to develop relationships with board of education trustees for a very long period of time, because it's very difficult to get them to be involved in the school system and it takes a very long time. With the new system of Bill 104, which is still connected to Bill 103, they will not be able to develop that. They will not have their voices heard. Their democracy will be taken away from them.
Mr Colle: Again, in terms of a lot of the recent immigrants who are in Toronto, for instance, or North York or Scarborough, what are some of the countries that they're from?
Mr Naiman: I have in my class right now at York University, which is not typical of what was once the case, refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Zaïre, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia. These are people who have run away from regimes where particularly they felt they had no democracy and were trying to seek a life where they were told we lived in a democratic society which respected their rights.
Mr Colle: So they have a firsthand, you might say, life experience in terms of their democracy being taken away from them.
Mr Naiman: Yes, a firsthand life experience, which, as I said, would shock many of us in this room if we knew the details of what these people had gone through.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Naiman, for coming forward this morning and making your presentation.
The Chair: Would Mr Joe Kaposi please come forward. Good morning, Mr Kaposi. Thank you for the note.
Mr Joe Kaposi: I meant every word in there.
I want to thank the taxpayers of Ontario for this opportunity to represent several friends and acquaintances. My presentation may seem eclectic because it includes observations, conclusions, comparisons, deductions, classifications and decisions of many people. But I hope this presentation will not resemble the diarrhoea of mega-week announcements we experienced in January.
My name is Joe Kaposi and I have been a resident of Toronto, North York and East York for all but two years of my life. Those two years include periods of a few weeks to two months spent in Mexico, Europe, the US and eight other Canadian provinces in search of a better place to live, but I'm still looking.
I no longer belong to any one political party, because it seems necessary for some of us to play devil's advocate to whoever is in power to keep them honest. I also believe that some of us must comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. This practice becomes a virtuous circle in that when the afflicted become the comfortable, it is necessary to reafflict them, and this keeps people on their toes. Besides, there are at least two sides to every story. Since parliaments are really four- to five-year dictatorships, there must be a strong group to keep checks on governments to prevent them from raging out of control.
It seems we have this government to thank for arousing the conscientious citizens of Ontario to educate themselves in the processes as well as the possible outcomes of this party's agenda. For several months I have paid increasing attention to what is going on here. I have attended many sessions in the Legislature and followed question period religiously, if you can call taking the Lord's name in vain religious.
I have mixed feelings about this bill and its effects. An ancient Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times," and these are times of great changes. Globalization, aided by the Bretton Woods agreement of the late 1940s, forces us to adapt to living with people of many cultures and values and to think in terms of work rather than jobs. One of the effects of the changes is downsizing, good when one should lose weight, but dangerous when a government downsizes its own intelligence and ability to govern democratically.
Genuine communication is a two-way process. It can be fatal to a governing party when too many of its policymakers are dropouts from the school of effective communication. If deficits and debts are out of control, these problems cannot be solved by a democratically elected government itself going out of control. Governments which do not discipline themselves or do not allow for consideration of alternatives are often punished by lengthy banishment to political wilderness; for example, the PC national party in 1993 and the former PC government of Saskatchewan, of which some members have been convicted of financial fraud by the courts and jailed. Bill 103 says that the trustees and transition team are not subject to the courts. What kind of fraud is this?
The feel-good advertisements, publications and speeches produced by this government and the so-called answers given during question period seem to suggest that the people of Ontario are so simpleminded that we will not notice the inconsistencies in what is said and what is done. The Premier pulls the switch in an advertisement, believing he can turn out the lights on intelligent thought. Politicians are already low in the public's trust. Would you buy an abused province from this man?
The debt and deficit problems are serious, and yet the finance minister claims that he can ease up on spending cuts. White is black and black is white.
"Let's put Ontario's students back at the head of the class." What class? What will the graduates of boot camps call out? Heil Harnick? Heil Harris?
We've had examples of drive-by shootings and senseless violence. Is mega-week drive-by legislation?
A news article in the Globe recently declared: "Ontario Government Kept Tabs on Callers. Manual for Information Hotline Ordered Detailed Reports on the Identity of Dissenters and Supporters." Big Brother is here.
Some final points on Bill 103, or the War Measures Act of Ontario. This bill includes the granting of absolute powers to unelected officials. If these extreme powers will not be used absolutely, as we are told, why grant them at all? This bill tries to solve a problem by creating potentially more serious problems. Toronto was not built in one day in 1953 or other years, but it can be destroyed in a much shorter time than it took to develop such a treasure. Bigger is better? The Second World War was the biggest, killing the most of any war. How many lives could be destroyed by Bill 103? Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Kaposi.
The Chair: Order, please. You have just over two and a half minutes, Mr Marchese.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Thank you, Mr Kaposi, for your thoughtful presentation. Mr Leach is quoted to have said: "All I have heard is, `This is a bad thing to do.' But nobody's giving me any evidence it's bad." I've read enough of the people who have done these studies on amalgamation who have pointed out that it's not cost-effective at all and that they become essentially more bureaucratic. That's the evidence that I have seen, but he doesn't seem to have either read it or reflected on that. Can you guess at what kind of evidence he is looking for?
Mr Kaposi: A small group of people from his riding, as well as myself -- seven of us -- met with him at 4:25 on Friday of last week. We tried as positively as possible to present our concerns and to try to get some feedback on what he thought. I don't know if anybody here has tried to communicate with a brick wall, but that was what it was like. It was as if there were certain key words or phrases which were looked for in our questions and concerns, and then the usual party line or whatever is put out at us. It was something I expected. I had hoped maybe we could get some opening to this man's mind, but we couldn't.
Mr Marchese: Quickly, Mr Kaposi, because Ms Munro speaks about the fact that there have been so many studies -- I'm not sure they're aware of those studies, by the way, or that they've looked at them. But none of them that I'm aware of speaks about eliminating the various local governments that we've got -- none of them. In fact, Ms Golden, the person who had done the study most recent other than Mr Crombie, who could live with either amalgamating or the cities, as long as we did the GTA council -- he speaks of that -- doesn't say, "Get rid of the city." She said, "Create this greater council to deal with overlapping matters between Metro and the GTA." But none of the studies that I'm aware speaks of eliminating the cities. So they say: "We're not going hastily. We've done all these studies. They're up there. There's 60 of them, so it's time to move."
Mr Kaposi: That's exactly what Mr Leach started out to tell us on Friday at our meeting. He started out with the Golden report and so forth and so on. But I don't think he or the powers that be have taken these things into consideration. I think they have tried to put into the agenda what they want rather than what is good for Ontario.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Kaposi.
The Chair: Would Russell Christianson please come forward. Good morning, Mr Christianson, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Russell Christianson: I'd like to thank the committee members for providing this opportunity to address you this morning. My only regret about this right now is that many of my fellow citizens, apparently numbering over 1,500, will not have the same opportunity.
I do have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this great city. I love the diversity, the food, the people, the arts and culture, the public parks, libraries, the ideas, the TTC and, most of all, the democracy of local government. I hate, or rather have a very strong dislike for, the architecture at Bay and King, the Gardiner Expressway, the air pollution, the supremacy of the automobile, the lack of good job opportunities for many talented people, the growth of food banks and the inequities inherent in our economic system.
I came to Toronto in 1982 from a small town in Alberta to take a master's degree at the University of Toronto. As a prairie boy and the son of first-generation Canadians, I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the U of T. My parents were not so fortunate. When they were young, the Great Depression was giving way to the Second World War, and they had grown up poor on homesteads in the Prairies.
My father would have made a great lawyer, but without publicly funded universities, he never had the chance. He couldn't afford to pay university tuition. Instead, he became an RCMP officer and finished his distinguished 42-year police career as the chief of police in Camrose, Alberta. My mother, an extremely talented and compassionate person, would have been a great doctor, but she couldn't afford university tuition either, and instead became a nurse.
You may be wondering, what does this very personal story have to do with Bill 103? It has to do with opportunity: the opportunity for citizens to speak their minds at this committee hearing, the opportunity for our young people to become educated and live fulfilling lives, the opportunity for all Torontonians to find and apply themselves in meaningful work, the opportunity for parents to provide nutritious food and a warm, loving home for their children, the opportunity to participate.
Bill 103 and the process through which it is being forced down our throats is repugnant. Over the past few months I have heard Mike Harris and Al Leach make comments that they will not be moved from their legislative agenda. They will not recognize the results of the upcoming referendums in the six cities which they want to become a megalopolis. They reluctantly agreed, after much public pressure, to hold these truncated committee hearings, and just before Christmas they appointed three trustees to overrule our democratically elected municipal government.
The struggle we are having here in Toronto is no different from that occurring in Belgrade, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Peru and Mexico. It is the struggle for democracy. We have a provincial government that wants to control the people and run their affairs like a corporation, and we all know who wants to be the CEO: Mike Harris.
Municipal government is the closest thing we have to true democracy in this country. Federal and provincial governments are physically, emotionally and intellectually removed from the people. Municipal governments give all of us, as citizens, the opportunity to participate, to participate actively on a day-to-day basis, not simply for the few seconds it takes to mark our ballot once every four or five years in provincial or federal elections.
I took the opportunity to participate as a citizen in one of the city of Toronto's many innovations, the Toronto Food Policy Council. As a volunteer, I attended an afternoon meeting every three weeks for four years. I worked together with other citizens, municipal councillors, business people and farmers to create visionary, long-term policies to help develop a sustainable and just food system for all the people of Toronto. Outside of the meetings, I volunteered my time to work with other citizens to launch community projects like Field to Table, the stockyards renewal and community gardens. In all, I volunteered about one day per week for four years. As a management consultant, I charge my clients in the range of $500 to $1,000 per day. If l had charged the city of Toronto for my professional services, it would have amounted to $25,000 to $50,000 per year before GST. I and many others enthusiastically volunteered our time because we wanted to make our community more livable and caring. How is our time accounted for in Bill 103?
The provincial government is running ads and talking about creating "efficient government, cutting unnecessary costs, and positioning Toronto to be globally competitive." The city of Toronto is not a private corporation with the sole objective to maximize shareholders' wealth. The city of Toronto is a community, one which is envied around the world, one towards which I feel enough commitment to donate time and energy to maintaining and improving. If Bill 103 is implemented, I will be disempowered as a citizen. This direct attack on the democratic rights of citizens is not acceptable.
The city of Toronto is a venerable local democracy. Democracy requires patience, long-term vision, citizen participation, a diversity of views and the ability to listen. In a democracy we have to maintain an open mind and heart and have the humility to realize we may not have all the answers and that we can be persuaded through discussion and experimentation to change our point of view.
When I look at my young children -- Dagmar, three-and-a-half, and Soren, seven months old -- I wonder if they'll have the opportunities for public education, meaningful work, a secure and welcoming community to live in. If our provincial government implements Bill 103, continues to cut government programs designed for the public good, privatizes important public institutions and provides an income tax cut for the wealthy while increasing property taxes, I know that my children and other children in this city will suffer.
The provincial government has been formally warned by its Speaker that it is in contempt against its own citizens with its aggressive propaganda campaign. I agree with the Speaker and I strongly encourage the Harris government to listen to perspectives other than their own and have the humility to recognize that forcing change down people's throats is offensive, undemocratic and contemptuous.
I would like to close with a short poem written by a Chinese sage 2,500 years ago, words that ring particularly true today as we approach a new millennium: "If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them."
The Chair: Mr Parker, you have a minute and a half for questions.
Mr John L. Parker (York East): Mr Christianson, thank you very much for appearing this morning. You've touched on a great number of points; we won't have a chance to canvass all of them. You open with the comment that you "love the diversity, the food, the people, the arts and culture, public parks and libraries, the ideas" and so on of the city of Toronto. In what way does Bill 103 put any of those in jeopardy, in your view?
Mr Christianson: It puts them in jeopardy because creativity, which creates those things, and human beings, who create those things I've mentioned, can only come out of a situation where there's an opportunity to participate. From my point of view, Bill 103 diminishes greatly the opportunity to participate as active citizens in this community.
Mr Parker: You comment also on the trustees. Can you describe for me just what it is the trustees are empowered to do?
Mr Christianson: From my understanding, the trustees have great powers, as the previous speakers have mentioned, and they won't be responsible to the citizens of this city.
Mr Parker: Exactly what are those powers that you object to?
Mr Christianson: The powers they have are, from my understanding, the financial controls over the city, the budgets and how the money of the taxpayers in this community is spent.
The Chair: I'm sorry, we've exhausted your time. Thank you, Mr Christianson, for your presentation this morning.
Mr Christianson: Those questions were somewhat offensive, by the way.
The Chair: Could I please have Douglas Browne come forward? Good morning, Mr Browne, and welcome to the committee. If there's time remaining at the end of your presentation, it will be allotted to the Liberal caucus.
Mr Douglas Browne: Thank you for the opportunity to speak on Bill 103. I come to speak as an individual citizen of this great city of Toronto because I am very upset with the provisions of this bill. They are a direct threat to our city and its citizens, especially when they are combined with the other bills on your agenda.
The bill creates a huge municipality of 2.5 million people, four times that of present-day Toronto, larger than many of Canada's provinces. I understand that studies have shown that other such large cities are tied up in bureaucratic knots, are unresponsive to local neighbourhood needs, give too much power to officials, are hostile to new ideas and cost more money per person to run.
The minister talks about savings from amalgamation but has not produced any adequate studies to prove that will happen. There are pious hopes expressed about lower taxes and efficient practices. Questions of the negative impact on quality of life, access to politicians and protection of neighbourhoods are swept aside by bland assurances that all will be well. Again, there is no analysis or evidence to support these claims. Instead, the existing evidence negates them.
What is so wrong with the present system? My own 33 years of experiences as a Toronto resident have been very positive. Toronto's government works, and works well. For instance, in the late 1970s and early 1980s our neighbourhood, the Annex, was given the opportunity to participate in the creation of a detailed official plan for our area by the city. The process involved setting goals and working out plans to meet those goals for each small section.
As one chair of our residents' group at that time, I helped organize numerous meetings and made many deputations at City Hall. The planners who were assigned made a great effort to understand our community's character. The city made numerous revisions as we went along. Every objection was carefully considered and all were resolved so that no one challenged these bylaws at the Ontario Municipal Board.
My point is that this was a sophisticated and democratic and effective process. It is the kind of process that I fear will be compromised if we move to a megacity and the government of that city is further removed and isolated from local concerns. Also, our city has developed many innovative and well-thought-out policies to deal with the challenges of modern urban life and the economy. It is a world leader in many areas. All of these innovations would be in jeopardy in the huge city to be established by this bill.
Toronto citizens recognize the good job done by our local government. There has been no outcry for amalgamation -- no petitions, no crowded meetings demanding such a change, no election campaigns where that is an issue, as far as I am aware, except for the Toronto board of trade, and while it has the right to speak for business interests, it has no mandate to speak for the majority of Torontonians.
In one recent referendum on the general topic, people voted to get rid of Metro and thereby increase the power and authority of the city of Toronto. I want to add a little bit about Metro. I am less enthusiastic about Metro council. I think of the fact that a project for a streetcar line down Spadina Avenue was changed into a megaproject that cost many millions of dollars and really disrupts the life of the street. This was done so the streetcars could get from Bloor Street to Front Street a few minutes faster to service the railway lands, which are still undeveloped.
Also, I'm upset about the cuts to social services that Metro has made in the last two or three years in an effort to achieve a zero tax increase. A very modest tax increase would have allowed for a much more humane approach. Also cut was the funding for our excellent reference library so that, for instance, it will have to close its doors for a period of time this year. In general, the record of Metro makes me apprehensive about giving that level all the powers, as is done in this bill.
Now, people do recognize that some changes need to be made, particularly in relation to basic services across the greater Toronto area. However, amalgamation does not deal with the task of negotiating these changes. We, the citizens of Metro Toronto, deserve the same right to participate in making decisions about our future as you have offered to our neighbouring regions. What is the emergency that says this bill must be passed now and passed quickly? Why are our neighbours treated with respect and dignity, as partners in this process, while Torontonians are treated like second-class Ontarians?
It is hard to accept that the Metro members of the government have not spoken out against this shoddy treatment. I urge you, therefore, to put this bill on the back burner and begin a real process of consultation with the councils and citizens of the affected cities and the borough of East York, plus Metro council, to explore what improvements could be made in our government structures.
In addition, the tax and related bills should also be reconsidered, as they place an excessive burden on the property tax, a burden that is totally unfair and one that will damage the economies of every municipality in Ontario.
While the Constitution apparently allows the Ontario government to change our boundaries without our consent, I urge you to take a more enlightened and modern view and recognize that cities have a right to be involved in determining their future. However, if the government is determined, despite opposition, to pass this bill, then at least make changes to reduce its arbitrary nature. Eliminate the sections that give oppressive, arbitrary power to appointed trustees. It would be more appropriate, I suggest, for the government to negotiate a total spending envelope for the transition budgets of the various councils with those bodies and forget the trustees.
It must be made absolutely clear also that the reserve funds must stay in Toronto. We raised these funds through our taxes. They belong to us and are not at the disposal of the trustees.
The transition teams also have far too much arbitrary power and retain that power for far too long. Their powers should be sharply limited and those powers should end completely when a new council takes control.
The team should only be able to make temporary appointments, with a definitely brief time limit, and make decisions that apply for a similarly brief time and for limited purposes that relate specifically to the needs of the transition process. The clauses that place them and the trustees above the law are completely undemocratic and autocratic and should be struck out of the bill.
Finally, I want to appeal to the government members to reconsider this bill and to work for its withdrawal in whatever way you can. But if this bill passes through the committee, that will not be the breaking point. We will continue to oppose it in the referendum campaigns, in the courts, on the steps of the Legislature, in silent protest in the galleries, in the elections to the new council, in the press wherever we can, in future referenda and certainly in the next election.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Browne. You've effectively used your 10 minutes. I want to thank you for coming forward to make your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Abby Bushby please come forward? Good morning. You have 10 minutes this morning to make your presentation.
Ms Abby Bushby: Good morning. I'm a lawyer with experience in municipal law. Currently, I'm pursuing a doctorate in urban and regional planning at the University of Waterloo. I have come here today, however, to speak as a resident of the city of Toronto. I have some remarks that are written. They're being copied now, so I can leave a copy with each of you.
Some of my comments are spoken in academic descriptions; however, I want to assure you that I speak as one who loves this city and as one who expects that all Ontarians want to see this safe, viable, compassionate, accessible and culturally interesting city continue to be the place for all to be proud of -- our provincial capital.
As well, as a woman and as an active member of Women Plan Toronto, I want to tell you that it is mostly women who worked hard to create services that benefit our community, that we believe our communities are better when people care for those in need, regardless of their place of origin, and that all residents of Ontario should share the responsibility to care.
We know that women, as a group, are more dependent on community and social services. It is women who will suffer most from their loss in doing extra volunteer work and caring for the elderly without long-term-care places. We abhor the divisiveness that will ensue when local property taxpayers will be forced to beat down local mill rates.
Reducing the costs of services will mean that the sons and daughters who didn't get all the parenting and education in their home town and come to live on the Toronto streets, the divorced sister-in-law and her children who left the suburbs because they need public transit and child care at close proximity to the schools, the uncle with the recessive gene producing chronic illness who comes to Toronto in search of necessary services -- they will pay the cost of Toronto, keeping it economically competitive. This is anathema to our egalitarian values, our sense of duty to individuals in need and our long history of acting in the public good. In this sense, I believe I am speaking on behalf of people from all over Ontario.
That being said, I want to direct my comments to two things: the effects of downloading, as you might have gathered, and omissions on regional planning. I will be passing out to you as part of my submission a declaration on the rights of women against megacity and against downloading. A signing ceremony will take place on Wednesday, February 12th in Toronto city hall between 4 and 6.
What is your role? Since the urban area addressed in Bill 103 is about the present Metro Toronto, the primary question to ask is, what does the proposal do for Toronto? If it fails to be good for Toronto, then it ought to be abandoned, regardless of what Bill 103 might do for municipalities outside of Metro. At the same time, the high degree of interdependence between Toronto and its neighbours is so obvious that we could easily overlook its full meaning. In the GTA people live here, work there, study at institutions over there, attend the theatre in one community and shop everywhere.
Any proposed reforms must consider the appropriate urban area for some functions and the need for differentiation in others. Your task is to create a framework that permits local municipalities to succeed when they govern responsibly and to prevent negative impacts from the decisions of an otherwise responsible municipality from falling on to its neighbour. To do this, you must recognize that planning cannot be divorced from examining the impacts of change. What you wish for and what you get at the end of day should not be an accident.
The provincial government is in the business of creating creatures of statute. I do believe it is your fundamental duty to make strategies to manage the impacts of both growth and change. There is no such thing as letting the market dictate policy when the actions of the provincial government itself determine who gets the best deal. Furthermore, if the market, as assisted by not-so-apparent subsidies and policies, creates an underclass of poor people concentrated in large cities, the chaos and harm will be felt by all.
Amalgamating the Metro area is to amalgamate borders that have been too small for a long time. The true urban area is the GTA. It is anomalous that hearings are under way before we know much about the Greater Toronto Services Board proposal. I regretfully understand, however, that regional land use planning is not contemplated. Hamilton-Wentworth, by contrast, attempts to amalgamate suburban and urban communities. The smaller and rural communities want protections from decision-making that destroys their way of life, and this could be provided -- or could have been provided, I should say, after this morning's news -- with effective regional planning.
The probable result of amalgamating Toronto will be to harden the borders between Metro and the outer suburbs and thus make any form of governance between the partners of the true urban area more difficult. This will come from the effects of downloading. I won't go into details of dollars as many deputants have pointed out the net fiscal impact of increasing municipalities' costs for income assistance, assisted housing and long-term care.
Toronto has long provided housing and basic services for many of the province's poor, elderly and disabled, for people who lost their work due to downturns in regional economies and for the nation's immigrants during their early years of dependency, which they spend in Toronto to a large degree. You know the statistics: three quarters of the GTA's social housing, 38% of the province's and a much higher proportion of persons dependent on income assistance, for 22% of the population. Torontonians will not be convinced that our responsibilities to care are greater than those of other residents of Ontario.
Why is income redistribution by local governments "wrong in principle and devastating in practice"? In recessions welfare demand will go up and so must property taxes at a time when growth must be stimulated. The board of trade is right: If you recognize the inherent weakness of downloading on to the property tax base, the emergency fund is no answer. In ordinary times demand will be higher per capita in large cities. In recessions demand will go up with no guaranteed local control, which goes against the need for certainty.
You may try to dismiss fears that the fund will be abandoned by future provincial governments, and you may promise not to set conditions for it, such as mandatory workfare, but the Fortune 500 index will no doubt regard the dependence of welfare on the property tax base as a looming liability. Do you want to be known as the government that ruined the best letter of reference we ever had?
Tax-induced flight is predictable for the most mobile residents, businesses in search of lower required expenditures, as well as the employed, who will follow their employer out of the city. Furthermore, the practice in some GTA municipalities when a single person asks for temporary income assistance is to give a fare to Toronto. This will likely increase, not decrease.
Downloading does not permit the inherent efficiency of a large urban centre to be valued. It makes sense that with increased densities, diversity of functions, access to resources, many users for public transit, roads and recreation centres, revenues are greater. The provincial government has long recognized the wealth produced by large cities. For example, Metro Toronto local property taxes have long relieved the province of its duty to pay for public education for one fifth of Ontario's students.
Taking all measures of wealth into account, the wealthiest city in the United States is Honolulu. It has the least expenditures per person. Why? Only there does the state pay for education, hospital services and welfare.
Downloading causes segregation of rich and poor communities. With provincial development controls dashed by Bill 20 last year, municipalities on the urban fringe with greenfield lands for development will find less of an incentive to provide affordable housing for fear of creating welfare dependencies. Until the US Supreme Court ordered New Jersey to create affordable housing in the Mount Laurel decision, local planning areas had all but divided the state into one- to four-acre lots, widely regarded as a way to keep the poor in the cities.
The result in Ontario will be chaos as older areas, including older suburbs, become the places of affordable housing by default, without community services to justify increased property taxes. Some older, inner suburbs around Chicago forbid the placement of For Sale signs on front lawns. Too many signs spark a panic as neighbours realize others are fleeing in search of newer greenfield developments with low net liabilities.
The Chair: I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we've just now exceeded your allotted time.
Ms Bushby: That's my 10 minutes? I wish I could say more.
The Chair: Yes. We have the rest of your presentation; all members do. I'm sure they'll give it their full consideration. Thank you for coming forward this morning and making your presentation.
The Chair: Order, please. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've had the conversation about applause following presentations. We are on tight timetables. I'd appreciate it if you'd hold that to a minimum.
LIN GRIST AND AARON EAST
The Chair: Would Lin Grist please come forward. Good morning and welcome to the committee.
Ms Lin Grist: Thank you very much. We're speaking as a family. This is my son Aaron East. He will be speaking and making part of the presentation.
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentleman, thank you for agreeing to hear my son and me speak on the issue of the amalgamation of the city of Toronto with the other six municipal governments which currently constitute Metropolitan Toronto. My name is Lin Grist and this is my younger son, Aaron East. Our family has lived in the city of Toronto for the past 22 years. I am an immigrant, Canadian by choice, and I'm proud that I have had the luxury and the good fortune to raise my family in a country and in a province which has as its base a value system that is democratic and believes in justice and fairness for all.
There are some aspects of this bill which make sense to us. It seems reasonable to amalgamate services among the six municipalities. This is already the case for such services as police, ambulances and transit, and there are other services which could likely find efficiencies through amalgamation, such as fire departments and garbage. Those sorts of services that need to be uniform for everyone across Metro should be amalgamated. It will be more efficient and allow us to spend those taxes on other important aspects of our community life.
Now let me talk a little bit about why I don't want to be part of a city that is in excess of 2.6 million people, with only 44 elected representatives to make all the decisions on behalf of the citizenry.
We live in what is now ward 10 of the city of Toronto. It is also known as the Beaches, a very close-knit and caring community on the lake. I believe that property taxes will rise, both residential and commercial. The problem with property taxes is that they're not progressive. Everyone pays the same, regardless of their income. That will be a huge problem for many seniors who live in our community. They may own their own homes after a life of work, but they are cash poor. Huge tax increases could force them to sell their homes in the autumn of their lives.
Mr Aaron East: There will be fewer elected local representatives for our community, the ones who make all the important decisions on our behalf, many fewer than in the rest of Ontario, and that's not really fair. I have a friend who lives in a little town in southern Ontario with less than 2,000 people and they have a mayor. I don't mind 640,000, but one mayor for 2.6 million people is a bit much.
The city of Toronto has many wonderful community events, especially for families and young people. Every New Year there's a rock concert at city hall. I went to it. That will be a thing of the past in a megacity. When did Metro ever put on a local event, especially for young people? Local community events simply can't be organized by big bureaucracies.
Ms Grist: Hundreds of local volunteers work in groups and organizations jointly funded by the city of Toronto and the local community: everything from Share a Christmas to the Beaches Jazz Festival and canoe races across the lake for paraplegics. I and many like me volunteer because it's our community and it makes us feel like we belong. We can see our dollars at work. It's very hard to feel like you belong in a huge conglomerate of 2.6 million people.
I also want to talk a little bit about this exchange of costs between the province and the municipalities. Welfare will be a big bill for Metro, a bill that will be shouldered by the people of Metro, not based on their ability to pay, as in the case of every other industrial democracy. If there is another recession, it could cripple us. If you will recall, in the last recession welfare costs went up by more than $1 billion in one year.
It's not just the welfare. There is the cost of social housing and new health care costs: public health, nursing homes, homes for the aged and community-based or home care. The problem with health costs is that as we speak the province is downsizing and closing hospitals. Believe me, I am in favour of health care reform -- that's not the issue -- but the cost of nursing homes and home care is going to be even higher as there are fewer hospital beds available and an aging population. We used to pay for health care on our ability to pay, not where we lived. I don't think this is what Justice Emmett Hall envisaged when he redesigned the health care system in Ontario in 1966.
Mr East: The new bill envisages keeping our elected officials in office but taking away their powers as elected officials and giving them to a group of people who, while they may be well-intentioned and have the public good at heart, are not the people that we chose to govern us at the local level. Does this mean you will be replacing people we elected with unelected officials without asking us?
Ms Grist: What will the future of this city be? We have lots of examples just south of the border on what not to do, and right next door in Quebec we have Montreal, once a vibrant city, which has had its heart taken out of it. It's full of À vendre -- For Sale -- and À louer -- For Lease -- signs. Do we really want that?
How, when there are 2.6 million people in the community, will we maintain this caring community we have now? We have a world-wide reputation for being the most livable city on earth. It's safe, it's clean, it has opportunities for business, it has good housing for families, great recreation, cultural opportunities: a city that is the envy of the world. Why do we want to dismantle it?
We already know what happens to cities that have the caring taken out of them. They have more crime, more homelessness, community tensions, people who have no stake in their community and no civic pride.
This is not the kind of future I want for me, and more specifically, this is not the kind of future I want for my son, which is why he is here with me today. The future is his, ladies and gentlemen. Please, please, do not take it from him. Thank you.
Mr Colle: Thank you very much, both of you, for coming. I guess one of the first things this government said when it announced the megacity was, "This megacity will make it easier for us to be globally competitive and will make it easier for us to win the bid for the next Olympic Games." Don't you think that is a laudable goal? In other words, wouldn't the Olympics be of great benefit to you and your community?
Ms Grist: As a matter of fact, Mr Colle, I don't have any problem with getting the Olympics. I think it might be a good idea for us. I don't know enough about it to comment on it in detail. I think that anything that brings to this wonderful city, as it is now, new business and new opportunities would be absolutely wonderful, but not at the cost of our local communities and what we have now. By all means, do things to add to what we have. Let's make ourselves even better. Just because we're the best in the world now doesn't mean to say that we can't be even better, but we have to build on what we have, not destroy and dismantle what we have now and start again.
Mr Colle: I guess the government is saying that in order to protect and to make it better, you have to undertake this massive change because things are so bad, basically, in Metro that you need this radical surgery.
Ms Grist: I must have missed something, Mr Colle. I live in a community that is not so bad. It's a vibrant community; it's a caring community. There are communities like the Beaches all over Metro. I don't know Scarborough or Etobicoke very well. I do know where I live very well, and I think they're worth saving. What happens is, people have civic pride in communities where they feel like they can belong. It's really hard to belong when it's absolutely huge and bland.
People live in places because that's where they want to live. Some people like to live by the lake, some people like to live downtown, some people like to live in the suburbs because they want to have huge backyards. Other people like to live in the city because they want to be close to each other. There's all kinds of people doing all kinds of different things. All I'm saying is, just allow us the opportunity to continue doing that. We've done it very well for 30 years, thank you very much. We would really like to continue doing that. We didn't ask you to change anything. If you do want to change stuff, please ask us. Don't just do it.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Grist and Aaron, for coming forward to make your presentation today.
Ms Grist: You're welcome. Thank you for hearing us.
The Chair: Would Carlos Torchia please come forward. Good morning, sir, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Carlos Torchia: Thank you very much. Mr Chairman. My name is Carlos Torchia and I have been a citizen of this city for many years. Thank you for allowing me to assert my civil right, publicly expressing my opinion about Bill 103 that attempts to amalgamate the municipalities of Metro Toronto.
First of all, I would like to mention that I come from a small country called Chile. There, starting in 1973, I witnessed the removal of the democratically elected mayors by Pinochet's illegal military junta. That junta replaced elected officials with designated ones. What followed was the territorial partition of the municipalities, or the creation of new ones, without consulting the people, only using arbitrary means. In a short time, communal structures and identities, neighbourhood boundaries that had been evolving for hundreds of years, suddenly changed dramatically, affecting people's lives both materially and psychologically. All of this was done in conjunction with the privatization of education, the health care system, the pension plan and the crown corporations in a sort of "shock therapy."
So here I am, 25 years later, facing the same threats. I am facing the radical shakeup of Metropolitan Toronto municipalities, facing the disappearance of my old city of Toronto under the dispositions of Bill 103. Of course, one can establish an important difference between my Chilean experience and this one. Here the bill will have to go through parliamentarian discussion, and we know that Pinochet abolished the Parliament. But indeed, in my opinion, there are some authoritarian features that worry me about Bill 103.
For instance, before the approval or rejection of Bill 103 by the Parliament, the provincial government has appointed trustees to overrule the authority of our mayors and councillors. For me this is an authoritarian measure, and more authoritarian it is that it should abolish with a single blow the authority of my mayor and my local democratic council, the ones that I had voted for to govern my city for a three-year term.
In my view, as a citizen I have the right to see my local government finish its legal term. In my view, Bill 103 violates my democratic right by suppressing my local representatives without consulting me. With the proposed megacity, I will feel more distant from the decision-making process, and I believe that designated trustees hijack the capacities that I have given to my mayor and municipal council. Also, I suspect that my quality of life will decrease because the proposed mega-council will have to address the problems of 2.3 million citizens, a gigantic distant government that hardly could be called local. I do not want to see the boundaries changed in my old Toronto without being given the information backing the advantages of doing so. I do not want to lose my identity as a local citizen.
I am firmly convinced that any major decision affecting citizens' lives or any major restructuring of public institutions can only be carried out after a truly genuine and deep process of consultation. For me it is an authoritarian feature that the government introduced Bill 103 to discussion before calling a referendum on the matter, before knowing people's feelings and hearing the people's voice. Clearly this public hearing is only a step in public consultation and is therefore not enough. It is an expression of democracy, but a narrow one. To impose a drastic agenda without an informed referendum will polarize our cities and will fail to build the necessary consensus we need to enhance our institutions.
Besides all of this, I have learned that until now nobody has been able to demonstrate that the amalgamation of the metropolitan municipalities would save a significant amount of money. I have learned that in other Canadian experiences, the cost of amalgamated cities exceeds that of the independent cities before amalgamation.
So what is the rationale behind this project? Why have I to agree to lose my mayor, my local government, my local identity by saying yes to a proposal that fails to provide enough objective arguments proving that in fact amalgamation will enhance my quality of life? I am an urbanite and I love my compact, dense, culturally alive and multi-ethnic neighbourhood in old Toronto. I respect other styles of life, but I doubt suburban styles of low density, such as those in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke, will mesh well with Toronto's. Urban and social evolution have led us to have different municipalities. Why have I to see mine disappear under the pretext of unknown advantages? If amalgamation will save little or no money at all, then let's not.
I conclude that there will be a risk of deterioration in local programs: less policemen on the street, more time waiting for firefighters, deterioration of our parks, snow clearing, support for local culture, recreational programs for our children etc.
I am worried about what will happen with finances in the proposed megacity. The provincial government has announced that it will download on to the new municipality the cost of social programs, such as 50% of welfare, family support, homes for the elderly, subsidies for TTC and GO trains etc. So I am afraid that property taxes will necessarily increase, and of course rent will increase too. I do not want people moving out of this beautiful city, and I do not want myself and my family to be forced out either.
I am afraid that Bill 103 is the preamble for privatization of services like water, sewage and waste. A megacity with such a load of responsibilities will not be able to maintain present levels of services to the people without raising taxes or reducing these programs. In my view, the amalgamation Bill 103 will pave the road for services privatization, as Bill 104 will pave the road to school privatization.
I do not deny that the provincial government was elected with a majority in a democratic process. But I don't believe that the democratic process finished at that moment, nor do I believe that this government was elected to impose amalgamation on the cities of Metropolitan Toronto. Democracy is a daily exercise. I insist, when a major restructuring is planned, drastically affecting people's lives, the government must organize a wide and deep consultation process to ensure that a vast quantity of the citizens can express their opinion and concerns regardless of whether the government has an absolute majority in the House or not.
I am a democrat and I am willing to listen to what my fellow Torontonian citizens think about Bill 103. I will accept any verdict that they express. The same should be the position of the provincial government. In my opinion, the provincial government should not use its majority in the House to pass Bill 103 without considering the results of the municipal referendum ending on March 3. If the results are against the proposal, the government has the moral duty to accept the people's verdict. This is what democracy is all about in my opinion. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Mr Silipo, you have just a quick minute.
Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Torchia, I just have a very short time to thank you for the presentation and would just want to ask you this: Do you think the referendum is the vehicle that the government could use, if it chose to listen finally to the people on this, to say, "This is what we wanted to do, but the people have said differently," assuming that the referendum decision is against the megacity, "and therefore we'll do what people like you and others have been saying," which is to sit and talk about what the alternatives are?
Mr Torchia: My view is that in any major restructuring of the society, you have to have a referendum. In any major decision affecting drastically people's lives -- it doesn't matter that the matter wasn't in the program that the government exposed to the people at the time of the election. But after that, if you are going to propose a major restructuring of such a life, you have to ask the people what is their opinion. That is my point of view. That is applied not only for me to the provincial government, but also the federal government.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Torchia, for coming forward this morning.
The Chair: Would Melissa McClellan please come forward. Good morning and welcome to the committee.
Ms Melissa McClellan: Mr Chairman and committee members, I would like to thank the committee for giving me this time to speak on Bill 103. I have lived in Toronto for almost half of my life. I moved here to attend university and fell in love with the city so much that I decided to make it my home.
I speak to you today as a concerned citizen who is frightened of the effects of Bill 103 upon the city I love. What concerns me most about the City of Toronto Act is the loss of our quality of life, loss of democracy, and the speed with which these changes are being made without consideration of the implications.
As I understand it, amalgamation is supposed to save money and improve efficiency. This implies that a city's health is simply the bottom line on a financial balance statement. I suggest to you that a city is far more than this. It is a living body consisting of people and neighbourhoods as well as roads, sewers and buildings. Its character is defined by the services it offers, how it helps the disadvantaged, its bylaws, its programs and policies, the kinds of municipal politicians it elects, its planning zones, its parks and its libraries.
The city of Toronto is known around the world as a city that works, a good place to live and a good place to visit. I see no evidence that the city of Toronto is terminally ill and in need of radical surgery. I hope you will consider, before passing this bill, that the physical part of Toronto may survive but the soul will be killed in the process.
I am concerned by the extreme risk the government is willing to take on the chance that amalgamation may save money. What price will we pay for this gamble? How many jobs will be lost? How many services will be cut? How much disruption will we suffer while the changes takes place? What price do you put on the loss of representation? How will you reconcile the needs of the urban and the suburban area? Which area will lose out?
Each municipality is unique and the bylaws, programs and policies reflect that. To just promise that it will be more efficient does not answer people's concerns of how it will affect their community. How much damage will be inflicted in order to save money and improve inefficiencies when these things could be accomplished without amalgamation?
Even the chief author of the KPMG report, Fresh Start, said, "There has been no amalgamation of which I am aware in the current fiscal environment that would demonstrate the certainty of savings in Metro Toronto." Since cost savings and efficiencies do not seem to hold up to scrutiny, one is left to conclude that there must be other motivations for this act.
I fear that with amalgamation the quality of life of Toronto will decrease. I value Toronto's strong anti-smoking laws, environment policies, bike lanes and paths, support of the arts and recreation programs that are available regardless of your ability to pay. I value the services that Toronto provides to its citizens whether you're rich or poor. In Toronto a child can take swimming lessons or go for a swim on a hot day even if her parents cannot afford to pay. I wonder what the kids denied recreation services after amalgamation will do? Will kids have to pay user fees to take a book out of the library?
I am aware that municipalities control only 28% of the total budget; 28% per cent does not sound like much, but it is in fact millions of dollars, and that 28% is what pays for the services that make our municipalities unique. I am concerned about what the long-term effects of this legislation will be on the quality of life in Toronto.
Many studies have been done on restructuring Metropolitan Toronto. The Honourable John P. Robarts, at the end of the Royal Commission on Metropolitan Toronto, said:
"The conclusion is that amalgamation would decrease the sensitivity of the entire system to issues and concerns of a very local nature. Since there are no strong arguments for administrative savings to be realized from such a move, the commission has decided to discard the amalgamation option."
The Golden report recommended the elimination of all the regional governments in the GTA and the establishment of a GTA regional government, but keeping strong local governments for the individual cities. The Metro regional government voted in favour of abolishing themselves in favour of a GTA regional government. The citizens of Toronto voted in favour of abolishing the Metro regional government in the last municipal election. Bill 103 ignores all these studies and the desire of the people of Toronto.
With the new megacity I fear that we will be taking government further away from ordinary people like myself and making it more accessible to the special interest groups like developers, speculators and those with the money to be heard. The rest of us will get voice mail. My voice will be diluted. Instead of being one of 620,000, it will be one of 2.3 million.
I trust and have faith in my local councillor and mayor. I am insulted that you feel trustees must be appointed to watch their every move when they have done nothing wrong. By showing contempt for my local councillor you show contempt for me, because I voted for him. I would trust elected councillors far more than I would trust appointed, unaccountable and inaccessible trustees and transition team members who report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs rather than the citizens of the affected cities. I think democracy works best the closer it is to the people, a statement the Premier often makes when he suggests that federal powers should be transferred to the provincial level.
In the past in Ontario change has occurred by evolution, not by revolution. The last municipal changes in Metro occurred over several years. Change may have been slow but it occurred with ample time for debate and with attention to individual hardship and social disruption. To me this is the Ontario way, the Canadian way.
Revolutions are frightening. They represent sudden violent changes in which victims get hurt. In the American Revolution my ancestors and other Loyalists were driven out of the country. In the French Revolution the victims went to the guillotine. In the Russian Revolution many were shot or exiled. The language of revolution always leads to excesses. Are the victims of the Common Sense Revolution to be local democracy and the people of Toronto? Revolutions can also trigger counterrevolutions and civil unrest.
I implore you to pull back from this revolutionary path that is foreign to this province and has caused widespread anxiety and fear. Slow down and go back to the pattern of gradual change that has served us well in the past and has been embraced by all political parties.
Let the people examine the issues closely. Give us proof rather than promises. Let the public see some plans of how bylaws and service levels would be affected in advance, not after the fact. Why should the Minister of Municipal Affairs be running the city? Was he elected to do so? I realize that democracy costs more, but it is worth it. Without it you have dictatorship, much more cost-efficient but very unaccountable, very unresponsive to the desires of the people and often acting not for the good of all people but for the good of a few.
I want a local government that cares about the needs of its citizens, about their health and their welfare. I have that government in the city of Toronto. You offer a megacity whose whole reason for being is to save money. You will impose on the citizens of Metro Toronto a megacity that will be less accountable than what we have now. You offer unelected neighbourhood committees, 44 councillors and one mayor for 2.3 million people and an unelected GTA services board. You also offer us unelected trustees and an unelected transition team. That's an awful lot of unelected people running the city -- not very accountable or democratic.
A megacity government will not even have the ability to care because this legislation will allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the transition team to control the spending of our property taxes.
I implore you to slow down, to reconsider, to listen to the people. The people who have spoken and will speak come from all three political parties. They are well-off, they're middle class and they're poor. There have been professors, engineers, urban planners, architects, doctors, artists, elected councillors, parents and other concerned citizens. There have been people of all different age groups and from all six municipalities.
People are very worried about the future of their cities. Please listen to us. Do not impose your dictatorial will upon 2.3 million people. Let the people decide how we wish to be governed. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Melissa. You've effectively used your allotted time. I want to thank you for coming forward this morning.
The Chair: Would Ruth Croxford please come forward. Good morning and welcome to the committee.
Ms Ruth Croxford: I will speak against Bill 103, against the amalgamation of the Metro Toronto cities and borough into a single city. But more important to me than speaking against amalgamation, I will ask for a provincial government that listens to the people who live in Toronto, in these cities, in this borough. If the majority of the voters are in favour of the megacity, I will hold my nose and go along.
More important to me than speaking out against amalgamation is speaking out against the way this bill goes about it. Amalgamation must not be done in isolation from the greater Toronto area. The imposition of first the trustees and then the transition team is undemocratic and immoral. The time allocated to discuss, change and vote on this bill is not sufficient to get it anywhere near right.
I'll start by explaining why I disagree with the amalgamation of the existing governments.
I live in the city of Toronto. My city works a certain way. It does things a certain way. Sometimes it cooperates with its neighbours to provide a service, a police force, a transit system, sometimes it goes its own way with basement apartments, businesses operating out of homes, parks, its own health department -- different concerns, different priorities, different ideas about how to serve its inhabitants best. Perhaps there are more ways it can share with its neighbours.
Perhaps there are ways in which it can reach out beyond the borders of Metro to work with the region. If so, we can talk about them, but I still live in my city. Some of its concerns are different and some of its opinions are different from those of the other cities and borough. I do not want people in other cities telling me how to live in my city. In return, I do not want to tell them how to live in theirs.
Six cities, six mayors, six councils: six times as many ideas, six times as many ways of tackling problems. Etobicoke can learn from our mistakes and we can follow York's good examples. If something is important to the city of Toronto and not to Scarborough, we can direct our energies and our tax money there and they can direct theirs elsewhere.
Every study, every expert says that amalgamation will cost money, not save it. Our cities are already too large. They are past the point where amalgamation will provide economies of scale and at the point where it will cause diseconomies of size.
Efficiency, even if an amalgamated city could provide it, is not really a good or desirable goal. It is very efficient to bulldoze down all the trees before building a housing development. It is very ugly and it is very sad.
Redundancy is not always a bad thing. Computer installations and jets build redundancy in on purpose. It is a requirement of good design. We promote reading, we promote travel as ways of finding out how other people do things. Universities ask their graduate students to study at more than one university to make sure they will be exposed to different ways of thinking and to new ideas. We can learn from what others do right, from what they do wrong, from what they do differently. Having several cities is good, not bad.
In less than a month the citizens of Toronto will tell the province whether or not they favour amalgamation. If the majority of votes favour amalgamation I will be sad, just as I was sad when the Tories formed this government, but I will accept the vote just as I accepted the fact that the Tories form the current government. But I will not accept the way this bill brings about amalgamation.
First of all I do not want unelected trustees overseeing this city. I do not want this city run by three people who report only to a minister of the provincial government. When I voted in the last provincial election, I don't recall any mention of ice rinks and swimming pools, libraries, firemen or ambulance drivers. I did not vote for my MPP to collect my garbage and clean my streets. I do not believe that Al Leach has the time to deal with all of these things, not thoughtfully, not carefully.
The proposed bill forces the trustees to work in secret. This is wrong. We are paying their salaries and must live with their decisions. Why do we have no say in who they are? Why can't they talk to us? Why can't we know? Weren't accessibility and accountability two of the words we were taught to think about when we thought of local government?
Secondly, I do not want fewer politicians. I might wish for better ones, but I do not wish for fewer. Fewer politicians does not mean that only the best will run; it means that only the wealthiest and the best-connected will run.
During the last school board elections, a woman came to our house. She explained the issues which had made her decide to run for the school board. I told her what I thought and she gave me a flyer with her name on it. If the number of politicians is cut, this woman and people like her may no longer have the option of deciding to run for local government. She certainly will no longer be able to campaign on the basis of some flyers and a good pair of walking shoes. Certainly she will never meet face to face with each one of her potential constituents and encourage them to talk to her. Her ideas may be wonderful, compelling and new, or mediocre, or terrible, but the cost of running for office becomes too high and we will never know.
What do our city and Metro councillors do with their time? They spend much of it talking and writing to us. If we don't like the traffic patterns on our streets, if there's not enough parking, if the outdoor patio of the local restaurant is too noisy, we talk to our councillor. Does the boardwalk need repairs, should there be more lifeguards on the beach, fewer street vendors, quieter festivals? We talk to our councillors. They spend much of their time listening to the concerns, serious and petty, of their constituents, of us.
Fewer local councillors means larger ridings. It means the cost of running for local office is prohibitive to anyone who is not wealthy or well-connected. Fewer local politicians means they will no longer know the streets, businesses, parks and people of the area they represent. They won't have the time to listen to us, they won't have the time to talk to us, let us know what is happening, ask for our input. I think they will become isolated from us.
Finally, the studies which have been done said that the future shape of Metro must not be considered in isolation, but rather only in conjunction with the shape of the greater Toronto area. If the Harris government believes that the conclusions of the Golden report were wrong, it should explain to us why this is so. If the government chooses to ignore the Crombie report, at least the parts it didn't like, it should explain why. What information does the Harris government have that these committees did not have? Where did the studies go wrong in their logic? Why are their findings being perverted or ignored?
In sum, this amalgamation is wrong. We should be allowed to keep our cities, with their distinct characteristics, unique neighbourhoods, their different needs and priorities and their similar and different ways of doing things. If we are to give up our cities, we need to know why, we need to know how. You need to talk to us and you need to listen to us.
An amalgamation will cost money, not save it. In addition to the enormous cost of imposing amalgamation, there will be serious diseconomies of scale.
Regardless of whether our cities do or do not amalgamate, their futures should not be considered independently of the shape of the greater Toronto area. If it is, the people of this province deserve to be told where Anne Golden and David Crombie went wrong.
Decreasing the number of politicians is a mistake. It comes at a cost of placing local government out of the reach of too many. It comes at a cost of moving local government too far away from the people it serves.
The Vice-Chair: I must warn you that you're almost out of time. You have about 20 seconds left.
Ms Croxford: It upsets me very much to be here. I had the idea that it was enough, somehow, to read about the issues, vote intelligently and write to my councillor or MPP or MP about things I felt strongly about. Putting an election sign in my window was a bold thing for me. It did not occur to me, in this country, that a government would refuse to listen to its people.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for appearing before us today.
I would like to call upon B.D. Jolly. Looking for B.D. Jolly.
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): If Mr Jolly is not here, could we not hear the end of this presentation?
The Vice-Chair: No. I'm sorry.
The Vice-Chair: We're going to move on to Michael Creal. Good morning, Mr Creal, and welcome to the standing committee.
Mr Michael Creal: Thank you very much. I have four points of concern to register and I will put them very briefly.
The first is the question of process. As a resident of Toronto and a taxpayer in Toronto for the past several decades, I find it grossly insulting that a government at Queen's Park should make decisions about my local government without consulting me and my fellow citizens before introducing legislation. This is a subversion of democratic process -- there is no other term -- and I resent it. I appreciate very much the opportunity to say some words before the committee this morning, but since the minister seems to have made it clear in his public statements that his mind is already made up on the matter of amalgamation, it would seem that this may be little more than a matter of ritual. I hope I'm wrong.
The second concern is the question of trusteeship. It's my understanding, and this has been mentioned by several previous speakers, that the financial management of the city of Toronto is no longer in the hands of a duly elected council but in the hands of a board of trustees not accountable to the citizens of Toronto. Similar powers, I understand, will be in the hands of a transition team once a new council is elected. I find this an extraordinary and unacceptable transfer of power from elected representatives to an appointed body.
The third concern is the question of the megacity. I have not seen one piece of hard evidence that amalgamation will save money. I have only heard promises couched in abstractions. The evidence to the contrary from studies done in other jurisdictions seems overwhelming. As for participation in civic life, participation is essential to the health of any democracy, the larger the system the lower the rate of participation. It's particularly ironic, I think, that a conservative commentator like the Globe and Mail's Terence Corcoran should wonder why Ontario's Conservatives, who regard themselves as the sworn foes of big government, should be introducing legislation that actually imposes big government.
On a modest scale, I have been active in virtually every city election since I came to Toronto. I've made a point of getting to know most of my local councillors over that period of time. I've worked on a range of local issues including the Spadina Expressway, the city of Toronto plan, the creation of a local park, the need for a local traffic light, that sort of thing. It has not been my experience that government at this level is not working. I think it's working very well, as a number of my predecessors speaking this morning have indicated. The problem doesn't lie in this area. The real problem is to achieve effective coordination of planning and services in the greater Toronto area.
For those members of the committee who think that I and others who have spoken are simply against change, let it be clear that is not the case. The area that cries out for attention is regional coordination. In short, if megacity is the answer, what is the question? Megacity doesn't save money, it doesn't bring government closer to the people, it doesn't seriously address coordination problems in the GTA. What question does it answer?
Finally, there is the downloading of financial responsibility for welfare services, and I use "welfare" as a kind of umbrella term there. The committee must have heard an earful on this because everyone from a local social worker to the Toronto board of trade regards this proposal as catastrophic in its implications. It would have a deadly impact not only on Toronto, but ultimately the whole region and the entire province would suffer because Toronto is part of the engine that keeps Ontario going. This proposal must be radically altered. It is such a wrongheaded idea that surely the most trusting and naïve citizen of this province would have occasion to wonder if the government really knows what it's doing.
To repeat my four points of concern: the question of process -- badly flawed and anti-democratic; the question of trusteeship -- accountability down the drain; the question of megacity itself -- big is not beautiful or cheap and coordination of services in the GTA is not effectively addressed; and the question of downloading financial responsibility for social programs -- a formula for devastating the city.
Mr Parker: Thank you very much. I want to address your third point. I just want to note, to begin with, that in introducing this legislation to amalgamate the cities within Metro Toronto the minister also mentioned that the new model would include community councils, which would be clusters of councillors within the new city to address purely local matters, and at the same time he announced the formation of the Greater Toronto Services Board to coordinate matters across the greater Toronto area. I recognize that that's not sufficient to satisfy you, but I wonder if you could help us out with your ideas as to what you think would be a better plan to proceed with.
Mr Creal: My problem with that is it seems to me that it is attempting to invent solutions to problems when the solutions are already present. You're quite right that I don't really see the point of dismantling processes that have been established historically for a long period of time that are working, I think, extremely well and then trying to invent new jurisdictions to address the kinds of community input problems that are now no longer going to be dealt with. I just see that as very costly and disruptive and I don't really see it as a very effective way of addressing the problem.
Mr Parker: You mentioned the need for greater coordination across the greater Toronto area. Can you give us your thoughts on how to achieve that?
Mr Creal: Let me just give one example, and I think this is a kind of paradigm example or something: transportation. It has been for ages an issue that people have been saying, "We have got to address this." Many of you perhaps, or some of you, have been in the city of Munich. Munich has an incredibly well-integrated public transportation system. It fans out from the centre of the city and goes for 30 to 40 miles around and it is just a model of the kind of thing -- we have been fussing about this as an issue for a long, long time. It is time, really, that it got addressed. It's in the long-term welfare of the whole area that this be effectively addressed. That's one cardinal example, and there are others.
Mr Parker: Do you see the Greater Toronto Services Board as a means of addressing that?
Mr Creal: I would think it would have to a body that has some real mandate to act and some real power to act. I'm just very worried that the maintenance of the existing regional areas will not produce the kind of pressure that will deliver that kind of coordinated service.
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Mr Creal, you maintain that Munich is an excellent example of seamless transportation. Then it must have numerous municipalities around it similar to Metro Toronto because you have stated that a new, unified city is no answer to transportation coordination. Then how, in the existing frame of things, does the status quo achieve the coordination that you seek? There is hardly any coordination between the Mississauga, Vaughan, Pickering and all the transits around. Folks in those cities can't get on those transits, so how does the existing status quo satisfy the coordination issue in public transit?
Mr Creal: I haven't proposed that we have the existing status quo.
Mr Hastings: That's what I see and hear.
Mr Creal: I think there is a need for an instrument that does effective coordination in the greater Toronto area. It doesn't exist now. I agree with you.
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): If I can deal very briefly with your first point of concern, I'd just like to draw to your attention May 1994, Mr Creal, when we introduced the Common Sense Revolution. Pages 12 and 13 very specifically said we would look for and expect the same kind of reductions at the municipal level that we ourselves were committed to delivering provincially.
That went further. The NDP government had commissioned Ms Golden and that report was forthcoming. In fact, last spring every mayor from the GTA, including all the mayors in Toronto, was invited down here, and I can recall my colleagues and I spent every Saturday for months talking about this issue. Those mayors knew full well what the end of the game was.
On May 31, Mr Crombie was picked. His deadline was well known. To suggest that this process hasn't been ongoing since May 1994 is not quite accurate, and particularly from the perspective of the mayors. They knew that we were moving towards municipal reform for over two years now.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Mr Don Weitz, please.
Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Madam Chair: It seemed to me that the presentation and questioning that took place of those particular individuals lasted a good 13 minutes, and the individual right before that -- I was timing it on my own watch -- was given less than 10 minutes.
The Vice-Chair: No, I'm sorry; it was 10:18 on the stopwatch.
Mr Gerretsen: Well, I beg to differ.
The Vice-Chair: Welcome, Mr Weitz and --
Mr Gerretsen: -- equally long in material and yet the time --
The Vice-Chair: Order. Mr Weitz, welcome to the committee.
Mr Don Weitz: Thank you very much. I would have much preferred to give my presentation at new city hall, which I relate to much easier and more humanly than this place, so that's a question of accessibility and identity, which this government doesn't seem to respect much.
Anyway, I am a citizen of Canada, a proud psychiatric survivor, an anti-psychiatry activist, a freelance writer a and human rights advocate. I've lived in Toronto for almost 35 years since emigrating from the United States in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis. I came to Toronto not only to continue graduate study in psychology, which parenthetically I should say was one of the biggest mistakes of my life, because of the brainwashing that's going on in academia, but more importantly to escape the massive human rights violations and racist policies of the American government at home and abroad, its witchhunting, Gestapo, smear tactics during the McCarthyism era, and the repressive, anti-democratic actions carried out by the FBI and CIA against black and aboriginal people, civil rights leaders and other political dissidents during the Cold War and Vietnam War years in the 1950s and 1960s.
I never felt at home or respected in America, certainly not after being falsely labelled and stigmatized schizophrenic and incarcerated for over one year and forcibly treated and terrorized with over 50 subcoma insulin shocks in a Massachusetts psychiatric institution in the early 1950s. I survived this psychiatric oppression, a deeply traumatic and disempowering experience which helped radicalize me and made me more sensitive to other forms of oppression and tyranny such as Fascism.
In Toronto I often feel, and still feel, at home and feel a real sense of belonging, community, caring and sharing, recognition and empowerment which I had never experienced in American cities, such as Cleveland and Boston, where I once lived. Toronto has been home and family and very special for me, as it has been for millions of other citizens.
But not now, because that special sense of belonging, community, caring and sharing and proud identity is being threatened, thanks to Bill 103 and other anti-democratic legislation, anti-people government policies and the arrogant posturing and lies of Mike Harris, Al Leach and their progressively regressive Tory gang.
If enacted into law, Bill 103 will force -- I underline, as you can see, the word "force" -- six distinct city governments, many regions and numerous communities and neighbourhoods into one sprawling, superexpensive, superbureaucratic, superchaotic and superungovernable monstrosity called a megalopolis or megacity. Many relevant studies previously cited by various researchers and critics, including Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, all show that a megacity means mega-expenses, mega-taxes, mega-losses, mega-problems.
Bill 103 is a recipe for more Tory élitism, dictatorship and civic disaster. For example, section 9 authorizes "a board of trustees consisting of one or more members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council" for the alleged purpose of monitoring or overseeing -- please read or substitute the words "manipulating" and "infiltrating" -- all the current city governments during the transition year. In other words, it's very possible for only one unelected person, perhaps another arrogant, fat cat Tory or Bay Street CEO, to rule over 2.3 million citizens in greater Toronto and overrule any decision of any elected municipal council and any local board of education or health.
Further, according to section 12, not one of its rulings or decisions can be appealed: "The decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." Also, many of the board's hearings, deliberations or consultations will probably be held in secret because the board is not bound by the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, which mandates open and public hearings and right of appeal and applies to all government committees and public tribunals, including government-appointed boards of trustees.
This corporate-driven agenda, coup and dictatorship, hiding behind the Harris euphemism of "Common Sense Revolution," is not about common sense. It's not about revolution. It's not about amalgamation. It's not about cutting costs. It's not about reducing bureaucratic inefficiency and duplication or about restructuring. It's really about the death of democracy and the cancerous growth of privatization, corporate greed and corporate takeover of government in Toronto and Ontario. This is what happens in totalitarian states such as Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany and Milosevic's Greater Serbia.
In an outstanding public lecture last year at the University of Toronto, the brilliant social critic and political scientist Michael Parenti warned us of the current Fascist threat in western capitalist countries like the United States and Canada. Parenti pointed out that today's Fascism is masquerading as the global corporate economy and that this new Fascism needs the support of the big private corporations to survive and thrive, just as the old Fascism did in the 1930s and 1940S.
Unfortunately, thanks to Mike Harris and his gang, the Fascist threat is real and growing right now in Toronto and Ontario. Wake up, citizens. The Harris government's proposed dumping of all financial responsibility for housing, welfare, family benefits and social services on to the limited budgets of Toronto and the other five municipalities in Metro is also very threatening and worrisome. It's another massive copout, a shocking lack of social and political responsibility, another betrayal of the people by the Harris neo-Fascist government.
In Toronto, these are a few of the more obvious and probable consequences of the Harris government's callous and cowardly anti-social, anti-democratic policies of contempt, neglect and indifference towards the most vulnerable among us: a dangerous escalation of the already alarming housing shortage crisis; a zero apartment vacancy rate in Toronto; longer waiting lists for non-profit and co-op housing, which now average 3 years, thanks to Harris's massive cuts and elimination of all low-cost, affordable housing; more overcrowded, filthy, disease-ridden shelters; thousands of more homeless people; more deaths on the street -- by the way, approximately 15 homeless men died last year on Toronto's mean and cold streets, two this year so far; higher rates of TB; more poor and hungry children; more poverty; more misery; more suffering for thousands of sole-support mothers and other low-income parents; more substandard housing; non-existent workfare and deadend jobs for thousands of homeless, deinstitutionalized psychiatric people barely surviving on the street, stoned on overdoses of poisonous psychiatric drugs -- "medication" -- handed out like candy by pill-pushing psychiatrists and forced to survive in rooming houses run down by absentee landlords and group homes, firetraps and poorly supervised homes for special neglect -- so-called homes for special care -- where people are dying from safe, effective and lifesaving "treatment"; and more massive cuts to hospital budgets resulting in more layoffs or firings of nurses and other staff, hospital bed and ward closings, mindless mergers of hospitals, and threats to home care, long-term care facilities, and the quality of health care generally.
Just a few unfortunate side effects, you understand, of Mike Harris's great Common Sense Revolution -- and Bill 103, I should say -- especially his prescription and promise of a 30% tax cut which chiefly benefits the rich with salaries over $75,000.
Since Bill 103 in particular and the Harris gang in general have shown a blatant contempt for democratic and open government and a shameful lack of respect for human rights and a refusal to withdraw this bill, I will now show my contempt by tearing up Bill 103 right now. I urge all citizens who give a damn about restoring democracy and human rights in Toronto to do the same. That's what I think of your bill; it belongs in the trash.
The Chair: You've effectively used up your allotted time. I want to thank you for coming forward and making your presentation this morning.
Mr Weitz: You're welcome.
The Chair: Would Michael Baxter please come forward. Good morning, Mr Baxter. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Michael Baxter: Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to appear.
The quandary I've faced in preparing this deputation concerns what has already been said over the past week by people who are not only far more authoritative on this issue than I am but who are, I would contend, able to address the topic of amalgamation and municipal restructuring from a perspective of experience and understanding that should warrant the respect, and indeed the deferment to their authority, of everyone concerned.
A week ago the Minister of Municipal Affairs was being urged by a fellow MPP from across the floor to listen to the deputation of Jane Jacobs. Mr Leach assured all that he would make it a point to listen, albeit that it could probably only be via television. The problem is that Mr Leach has had the opportunity to listen to Jane Jacobs, as well as to the well-considered input of numerous others, on this issue for a few months now. However, "There are none so deaf as those who will not hear." Of course this same admonition must apparently apply as well to the Premier, Mike Harris, and to such other high-profile and dependable members of his entourage as Ernie Eves, Dave Johnson etc, and we can hardly exclude that pugnacious prototype of a true believer, Steve Gilchrist.
Having smugly made the foregoing observations, I suppose it is incumbent on me to be a bit more precise as to why I choose to and why I find it so easy to be in opposition to Bill 103. For starters, this government has been unable to cite a single instance of where amalgamation has succeeded in accomplishing what this one is purported to do. Saved money? No. Been more streamlined and efficient and provided better services to the delight of concerned constituents? Hardly.
Incidentally, Wendell Cox, who made a presentation to Toronto city hall regarding the sad state of municipal amalgamations in our neighbour to the south, could assume the designation of being politically conservative more appropriately than Mike Harris and cohorts, but we'll touch on that shortly. There is all too apparently no dearth of examples of where cities and towns have amalgamated with seemingly inevitable dismal consequences.
In a previous deputation at city hall I referred to a debate of about 30 years ago between the pro-amalgamation mayor of Halifax, Allan O'Brien, who was aligned with the NDP, and the anti-amalgamation mayor of Dartmouth, Roland Thornhill, who later became a high-profile member of the Nova Scotia provincial Tory caucus. That issue aside, I happened to generally have more respect for Allan O'Brien than I did for Rollie Thornhill, but that's not pertinent here; only that the ideological leanings of the two mayors were consistent with their positions in the debate.
With the relatively recent amalgamation of Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford, we have a report with respect to consequences that would obviously not be readily seized upon by Queen's Park as part of the pro-megacity propaganda campaign. And in still more easterly climes, we hear that the citizenry of historic Louisburg are not exactly enthralled with an amalgamation that had been forced on them by the province of Nova Scotia. You know, one is inclined to wonder what it is that can be so unique about the amalgamation of Metro Toronto that all historic examples of the consequences of this procedure must be so readily dismissed.
Referring again to the above cases from Nova Scotia, we are given to understand that in both instances the editorial boards of their respective daily newspapers were strong advocates of the merging. We note the similarity to Toronto, where editorials in the Toronto Sun and in the Star dismiss all concerns of locally elected municipal politicians for the welfare of their constituents as being merely the matter of wanting to maintain their own jobs. Such crass cynicism is most insultingly offensive. If only the politicos holding the reins of power at Queen's Park were able to twig on to some of the more objective comprehension that exists among their counterparts at the municipal level and, consequently, to share a most valid and genuine apprehension regarding the implications of this bizarre megacity project.
Granted, a need for fiscal responsibility and a situation in that respect may indeed require an unusual extent of intervention, but surely that precludes and in no way provides a valid rationale for the autocratic procedures that have ensued from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs whereby it seems that a city must be destroyed under the guise of saving it.
In wrapping up, I'd like to briefly touch on where ideology might fit into this affair. A fundamental basis for my not subscribing to socialism rests in my adversarial attitude towards bureaucratic centralization and in my firm and well-grounded belief, I feel, that such a policy provides just about the opposite of what Al Leach champions for on behalf of it. Efficient, more streamlined and better provision of services: absolute nonsense. In addition, not the least among the derogatory aspects of this policy that I hold in such contempt are the inherent infringements on democracy and individual liberty. One need only read the text of Bill 103 and observe what is already happening around its implementation.
During his recent address to a meeting of Citizens for Local Democracy, John Ralston Saul asked us to associate what is coming out of Queen's Park with what began in Germany about 60 years ago. In addition to the National Socialism to which he referred, we might also look to an earlier event of about 80 years ago, to when V.I. Lenin and the Bolsheviks took control of the Russian Revolution from the more democratically oriented Alexander Kerensky. I suggest that the subsequent history of the Soviet Union provides a more telling example of bureaucratic centralization which is championed by Al Leach is prone to function.
To loosely quote John Sewell, to whom those of us engaged in this struggle are so indebted, this government is neither progressive nor is it conservative. There are those, particularly among supporters of the amalgamation policy, who would dismiss John Sewell as someone who engages in excessive hyperbole. As you may have begun to expect, I would not think this is so. A tendency to totalitarianism exists in the extreme factions of either the so-called left or right wing of the political spectrum. Autocratic suppression may be under the heel of either the corporate state or that of the socialist state. Under neither do we find a structure allowing for free enterprise or for a valid expression of the ideals of democracy. Autocratic incursions on democracy that are coming from this government warrant the type of resistance being espoused by John Sewell and by thousands of us who are thankful that so effective and responsible a leadership is being provided.
If I have any time, I'd like to make some further comment. My debating skills are not so well honed that I would be prepared to encounter Mr Gilchrist and the --
The Chair: You wouldn't have to. The Liberal caucus has the questions for you.
Mr Baxter: I would make reference to, I believe it was a week ago Saturday, an article in the Mail by John Barber, a columnist, on his experience with a gentleman he'd been acquainted with for quite some years, John Sewell. I don't happen to have that. I can, as I say, only make reference because I don't happen to have it available.
The Chair: There's a minute and a half, if you would like to entertain a question from the Liberal caucus.
Mr Gerretsen: I have a question. As you notice, government basically campaigned on the promise that it was against big government. Do you find there's some inconsistency with the notion that really we are creating a much bigger government here, as was stated by one of the earlier deponents here today? Do you have any comments on that at all?
Mr Baxter: Indeed, I must admit that my response when I first heard this from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs was that I was quite baffled. I couldn't understand what was going on. It's totally inconsistent with what I would have anticipated from a "Progressive Conservative" government. Ideologically, it is quite contradictory to where one would have anticipated they would be coming, and if there's anything that looks towards big government and inept bureaucracy, it is this sort of legislation that is being implemented under Bill 103.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Baxter.
Would Ruth Lunel please come forward. Ruth Lunel, please.
The Chair: Very well. I know the next presenter, Rob Degoeij, is here. Could Rob Degoeij come forward. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Rob Degoeij: Ladies and gentleman, I'd like to open my presentation by thanking you for permitting me the opportunity to speak here.
I am not a guru of municipal affairs. My knowledge of urban planning is superficial at best. Consequently, I'm not likely to say anything this morning that you haven't already heard before. I am a citizen who shares the same fondness for the city in which I live as that expressed by those who have spoken before me and those who will speak or who wish to speak after me. I simply hope to move you with the thought that when a government does something that is so fundamentally wrong, even the most borderline apathetic of citizens will rise up to be heard.
Money is a very powerful motivator, powerful enough, evidently, to switch the issue which lies before us. Money isn't the issue in this proposed amalgamation; it's politics. To alter my political situation without the legitimacy of a referendum is anti-democratic. Urban dwellers and suburbanites share different concerns; they live in different mindsets. I don't want my urban voice being drowned by suburban votes. I don't want to live in a city where my political voice is drowned, I don't want to live in a city where access to my municipal representation is severely limited by time constraints, and I don't want to live in a city where it takes access to only the richest of financial resources to make a credible run at political office. These are the issues which my neighbours and I must discuss and vote on before we can consider your proposals.
But money is a very powerful motivator. You have persuaded many intelligent persons to be passive in their response to your proposals by promising them money -- tax cuts.
I am reminded of a scene in a popular movie that aired not so long ago called Batman. I'll lay it out just in case you haven't seen it. This scene depicts our villain, the Joker, riding through the streets trailing big, massive party balloons, throwing money on to the streets to the eager citizens. As he readies his balloons to release noxious fumes into the citizens' air, he tries to discredit our noble hero Batman by asking the citizens who they trust. "Do you trust him or do you trust me?" he says. "I'm giving away free money," and if you'll forgive the weak Jack Nicholson impersonation, he says, "Money, money, money; humma, humma, humma. Who do you trust?"
You have justified your invasion of democracy with a report showing tax savings, a report prepared in haste, riddled with so many qualifications as to make any claim of credibility laughable. This is not to mention the massive scope limitation you placed on the preparers of this report by prohibiting them from speaking to anyone at the managerial level who might have an informed view. Instead you leave it to the consultants -- and I use the word "consultants" in the loosest of terms -- to pore over financial statements. No wonder they managed to finish the job in two weeks, with the conclusion already pre-decided. Any first-year accounting student will tell you that you cannot glean useful information from financial statements prepared with accounting policies inappropriate to the purpose the information is meant to support.
There is no money in this proposed amalgamation. Most of the potential savings discussed in your report come from services that are already amalgamated. Even the preparers of your report have been quoted as saying that every municipal amalgamation they've looked at has never revealed any significant net savings. There was an article in the Globe and Mail not so long ago which said, "No one has seriously tried to argue that efficiency savings result from populations in excess of 500,000."
We're left with the realization that the Common Sense Revolution has stopped making common sense. We are left wondering, what are the true motives of this government? Even if there were money to be saved, why does the provincial government effectively believe that those savings should accrue to its tax cut? Why is the government introducing legislation transferring financial responsibility to the municipalities when common sense tells us that redistribution of income should be funded through the income tax system? Why hasn't the government declared that the reserve funds held by Metro municipalities will remain untouched? Humma, humma, humma; money, money, money. Who do you trust?
Even if there were money to be saved -- and the KPMG report indicates that even in a best-case scenario those potential savings on a per capita basis are very marginal -- why does the provincial government suppose that I would be willing to trade for those savings my access to political representation? Why does the Premier tell us that he wants to listen to as many people as possible and then in the next breath tell us his mind is made up?
The government is not being forthright in its communications to the people, and consequently we have very good reason to be suspicious. Honourable members, it is a sad state of affairs when I report to my friends and family living outside the province that I can no longer trust the government that I voted for in 1994, that I campaigned for in 1990.
There are options. We can work with the municipalities to clarify their roles and responsibilities. I'm not going to tell you that there's no duplication of services or that there's no inbreeding between responsibilities at the Metro and local level.
More importantly, my marginal voice is less effective when hundreds of others who wish to speak are ignored. This committee must listen to all those willing to take the time to prepare a presentation. To do any less is to further pervert our parliamentary procedure.
Second, recognize that the forceful manner with which this legislation is being pushed through is indeed a joke on democracy.
I urge you to tie any recommendations this committee might make to the results of each individual referendum to be held next month.
Mr Silipo: Mr Degoeij, thank you for your presentation, particularly as it comes from someone, as you describe yourself, who voted and worked to elect the government in 1990.
You referred in your last comment to the referendum, and I'd like to ask you to talk a little bit more about that. It seems to me that if the government is looking for a way to get out of the mess and the corner they've painted themselves into, the referendum really is the vehicle they can use. If they don't have the courage to say now that they've made a major mistake, certainly the referendum gives them an opportunity to get out of this.
Mr Degoeij: I agree. It's a way to save face. Conservative members might be unwilling to do anything else directly, whether that be in cabinet or in caucus, to forcefully voice their opinions, but I think a referendum is a very good opportunity to save face. So is permitting other people to speak before the committee to get the full impact of how many people are against the legislation, versus the 20-20 or the 200-200-200 split which as far as I know right now you're being limited to. There are hundreds more who want to speak. The bias that this committee gets is misstated. I agree that the referendum is very important.
Mr Silipo: One other piece I'd like to hear a little bit more from you on is an alternative process to get at some of these changes. Many people who have appeared so far have talked about, "What's the rush?" but they've also talked about being willing to look at changes. I don't think anybody who has sat in that chair has said, "The status quo is what we want." Again, I'd appreciate your thoughts on what would be a more sensible approach to get at what changes we need to make.
Mr Degoeij: Like I said before, I don't really know all about municipal affairs or urban planning or levels of government. I just know that when the world financial press praises Toronto and singles out a two-tiered system of government, it doesn't make sense to me to just throw that two-tiered system away. Why don't we work within the two-tiered system and clarify the roles and responsibilities where there is, as a colleague of mine once put it, inbreeding or dysfunctional behaviour, turf wars and stuff like that? Clarify the roles. Don't just dismiss one of the levels of government thinking that it doesn't have a use.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Degoeij.
Would Ruth Lunel come forward, please. B.D. Jolly?
This committee is recessed until 3:30 this afternoon.
The committee recessed from 1148 to 1534.
The Chair: Good afternoon. Welcome to the standing committee on general government.
A couple of announcements: Members of the committee have a report from the research branch on the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, which was a request from Mr Colle. I've asked the lawyer for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to be here. If there's any questions on it, we'll take them up, if there's a space some time in the afternoon. If there isn't a space, perhaps at 6 o'clock or right at 7 o'clock, if you've had a chance to digest it then and want to ask a few questions, we can do that.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have one question that perhaps they could be prepared for, and that is, what was the last date that this act was amended in any way? It said 1971, but I'm wondering if that was the last time.
Mr David Spring: It's a very reasonable one. I'll have it for you.
The Chair: Would Sterling Beckwith please come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Mr Sterling Beckwith: Thank you for including me in the list of those allowed to present their views on Bill 103. First, I want to congratulate the current government of Ontario for focusing so much public attention on the future of the greater Toronto area and for having the courage to propose some far-reaching changes. Unlike some who are testifying here, I happen to think these proposals do not go far enough, but I share the hope of everyone else who is making the effort to be heard and of all the many other citizens who are unable to appear that this government is listening to us and that it cares what the ordinary people who live and work in this extraordinary successful city have to say.
I am a semiretired homeowner, living in the first home I ever owned. I made this investment over a decade ago, after a long search and a lifetime of working and saving. Like most people who choose to live in a major metropolitan area, I wanted to have access to the full range of services, opportunities and cultural resources that big city life affords. At the same time, I was looking for the kind of settled, solid residential community and healthy environment with an enlightened approach to development; in short, a place that I and my neighbours could continue to enjoy over the years and have a hand in maintaining through a responsible, accessible local government.
I found everything I was looking for in the city of North York. I'm not bothered or confused by the obvious fact that my home town is a city within a city, because North York is big enough to be a manageable unit, and anything bigger would need to be broken down again to units of a size no larger than what we have now.
My home is a few blocks from the present northern boundary of Metro. If there ever was a meaningless boundary, this is it. For example, I tend to do much of my major shopping in the area north of Steeles. My friends who live there do so because they routinely take full advantage of all the rich resources that lie to the south of Steeles: the mass transit, the roads, the hospitals and nursing homes, the parks and public spaces, the administrative and financial services, and especially the jobs.
That is why I was encouraged to read, in the pamphlet sent out by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that he believes, "Coordination across the entire GTA is urgent and essential." According to the pamphlet, this government has already given "authority to municipalities, counties and cities to decide how they are structured, their boundaries, and how many levels of government they need." I hope that's true. It assures us also, "Further consultation will occur before decisions are reached on the best method to ensure area-wide coordination."
I simply want to say from my own personal experience and that of my friends and neighbours on both sides of the line that it would be a mistake to rush to dismantle North York's very popular, smoothly running system of decentralized municipal government and management, evolved over decades through hard work, practical experience on the ground and daily democratic process; that is, it would be a mistake to dismantle such a system unless and until its scope and effectiveness as a functional subdivision of the larger whole that is Toronto can be extended to include the whole of the actual GTA.
It is an even bigger mistake, in my view, to pretend that everything lying within the artificial boundaries of the present Metro can be automatically labelled as "fully developed and mature," and therefore utterly different from the vast and growing portions of the real city of greater Toronto that happen to lie just beyond those imaginary or arbitrary lines.
My neighbours and I find it hard to imagine that North York, for example, is all that fully developed or mature when we are awakened each morning by the noise of heavy machinery preparing for the 69 new homes that are currently being built on vacant land in our own backyards. Meanwhile, the latest impressive phase of major urban transformation is now going on in North York's new downtown. What was once fully developed is now being fully redeveloped, and that too requires consistent local input and local control to make sure its negative impact on our quality of life will be minimal. This should be ample evidence that no part of Metro, and certainly not my part, can be treated as if it had somehow finished growing, any more than Markham or Vaughan or Richmond Hill have.
But we are mature enough to be treated like adults by our own elected officials in Queen's Park. That is, we expect to be consulted and our wishes taken seriously before any group of politicians decides unilaterally to dismantle the system of local management and global integration that we have democratically chosen to operate under.
Though many of my neighbours voted for this government, we have been shocked by the shallowness and shortsightedness of the arguments advanced by some of its most vocal spokesmen on this issue and urge you to re-examine the whole notion of maturity. I think you will find it provides no real justification for pushing through a premature and half-baked paper amalgamation scheme, a scheme that is likely to solve no real problems in its present limited form but has managed to upset almost everybody.
Rome wasn't built in a day. There is, after all, a reason why all those studies of Metro have been made previously. Please don't play shuffleboard with Metro while shielding our near neighbours from the impact. Please don't panic if it turns out to take a little longer to find the right mix of solutions that will keep my city, our city, Ontario's and Canada's world-class city, what the minister's pamphlet proclaims it to be already: "a wonderful and vital place to live, work and raise a family." Thank you very much.
Mr Gilchrist: Mr Beckwith, just very briefly, you say in your opening comment that it doesn't go far enough. I wonder if you could elaborate on that. You cite certain efficiencies in North York. Would you suggest that the same efficiencies are found in jurisdictions the size of York and East York? You cite 69 homes being built in your backyard. There's certainly no new development of any great note going on in those two communities.
Mr Beckwith: New development, as I tried to point out in my reference to the downtown development that's going on in North York, is certainly not the only kind of development or even the most serious kind of development.
Mr Gilchrist: Oh no, but you used that as an example in your backyard. Would you say the same efficiencies exist in York and East York?
Mr Beckwith: I'm not sure that they do. I'm also not sure that the kinds of development that are going on in Vaughan and in Markham are all that different from what's going on in North York. That was the point that I wanted to make.
Mr Gilchrist: Is that what you meant by this bill not going far enough?
Mr Beckwith: Yes.
Mr Gilchrist: So you think actually the amalgamation or some integration should be taking place on an even larger scale than Metro's boundaries?
Mr Beckwith: Exactly. Unless it does, I feel it's bound to be harmful to the part of the greater Toronto area that happens by accident to lie within the arbitrary lines of Metro.
Mr Gilchrist: You'll see that bill coming forward in the near future.
Mr Beckwith: I think until it does, it would be a great mistake to push through the amalgamation of Bill 103.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Beckwith, for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee this afternoon.
The Chair: Would Jacky Kennedy please come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Mrs Jacky Kennedy: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Jacky Kennedy. Toronto, specifically north Toronto, is my home and has been for almost 25 years, when I moved here from the United Kingdom. Over this time I've seen many changes, some positive and some not so positive, but always the input of local citizens has been sought by governments during the decision-making process. That's one of the things that has always impressed me most about where I live: the responsiveness of our two levels of government, the city of Toronto and Metro.
Working in the environmental field for the last few years has given me lots of opportunities to work very closely with these two levels of government. Although the system is not perfect, I believe it works, and it is certainly democratic.
My husband and I chose Toronto over the suburbs because we like being close to everything: shops, schools, work, amenities, transit. I should mention that we tried living in Mississauga for a few months but it just wasn't for us. Most of the time we can leave our car at home, which as an environmentalist really suits me. We therefore rely heavily on Toronto's transit system. We are very heavy users of the many bike lanes and routes and enjoy walking around our community and the many parks. Over the years we have watched and participated in the regeneration of the Don from almost a sewer to a restored and renewed urban ecosystem. We can live like this thanks in large part to the efforts and initiatives of Metro and city of Toronto governments.
Now I'm supposed to sit back passively and let the Ontario government change all that simply so they can turn Toronto into an economic engine for the province? My response to this is that no, sir, this is no engine; this is my home. Many people I have spoken to about Bill 103 tell me they're not getting involved because the government has made it quite clear that it will ignore the outcome of the referendum, scheduled for March 3, even if the majority of residents vote no, so these people do nothing. I cannot sit back and let democracy be abused in this way. I'm not a political science major or an expert on municipal government, but I know in my heart that the approach this government is taking on this issue is wrong.
To date the only information I have received from my government on the amalgamation is the One Toronto flyer that was delivered to my door via Canada Post. After reading it I decided it's just an expensive propaganda document, nothing more than junk mail, and paid for, I assume, out of my tax dollars. I wrote to my local MPP, the Honourable Bill Saunderson, and received no reply to my questions or concerns. In addition to not showing up to community meetings on amalgamation, his January contribution to our local newspaper didn't even mention that nasty word, "megacity." Instead he chose to inform his constituents of the opening of a new liquor store in North Toronto. I continue to be amazed by his behaviour and attitude.
I've been reading whatever I can on the megacity issue, and one recent article suggested that the reason the Ontario government is continuing to push through amalgamation of Metro and the six municipalities is so it can follow through on its election promise of a tax decrease to Ontarians. The article suggested that the government intends to finance this tax decrease with the Metro tax dollars it will have access to after amalgamation; so a tax decrease for the rest of Ontario and a major tax ripoff for those of us who have chosen to make their homes in Toronto.
The proposed property tax changes for the Metro area, AVA, are going to hurt our family very badly. Rather than being rewarded for choosing to live in a dense urban area with easy access to services, we feel we're being penalized. Those who choose suburban sprawl and the high energy and infrastructure costs associated with this lifestyle will be rewarded instead. This will encourage more development in areas that should be reserved for agriculture and more waste of our natural, non-renewable resources.
For small Toronto business owners this tax increase could be the death knell. This will directly affect our family. My husband is a retailer in the downtown core. The board of trade predicts the average increase to small businesses will be approximately $7,000. How could this possibly help promote Toronto as a business leader and a world-class city? Perhaps the idea is to wipe out the small business community, tear down the friendly storefronts, widen the roads and build more office towers and malls: a developer's dream and the death of any city. I'd really like to know what this government's true intentions are.
In addition, the downloading of many services now shared by the province will be more nails in the coffin of Toronto. Transit, already financed two thirds by the fare box and suffering ridership declines due to lessened service as a result of the last provincial cuts, will lead to even more people driving, which will further compromise our air quality, making the city even more unattractive as a place to live.
I believe that if this government continues on its present course, within five years the Toronto we know will disappear. It will be dirty, polluted, empty of people except for the homeless and ridden with crime. Am I overreacting? Perhaps, but everything I've learned about this megacity so far leads me to believe this or a modified version will happen.
I would rather see the government abandon its present course and start embracing the full meaning of democracy. Number one, start listening to the people. Full public consultation should be implemented immediately to gather input from the people who live and work here. Yes, many areas could be improved, and I'm sure there is some waste and duplication. But there are also good reasons to keep the present system in place.
The many reports that have been prepared on the issue of governance of the GTA all have stated clearly that the best government is the one that is closest to the people, and that small is beautiful. The Ontario government should not ignore these reports or the 2.3 million people who will be impacted by their decision.
To quote from your own document, "Toronto is more than just an economy. It's the Danforth...Roy Thompson Hall...Metro Zoo...the Toronto Maple Leafs" and "the Caribana festival." It's also my home and the place my husband and I decided to raise our family. We don't like being left out in the cold. Thank you for your time.
The Chair: Order, please. Ladies and gentlemen, there are some new folks in the audience, and I must remind you that the rules of the chamber apply to rules of the committee room. We're not to have audience participation. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep that to a minimum. Every time I have to make this announcement or call a recess the presenters, who only have a short period of time to do their presentations, lose time. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep that in mind.
We have three minutes for the Liberal caucus.
Mr Colle: Thank you very much, Mrs Kennedy. I think you hit home when you said that this is not an engine; it's a home. I just want to read you something someone said about speaking to the people in Elora. They said: "There is no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity. Why destroy our roots and pride? I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities. The issue is to find out how to distribute services fairly and equally." That was Premier Harris speaking in 1994, but he basically agreed that bigger is not better and that essentially identity is important.
People say that all the downtown environmentalists are the ones complaining about the megacity, that nobody else seems to be that concerned except the south-of-Bloor crowd, as they say. How would you as an environmentalist respond to that?
Mrs Kennedy: This government and the environment are an oxymoron, actually. I represent a group called the North Toronto Green Community. We're a very active non-profit community group. We've been around for a couple of years. We have 16 projects on the go at the moment. We started off as a green community under the green communities initiative. One of the first environmental programs this government cut was the green communities initiative, so the funding we were going to get to implement some really good programs in the city of Toronto was taken away from us.
The levels of government that have been really responsive to us are the city of Toronto and Metro. Although we try to be sustainable as much as we can, and we don't have any staff people, everything we have done -- we've gone through our MPP and we've talked -- involving this particular government has been shot down. My concern about this government having total control over an area the size of Toronto is that development and all the other unfriendly kinds of things are going to take precedence over things like regenerating the Don and the Humber watersheds and cleaning up the air.
The government has said a lot of things about cleaning up the air, but our air is polluted. We have many people every year who die from the air. The city of Toronto and Metro have responded to those concerns; the province hasn't. In fact, they shut down the only emissions testing centre we had. It's now gone. I haven't seen any evidence that what I predict will not happen. I've requested interviews with the Minister of Environment. We've never, ever been allowed to even speak to him. It's unbelievable.
Mr Colle: Your MPP has had nothing to communicate to you about this proposal?
Mrs Kennedy: No.
Mr Colle: In his latest newsletter there's no reference to it? All you've gotten is the contemptible blue package that was brought to your door?
Mrs Kennedy: That's correct.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Kennedy, for coming forward and making your presentation today.
NICK DE CARLO
The Chair: Would Nick De Carlo please come forward. Good afternoon, Mr De Carlo. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Nick De Carlo: Thank you. I put together a brief written presentation. There are a few typos in it that I'll point out as I go through them. I didn't have a lot of time to put into this presentation because I'm very busy in my job, but I thought it important enough to be here. I'll try to supplement what's written with some verbal presentation.
Before I begin I want to say, with reference to the decorum of the people attending and visiting and observing the proceedings today, that I've had the opportunity on several occasions to sit in at the Legislature and I've seen the behaviour on the Legislature floor, in particular of the party that's presently in power. Certainly the people here are much more genteel than the Legislature is. I don't see any fault with people clapping or supporting or whatever. I think it's important that if you truly want to set a proper tone, then you should practise what you preach.
The Chair: Just by way of response, Mr De Carlo, if you've watched the Legislature, when there are any presentations or there is audience participation, folks are actually removed. So we've been quite liberal.
Mr De Carlo: That's in the audience. That's not on the Legislature floor.
The Chair: I'm talking about the audience here, sir.
Mr De Carlo: I know. But I've seen the Legislature floor, and that's what I'm talking about.
There are three areas I want to cover: First is the quality of life; second is the effect of amalgamation and accompanying government proposals on workers who are injured at work; and third is the issue of democracy.
Quality of life: I've lived at my current address for just under 22 years. It's at the corner of Major and Sussex, below Bloor Street. The quality of life there is second to none in the core of any great city in North America -- probably a lot of people have talked about that -- and probably in the whole world. But poverty and the exodus of lower- and middle-income people from the city core will change all that. Over the years I've noticed changes that I know will be exacerbated by Bill 103.
I live on a corner where I have a small yard, a small plot of grass, gardens, there's a small path in front of the house, there's a porch I can sit on and neighbours pass by and stop and talk. We shovel each other's sidewalks in winter. We walk up the street about a block to small stores run by small business people. We know them from working with them and shopping at their places over the years. We can talk not just about what we're ordering that particular day but about the affairs of the community.
I can walk to the university; I can walk and shop at Bloor and Yonge; I can go to the Kensington Market; I can go to areas on College Street and different ethnic communities, from the Italian community to the Chinese community; I can walk to the art gallery; I can walk to the Royal Ontario Museum; I can walk to libraries; I can go skating within walking distance; I can to gyms; I can walk to city hall and to Queen's Park, and the list goes on. In that situation, in spite of the proximity to major cultural aspects of the Toronto area, I can walk out and tend my garden and sit on a plot of grass in the same vicinity. You don't see that in other major cities. That's what I'm concerned about in terms of the actual life in the city and what I think has to be protected.
What does the megacity mean to me? It means control by developers. It means a city with big highways, big buildings, and it means the destruction of the city core.
You can't separate this proposal, and I don't think it was ever meant to be separated in terms of the government approach to this, from other proposals to do with property tax structure, education, welfare, other major changes that are coming about in the period of time we're going through right now.
What does that mean? It means the city centre is going to be defined by the needs of business. Property taxes are going to skyrocket, and the estimates have been done. I'm sure you've heard, and I don't think I have to go into it, about the difference in cost it's going to mean in terms of property taxes. What that means, of course, is that small businesses will be forced out of the local community.
We've already seen the beginnings of that on Bloor Street, near where I live, where some small cafes and video stores etc were forced out by large-scale business. When property taxes go up, of course they're going to move in and the core of Toronto is going to become the place where tourism and business interests dominate and people's interests are secondary and where people can no longer afford to live. That means over a period of years to come, with these changes we're going to see a change in the composition of people who live in the city core and we're going to see a change in the way the actual core is designed.
I noticed probably around the mid-1980s for the first time on Bloor Street somebody looking through the garbage for something to eat. I hadn't seen that before and I've lived there since 1975. That was the mid-1980s. Since that time, the situation has gotten a lot worse. Today when you walk along Bloor Street you can't go a block without somebody begging for money. You can't go a block without seeing somebody sleeping or staying out overnight in the cold or in the summer. That's the way the situation has deteriorated up until now. What will happen, no doubt, is that people who are impoverished will be forced to stay. They'll be sleeping on the streets and that's going to get worse, and people who have enough to live on will be forced to move. I see that situation getting a lot worse. That means we're going to be moving into a style of living that you see in American cities and possibly other cities around the world.
Another area I want to talk about is the effect of changes in the Workers' Compensation Act, which may not seem to be relevant at first mention, but in fact the Workers' Compensation Act is being changed. A new bill has been introduced by the Conservative government, Bill 99, and that bill will specifically exclude many workers from coverage by workers' compensation, as well as reduce the amount of benefits they get. The forerunner to Bill 99, the new workers' compensation bill, the Jackson report, specifically stated the objective would be to get rid of 50% of claims, which are repetitive strain injury claims, occupational disease claims and other claims, soft tissue claims, from workers' compensation.
The new bill doesn't, on the face of it, say that but the bill is written in such a way that it can happen. What does that mean? When workers are permanently injured -- they have a back injury; they have repetitive strain injury where they can no longer use their arms and hands in the workplace; they have an occupational disease where they can't return to work because they can't face the exposure at work -- what happens, and what should happen, is that workers who go on workers' compensation are compensated for that.
The workers' compensation system is paid for by employers. It's paid for by employers to the tune of billions of dollars a year to cover injuries at work. But if a worker isn't covered under workers' compensation and is forced out of the workplace, which is what this bill will provide for, then they have no choice but to go on welfare, particularly in an area like Toronto where there is a high degree of non-unionization, which means that workers have nothing to fall back on if they can't get compensation in the workplace.
When they go on to welfare, that means they go on to the property tax structure in the new regime that's being proposed by the present government of Ontario and that adds to the burden of property taxes that we've talked about. This isn't talked about very much, but we're talking about billions of dollars shifted from employer funds and eventually a good percentage of that going to welfare costs. This is what I mean when I say there is a whole package of legislation that can't be separated.
It means that people will suffer, first of all, from the indignity of not being compensated for injuries that are not their fault, that are caused in the workplace, and secondly, because they'll be forced on to welfare and impoverished, it will add to the misery in the city, which I see as doing nothing but growing in the years to come under the current direction that we're following.
The final thing I want to talk about is democracy. In talking about democracy, I want to point out that in the many decades since the advent of the modern industrial society our country has evolved into an elaborate democracy. Though a democracy has shortcomings, it has changed the daily relationship in which workers were treated as lower class people who depended on the upper class to take care of them. The upper class dominated government at all levels of society. Since then, society has come to be seen as involving the participation of all people in the governance of our daily lives. This is being fundamentally altered by Bill 103 and other legislation that is being brought in.
Why do I say it's being fundamentally altered? The process is one good, clear indication, and I'm sure this has been talked about by other people. The bill is introduced, it's introduced in a very short period of time, there is little in the way of consultations, hearings have to be forced. The attitude of the government is, "It doesn't matter if you're against it, it doesn't matter if we have consultation, it doesn't matter if you have a vote, we're going to do it anyway." That process tells us that we as citizens have lost any right to consultation, any right to a say. That process in itself will lead to conflict, it has to, because you can't deny citizens who have the right to have a say in their society that right.
The whole process of establishing trustees who have control over the finances and the spending, who overrule, without even being passed into law, the governance of the city councils; a transition team which is able to define contracts, hire people, define a direction for a new municipality in the megacity without recourse to public consultation, behind closed doors and without any opportunity to overrule those decisions once those decisions have been made, that to me is not democracy. I don't think that's democracy to anyone.
The Chair: Mr De Carlo, I hate to interrupt but we're already beyond your allotted time. I wonder if you could finish up quickly in light of the fact that I had a little interruption for you there.
Mr De Carlo: In light of the fact that?
The Chair: That I interrupted you for a few seconds.
Mr De Carlo: The view of the education system with a small number of trustees who aren't properly paid -- and what that means is that the upper classes will dominate in the education system. We know the direction that's headed in terms of other government policies, and I can get into that if you have any questions; the welfare system; the jails, and we're heading towards privatization of jails; the attitude in the workplace, where we're reviewing all the legislation in the workplace in terms of workers' compensation, health and safety legislation, employment standards legislation. All these point to efforts to restrict the rights of workers in the workplace and restrict the rights of citizens in society and to privatize and turn over to profit those social aspects that rightly belong to the people and not to private profit.
My final comment would be that part of the reason we're able to live in the city we have today is that over the years people expressed their opinions on things like the Spadina Expressway and, by expressing their opinions and having the right to express their opinions, were able to stop changes that would have destroyed our city. This bill does the opposite. This brings in a system where those who have power and money will decide what happens, and the rest of us will have to survive any way we can.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr De Carlo, for coming forward and making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Kristen Fahrig please come forward? Good afternoon, Kristen. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Kristen Fahrig: In spite of my nervousness, I am very happy to have this opportunity to speak on the public record about a bill that I feel will make big changes in all aspects of our lives, not just in Toronto and the surrounding cities but also in the rest of the province and the country as well.
I'm here representing myself as a visual artist, a costume-maker in the theatre, living in a neighbourhood just west of here on College Street. For the record, I am opposed to the idea of the megacity and I am also opposed to the contents of Bill 103.
Toronto is apparently a word that means "a meeting place on the lake" where different peoples could come and share stories, music and probably even recipes. So far, Toronto has lived up to its name. If there is a place we could think of as that meeting place, I would guess it might be where Harbourfront is today, where there is so much cultural exchange.
The city has recognized the importance of the arts and culture sector through supportive funding policies and practices that have resulted in an annual contribution of $8.4 billion to gross domestic product in greater Toronto. While other economic sectors had a 9% loss of employment during the last recession, employment in arts and culture rose by 11%. In 10 years, Toronto has seen a growth in arts attendance from six million to 15 million.
What is this product called art or culture? In my opinion, art is a visual or audible expression of the soul. An artist's work is to look at the big questions, like what is life, death, friendship, sense of place, and to communicate these ideas through symbol and themes. With this in mind, I would like to take a look at the story that is contained in Bill 103.
Bill 103, by the Honourable A. Leach: This story is about 25 pages long. The first five pages talk about the dissolving of seven governments of Metropolitan Toronto and the formation of the megacity corporation, where the inhabitants have less representation.
Then, for the next 20 pages, we hear the story of the people who will really be running the city, called the trustees and the transition team, and we hear all about their powers. These people are appointed by provincial cabinet behind closed doors. They can hire, fire, promote without review. They have access to assets and budgetary surplus and also the services of the city. They can review all documents and make changes. They can set the rate of taxation and the rate of expenditure. All budgets must be approved by them and once they've made a decision it cannot be questioned, except by the police, who can get more money if they ask nicely. Their salaries and expenses, plus the salaries and expenses of their staff, are paid for by the city at rates they set for themselves. They are above the court of law.
This section about the trustees and the transition team reminds me of a book that we studied in grade 6 called Animal Farm. I don't know if you've read it, but basically --
The Chair: Order.
Ms Fahrig: Basically it is a satire of the Russian revolution. It is kind of depressing but it is a great story. While we were reading this book in grade 6, we were taught the difference between dictatorship and the social democratic system that we have chosen in Canada, where each person has equal opportunity. If I were to look for one theme in Bill 103, it would be this: the change from Toronto -- a place to live, the meeting place on the lake, where people of all cultures and economic status have equal say in the management of the city -- to Toronto the megacity corporation, where all inhabitants contribute to individual profit of a few.
There is nothing in this story that indicates a concern on the part of the author for the health and wellbeing of the people or the neighbourhoods that would provide the lifeblood of the mega-corporation.
My neighbourhood just west of here has been changing lately. In the first year that I moved in to go to school I was waiting for a bus at Dufferin and Bloor, north of where I live, and I saw three men chasing each other with knives through the crowded rush-hour traffic. One of them passed about four feet away from me with a big kitchen knife, and I have to say I was pretty spooked. For a few years after that I very rarely, if I could help it, walked north of where I live; I very rarely went through Dufferin Grove park.
Later I became friends with people who have a dog and I began to spend more time in the park. We noticed that there was some gang turf stuff happening and once or twice we even had to call the police because it looked a bit like it was going to get dangerous.
About two or three years ago we started to notice a difference. First of all, there were some flyers posted asking all the people in the surrounding neighbourhood to come to a meeting to talk about what we wanted for our park. Then we noticed flower boxes and a huge sandpile for the kids, and young people busy working, weeding, raking, taking care of the wading pool. These changes have come from people in the community who have created a place that supports the diverse activities of all the people who share the park and give young people a much-needed sense of place by involving them in the care of their park.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day I decided to go for a skate in Dufferin park and I met one of the people who was involved in the group called Friends of Dufferin Grove Park. These are the people who have been involving the young kids in the park. She was in the clubhouse baking cookies. I asked her what the megacity is going to mean to her group and the work they have been doing.
She said the megacity is going to have a huge impact. Their grass-roots initiative depends mostly on relationship for its success. The two people who have been most key in supporting them in their positive work have been the director of parks and recreation and the mayor, who has made a number of visits to the park and knows people by name.
In the megacity corporation, the director of parks and recreation will have too many added responsibilities to respond to their questions, and will a mega-mayor be able to find time to come out and get to know the kids at Dufferin Grove Park?
When the Honourable Al Leach first presented his Bill 103, he said that fewer elected representatives would mean less confusion because we would know who they are, but knowing who he is does not mean we can call him up and talk to him about our concerns, let alone develop a relationship which is of primary importance for the improvement of our neighbourhood. I'm talking about relationship over time with an individual person.
I, for one, do not share the scorn that so many people seem to have for politicians these days. We elect representatives and we pay them to look after our interests to see that everybody has access to the basic necessities of life, from a roof over our head, healthy food to eat, a place to work and an environment that nourishes our soul.
Generosity of spirit is the first and foremost thing I expect from someone I choose as a friend. Is it unreasonable for me to expect the same generosity of spirit from someone with whom I entrust the health of my community? Unfortunately, I can find none of this in the megacity corporation as described in Bill 103.
The Chair: Ms Fahrig, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we've gone a little bit beyond your allotted time and so I'm going to have to ask you to close your presentation, but I do want to thank you for coming forward this afternoon and making your presentation.
Ms Fahrig: Are you giving me another minute?
The Chair: You're way beyond the allotted time already.
Ms Fahrig: I'm beyond 10 minutes?
The Chair: Yes.
Ms Fahrig: Oh, I'm sorry.
The Chair: But I want to thank you for coming forward this afternoon.
The Chair: Would Suzanne Lawson please come forward. Good afternoon, Suzanne.
Miss Suzanne Lawson: Thank you for allowing me to be here. I've lived both south of Bloor and north of Bloor and outside Metro and even beyond the GTA in this province. My profession has many facets to it but I come to you today because I see myself as a bit of an expert in change management. I'd like to focus on that, not to specifically speak about amalgamation at this point but to raise some issues around the management of change that I believe are important.
As I see over years of experience in managing major change in organizations, particularly voluntary organizations, there are several steps. The first is to be really clear why the change is required, what the drivers are for the change; and second, what the principles are that underlie the kind of change we want to make.
Then we need to look at alternative solutions, alternative changes. Then we move to saying, what's the impact of each of those alternatives, both environmental and social? Then you come to the choice of the kind of change you want to make, which needs to align with the rationale, the drivers and the principles. Then you put in place things that will support the positive aspects of the change and reduce or ameliorate the negative aspects of the change. Then you move decisively and then you put in place something that will help you shift that change and make mid-course changes if required.
Clearly, there needs to be full consultation throughout and I've learned that the hard way.
As I see it, and admittedly I may not see everything, there are two steps you've clearly done. You've looked at alternatives for organizing Metropolitan Toronto; I don't see any evidence that you've clearly looked at the one you're proposing. Secondly, you've moved decisively. Maybe all the other things have been done, but if not, I predict increased chaos and failure for what you want to achieve. Let me take a few minutes to go into a few of those.
In terms of the rationale for the change, I'm not clear. Are we looking to save money? Are we looking to get better government for our citizens? Are we looking to increase employment? Are we looking to reduce municipal politicians? Are we looking to attract more business? I want to be clear about what your major calls are in this plan.
In terms of principles, what are the principles you've chosen to be central to this plan? Is it easy accessibility to government? Is it that neighbourhoods are essential and that's the organizing principle? Is it mega-government and mini-cost? What are the principles? I need to be clear about those and I'm not sure we, as citizens, are.
Why was this solution, this proposal chosen over the others that have been looked at? I'd like to know. That's why I'm prepared to say that I'm not sure what the solutions should be. What impact studies have occurred? What do we know about the social impact of this proposal? Where has the research been done? Who has done the work? Who has shared that understanding of impact? What has been put in place to reduce negative impact? We need to know. I'd go on but I think the point is clear.
I spent three years working half-time in my job recently to bring about a major change with a group of volunteers and team leaders in an organization that finds it very difficult to change. We have brought about a changed strategic direction. If it took us three full years of a major piece of work, consulting at every step, then I'd expect an even more rigorous kind of planning going on to a change as major as the one I'm seeing here today. I need to trust you've gone through those steps that I've outlined and I need to see evidence that you have.
Since I find it difficult to find evidence, I need to trust this committee to ensure to itself that those steps have been taken and that there's been far more thorough preparatory work than I've been able to see. So am I in favour of amalgamation? I don't know. But when I get the answer to those questions I believe I'll be in a better position to speak about it.
Mr Marchese: Suzanne, you raised many important questions and I would like to leave that time to Mr Gilchrist to respond to some of them because they're very good.
Mr Gilchrist: I think your questions demonstrate indeed the complexity and the challenge that governments always face. In fact Mr Crombie's task -- some people believe he went out and reinvented the wheel as another royal commission when his sole job was to pull together all the previous studies that had been done on this subject, a total of 60. Every one of the members has a tab in the back of their binder that lists every one of those very detailed submissions.
When you send someone of Mr Crombie's capabilities out there with a group of very experienced municipal leaders, including a number of sitting mayors and other municipal elected officials, and they in their wisdom pull together all these conclusions, I guess that becomes a very compelling argument for us. The final judgement, of course, as always -- it was the same when the NDP brought in the social contract and the Liberals did what they did to doctors. At the end of the day everybody has to decide what their philosophies and the best evidence lead them to do. In this case, Mr Crombie's final report was split on the issue of amalgamation.
Miss Lawson: That's right.
Mr Gilchrist: Half of the panel said to go four-city, so still amalgamation, and the other half said go all the way to one city. That's the context we operate in.
Miss Lawson: Yes, and I understand that. I think one of the real tasks you have then is to make it extraordinarily clear why you've gone one way and not the other. Communication is very much a part of how we operate organizations.
Mr Gilchrist: I agree.
Miss Lawson: I understand the challenge of leadership. I'm in it myself and if you think government's bad, you ought to try church. But what you have to do is continue to be really clear about why you've chosen this over this and make it helpful for those of us who are struggling to understand.
Mr Gilchrist: I agree with you and that is the challenge we face over these next few weeks, and hopefully the more people ask specific questions, and at town hall meetings every night, the better chance we'll have to lay out some of the answers.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Miss Lawson, for making a presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Would Paul Foster please come forward. Good afternoon, Paul. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Paul Foster: I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak today on Bill 103. I have brought copies of my notes for your reference, but for my verbal presentation I will be reading a shorter version.
My name is Paul Foster and I'm a citizen of the city of Toronto. I live on Augusta Avenue in the Spadina-Queen area. I am employed as a researcher. I'm in the process of starting a business. I have been a resident of the city of Toronto for approximately nine years. I have lived in several different communities and neighbourhoods of the city: the High Park area, the Bloor-Christie area and the Church-Wellesley area. I love this city, its diversity, its civility, from the bike lanes I take to work to the green spaces I use for hiking and birdwatching. Toronto is truly a city that works.
I'm a volunteer with the High Park volunteer stewardship program which has been set up to assist the city of Toronto's department of parks and recreation to run a test plot program examining different methods to bring back the black oak savannah ecosystem. The High Park program is run through the High Park Citizens Advisory Committee and is an example of innovative local government. Residents under the supervision of park staff are working for ecological restoration, bringing back lost species and preserving what still remains. As citizens, we are working in conjunction with park staff, providing energy and enthusiasm. We cannot replace their expertise, but we can add volunteer labour to projects staff would not otherwise have time to do.
As enamoured as I am with tree and plant communities, I haven't come here to talk about these communities, but rather another community that will be endangered by Bill 103.
The community I'm referring to is a human community. There are a variety of types of human communities; some are geographic, ethnic, linguistic and religious. Human communities, like natural communities, can take a certain amount of neglect and mistreatment, but beyond a certain point they start to deteriorate and weaken.
The community that I am particularly concerned about is the gay and lesbian community in Toronto. It is a rich community making important contributions to many facets of community life such as theatre, fine arts, film, fashion, education, financial, medical and business. We represent a sizeable portion of the downtown population. Though we are a downtown core community, our members can be found throughout the city. It's a very diverse community, as we are people of different genders, ethnic origins, linguistic, religious, political and economic backgrounds who share a common sexual orientation. We have been described as a "community of interest," men and women who share some important values in common.
I have no official status in the gay and lesbian community. No one has elected me to represent them. I speak as an interested citizen, as a gay man who firmly believes that Bill 103 is a threat to my community. I also recognize there are men and women of goodwill, even from my own community, who view Bill 103 as being neutral or possibly good for Toronto. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is that the democratic process is being done away with. The principle of allowing those most affected by a decision to decide is being ignored. Bill 103 is being imposed on the residents of Toronto. It will have the effect of disfranchising gay and lesbian Torontonians.
Nine years ago I had a decision to make on whether to stay in the closet for the rest of my life as a "latent homosexual" or to come out as a gay man. In reaching the decision to come out, I pondered, "Where would I live as a gay man with the least amount of discrimination?" I decided to move to Toronto. Toronto has been drawing gays and lesbians for decades as it provides a reasonable chance for us to live our lives as we choose. We have made opportunities for ourselves to live lives based on self-respect. We have developed community organizations which meet a myriad of needs, from recreation to philanthropy to AIDS and HIV support services. We have made significant contributions to our city. It has returned the favour and supported us in areas where we have requested assistance. As a community, we have found ways to be included in the public debate on issues that concern us.
It is my belief that the gay and lesbian community will be a big loser if amalgamation is allowed to go through. Amalgamation of an urban community like the city of Toronto with more suburban municipalities like North York and Scarborough will drown out our voice. Over the last 25 years we have begrudgingly won a voice at the city level -- won by protests, by ballot and by active participation in the democratic process. One of the first steps in the democratic process was in 1973, when the gay and lesbian community worked for the passage of a resolution prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the level of hiring practices within the city of Toronto. There have been many fights since 1973. We have won some and lost some, but overall we have become a community with a place at the table. The city has dedicated resources and priorities to celebrating the diversity of the gay and lesbian community in Toronto and has seen this diversity as a strength and an asset.
My recommendation is simple: Kill this bill. Kill Bill 103 before it starts to kill members of my community. A recent study on suicide found young gays were more likely to try suicide. It studied young males and found homosexual and bisexual males were 13.9 times more at risk of making a serious suicide attempt. This report was done by two suicide researchers at the University of Calgary. Pierre Tremblay, one of the researchers, was quoted as saying, "If somebody even suspects they are gay, they often get beaten up, they get ostracized, they get ridiculed." As quoted in an October 7, 1996, Globe and Mail article, Nicki Monahan, coordinator of services for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth at the Children's Aid Society of Toronto, stated, "Kids who think about suicide are often hopeless about the future, and that's often a big part of it for gay and lesbian teens who can't picture a positive life for themselves as a gay or lesbian person." The loss of our voice which Bill 103 will lead to will not make this picture any brighter.
As our community loses its voice, questions are: Will the population at large sense us as less valuable citizens, and will the number of attacks on gays increase in the downtown core as suburban males come hunting for `fags and queers' to beat up? If the public health concerns of gays, lesbians and bisexuals are not addressed at the mega-Toronto level, this could lead to increased HIV infection rates. The bottom line is that no changes to the structure of local government should be made without the consent of the local citizens, using a democratic process which draws on their knowledge, goodwill, and support.
My last thoughts on the subject are that this ill-conceived bill will do great harm to the citizens of the city of Toronto, and to the gay and lesbian community in particular. Toronto will no longer be safe for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Will this lead to an increase of people leaving the city who will take with them a large portion of the city's economic base?
I would like to thank the committee again for the opportunity to speak on this important issue.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Foster. You've effectively used the time allotted for your presentation. I want to thank you for coming forward and making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Tanny Wells please come forward. Good afternoon, Ms Wells, and welcome to the committee.
Ms Tanny Wells: Members of the committee, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you this afternoon. My name is Tanny Wells. I am a member of the executive of the South Rosedale Ratepayers' Association. I am also the vice-chair of the city of Toronto's Task Force to Bring Back the Don. As a long-time member of the Progressive Conservative Party, I campaigned for the Minister of Municipal Affairs in the last election. Today I am speaking as a citizen who has been an active member of the civil society which we have enjoyed in this city for many years. I appear before you today to urge you to withdraw this bill before you destroy what has taken so many years to create.
I am a real estate agent. That gives me access to the heart of many homes in the city. I have found that you can learn a lot by reading what is posted on the refrigerator door. Recently I found the following quote on the door of one of the city's better-known activists. It sums up a lot of what I feel about the megacity and its appendages, AVA and the download of social services: "We trained very hard...but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into a team we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization." This was written in 210 BC by Petronius the Arbiter, who was a famous satirist during the reign of Nero. It applies equally well in Toronto, 1997 AD.
Today I find myself confused and demoralized. I have been a lifelong Tory. I actively campaigned in my neighbourhood, as I said, for the now Minister of Municipal Affairs. I was confident that a Tory government would govern in the traditional Tory way, that open process, small government, community participation and consultation would all be present under a Conservative government. I am a Conservative. I believe in saving what is best. I believe in change, carefully thought out, but not in destruction. But what do I see in this legislation?
I see a government which I helped to elect bullying and sidelining another government which I helped to elect. Members of the provincial cabinet and in fact the Premier himself have said, and Tory wisdom would have you believe, that local government is the level which needs strengthening. Why then is a whole level of elected representatives being eliminated not through a consultative process but by what almost appears to be a whim?
I believe that every elected councillor and mayor in the cities, borough and Metro council agrees it is time to restructure the municipal governments of the GTA. The matter of how has been the subject of many studies. As we all know, none suggested the megacity route.
The first time I heard of amalgamation was in late October in what I considered to be a throwaway line from Minister Leach following a meeting of his constituency ratepayers on the subject of MVA-AVA. As we were saying goodbye and the meeting was breaking up, he asked what we would think of an amalgamated city. As I recall, one of the 20 thought it might be all right, but only if done in stages, some didn't hear the question, and most people responded negatively. But clearly it was not a concept we'd ever thought about because until that time it had never been suggested by anyone of consequence.
Not one of the studies ever recommended it, and it does not fit with the stated goals of strengthening of local government. I have no evidence that the concept came from any serious study. I think the concept was handed to the Crombie panel, who were directed to make it work. But where did it come from? Was it the only structure which would allow the mega-dump of social service and housing costs? The rhetoric suggesting great savings of tax dollars is only supported by one study, and it's reputed to have holes. By and large, there is no proof that the outcome of amalgamation will save anything. In fact, those most knowledgeable in the field have said it will be much more expensive than the existing system.
As a Tory and one who treasures the democratic rights which have been protected and handed down to us, I am appalled that I could in any way be held responsible for the reduction of democracy which Bill 103 entails.
The trusteeship and transition team provisions of the bill are particularly draconian. We are a sophisticated political society, and in our Constitution the traditions of over 150 years of government have to be considered to have real validity. Trusteeships are imposed when something is really wrong, broken, illegal, corrupt. I cannot agree that the present situation of municipal governance is in any of those states. It may be outgrown, and many citizens who have been following the series of studies would agree that change is necessary. Totally unnecessary and insulting are the arbitrary methods being used. The methodology being used at this moment is that of "might is right." I might also describe it as Soviet-style negotiation in which there is a winner and a loser. Our traditions incline much more to consultation and to working to a win-win outcome. You hold the power of the government in trust for future generations. While you hold it, you no doubt have the legal right to do many things. I implore you not to use this right to do wrong.
Moving along to the number of councillor provisions, I believe an involved citizenry is important to the strength and protection of neighbourhoods and community. Local government should therefore be accessible and, at the same time, as accountable as possible to the citizens. The premise that citizens of Metro Toronto will have more efficient and accountable government because of having fewer politicians does not make sense to me. It necessitates more bureaucrats, who are generally more expensive than politicians. As for the neighbourhood committees, what are they and who are they, and how are they accountable? It seems to me they will be another layer to further insulate politicians from the public.
Is there something different about Torontonians that we should have one councillor for approximately 50,000 in population while North Bay has one for every 5,300?
I truly appreciate the democracy which we enjoy in the city. Our councillors answer their phones and worry about the fine details of what makes a good neighbourhood and a liveable city. They make the bureaucrats work for us. Furthermore, in the several neighbourhood battles that I've been involved in, notably the preservation of the Rosedale subway station and the battle to stop the Leslie Street expressway, we have found ourselves aligned with the city against Metro at the Ontario Municipal Board. In the Summerhill Marathon development, the agreement was the result of careful negotiation, with leadership from the local councillors and the mayor and involvement of the neighbourhoods and the developer. In my experience, if left to the decision-makers of a larger political entity, the outcome would not have been so neighbourhood-friendly.
My experience with Bring Back the Don similarly makes me feel very protective of the local government which made it possible. Now the project has expanded upstream and throughout the watershed, but I believe that nothing would have happened without the encouragement and care of the city. Bring Back the Don is an outstanding example of public-private partnership.
The other two objections which I have to Bill 103 are: (1) It is not in any way tied to the restructuring of the GTA, which was recommended by every study on the subject, and without it, whichever city of Toronto we have will be weak; (2) The office of mayor will be the most expensive elected office to achieve in the country. If that's not a recipe for a politician not being accountable to the electorate, I don't know what is.
To add insult to injury, all these changes, the AVA and downloads as well as amalgamation, are being rushed through without impact studies. I might say in an aside that if there are impact studies, they aren't being released. No one knows what the results will be, only that it will be different. Mayor Hall calls this "reckless" behaviour, and I agree with her.
Minister Leach has said on more than one occasion in my hearing that he has the power to delay the municipal elections for a full year. I urge him and the government to take the pressure off, to slow down and do this restructuring properly. Our city deserves the best of care. Our democratic tradition deserves to be protected. We can win if we all work together to build a strong, vibrant and economically sound Toronto.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Wells, for your presentation. That's all your time. We appreciate your coming forward today.
The Chair: Would Beverley Watson please come forward. Good afternoon, Ms Watson. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Bev Watson: Hello. My name is Bev Watson. I was born in Toronto and, except for three short years, I have lived all my life in Ontario. I recently retired. My professional career included several years as a trust officer with a large trust company, financial manager for a first Canadian organization, administrator for a group home; I have done volunteer work for agencies concerned with environmental protection, women's rights, education, the homeless and the aged. All these areas, I believe, are being disastrously affected by the Harris government's present and proposed policies.
But this is not what I wish to speak about today. A friend recently reminded me of the first principle of advocacy, which is: People do things for their reasons, not yours. The Harris government is clearly motivated not by concern for the issues I mentioned but by their own desire for power. Their grab for power, through Bill 103, I understand not only denies our democratic and constitutional rights but flies in the face of national and international accord.
In this respect, for those of you who missed it, I would like to read from an article by Joell Vanderwagen, a writer and planning consultant, which appeared in the Toronto Star on January 21, 1997:
"Ontario's plan to arbitrarily eliminate local governments in Toronto, Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, York and East York may violate not only local sensibilities, but it also runs counter to an international agreement signed by the government of Canada.
"Last June, Canada participated in the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, and signed a 241-paragraph document titled The Habitat Agenda: Goals and Principles, Commitments and Global Plan of Action.
"The agenda addressed two themes: adequate shelter for all, and sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world. In its preamble, the agenda notes that:
"`Democracy, respect for human rights, transparent, representative and accountable government and administration in all sectors of society, as well as effective participation by civil society are indispensable foundations for the realization of sustainable development.'"
Representatives of national governments and local authorities from around the world met to grapple with these problems.
"The resulting agreement recognizes that the quality of the administrative and decision-making structures of local government are intrinsic to our collective ability to respond to these challenges.
"The very first principle set out in chapter IV, section D" -- of the Habitat statement -- "calls for decentralization and strengthening of local authorities and their associations or networks.
"It says that economically, socially and environmentally sound human settlements can best be achieved through `effective decentralization of responsibilities, policy management, decision-making authority and sufficient resources, including revenue collection authority, to local authorities closest to and most representative of their constituencies....'"
That's quite a mouthful. The key words for me are "effective decentralization...to local authorities."
Mr Vanderwagen goes on to say:
"Here in Ontario, the government's unilateral actions to combine six large municipalities with six different sets of zoning bylaws, as well as public health, parking and noise regulations (to name only a few items) into one megacity will produce neither accessibility of local government nor efficiency of regional management.
In fact, he states that "what is happening here could be called an international disgrace and an international concern.
"The UN has called Toronto the most ethnically diverse city in the world, and survey after survey have listed it as one of the most livable communities. This high quality of life cannot be separated from its long tradition of humane and efficient local democracy."
To recap, Harris's Bill 103, and similar plans for amalgamation across the province, to me would seem to be in direct violation of the international accord, Habitat II, signed by the government of Canada less than nine months ago.
Mr Vanderwagen suggests that, "With the Habitat II agreement firmly in hand, Toronto citizens have every reason to appeal to the government of Canada and the United Nations."
That's the end of the article. Thank you, Mr Vanderwagen.
I have no doubt someone will act on his suggestion if the Harris government continues to ignore local sensibilities and ram through Bill 103.
Closer to home, of course, Clayton Ruby and Paul Copeland have offered to defend, free of charge, any citizen or group of citizens who wish to challenge the legality of Bill 103. They are confident of success.
This is very reassuring, unless, of course, Mike Harris and his government are even now drafting legislation to place the Ontario judicial system under trusteeship.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak.
The Chair: We have about three minutes for questions from the government caucus, Mrs Munro and then Mr Gilchrist.
Mrs Munro: I'm sorry, I had to step out and speak to one of the other presenters.
Ms Watson: I'm sorry. I'm very hard of hearing and I didn't wear my hearing aid today, so this might be a problem.
Mrs Munro: I merely wanted to apologize for missing the opening statements that you made simply because I was outside speaking to an earlier presenter.
I really wanted to comment on the part in your presentation where you refer to the notion that Toronto is one of the most livable cities in the world. The question comes to mind that Toronto, of course, has been growing since the early 19th century. In that almost 200 years we have seen a number of changes in terms of the political configuration of the area as well as amalgamations. Throughout that whole period of time, people have always with a great deal of vibrancy been able to create neighbourhoods and quality of life.
I just wondered if you could comment for us on how you see the continual growth that we've seen in the Toronto area matched with the vibrancy of those communities and neighbourhoods. Can you offer us any comment on how we've managed to keep that going despite all these amalgamations and growth changes?
Ms Watson: My goodness, no, I guess I can't. I'm really sorry. I think what you've said is just very impressive. There has always been growth and there has always been change; you're quite right. I think this comes from the people, it comes from communities, it comes from ideas, from city planners, from civil society, from residential groups and things like that. I don't think it comes from the top down. Is that what you asked me?
Mrs Munro: Yes, I guess so. I also wanted you to see the fact that we have sustained this civility that you've referred to and the community life despite all that growth. We've managed to bring those two things together. That was really what I wanted you to comment on, which you did.
Ms Watson: I think it's done by small communities. I don't think it's done by a large city per se. It's done by small communities which integrate, but not completely, and keep their own personalities, their own ethnicity -- I think that's the word. As a lot of people here have said, we are a city of communities, not just one huge great megacity. We're not just one huge great thing that can be governed by just one overruling government. I don't believe that at all. By keeping our culture, our colour, our smaller communities and our local governments, who understand these smaller communities, I think that's how we're able to do it.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Watson, for your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Jamie Smith please come forward. Good afternoon, Mr Smith. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Jamie Smith: Mr Chairman, honourable members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity of letting me address you this afternoon. My name's Jamie Smith and I'm speaking as a private citizen against Bill 103.
I was actively involved in opposing this bill very shortly after it was announced, distributing literature and speaking at a public forum at city hall. This happened weeks before Citizens for Local Democracy had its first meeting. I mention this not in self-congratulation but in an attempt to dispel the myth that the anti-megacity fervour has all been whipped up by one man or by one group. There are literally hundreds of people who, like me, are neither municipal employees afraid of losing their jobs nor people jumping on a rolling bandwagon. I know there are hundreds of people because I've seen them in the flesh.
I don't propose to address the trusteeship or transitional team as mentioned in this bill. I think these aspects have been dealt with pretty thoroughly by other people. I find it instructive to take a look at what this city would have been like if the megacity had been formed 30 years ago.
The megacity as proposed will have roughly the same political makeup and demographic makeup as present-day Metro council in terms of demographics and political attitudes. There are a number of issues on which the city of Toronto and Metro have disagreed over the years. If we had had a megacity instead of small city governments, we would today have a Spadina Expressway; we would have subways running uncovered through city ravines; we would have jets at the island airport; we would not have mixed-income subsidized housing, which seems to be the only kind that works in this city; we would have no island community; we would probably have no sidewalk vendors on Dundas and Spadina.
I have a great deal of problems with Bill 104 as well, but I realize this is not the correct forum to address those issues.
One of the reasons I'm more upset about Bill 103 than Bill 104 is that, unlike Bill 104, I believe Bill 103 is essentially irreversible. The mayor of Philadelphia has said that the only way to solve that city's inner-city problems would be to establish local governments. Unfortunately, the majority on Philadelphia city council is unwilling to let the urban area go. The suburban politicians have a majority on council; they would be unwilling to allow a separate government to be set up. I fear this would be the same situation in Toronto, even if we were able to get rid of this government and put in a government that is more receptive to the idea of local democracy.
The Premier said at a Star forum before the election, "Metro has to go." This legislation has been justified as his attempt to fulfil that promise. From where I sit, Metro isn't going; Metro is staying. It's getting a new name and more power, but Metro is to remain. What is going are the local city governments, which are the only level, as far as I can see, at which government works in this country in terms of delivering services to the people.
Another function of the megacity legislation is to pit groups of people directly against each other. This is an aspect of Bill 104 -- I appreciate it -- but by downloading welfare on to municipalities, you're pitting ratepayers against welfare recipients. Ratepayers are never more conservative than when they see themselves as ratepayers. The idea is that it's justified by saying the cost of welfare has gone down in recent years and should continue to do so. I see this as a euphemism for saying, "We, the Tories, are willing to be ruthless with welfare recipients, and if you people are willing to be as ruthless as we are, you won't have high costs either."
Urban groups are thrown into the same arena with suburban groups. They're two essentially different cultures here with different values. They have different expectations from the police force: local policing versus quick response. Planning: Mixed use doesn't fly in suburban Toronto; it's the only way to run things in downtown Toronto. It pits large towns versus small towns. Small towns don't have an appreciable welfare load, nor do they have public transit.
By finding that Toronto is currently in a boom and saying that the province is currently in a boom and that extra money is available to help out the cities, Mr Eves is reducing cities to the status of panhandlers who can expect a few handouts if times are good and if the province is feeling generous.
The main problem with the megacity, though, is the question of access. I recently had the necessity to address city council or try to work through city council around a live-work zoning application in Parkdale. At Toronto city council there are 17 members. You need nine to get something passed. At the megacity you'll need 23. The problem is that a number of the 23 you're going to need are from Etobicoke or Scarborough. They're not going to understand the concept of inner-city needs; much harder and more difficult to bring them up to speed.
The island question was a case in point. The main problem that Metro politicians seemed to have with the island, as far as I could see, was the problem of mixed use. Planning in a suburban area is done with a map and a magic marker, drawing circles around areas, not looking at appropriate use and functions.
Toronto will probably continue to be a place where people will hold elevator doors open for each other even if the megacity legislation passes. I can remember the 1950s, growing up in Toronto. It was referred to as the biggest small town in the world. It was also the fastest-growing metropolis in the North America.
Local government is going to be necessary for this city if it is to react quickly enough to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen other American cities, as opposed to reacting after the fact by crisis management, hiring more police, mega-projects to try to stimulate the local economy. I feel it's the ability to see little problems before they become big problems and deal with them that makes this city successful, and has done in my lifetime.
Mr Colle: Thank you very much. I guess this Philadelphia analogy is quite poignant in that the message there is that if you want to nurture and revitalize and make inner cities or downtown cores work, maybe the best thing is to have a government that pays attention to the particular, to the small things, rather than have a massive government that has so many responsibilities to look at that it will forget the attention needed to the core.
Mr Smith: That's basically my point, yes. I don't know a great deal about the Philadelphia situation. I'm getting most of my information from a letter to the editor in the paper a month and a half ago from a Canadian who was working down there as a social worker.
Mr Colle: As you know, what happened in Chicago is that with the megacity concept introduced there, over a million people have left Chicago since the introduction of that kind of format.
Mr Smith: Exactly. Toronto must be one of the few cities in North America, if not the only one, where condos are being built in the downtown core and people who are wealthy enough to be able to afford to live wherever they want are choosing to live downtown. It's certainly not happening in any other major North American city that I'm aware of.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Smith, for making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Madeleine Fleming please come forward. Good afternoon, Ms Fleming, and welcome to the committee.
Ms Madeleine Fleming: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to speak today to the standing committee on general government conducting hearings on Bill 103. I support unification of six municipalities into a single city because it's time to leave behind seven competing governments, each with its own planning, roads and parks departments and the confusion created over who does what. Many agree that the status quo is no longer an option. I firmly believe and trust that this government, through unifying Toronto, will save money, remove barriers to growth and investment, eliminate confusing and often contradictory bylaws and regulations, and improve the quality of services we now receive.
We can draw examples of growth and prosperity from the private profit sector, which has successfully undergone streamlining and downsizing. Many in the non-profit sector as well are doing more with less. Mayor Barbara Hall, in her recent publication, The State of the City, speaks to efficiencies obtained through "combining 13 different departments into four units and reducing senior management from 81 to 41 and serve the public with more efficiency."
I am here today, however, to speak more about what I see going on in Toronto's neighbourhoods and specifically the Beaches area where I live. The Beach area is an old-established neighbourhood in the east end of Toronto. I feel it will always be there. Most of us who live there have a strong attachment to our local thriving community, whether we have lived there for five years or 60 years.
The city of Toronto is comprised of many such neighbourhoods where residents feel a sense of pride for what they share in common or accomplish, whether it be summer festivals, sidewalk cafes and restaurants that draw large tourist crowds, or unique shopping. Some are defined through ethnic mix, such as Greektown on the Danforth. Other neighbourhoods are defined by location, such as High Park or the Annex. They have been here for many, many years and will continue to thrive.
People identify with these areas no matter what municipal structure dictates. People, not the government, define their communities. No one is suggesting we rename our neighbourhoods and streets through unification. I disagree wholeheartedly with the critics who speak to the fact that we will lose our identities. Areas like the Beaches, the Annex, Mimico and Rexdale will be there for many, many years to come.
Some of the concerns I had earlier on with unification had to do with the implementation plan, not the concept, and our relationship to the greater Toronto area. I recognize that amalgamating seven local governments into a single-tiered city is not without its difficulties. However, I wanted to be convinced that the Harris government would put together a plan to make the transition work. I have now read a great deal of literature from the Harris government on the Metro and GTA restructuring process and the implementation period, which will be led by an implementation team.
I feel that they have dispelled my uneasiness. In fact, I applaud this government for having the courage to set the stage for unification and to do what countless reports have urged for 30 years. I am reassured by the fact that a team will be in place to face the challenge ahead and guide the way for a streamlined government responsive to local needs.
By reading the literature we see that the transition will be appointing five to eight people who will be carefully selected, based on their background knowledge in municipal administration and expertise from the private profit sector, who have successfully undergone the challenge of downsizing and restructuring. The team will be set up to deal with specific issues and look at eliminating duplication and improving service quality through putting in place neighbourhood councils that will influence local decisions on the services to be delivered locally. The GTA issue that the Golden task force touched on will also be part of the coordination of the greater Toronto area. What we will now have is a streamlined, well-oiled machine.
I think the critics are wrong and I think that we can deliver a better product for less, not just reshuffle the deck.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Order. Ladies and gentlemen, that's not going to be tolerated. As soon as someone comes forward with a different view, you're not going to hoot and holler. People have the right to express their opinions without being shouted down or made to feel awkward.
Mr Silipo: Thank you, Ms Fleming. I have the honour of questioning the first person who has sat before us expressing support for what the government is doing. We know that there will be others, so I don't --
Mr Parker: Since Alan Tonks.
Mr Silipo: Since Alan Tonks; I stand corrected.
The Chair: Order, please. Mr Silipo has the floor.
Mr Silipo: The first non-politician who is here, although I note that you have a small political responsibility in terms of your presidency of the Beaches-Woodbine PC Riding Association. I say that only for the record because there clearly have been other members of the Tory party who have sat in that chair and said they are opposed to what the government is doing.
I want to go back to a couple of points that you made in your brief. You talked about "this government having the courage to set the stage for unification and to do what countless reports have urged for 30 years." I've looked at some of those reports. We've talked about a number of those reports. I can't find any of those reports that actually say that unification is a good thing, going back 30 years, as you say. Maybe we're reading different reports.
Ms Fleming: I have not read all the literature. What I have done is gather information from sources that I believe are true.
Mr Silipo: Okay. I'm not surprised you would believe other sources rather than me. That's fine. Could I just ask you your understanding, as a member, and I have to presume and correct me if I'm wrong, somewhat active in the last election, of the promise that was made by Mr Harris with respect to the future of Metro Toronto and the GTA? Because we've heard, of course, different accounts here. Joyce Trimmer, as you know, who chaired a task force, has a very specific understanding of what was promised and not promised, and I'd just be interested in your sense, as an activist in the Conservative party, of the promise that was made.
Ms Fleming: My sense of the promise has more to do with cost-effectiveness, decreasing the deficit, making a more efficient government. To me, this speaks to those promises.
Mr Silipo: So the fact that the Trimmer task force, which said that, yes, there would be changes within Metropolitan Toronto but that they would be done on the basis of eliminating the upper tier at Metro and maintaining the local level, the report that was signed on to by, among others, Al Leach and a number of others who are now members of the government, wasn't an issue in your mind? That wasn't in fact what the promise was?
Ms Fleming: I, quite frankly, would prefer speaking to what the issues are today rather than what they were three years ago.
Mr Silipo: Okay. Fair enough. That's your prerogative. This notion that this is something that needs to be done: Could you talk to us, please, a little bit about why you believe it needs to be done, or do you believe it needs to be done, in the way in which the government is doing it? Clearly, as I'm sure you know, people who are opposed to this are saying to us that they don't like what's happening, but they also don't like, particularly, the way in which the government is doing it. If this is such a good idea, what's the rush in getting it done this way and getting it done now? Why is the government not able to go out and convince people it's such a good idea in a process of discussion?
Ms Fleming: I think the public education process has to be in place. It's beginning. A lot of work has been accomplished in a very short period of time. I, myself, have had to rush to get sufficient time to read the copious amounts of information that are out there. The education process by the provincial government now is beginning to work out all the details with the public so that they will be better informed, so they get an idea of the pros, not just the cons. I think once the public does hear about the careful planning strategies that have gone into place, they will also be convinced this is the best avenue.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Silipo and thank you, Ms Fleming, for coming forward to make your presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Would Jeff Sharpe please come forward? Good afternoon, Mr Sharpe. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Jeff Sharpe: I'm in support of amalgamation. I feel it's very important. There are much-needed changes that have to take place today. It's evident that we're overgoverned. An issue that I'd like to address is, if you look at Metro council, for example, they have a chairperson but the individual isn't democratically elected by the community. They're elected by the council itself.
If I vote for a provincial party, say, for example, for the PCs, or whichever party it is, I vote for Michael Harris. If I was ever going to vote, I'd vote for Michael Harris, not a backbencher to represent my concerns, so I feel that is democratic. If somebody else is appointed, I don't really feel that's democratic. That's just an opinion.
The issues I'd really like to address are around social assistance, for one. Just looking around us today, we see that we have the working poor. Homelessness is increasing. Poverty is increasing. Child poverty is increasing. These issues really have to be addressed.
You start asking, why is this? Why does this happen? When we start to look back, we realize that our welfare system is broke, as you'd call it. Why is that? I myself took an initiative -- because it is a concern; it's what I believe in -- to look into why this is actually really going on. In a sense it's because I care. This is me. This is who I am.
I started to realize that a lot of people on social assistance want to work, and there are a lot of people with high skills who are on social assistance. The way the system is structured today, if they want to go out and find meaningful employment and get off the system, it seems like they're penalized for doing so. So you say, why would that be? How the government turns around and looks at it today is that it says, "We should help these people; give them a hand up and not a handout." "This is great. That's exactly what we want. We want jobs, not welfare. Thank you for helping us and so on, but can you help us so that we can help ourselves." This is what people really want.
But when you look at it, you say, let's look at the underground economy. If you start putting up barriers that trap people in the system, then you have temporary agencies. We call them sweat shops. What happens is that people's labour becomes exploited. Why? Because they can't even afford a bus ticket to go look for a job. They have these people waiting for them: "Oh, yes, we'll take you there." So what happens is they take half their wages. So what happens is you start taking these pools, these resources of cheap labour and you start displacing well-paid workers.
It's quite evident that there are going to be record profits, but what happens is you don't have a consumer. It's the consumer who buys the products. So what happens is now we don't have a consumer. We all become the working poor and there's poverty and so on. It's apparent that this isn't good for society. It breaks down. It's broke and it needs to be fixed.
We are a Christian nation. We're built on the principles of God. What is that? It's a caring, decent society: "Love they neighbour as thyself." Should we focus on the dollar? Is this what we should be focusing on or should we be focusing on humanity for one another? So we start focusing on humanity for one another and we say it's taking care of the individual's needs. That's what really matters. There are a lot of people out there today who say: "Nobody really cares. Society doesn't care. They've turned their backs on us. They don't care." That's not 100% the case. I'm sure there are some people out there who still do. If we're built upon these principles of God, should we not seek the benefit of one another instead of profit?
Toronto is such a great city which the world does envy. We realize too that it's also a compassionate city. I think these are the values we should concentrate on.
When I see the approach the government is currently taking, I do support it, because it takes the ability and gives it directly back to the people, to say: "Okay, you develop your programs. You tell us. Now we know that we've got to work with you. You show us what's going on. Tell us. We want to listen." I feel that's a positive approach. What happens is that you start hearing the concerns. People tell you, "This is what's going on; this is the kind of help we need," and so on, and then we can start to build from there.
I think I should just leave it at that for now.
Mr Hastings: Mr Sharpe, the thesis has been presented in most of these hearings thus far that a new, unified city will be completely incapable of working because the human networks will fail. People will suddenly stop behaving the way they have in terms of being volunteers in any type of artistic or social agency or organization. We're going to regress. That's the basic thesis we have been getting. You present the opposite of that. Can you structure a response that would reassure people in the public who aren't here that a new, unified city can work just as effectively in terms of the human relationships, the human networks that were there before, and that we're simply getting rid of some municipal boundary lines?
Mr Sharpe: I assume from what you say that we'll make the city tick. It's a caring society. You have to start focusing on what is most important in society. It says, "Seek another man's wealth and not your own." These are very important values. We have young people today who need work. What do we do? Do we invest in this and this? No. We invest in young people today.
What happens as soon as you see that is barriers. We do have freedoms, but one does not take their freedom to take another person's freedom away. That's not correct. If a person uses their freedom and their rights to enhance and further another person's freedom and rights, this creates unity. This takes down the barriers.
We live in a multicultural society as well so we don't show discrimination between race, colour or creed and so on. You look at the value of the person. I think this is what we should be concentrating on to bring unity and this is what we should be investing in.
Mr Hastings: So you do not see the amalgamated, unified city preventing the sort of theme you are presenting?
Mr Sharpe: Certainly not.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Sharpe, for coming forward this afternoon and making your presentation.
The Chair: Would Scot Blythe come forward, please. Good afternoon, Mr Blythe, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Scot Blythe: I am grateful to have this opportunity to speak. For the record, I am a writer, editor, researcher and academic. I have worked for various magazines and newspapers and many local institutions, frequently on issues of taxation and governance. I know my Ontario history and I know my Toronto history well. More than that, I am a proud resident of Toronto, and I am here to defend my city and my way of life.
To begin, I should like to recall to this committee the words of a government inquiry delivered at a time when all things big were in vogue: when the Eaton Centre was going to gobble up old city hall; St. James Town threatened to expand from Bloor Street all the way to the waterfront; and Union Station was to go under the wrecker's ball. The inquiry was the Ontario committee on taxation, the Smith committee, and it enjoined the province in 1967 with the following words:
"The province has a constitutional responsibility for the structure of municipal and school authorities. It has an even deeper responsibility to foster, through local institutions, the democratic values we cherish."
That is the Ontario I grew up in. I'm not sure any more if that Ontario has endured.
I have spent half my life in Toronto now, almost all of it in what is now often called the Garrison Common, which includes better-known neighbourhoods such as Little Italy, Rua Açores and Queen West. My immediate world is defined by College, Ossington, Dufferin and Queen. My larger world is bounded by the Humber River, Bloor Street, the waterfront and Yonge Street. I don't travel much outside those boundaries. I have little need to do so, and besides, to me it would be like travelling to a foreign country.
Many people argue that Metropolitan Toronto is one big city. Borscht. It's not. Even the city of Toronto isn't a unified whole. The west end, the immigrant quarter where I live, is different from the east end, and both are different from the north. I wouldn't feel at home in either, just as I never felt at home during my one year in the city of York.
This may sound parochial, but remember, the tradition of local government begins with parishes. The idea of a small, self-governing place, together with New England-style town hall meetings, is at the root of local government.
At the beginnings of this province, Ontario was divided into four and later eight judicial districts, with government by appointed justices of the peace. There was certainly order but there was no democratic government as we would understand it. The incorporation of the city of Toronto in 1834 and later the 1837 rebellion led to local self-government across this province. In fact, Lord Durham thought that was the most pressing task.
Communities are not shaped just by economic forces. They rest on traditions and historical memories which serve to knit disparate neighbourhoods into a workable whole. Add in a vigilant citizenry and you will forge a community that works. Size and common traditions are essential considerations. Make a city too big and it won't work, because city hall and the school board become as distant as Queen's Park or Parliament Hill, and indifference and apathy rule.
Let me relate an anecdote. During the Second World War, with many residents working full-time in the munitions factories, and social life far from normal, the Toronto Board of Education sought to provide an outlet by creating community centres. They were so successful that the city promptly took them over. The point is this: If you keep things small enough and accessible, people will participate.
I came to Toronto to go to university. Really I just wanted to be in Toronto. I grew up in Sarnia, a small industrial city of about 60,000 people that forms a triangle, with London and Windsor at each end. As you might know, for that area the cultural metropolis, as it were, is Detroit. People forget that the Detroit area is still the fifth- or sixth-largest market in the US. I often went there for concerts and basketball games, but after travelling down a gutted Woodward Ave, for all the world looking like Beirut, I was always glad to be back on the Canadian side.
Detroit manifestly does not work. Interestingly it was once a megacity of two million people. Now it has fewer than a million. It has many fine neighbourhoods of the kinds of Victorian houses that Torontonians pay dearly for. No one wants them in Detroit. The élites brag about how long it's been since they were last downtown, and those fine houses get torched as a perverse way of celebrating Halloween. By the way, did I mention that Detroit has one of the finest expressway systems in the world, with all the roads meeting up in a downtown where few work and no one wants to live? It has the expressway network that Metro dreamed of in the 1960s.
I had difficulties fathoming the size of Toronto when I first arrived here. I once undertook a journey to see how far I could walk in a half-hour. From the university I got to Ossington Avenue in the west; I got to Casa Loma in the north. Those were the human limits of my city. Once, when I had to take a bus up Keele Street to get to a conference at York University, it dawned on me that Metro isn't one city; it's a series of villages the size of Sarnia. If you add it up, Metro has about 30 Sarnias in it.
Let me add that the ward in which I live, with its municipal councillor and its school board trustee, is also about the size of Sarnia. Size, as I've said, is important. I know very well where I live. I have a sense of place. I know my universe, I know what effect I can have and I know whom to turn to.
The city of Toronto works because it is still small enough that neighbourhood associations can form and they can influence city hall and the school board.
When the social engineers of the province and Metro, with their minions in the city of Toronto, proposed massive urban redevelopment, the demolition of city hall and a spaghetti of expressways, the neighbourhoods of Toronto rebelled and were able to convince city council to change its mind and oppose the neat pigeonhole mentality of Metro. Small neighbourhood groups won that fight, that defended their way of life against the property developers, the boosters, the visionaries who proposed to save the city of Toronto by destroying it.
The newspapers weren't on their side. When the Eaton Centre project that was going to raze the old city hall to create a mega-block went down, the Toronto Star lamented that Toronto had lost its chance to be a world-class city -- in 1968.
Bill 103 is an unwanted and unneeded experiment in social engineering. It assumes that Metro Toronto has a homogeneous population, and if it doesn't, the new Metro council will work to create it. I'm sorry, I've never believed that one size fits all. In fact, I'm a tall person, I'm big, and the so-called free market with its vaunted efficiencies and customer service has never been able to meet my needs very well.
If you choose to create a megacity, you will get a mega-bureaucracy that works the same way: once size fits all, a mega-bureaucracy like Brasilia, Brazil's capital city, a sterile, unlivable and forbidding place but one that fits into all the neat bureaucratic pigeonholes.
Contrast that with Rotterdam. It too has GTA-like problems of economic development. Instead of creating a megacity, however, Rotterdam and its surrounding suburbs petitioned the Dutch Legislature to create an upper-tier structure for the whole region. To make it work, the city of Rotterdam, which is only slightly larger than the city of Toronto, voted to dissolve itself into 10 cities to bring government closer to the people.
The essence of a civil society, of a society that works, is the capacity of citizens and the institutions they have created to work on their behalf, to solve problems quickly. When the Toronto Board of Education discovered that teenage mothers were spelling each other off to mind their children in a high school bathroom, the board created a day care centre so that teenage mothers could continue their education while their children were being properly looked after.
Compare that to the federal government. Brian Mulroney promised a national program to end child poverty in 1988 and signed the UN convention. Only now are the federal and provincial social services ministers getting around to redeeming that promise -- after how many children have fallen through the cracks? The local response, through these times of travail for poor families: Without much niggling, when the Toronto Board of Education and the Toronto Board of Health first glimpsed this awful recession, they immediately set up a school food program to ensure that hunger did not impede learning. I dare any government to act as fast as these two local institutions did.
If you keep it small, you can make informal arrangements. You can act fast. If you make it big, then you have to follow rules. I don't want to dish bureaucrats, but I must remind you of the point of bureaucracy, particularly mega-bureaucracy. As organizations come to administer more things, they become more complex. They have to invent rules and procedures and levels of decision-making to avoid the appearance of favouritism and especially to avoid scandal.
So what gets done? The government makes a promise and, as with child poverty, it takes 10 years to fulfil it.
It has been argued that most services in Metro are already amalgamated. Let's be careful about that argument. What are the services that have been amalgamated? Police, ambulance, long-term care, general welfare assistance, public housing, public transit and arterial roads. Metro serves as an agent of the province. These are services which the province provides and which it has chosen to decentralize. After all, cities don't set their own Criminal Code, don't regulate the health system, don't fix the standards of social assistance. The services that are already amalgamated in Metro could just as well be provided across the GTA by the appropriate GTA-wide bodies. Why should these services stop at Steeles Ave or Etobicoke Creek?
Decentralization of the services the province has promised to provide is not the same as local government. Local government is a response to the needs of people. It involves the siting of a school, the regulation of parking, the opening hours of public institutions. It involves infill housing, the zoning for dance clubs and sports bars, the construction of sidewalks. It involves all the things that don't fit into neat pigeonholes, all the things for which one size does not fit all. Local governments serve a mosaic of neighbourhoods; they do not dish out services from some vast melting-pot whose ingredients are economies of scale, outsourcing, re-engineering and voice mail.
The Chair: Mr Blythe, sorry to interrupt, but you're beyond your allotted time. Could you wrap up quickly, please.
Mr Blythe: This bill does not have the consent of the people. This bill does not have the consent of the people who make this city work. I urge you to withdraw this bill and start over again. If you do not withdraw this bill, you will not be able to put Humpty-Dumpty together again, and that would be a sad legacy not just for the people of Toronto but for the people of Ontario.
The Chair: Thank you very much for coming forward and making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Marjaleena Repo please come forward. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Marjaleena Repo: Thank you. I have a four-page supportive document that I'm going to leave with the clerk. My name is Marjaleena Repo. I arrived from Finland in 1960 and I lived in Toronto until 1973, during which time I was active in this city's cultural, political, educational and social affairs. Then in 1993, after two decades in the west, I returned to live and work in Toronto. I'm the national organizer for Citizens Concerned About Free Trade, a national non-partisan organization dedicated to an economically and politically independent, prosperous and sovereign Canada, but this presentation is on behalf of myself as a citizen.
In the mid- and late 1960s I participated in the fight against a destructive mega-project in Toronto: urban renewal in working-class areas. It was the residents of Trefann Court in the old Cabbagetown with whom I worked who put an end to a poorly thought out project that consisted of advanced rhetoric about improving the lives of people and beautifying the city, and the backward practice of expropriating working-class homes, bulldozing them and replacing them with born-to-be-slums high-rise public housing. It was the residents of Trefann, building on the experiences of the resisting residents of Alexandra Park and Don Mount who exposed the true nature of slum clearance and were able to convince those in power that urban "removal," which was the correct term, was the wrong way to go. The big clearance projects hit the dust after Trefann. In a small way I take credit for that.
The other significant mega-projects I have participated in were Mr Mulroney's 1987 free trade agreement with the United States and the Charlottetown constitutional amendment of 1992. In the case of the free trade agreement, which has since been rolled into NAFTA with the federal Liberals' approval and against their explicit 1993 election promises to cancel both if they could not be renegotiated, the free trade agreement was foisted on resisting Canadians by the Conservative Party and its leader, who up to that time had been unequivocally opposed to continental free trade.
Many will remember Mr Mulroney's solemn assurances, echoed by all except one federal Conservative leadership contestant in 1983, that he would under no circumstances consider free trade with the US, and this is one of the famous quotes:
"Free trade was decided on in an election in 1911. It affects Canadian sovereignty and we will have none of it, not during leadership campaigns nor at any other time."
Thus deceiving the voters, the Tories won the federal election in 1984 and at once proceeded to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the United States for which it had no mandate.
In the 1988 election, which Mulroney declared to be a "referendum on free trade," only 43% endorsed his policies and 57% voted against them, yet Mr Mulroney, blatantly disregarding people's wishes, went ahead and, using closure, rammed the agreement through the House of Commons, where he had a majority of seats.
Emboldened by his re-election, Brian Mulroney proceeded with another mega-project, that of fundamentally changing the Canadian Constitution so as to weaken an already feeble central government. Confident that he could sell his constitutional amendments to Canadians, he allowed for a referendum on the Charlottetown accord. After all, why worry, as the combined political, economic, cultural and media élites, including even the leadership of native and labour organizations, signed up to support the Mulroney plan to dismantle the central government.
But he and the others did not count on the intelligence and energy of Canadians who, against overwhelming odds and lacking the mega-bucks available to the government's supporters, informed themselves of the meaning of the proposed changes to the Constitution and rallied to defeat what was supposed to have been a shoo-in. The rest is history that some would prefer to forget, and in any case resist learning from.
Because of their undemocratic and heavy-handed rule, the Conservatives suffered an unprecedented defeat in 1993 when the governing party was reduced to two seats, a catastrophic fall from 211 in 1984 and 169 in 1988. Few people think that the Progressive Conservatives will recover soon from the wrath of Canadians whom they bullied and lied to for eight years. Those who have forgotten or haven't learned the lessons are bound to, as the famous saying goes, relive history. By the way, with proportional representation, Mulroney would have had 147 and 127 seats respectively, which would have doomed the free trade agreement in 1988.
Closer to home, Ontario's Conservatives today would have only 58 seats, not 82, the opposition parties could outvote them with their combined 67 seats and we wouldn't be here today. This is the way real democracy should work. That is why proportional representation of some kind must be on every democrat's agenda.
There is another clear connection to the so-called free trade agreement in the amalgamation proposal. People are asking: "Why is the amalgamation being done? Why such a drastic and sudden change, and why now?" So far there have been no meaningful answers from the government beyond a repetitious, "We've got to do it."
The Minister of Municipal Affairs himself, Mr Leach, attempts to justify the amalgamation plan by referring to globalization. In his February 3 speech he speaks of amalgamation removing "barriers to growth and investment" and helping "to create jobs" and he refers to the "relentless competition from the global marketplace," all familiar language from Mulroney's free trade campaign. He points out that "Toronto is not growing as fast as the cities we compete against for jobs and business." He has noticed that "jobs are not being created as quickly" and that "instead of coming here, businesses and industries are leaving this area."
It is clear that Mr Leach is describing the after-effects of the free trade agreement and NAFTA, the decimation of the manufacturing sector in the industrial heartland of Canada, which is Ontario and Quebec, by these agreements, and perhaps he even knows that already by January 1992 half a million good jobs were lost in Canada, with plants picking up and leaving for the southern non-unionized, lower-or-no-taxes states and for Mexico, leaving behind factories turned into parking lots and rubble. Only two years into the free trade agreement, Canada lost 23.1% of its manufacturing sector -- and guess where most of it was: in Ontario -- while the United States at the same time only lost 6.3%. The loss of industry and jobs of course has an immediate effect on the tax base: When people don't work, they and their employers don't pay taxes. It is as simple as that.
This is what the so-called globalization has meant for Canada, and there is no end in sight for the bleeding of Ontario and its jewel of a city, Toronto, if the free trade agreements are not cancelled, utilizing the cancellation clauses in the free trade agreement and NAFTA. These are articles 2106 and 2205, which provide for either or any country abrogating the treaties by giving six months' notice to the others, so it can be done.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs doesn't name the real problem, so-called free trade, and he has a totally inappropriate solution to the globalization we have already experienced. He advocates the forceful and undemocratic abolition of local governments. It's like a doctor meeting up with a seriously ill patient, and without so much as doing an examination, orders the amputation of both legs. We would consider this doctor a murderous quack.
Isn't this exactly the case with Bill 103 and its proponents? If you don't understand the problem, how can you come up with a solution? It looks like the minister wants more of the same: more cutbacks, more job losses, less tax, less revenue, in the vain hope that investment would find its way into Ontario, to take advantage of the desperation of our citizens to find work that the free trade agreements in more ways than one stole from them. The minister is paving the way for the further Third-Worldization of his province.
The weasel words of "globalization," "efficiency," "savings to taxpayers," "re-engineering government" and the empty and horribly familiar promises of "jobs, jobs, jobs," all through the miracle of civic amputation, will not do for a moment for the intelligent and thoughtful Ontarians and Torontonians who have lived through a decade of assaults on them and their families and communities. They don't want their democratic participation in their local governments re-engineered in the name of globalization by a provincial government barking up the wrong tree and unable to learn the lessons of recent history.
In conclusion I recommend to the Ontario government that it find the right tree to bark up and put pressure on the federal government to cancel the free trade agreement; leave the municipalities alone, the problems are not there; and introduce proportional representation in Ontario so that the citizens can have some real accountability from their governments. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for your presentation. You've effectively exhausted all of your time.
The Chair: Would Kim Storey please come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Ms Kim Storey: I'm very happy to have this opportunity to speak. I originally came from Chatham, in Kent county, but I've lived in Toronto for 25 years now, where I found my vocation as an architect and an urbanist and have been thrilled to be able to live my life with my family in this city.
I'm sure you've heard many arguments against the megacity proposal on Bill 103, so I don't want to talk about facts and figures because I'm sure you've heard them all. I really want to talk about just the appeal to have you listen to what you've been hearing, because I think it's a huge waste of this energy if it isn't put to productive use. It has been such an amazing process for me to see the groundswell of community support in this city, how they've come up week after week.
I organized a meeting at the end of October, where I asked John Sewell and Colin Vaughan to come to speak to local architects in Holy Trinity Church because I was very concerned about what was happening. When they came, 70 people had shown up, and I was so depressed. I thought, "Maybe it will just happen and we'll just go out with a whimper," but in fact to see what has happened, to see the energy that's been generated in this city, not just in Toronto but all the other cities, has been amazing.
It's been a wonderful thing to watch, for me partly because of the work I've been doing in my practice for the last year -- more like five years -- which has really been talking about public space and how that is important to the institution of democracy in the city. I think the use of the civic square, where people actually speak together, where people have a dialogue, is far more important than sitting in front of your screen and bringing up your ideas and having them sent out by faxes in the middle of the night.
I think the idea of democracy is not just the vote, not just the referendum, but actually the interchange of ideas and how people come to compromises and build communities of interest that work together. I think that is the tremendous potential and wealth that this government has missed. You could be working with us, together. Think of all the combined talents that are gathering every Monday night in Metropolitan United Church and tonight in St James Cathedral. If you saw these people, if you just listened to even 10 of their stories, what they do in their communities and how much energy they've put together just as a general principle in their lives -- you're ignoring the wealth of experience and interest and love for this city that exists here.
I could talk about the arguments about loving the city and loving the street life and loving everything that happens here, but in the end, the thing that amazes me the most is how this controversial, sort of adversarial relationship has been set up. It's really unpardonable in some cases because it's hard for people to find time to do these things, and yet they've all found the time. Although we've been assured time and time again through faxes, through news releases, that we will not be listened to, that no matter what we say and no matter how we vote, it will be going ahead, I'd just like to appeal to you: Please listen, because there are important things being said here, things that are coming from highly intelligent people and highly sensitive people and people who really, really care. Those are the people you should be appealing to when you're making changes in the city. These are the people who will make it work for you. Why go against all of this experience, all this wealth of affection and goodwill that exists for this city? I just don't understand it, because that is a resource that is being wasted and thrown away.
I'd like to speak in that sense about the local political scene here. I've found in my work through the Garrison Creek and the St George Street revitalization that there is a wonderful partnership that exists in this city between the local politicians, our bureaucracy and the people in the community. It is a balance that gets tipped one way and the next, but we all have a common ground that we operate from. We know what makes the city tick, we know what makes the city work well, and we all have the best of intentions for the city. I found that the things that worked best were when there was the best of dialogues between those three groups, not just the politicians and the bureaucrats deciding what was best, but when it came out of the community, out of the grass-roots action of ideas, when on things that were important to the community, the community actually rose up as a group, spoke about them, found the space to talk about them and then brought in the local politicians and the bureaucrats who all finally worked together.
The St George Street project was an excellent example of that, where there's a partnership between the public works department, the parks department, planning, urban design, the University of Toronto and all the citizen groups around it, where over a number of years something happened. People found ways of working together. I don't think that will ever be able to happen again in the megacity bureaucracy that will be springing up.
I'd like to compare what we have now to a quilt, where there are different sizes of patches of equal beauty and strengths, where Etobicoke has its beauty, Toronto has its beauty, York. We all have different things that are particular and special to us and we all make one beautiful quilt. I'd like to suggest that we're being covered over with a horse blanket. You are losing the mosaic and the beauty of this city by proposing what you're proposing.
I'd like to just end with a little joke that my father told in Chatham many years ago to the Rotarians about an argument that was going on between a doctor and an urban planner and a politician. They were talking about what was the oldest profession. The doctor said -- this is a Judeo-Christian story, I guess -- "Well, Adam's rib was removed to create Eve, so I guess medicine is the oldest professional act that happened." The urban planner said, "No, there was the separation of light from darkness and earth from the firmament and actually planning from the chaos." And the politician said, "Who the hell do you think created chaos?"
I would like to thank you very much for listening to me, and please, please listen to all the wonderful things that are being said.
The Chair: Thank you. Mr Colle, you have two minutes.
Mr Colle: I guess you can see the contrast here. You had the supporter of the megacity earlier and she mentioned that this was all about creating a streamlined, well-oiled machine, that that's what the megacity is all about. You're saying it's a quilt of different people. How are the two ever going to come to meet to something that makes sense?
Ms Storey: I think people in the city were ready for change. I think people understood that things had to change in some ways. But first of all, the process has been the worst thing that has happened, where this adversarial role was placed -- you're either for or against. Certainly there may be some things that could be brought together and some things that should be left separate. I think there's a size of the patches that makes sense. There's a whole theory of urban space that talks about: What is the threshold size? Where does bureaucracy become too big? When is it too small?
My brother is a planner in Chatham who is going through exactly the same exercise but talking about urban and rural balances, and I think we're going through very similar ones. In Chatham and Kent county they're talking about going down to single tier but using it with very strong local governments. It's not unlike what Morden Yolles was talking about in the Architect for Urban Values press conference several weeks ago where he said that as a structural engineer he finds six columns supporting a structure far more confidence-building than one. I kind of think of this big, teetering column trying to hold up this weight.
Mr Colle: But again, just to be even more fundamental, the proponents of the megacity are saying this is about creating a well-oiled machine. You're talking about quilts and space. You've got two different paradigms --
Ms Storey: No, I don't think "well-oiled machine" means that these patches don't work well. In fact, every government that's been going through amalgamation strategies has fallen back to strong local governments as the most efficient way of delivering services and the most responsive and the most flexible.
Mr Colle: So you think that strong local government can also work like a streamlined, well-oiled machine?
Ms Storey: Yes, I think it can.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Storey, for coming forward and making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Shoshana Fainsilber please come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee. You have 10 minutes for a presentation. If there's some time left at the end of your presentation, I'll ask Mr Silipo to ask some questions.
Ms Shoshana Fainsilber: Okay. Hopefully not. Anyway, thank you for having me here. I've never done anything like this before and I'm feeling really nervous, but I guess I felt obligated to take up the opportunity to do this.
I came to Canada when I was seven years old. I grew up in the downtown core of Toronto among people of many cultures. At the age of 13, my family moved to North York, where I attended secondary school and university. As an adult, I returned to live in the city of Toronto because of its multicultural character, historical quality, sociability, accessibility to almost everything, excellent public transit and varied, beautiful neighbourhoods. I have felt proud, like many other people, to be living here.
When I first heard about Bill 103, I thought that it would not really affect me, that life would go on as usual. But as I heard and read more about it, I realized that all of what I have mentioned and more would be threatened.
It's incredible that soon after Fortune magazine announces that Toronto has been voted the best city in the world to live in, the provincial government announces that Toronto has to undergo dramatic change, that Toronto needs to become more competitive. Toronto has received such glowing praises because it is a relatively safe, clean and vibrant place to live. It has proven itself to be effective in its ability to coordinate and balance its services and adapt to changes.
Having councils allows for representation. Local politicians have to be more accountable to their constituents, and issues can be dealt with in a more direct way. A megacity election will require bigger, more expensive campaigns which only a candidate with money will be able to afford. The various income levels of Metro will not be represented, which could lead to inequities of services among neighbourhoods.
Lumping together the six cities is ignoring the different strengths, needs and priorities of each one of them. This would threaten the quality of life that the citizens of those cities enjoy. Although one can say there's always room for improvement, I'm sure a lot of people are reminded of the saying, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" The main question is "Why?"
The prevailing argument appears to be one of saving money, but after investigation, that does not seem to make sense. First of all, there is no hard evidence that money would be saved. No studies on the impact of restructuring of municipalities have confirmed that. On the contrary, previous amalgamations have proven to be costly. According to Professor Sancton, an expert on municipal government quoted in the Globe and Mail, reducing the number of organizations providing public services does not automatically reduce costs. "All other things being equal, one would expect large organizations to be more costly." The government must have the same information as we do, yet they maintain that money will be saved.
It's hard to believe that a big, expensive bureaucracy that must oversee 2.3 million residents can save money. It seems more likely that money will be wasted as a whole new bureaucracy is created. Even Harris has been quoted as saying that bigger is not necessarily better. Local control can be more efficient because expenses are easier to monitor.
What is the real agenda of this government? It seems the purpose of amalgamation is to facilitate the downloading of social services on to the city. In order to save the amount targeted by this government, 4,500 workers would need to be laid off. This would be another blow to the struggling economy. How much would really be saved once severance packages are provided? There has already been a paring down of municipal services to remove inefficiencies; there does not need to be any more. The city of Toronto cut costs through the less costly means of attrition. I strongly believe in efficiency, but not in destroying structures that have been developed and refined over the years just for the sake of saving money, if any money will be saved.
By creating a state of upheaval and weakening the city, the province will be able to make budget cuts with less opposition. For the sake of cost saving, local programs and services will be dismantled. I work with unemployed young people to help them find jobs. As property taxes rise to deal with the downloading, businesses will suffer and leave the city. What kind of job prospects will these young people have? A future government will eventually have to deal with this and money will have to be spent to rebuild what had been destroyed. How much wastefulness, stress and turmoil would this cause?
As well as being concerned about the effects of amalgamation, I'm very concerned about the way the government introduced this bill, which was severely criticized by the legislative Speaker, as well as the process of amalgamation outlined in the bill. The idea of amalgamation was never included in the Common Sense Revolution. No one had any idea that by voting for the Conservatives, they were voting for such drastic changes to Toronto. Why was this not mentioned during the election campaign? Probably because no candidate would have been elected on this platform.
Bill 103 will remove the power of elected officials. It does not seem right that appointed trustees and transition team members will be paid by taxpayers and yet not represent taxpayers. Major decisions will be final, not approved by cabinet, and protected from any court challenges. The objective seems to be to make these changes swiftly and without any debate or input. The speed of these changes does not allow for adequate time to study the ramifications of such changes and to create constructive changes. Other alternatives, such as coordination of the GTA while preserving local councils, should be addressed now, not after an expensive bureaucracy has been created.
Many citizens are unaware of what is happening and why. One intelligent businessman I spoke with thought that all of Crombie's recommendations were in the bill. This issue deserves to be studied more carefully.
Another disconcerting matter is the government's response to the municipalities' recommendation for a referendum and to the upcoming results. It shows a disregard for public opinion. It is an insult to the citizens of Metro to observe that the government has reluctantly agreed to wait and pass Bill 103 after the referendum. Personally, I feel this treatment is demoralizing and condescending. If the government had confidence in this bill, it would not fear that the majority of the people will not support it and would allow the referendum to be binding. Does Bill 103 pave the way for the Conservative government to privatize services and reward their friends with big contracts?
This process is causing some people to feel confused, helpless, passive, and for others to feel more determined that they will not accept autocratic behaviour from the government. My main concerns are the way this government is using its powers and what kind of society will be created out of a megacity bill. A society is not a business. It is not only based on the bottom line. The role of government is to balance the power of business with that of its citizens. If saving money is the only priority, then perhaps democracy costs too much money. Dictatorship is much cheaper but offers nothing to ensure that we will have a civil society.
When asked about Bill 103, I've heard people say, "Let's get rid of those politicians, those fat cats, those parasites." This bill triggers simplistic solutions, pitting one against the other.
My parents lived through the years of the Second World War in Europe in poverty and in authoritarian societies. I was brought up to cherish democracy --
The Chair: There's a glass of water there if you'd like. Would you like a one-minute recess, or do you need some help finishing?
Ms Fainsilber: I'm almost done. Thank you.
The Chair: The good news for you is that you won't have to have any questions, because you've done your 10 minutes. Please go ahead and finish.
Ms Fainsilber: I was brought up to believe in a responsible society. I truly fear that our precious democracy, with all of its imperfections, is being eroded. That is why I'm here today. I have never spoken at such a hearing, but I felt I had no choice. I appreciate being given the opportunity to speak, but unfortunately I feel that all of these public hearings will be for nothing, that this committee is only going through the motions. I hope that I am proven wrong.
The Chair: Thank you very much. The committee stands in recess until 7 pm.
The committee recessed from 1809 to 1902.
The Chair: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Before we hear from our first witness, who will be Rosa Barker, I have the lawyer here from the ministry. If there are any questions on the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, we have a three-page report on that from research staff, whom I'd like to thank for providing that. If there are any questions about that report, we have the lawyer present. I wonder if anyone could ask those questions that they may have now.
Mr Marchese: A comment. It says on page 2: "An exemption from SPPA does not free a tribunal of all procedural requirements. It will still be expected to comply with the common-law rules of natural justice, which in general terms, require the tribunal to follow a fair procedure." I just thought I'd read that out.
Mr Colle: My first question is, could you cite some cases where this has been done before in previous legislation? Please list them, the names of the acts and the dates.
The Chair: Okay, staff, you'll have to please read your names into the record for Hansard before you respond.
Ms Susan Swift: My name is Susan Swift. I'm with the legislative research service.
Mr Spring: David Spring, senior counsel with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The Chair: Thank you. Go ahead, whoever wants to.
Ms Swift: Perhaps I'll leave that to the ministry.
Mr Spring: I haven't got the dates available of similar exemptions from the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. I'll undertake to provide the dates to the committee, but I have some provisions of various statutes. For instance, under the Child and Family Services Act, custodial decisions of custody directors are exempted from the provisions of the legislation. Under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, all proceedings under that act are exempted from the SPPA, other than those proceedings before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Under the Family Benefits Act, decisions of the Social Assistance Review Board with respect to interim payments are exempted from the provisions of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, inquiries reviewing heads of institutions' decisions refusing to disclose information are exempted from the provisions of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.
Under the Mental Health Act, reviews by review boards with respect to the release of clinical records are exempted from the SPPA. Under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act, matters and proceedings before the board of parole and the Custody Review Board are exempted from those provisions.
Decisions of review officers under the Pay Equity Act are exempted from the SPPA. Under the Pension Benefits Act, certain proceedings before the pension commissioner's office are exempted. That's not a complete list but it's a representative one.
Mr Colle: Has there ever been a case when a municipal act to sever included the exemption of an appointee, or in this case a transition team or a trusteeship, from municipal affairs where there's been the exemption from the SPPA?
Mr Spring: I can't recall at this moment. I'll undertake to find out, but I don't have that information for you.
Mr Colle: My understanding of this act is in essence to ensure that there's a free and open process whereby there's notification of meetings, that the meetings are public, that proper procedures are followed. Why would the ministry want to not abide by basic processes of due process? Why would they need to do that?
Mr Spring: Given, as Ms Swift has indicated in her paper, the duty to act fairly on the part of the board in any case, it was thought that it wasn't necessary to impose the more complex, if you will, and formalistic rules set out in the SPPA, including representation by counsel, leading witnesses and evidence, examination and cross-examination, especially in matters that will in the main be proposed by Metro or its constituent municipalities or its local boards. I guess I'd note also, very much as a secondary matter, that to impose those conditions might -- I'm indulging in some speculation here -- cause some distance between those who wish to address the board.
The point I was going to make was that the board, under the legislation contemplated, has to exercise its responsibilities in a relatively narrow time frame. My main point though was, as Ms Swift noted in her paper, that the duty to act fairly is already imposed by the common law on the board.
Mr Colle: One of the problems is that there's a rush here, there's a time frame restriction, so therefore they can't follow the normal processes of the SPPA.
The other question I have is that this transition team especially, not the trusteeship so much, has enormous powers. They're going to be able to impose restrictions on the amounts of money the new cities may raise and the amounts of money the new cities and local boards may spend in any year. My understanding is that that is public money and the allocation and expenditure of public money should not be done behind closed doors and there should be some kind of public notification of that type of activity. We're not just talking about a very narrow field dealing with a few citizens. The decisions of this transition team are going to affect 2.3 million people.
I just don't see the reason why they are not only not subject to judicial review, but their hearings are not going to be open to the public and there's no notice required. In other words, if they're going to set the new mill rate for the new megacity and restrict spending, they won't even have to let the public know that they're doing this. How is that compatible with common law?
Mr Spring: As I understand the bill, the functions of the transition team, as opposed to the board of trustees, with respect to municipal spending are recommendatory only. Currently under the bill the team is to consider what further legislation may be required to implement the act and then to consider whether restrictions should be imposed on the amounts the new city may raise, the amounts the new city and its local boards may spend in any year and make detailed recommendations to the minister. I think it is not, with deference, within the purview of the transition team to establish the budgetary limits for the new city.
Mr Colle: You're saying that it isn't or it is?
Mr Spring: It isn't.
Mr Colle: Why would the act read, "The transition team shall consider whether restrictions should be imposed on the amounts the new city may raise and the amounts the new city and its local boards may spend in any year, and make detailed recommendations to the minister"? They're also going to be hiring. There's going to be hiring of department heads and other employees for this new city. On top of that, my understanding is that they're going to run the election. How can you have someone running the election who isn't subject to public meetings, public notification and essential due process?
These are enormous powers these people have, and to not subject them to open hearings, to public notification -- if you're running an election, it's a public process. This transition team will run the election for 2.3 million people, overriding the existing clerks, overriding the existing processes. They can do this without public notification, behind closed doors. Why is this necessary?
Mr Spring: Once again, with deference, I believe that it may be a member of the transition team appointed to conduct the election or it may be another person. In any case, I believe the scheme of the legislation is that the conducting of that election will be done in concert with the assistance of municipal clerks and other functions.
In response to the member's question, I can only say also that like the board of trustees, the transition team is under a legal duty to act fairly at all times. If it should be found that it was acting manifestly unfairly, presumably a court might interfere.
Mr Colle: But Mr Spring, there's a problem, though. They are not subject to court review, so therefore where are the checks and balances? As it states very specifically, "The decisions of the transition team are final" -- final means final -- "and shall not be reviewed or" even "questioned by a court." It's not even a matter of review. Our Ontario courts will not even be able to question these decisions. How is this compatible? You've removed the public process in terms of notification of hearings. On top of that you've compounded it by -- not you. Sorry, sir, it's not you. Then there is no recourse to the courts. How is the public supposed to have input in what this transition team decides in terms of running the election, for instance?
The Chair: Mr Colle, I'm going to have Mr Spring answer this one as best he can and then we're going to move on and start hearing witnesses.
Mr Spring: I think as a principle of law, and I would defer to other counsel who may be around this table, if a tribunal is found to act unfairly, it can be said in law to have exceeded its jurisdiction, and accordingly the section of the act that says that the decisions are not reviewable by a court would not apply. As I understand that section, it applies only where the tribunal is found to be acting within the ambit of its jurisdiction. Once the tribunal is found to have acted unfairly, a court would say that it has acted without its jurisdiction and accordingly its decisions are reviewable. I think that's the answer I would provide in that particular instance.
Mr Colle: One last question: I cannot see how -- in the act it's so specific. It says that there's no judicial review, that decisions are final. The word "final" is in there twice. It says "no judicial review" and "not be reviewed or questioned by a court." You're telling me, therefore, that this clause isn't necessary. Why is it there in the act, then?
Mr Spring: It's there to import some degree of finality to the board's decisions. It assumes that in coming to those decisions, whether they favour one side or another, so long as they are decisions the board is empowered to make by the statute -- the idea is then that a court would not review those decisions.
The Chair: I understand this may have raised other questions, and if it has done that, then the subcommittee can chat again and we can decide another opportunity to have counsel in to continue this, but for now I want to continue, if I can, with witnesses.
Mr Marchese: Just a quick statement: I'm not sure the questions the member for Oakwood is asking could probably be explained and/or answered by the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. I think what he's raising, and I agree with him, is offensive to some of us because of the nature of what it does, so it becomes in my view a political matter.
If people find it as offensive as we do, we hope they will articulate it as they come forward and be able to persuade the government that what it is doing is as offensive to them as it is to us. I just think it becomes a political matter. I'm not sure the Statutory Powers Procedure Act answers those questions, but ultimately what's clear for me is that in a number of places in this event the common-law duty of fairness would nevertheless apply. The nature of those common-law procedural rules would depend on the nature and circumstance of the decision, but in a number of different places it simply reminds us that common law still exists and that people are bound by a sense of fairness and natural justice and so on. That, to me, is sufficient enough that it allows people to be able to make arguments around that.
The Chair: Would Rosa Barker please come forward. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Rosa Barker: My name is Rosa Barker. I'm 23 years old and this is the very first time I have ever appeared before a legislative committee to voice my concerns. The reason I am here today is because I strongly believe that democracy within this city is under attack.
I have lived in Toronto since I was two years old. My 18-year-old brother was born just down this street. Toronto is my home. I am here to defend my city and my very basic right to democratic representation. I am also here because I strongly believe in the democratic process. I believe I will be heard. I believe you will listen to me.
I would like to share with you my own experience of the effectiveness of local democracy and the reasons I feel the removal of these local municipal levels of government would be devastating.
Since grade school I have understood that ward meetings and my local councillors' offices were accessible to me. This has only been the case as a result of these people's personal and direct involvement in my community. It has been through this locally accessible tier of government that I and my friends learned about the politics of our city and the democratic process. We could visit their offices for information for school projects and often they would visit out schools and even our homes. They are present at community picnics, meetings and celebrations.
I have had the opportunity meet every one of the elected officials in my ward. I know these councillors and school trustees by name and by face. I know them not because I have pursued them, but simply because these men and women are active members of my community who live and circulate within it. As a result, they are able to listen and understand and are accountable to me, my family and my neighbours. I am fully aware that there are plenty of imperfections in any system, including this one; however, it is this possibility for direct interaction that creates democratic form.
In this government's campaign to promote megacity legislation, it talks about cutting back on politicians, as if politicians were an unnecessary expenditure. I am led to wonder whether this government believes in the democratic process. What does this government have against politicians? What would government be without politicians? I think it would be a dictatorship. Politicians are the voices of the people, and in order to be the voices of the people they must listen to what the people have to say. So by eliminating the local politicians you are simply eliminating the voices that speak for the citizens of this city and, in doing so, greatly limiting public representation.
As Pete Seeger, a well-loved folk icon, said so bluntly in a recent interview: "Big organizations attract power-hungry people. The world is not going to be changed by big government, but by millions of little people. We will disagree about just about everything. Fine, so long as we don't give up trying to communicate."
Democracy takes time and patience. Democracy is a process and is often imperfect. Democracy is all we've got. It's the key to good and equitable government. I believe that listening to the people should be an immense source of strength, of information, of ideas, and never a burden to those who govern in a democracy.
In my experience, my local representatives are accessible to me and my community. When I am concerned about issues which affect my area I have an opportunity to be heard. In great contrast, recently when some concerned citizens met outside the Premier's office to voice their opinions and discuss their concerns, the Premier crept out the back door with his bodyguards. Why has our Premier refused to listen to the people?
When a referendum on amalgamation, Bill 103, was proposed, why did both Premier Harris and Municipal Affairs Minister Al Leach say they will pay no attention to the results? Why is there such contempt shown for democratic process? How is it that our city councils have become accountable to a board of trustees who, without due process, have been appointed "to monitor the actions of the old councils and their boards" as well as "review, amend and approve" their budgets? In other words, our local, elected governments are held in check and the use of our tax dollars forfeit to unrepresentational review. I am reminded of the battle cry of the American Revolution, "Taxation without representation is tyranny."
Is this democracy or dictatorship? I still believe this is a democracy, and I still believe you will listen to me and the other concerned people who have come to speak here today. I still believe that some of you are brave enough and are willing to stand up for democracy. I believe you will listen to us and stop the unseemly haste with which this legislation is being forced upon us. We must stop and talk. The people of Ontario are a rich source of information and ideas. Whether or not we ultimately decide to change the borders of any particular city, let it only be the very end result of a real democratic process. I don't think that's easy. It isn't streamline and it isn't fast. But it's all we've got and it is priceless.
I must say I find it ironic that I am here to defend politicians to politicians, but politicians are an essential element of the democratic process. I am here because politicians are people, and like all people are capable of change. I am here because I believe we are all capable of understanding one another. I believe in the democratic process, as messy and frustrating and inefficient as it may sometimes seem; it is worth defending at all costs.
To conclude, I am a young woman. I have hopefully a lot of my life ahead of me. This city is my home and the decisions you come to will affect the way I live. Please listen to me and the other people who speak tonight and give democracy the time necessary for due process.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Barker, for your presentation. You have effectively used your allotted time. I want to thank you on behalf of the committee for coming forward this evening.
The Chair: Isabel Blair, please. Welcome, Ms Blair.
Ms Isabel Blair: My name is Isabel Blair. I thank the committee for allowing me to speak at this hearing.
I'd briefly like to cover three areas I'm concerned about: (1) Why is the government proposing amalgamation? (2) Is the process democratic? (3) What is involved in being a Conservative?
Why is amalgamation proposed? For efficiency? Financial savings? "Efficiency" is an ambiguous term. Does it mean you want cheaper government? Less government? Is less government more efficient? Harry Truman once said, "Efficient government is dictatorship." Efficiency as the only priority for government is a dangerous thing. The trains ran on time in Mussolini's Italy, but was it worth the tradeoff of democratic rights? Is making sure the population is properly represented of equal or greater importance? What about accessible, rather than distant government? I believe there are several factors that need to be considered to ensure that government is well run.
Is there a financial saving in amalgamation? Professor Andrew Sancton and many others have pointed out that all academic literature on amalgamation indicates that it always raises the cost of government. Professor Sancton's analysis of the KPMG report commissioned by Al Leach calls into question what savings, if any, exist.
He writes: "There are two main problems with the KPMG report. The first is that much of the overall projected potential saving is related to `efficiency enhancements' rather than to amalgamation. The second is that the analysis of the projected savings directly attributable to amalgamation is sketchy and incomplete. Nowhere does it show that amalgamation necessarily leads to efficiency enhancements or that efficiency enhancements are impossible without amalgamation."
He continues: "There is no reference to the standard works on `the new public management' or the reinvention of government; or to the extensive academic literature on the relationship between size of municipalities and the cost of municipal services. The absence of such references can no doubt be explained by the fact none of this literature supports the position so cautiously adopted in the KPMG report."
Is the government acting in a democratic fashion?
Recently, some Conservative supporters have commented on voter turnout in the municipal elections, which is usually somewhere around 30%. The view is that because there is low voter turnout for municipal elections, then it is not a true democracy.
No one should get carried away with voter turnout percentages. The average turnout in provincial elections, by the way, is 63%, as you're probably aware. In 1995 the Conservatives got 28% of the vote of the eligible electorate. The last time a provincial government got over half the popular vote was in 1929.
In Switzerland the turnout for referendums is usually about 32%. There are a lot of referendums in Switzerland. No one would argue that Switzerland is not a democracy. In the United States, where a substantial amount of the electorate doesn't turn out for elections, the country is still obviously a democracy.
We also have a tradition of liberal democracy. Liberal democracy means that due regard is given not only to the temporary majority but to all concerned. We don't exclude whole blocks of people from the decision-making process. The 72% of the electorate that did not vote Conservative in the last provincial election deserve a voice in the process, as do those who did vote Conservative and have reservations about Bill 103.
Michael Polanyi, in a letter to the Globe and Mail on February 8, included text from the Common Sense Revolution pamphlet: "This is only the beginning. We want this document to stimulate an open, vigorous and honest discussion.... We have released this plan so you can think it through, ask questions, and perhaps help us find other, better ways to reach our goals." Mr Polanyi concludes, "We have thought it through. But is Mr Harris listening?"
I may add, is Mr Leach listening? Or any conservative MPP, for that matter? Following is a paragraph from an article in the Globe and Mail, February 4: "Mr. Leach clearly indicated to reporters that the government is not prepared to consider major changes in the legislation of Bill 103, even before critics and supporters of the amalgamation had had an opportunity to make their cases at the hearings."
And here's more from the Common Sense Revolution pamphlet: "We will sit down with municipalities to discuss ways of reducing government entanglement and bureaucracy with an eye to eliminating waste and duplication as well as unfair downloading by the province.... Resolving the issue of efficient local government will take a great deal of hard work."
Well, that sounds good; however, as Mr Leach clearly indicated to reporters, the provincial government has not lived up to these promises. There has been little discussion with the municipalities or anyone else about these issues and, oddly enough, the provincial government is doing exactly what its pamphlet stated it would not do: unfair downloading of welfare costs.
What is a true conservative? I am deeply disappointed that the Conservative government is acting in such an unconservative way. To be a conservative is, by definition, to be averse to rapid change, to be moderate and cautious. Toronto has a long tradition of providing an excellent quality of life. It is a lively city full of tradition and character. Positive changes are possible only when its citizens and elected officials, who know it best, can have a say. I would have hoped, and I still hope, that every Conservative MPP would act in a truly conservative way, completely examining what is successful about the municipalities in the greater Toronto area, what needs improvement and, after long consultation and deliberation with citizens and experts, would make a thorough plan based on hard facts and truly common sense.
Mr Marchese: Ms Blair, I want to thank you for taking the time to come and make this presentation. The fact that people are here defending something they believe in is, for me, very heartening. I've got one quick point and a question. Just to support what you say, I've got the paper that Professor Sancton wrote. It's called Reducing Costs by Consolidating Municipalities in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. The essence of this is that he says, "There is no academic evidence to suggest that consolidation produces savings."
Professor Kitchen as well says: "There is no evidence or studies that indicate that there would be cost savings associated with amalgamation within Metro," which is one of the main reasons why this government wants to do this, they claim.
Mr Leach, who was present, says in a Toronto Sun interview that opponents have failed so far to convince him to change his plans. He says, "All I've heard is that it's a bad thing to do," but nobody has given him any evidence it's bad.
Professors here who've done a thorough study in America and Britain and here say there is no evidence to suggest there would be cost savings, but he's forging ahead. I guess he still needs further evidence. I'm not quite sure what he's looking for.
Ms Blair: I was hoping he would listen to the evidence.
Mr Marchese: We hope so too. A quick question. We know that in the rest of the province, outside of Metro, they're getting a fair shake. People out there are able to decide how to amalgamate and talk about how they might do that. In Metro Mr Leach and the Premier have decided this is not good for us. How do you feel about the fact that we're treated differently here in Metro?
Ms Blair: I believe it's undemocratic and I'm hoping we will be given the same fair shake, as Mr Marchese says, that everybody else in the province gets. I think we deserve to be heard and to review all the material.
Mr Marchese: Do you have any final words for Mr Leach? Given that he's here and you have an opportunity to send him a message, what kind of message do you want to send him while he's around to listen to you?
Ms Blair: Actually pretty much the message I've said. I'm not going to repeat myself and bore you, but thank you for hearing me and I hope you consider it.
Mr Marchese: Thank you for coming.
The Chair: Thank you for your presentation. Would Steve Crossman please come forward.
The Chair: Order, please, ladies and gentlemen.
The Chair: Welcome, Mr Crossman.
Mr Steve Crossman: Thanks very much. My name is Steve Crossman. I don't really like giving presentations, but I guess for me a desperate situation calls for desperate measures.
Toronto is supposed to be the world's best city to live and work in, an honour that we have been given in spite of the actions of recent governments that seem to be intent on killing the golden goose. It seems to me like the provincial government has a solution in search of a problem. But hey, if we have the world's best city, it ain't broke and we don't need to fix it.
It depresses me when it appears that our elected politicians have no idea of what makes Toronto the great city that it allegedly is. In the 1950s Toronto built a subway while American cities were building destructive highways. Toronto instituted North America's first, if not the world's first, metropolitan government, which served its original purpose of coordinating growth, including transportation.
Toronto has cultivated neighbourhood development and local democracy and is now renowned for being a city of diverse, livable neighbourhoods. Toronto is a city of people who can stand up against bad ideas, like the Spadina Expressway in the early 1970s, and get them cancelled.
Toronto has encouraged residential development in the downtown core, which has kept downtown Toronto livable and vibrant, unlike the downtown areas of most American cities. Toronto has been described as "Vienna surrounded by Phoenix." The city of Toronto is the second most densely populated city, next to New York City, in Canada and the United States.
Toronto has blended public and private housing, allowing for a mix of different income groups and different types of people. The Toronto city council has been a source of progressive programs and planning policies, both of which can be copied abroad.
The point I'm trying to make of all of this is that Toronto became great by going against the grain of popular, contemporary development ideas. While American cities proceeded to destroy their urban areas, Toronto did things differently than other cities and has been reaping the benefits and rewards ever since. We have been leaders not followers. We have made history by not repeating the bad solutions of other places.
Now the provincial government comes along and, for no valid reason, wants to take Metro Toronto down a dark road that has already been travelled by American cities, cities that have seen increases in their costs and taxes and their outmigration, cities that have decayed. These increases in costs, between 20% and 40%, have been well documented in the Wendell Cox report, available on the city of Toronto's Web site on the Internet. Tax increases will force businesses to close and force middle-income people out of Toronto.
Analysts have built an overwhelming case against the megacity idea by showing that none of the studies of the future of Toronto and the reorganization of the greater Toronto area have recommended an amalgamated Metro Toronto; all reputable studies have shown increased costs in amalgamated megacities; and, third, the province has been shamelessly flogging the KPMG study it commissioned, despite the fact that this report does not promise even minimal tax savings.
Now analysts have turned their attention to trying to come up with ulterior motives for our discredited government's mindless support of a megacity. Is it blind ideology? Is it the fear and bitter resentment of rural and suburban politicians towards the country's biggest city? Is it stubborn machismo when confronted with the facts? Is the government behaving like a little child when caught telling a lie, sticking lamely to their story and unwilling to fess up? Or has the government known the truth all along and is simply lying about the potential benefits of a megacity? Perhaps the government is fearful of looking lazy if it doesn't come up with mega-changes all the time.
Whatever the explanation, it's clear the government has dug itself into a hole and needs a way out of this mess. Indeed, it has even incurred the wrath of many of its supporters and traditional allies like the board of trade.
If the issue is really about money, the provincial government should accept the proposal of the various local municipalities. In Change for the Better, the municipalities have said that they can cut $240 million from Metro-wide operations. Give them a chance. The city of Toronto, on their Web site, have shown that they have cut their expenditures from about $593 million to $510 million from 1991 to 1997, about a 14% decrease, and their net liabilities from about $197 million to $80 million between 1993 and 1997, about a 60% decrease. The plan of the local municipalities means that we don't have to spend the $200 million to $400 million that Metro says it will take to create the megacity. And I'm just reminded that these are probably the same people who estimated that the SkyDome would cost $150 million when it was well over half a billion dollars.
Revisit the Trimmer, Golden and Crombie reports and see where savings can be had while local democracies are retained. Judge their solutions on their own merits. There is still plenty of time to act. Now is the time for gutsy leadership, and I don't care whether this leadership comes from this committee or Conservative backbenchers who know that amalgamations all across the province are a bad idea or Mike Harris himself, who could do worse than to emulate the responsiveness and the foresight of a Bill Davis when he cancelled the Spadina Expressway.
Now just a word about democracy. Is this Toronto? Jeez, I was beginning to think this was Belgrade or China. Is this a totalitarian dictatorship or what? Bill 103 attempts to put the government and its appointed trustees above the law. The arrogance of this government in the persons of Mike Harris and his Minister of Municipal Affairs, Al Leach, has been incredible. "We won't listen to the will of the people regardless of the outcomes of the various referenda." Kind of makes me wonder if they'll go when they're voted out of office.
I'd like the Premier to show us where in the Common Senseless Revolution an amalgamated Toronto was promised. Does the government believe it is saving us from politicians by reducing accessibility and accountability in our local officials? Personally, I'd rather be saved from the provincial government.
This whole rushed process has been as contemptible as the actions of the Minister of Municipal Affairs in the House. Why the rush? Well, I think it's because the more you know about this ill-conceived, half-baked plan, the more likely it is that you'll hate it and the more likely it is that you'll vote no.
All I'm left with are questions about why this is being done at all, let alone so quickly. The government should come clean and tell us the real reason. I think it is a blatant attempt to kill local democracy and muzzle opposition. What do you think?
Mr Hastings: Mr Crossman, let's take a look at one of your facts. You say let's deal with the facts. Would you say that the property assessment system within Metropolitan Toronto as it presently exists is a pretty good system and that there are hardly any inequities or unfairness vis-à-vis the city of Toronto property owners or suburban property owners, that everything, relatively speaking, is great?
Mr Crossman: I know there are tax inequities and those can be resolved in forums other than amalgamating cities. Frankly, I know there are a lot of inequities between suburban municipalities within Metro and beyond Metro and amalgamating cities in Toronto is not going to solve that inequity.
I know for a fact that the city of Toronto and residents of Metro are subsidizing the education of students all across this province. Certainly there are financial inequities everywhere, but I don't see that amalgamation has much to do with setting that straight. That can be resolved in another forum.
I think the Conservative government is mixing up issues. They're putting downloading and the trusteeship of the public education system and amalgamation and tax inequities all in the same --
Mr Hastings: How then would you deal with the tax inequities that exist, aside from the amalgamation proposal that's on the table? What kind of property assessment system would you propose?
Mr Crossman: I'm not going to propose any particular system. Personally, I don't mind paying taxes as long as I can see where they're going and that they're serving purposes I approve of. I don't believe that market value assessment or actual value assessment is going to resolve all the problems this city has. I think they're going to force middle-income people out of the city as well.
Mr Hastings: Then is the status quo preferable for you? Although you did mention that the mayors' proposal had some merit, whereby each municipality would be responsible for a prime function, like East York would do licensing, on what basis they arrived at that, I'm not sure.
Mr Crossman: Yes, I think the provincial government should hold the local municipalities to their word. They say they can cut a quarter of a billion dollars of their expenditures. There's no overhead cost to that plan. We have the bureaucracies and institutions already set up to handle that. If they can't reach goals, then deal with that when it happens. But if you're going to set up a bureaucracy at the cost of $200 million to $400 million to come up with a megacity, which is what's been estimated by Metro, and then not to experience the tax savings that we're not apparently going to experience as a result of these studies that have been done -- it doesn't cost the provincial government anything to let them go ahead. It saves $250 million.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Crossman, for coming forward and making your presentation this evening.
The Chair: Would Stefan Gutkowski please come forward. Good evening, Mr Gutkowski, welcome to the committee.
Mr Stefan Gutkowski: Good evening, Mr Minister, members of the committee, ladies and gentlemen. As Bernard Shaw said, you either have to learn to get what you like or like what you get. Never in my life has this been truer than with regard to the government's plans to forcibly amalgamate Toronto's seven municipalities into one, supposedly in the name of cutting taxes and duplication, yet, if a similar experience in the UK 25 years ago is any guide, achieving the exact opposite.
Torontonians have long been thorns in the side of other Ontarians and Canadians, perhaps because we've been successful in getting what we like. Like other Canadians, we can compromise. If megacity becomes a reality, we'll learn to like what we get and we'll work with everyone and make the best of the megacity. But right now we're still at the getting-what-you-like stage, and the government ignores the voices of concern, including many it thought it had on side, at its own peril, and ours.
Peter Ustinov, the actor, referred to Toronto as New York run by the Swiss, because of our devolved metropolitan style of government and the large-scale citizen involvement, which attracted him -- not just him but also the likes of Fortune magazine. Metropolitan government is our local version of federalism. It means the large-scale matters should be at the higher level, while what the Toronto Sun's George Jonas calls the "janitorial" issues should stay at the community level, closest to those they serve, where the people have direct input in what happens to them.
Closeness and connectivity have, contrary to what we're led to believe, kept taxes down, not forced them up. Local councils learned long before the province did that taxes couldn't go on rising and acted accordingly. That's why the during the 1990s there's been virtually no rise in local taxes while the CPI has risen an average of 2% a year.
One irresponsible claim about the status quo is the claim of duplication, that taxpayers are paying for seven governments to do what one could. Excuse me, there may be seven municipalities, but taxpayers are only paying for two of them: Metro and the municipality they live in. Etobicoke doesn't pay for Scarborough's local services or vice versa. Etobicoke's needs aren't the same as Scarborough's needs or vice versa, and neither city's needs is the same as the city of Toronto's, especially on transit and planning. It would be dangerous to juxtapose them under one roof.
Another irresponsible claim is that only incumbent local politicians, fearing their jobs, oppose the megacity. Just look. In a short trip down memory lane you'll find that the 1990s have not been kind to incumbent local politicians: three of the five sitting mayors were defeated in the 1994 election. One of these, Fergy Brown of York did survive the 1991 vote but three quarters of his council didn't. Oh yes, goodness, John Sewell. Can't forget him, can we?
Conversely, if the megacity does become a reality, there's nothing to stop incumbent politicians running for seats on the new council, winning and getting up to their old tricks once again.
We're also told the megacity would keep the NDP in check. Anybody who has fought the NDP knows they identify their vote during elections and get it out on voting day. True, they may never elect a mega-mayor, so they'll concentrate their efforts at the ward level, where they could win enough seats and ally themselves with Liberal moderates to control the new council. Imagine an elected right-wing mayor facing such a council and seeing his elected platform outvoted bit by bit. What a recipe for gridlock.
In addition to left-right polarization, there's also the risk of a downtown-suburban polarization, and also a chasm forming between the megacity Toronto and all the 905 municipalities. Is that what we want?
A more substantial claim against the status quo is that the current power split causes confusion which suppresses voter turnout and the megacity would change that. Voters aren't stupid. They can always go to a library to find out who does what. Low turnout is a major problem, no question about that, but that's the same right across North America. There's an old American phrase, "Bad officials get elected by good citizens who don't vote." Some people just find local politics plain boring and a megacity won't change that. I'm sorry, that's their problem, not ours.
There are three factors that dampen turnout here: We vote in November when it gets dark early, and many people, especially women, don't want to go out. There's no guaranteed time off work to vote, unlike the other types of votes. Also, many voters, especially tenants, are not reminded regularly as to how much city hall costs because its costs are hidden in the rent they pay, with an affect on apathy and so on.
My solutions are: Move the local vote up to October, before the clocks go back; have an advance poll held Thanksgiving weekend when students are home and can vote; guarantee employees time out to vote; and require that all municipalities disclose property tax information for tenants and others.
I share megacity supporters' concern that the number of politicians be reduced. So do the Metro mayors, and I supported their proposals they released just before Christmas, which would cut the political payroll by a third.
I'm not entirely against any type of amalgamation. Indeed, the city of York, which does have serious financial problems, is courting merger with Toronto. If they want to go ahead, let them do so, and others elsewhere in the province, same thing. Perhaps we should reform municipal financing to induce that.
Instead, the amalgamation which should take place should be at the regional level, by abolishing Metro and the four regions, replacing them with a greater Toronto regional district, on the lines of Vancouver's, not as sophisticated as our current regions, but with more powers than the proposed Greater Toronto Services board, including the right to tax. It should have at most 40 to 45 members. Most of these would be the constituent mayors, ex officio, and then a dozen or so others elected from the largest municipalities to boost representation by population.
I believe that the tax burden, especially as the Premier is talking about having a GTA-wide tax thing for the downloading, could be spread by having local municipalities yield a portion of their tax take to the GTA, which would then redistribute it via a capitation grant to all municipalities.
Politically, I propose that roads and parks, which are currently split between regional and local levels, entirely devolve down to the local level while the remaining regional powers -- police, transit, long-term care, housing and welfare -- be replaced with the new GTA council. This has several advantages. As the Premier has floated the idea of a GTA-wide tax base for paving for the downloading, and groups like the boards of trade have in the past expressed openness to a GTA regional government, it would avoid the scenario of the 905 municipalities having to contribute to the costs of something without having a say in what happens. With this power split, it could allow the TTC and GO Transit to be merged, as well as the 15 or so municipal transit systems. Now there are some real savings right there, not to mention the savings from fewer civic workers at the regional level.
This will all be so much easier than converting into a megacity, which will be a logistical nightmare. Everybody agrees that it will cost approximately $200 million in the first year for the severance bill, but with added responsibilities, the civic workers in the megacity will want the highest pay rates going. Salaries across Metro currently vary by up to $2 per person-hour. If 25,000 workers must be each paid an extra $2 per hour under amalgamation, that's $50,000 per hour, $400,000 per day, $2 million per week, and $100 million per year, year after year after year, and that's not even counting overtime. A megacity is going to mean a mega-strike. Do you remember the civil service strike?
Was it Bob Dylan who sang, "The times, they are a changing"? I agree, the status quo can't go on. That was agreed by the various task forces on Toronto's future and the general consensus was that Metro and the regions should be abolished and the genuinely regional powers go to a GTA-wide body.
Similarly, we can't afford the existing number of school boards, despite my concerns as the son of teachers as to what happens with school quality if a reputable board gets abolished. However, if Roman Catholics can get by with one board, there's no reason why the rest of us need eight, but the proposals regarding trustees and councillors create more problems than they solve.
True, salaries must be capped. My preference is a maximum of X dollars per pupil in the board in question. It's a much better way to go there. I notice there are no proposals for salary caps in the megacity, but with the mega-council it will be many times harder for ordinary folks to get a councillor's ear, as they'll have to jockey with groups like the board of trade, C0RA and the labour council, which are at least well-connected.
Another matter untouched is that of election spending and financing. What limits will there be? Will there even be any? We're not told. Campaign financing is covered in this week's Economist magazine -- that is, the London Economist -- which two weeks ago covered the megacity issue with a photo of the Premier above the caption "Bomber Harris," referring to the Second World War RAF pilot whose mission was to destroy enemy cities. The article ends with: "The changes on the way are less of a revolution than a whirligig. Whirligigs have a habit of spinning out of control and even savaging the man in charge."
Alarmed as I am at the high-handed way the government has proceeded with this, I am reminded of an interview in the Toronto Star a few weeks ago when Tony Clement, MPP, was discussing a bill the government has regarding referenda in which, if a petition is circulated on an issue and it garners the signatures of 10% or more of the electorate, the government would be required to introduce the measure in question in the House. That being so, I'm surprised the government is planning to ignore the results of the referenda.
I have the 1995 provincial elections manual and it tells me that 650,00 people constitute just over half the entire electorate in the 30 Metro ridings in the 1995 election, 415,000 is more than half of the number in Metro who actually voted in those ridings and, most importantly, 667,000 is over 10% of the entire electorate of the province. Don't rule out the possibility of that many voting no in the forthcoming referenda.
A prominent Tory told me three weeks ago, "We're two-thirds of the way there"; in other words, past that 415,000 mark I just mentioned. If that many vote no, given what the Premier said regarding the tax base being spread GTA-wide and the fact that the board of trade has shown past openness regarding the GTA government, is the government prepared to deal? As ex-British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said, "A week is a long time in politics." There are three weeks to go. May the universe unfold as it should. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Gutkowski. You've exhausted your allotted time. Thank you for coming forward to make your presentation this evening.
The Chair: Mark Irish, please. Good evening, Mr Irish.
Mr Mark Irish: I would like to thank the committee for having me here tonight to make a presentation. I will begin my presentation by quoting from John Ralston Saul's letter to the Globe and Mail of January 30, 1997. It reads as follows:
"One of our greatest needs today is to find ways, even simple mechanisms, that will help us, the citizenry, to get into the public debate.... It is therefore a matter of inserting the citizen as citizen into the system in whatever way we can. And then letting the mechanisms of criticism combined with high levels of involvement take place."
The citizens have inserted themselves into the system in astounding numbers and in a variety of ways. With the concerns about Bill 103, the megacity bill, you can find them everywhere. They are attending Citizens for Local Democracy meetings, 1,000 or more at a time on Monday nights. They are writing countless letters to the newspapers. They are phoning their MPPs' offices in overwhelming numbers. They are holding numerous ratepayer and community meetings, day after day after day. They are connecting with each other by e-mail. They are making presentations at the committee hearings on Bill 103 at Queen's Park. They are talking to their families, friends and neighbours.
They will also have their fundamental, democratic rights honoured when they vote on this major issue, which profoundly and directly affects their lives, in the upcoming referendum. The citizens are involved. They are totally and deeply involved. It appears the only group who wants to stay out of this discussion as much as possible is the Progressive Conservative government.
From here, I could go on to detail my concerns about the fact that the megacity proposal was not a part of the Conservative election platform. I could talk about the strong feeling I have about the intrusion of a board of trustees and a transition team into the affairs of my democratically elected officials. I could relate to you my disbelief when you said you would not pay attention to the results of a referendum. Such contempt for the people is, to me, utterly astounding.
I could also talk about my thoughts on the hasty KPMG report, but studies by Andrew Sancton and Wendell Cox have examined that report extremely well. I could also mention the sickening feeling I have when I contemplate the tragic consequences that the downloading of welfare and other social services, as well as social housing, will have on the city, but the board of trade and David Crombie, who calls it "wrong in principle and devastating in practice and absolutely the wrong thing to do," have already spoken up about this.
What I would like to do, though, is return to the idea of the citizens, the people, the public, and to speak about how the government must consider all of them when making any decisions. It is the people who are justifiably concerned about a government that is trying to use a series of changes at an accelerated pace to cause confusion and turmoil in the electorate. The people have the feeling too much is happening too fast, with little or no public consultation. They see this as a government that is not working with them but against them. They have deep, deep concerns that must be addressed.
The government should know that changes that are done so quickly, without public input, make for bad decisions. They will create problems that will only have to be corrected later. What the government must absolutely do is stop the megacity bill and all the other bills that were introduced during mega-week, which the citizens rightly see as a package. They must provide the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto and the rest of Ontario with detailed and accurate information of the plans and analyses behind all these bills. They must also give them the time to digest and understand this information so that the citizens can have open and public discussions on these proposals.
At present, the speed with which the government is trying to pass its legislation gives the people no time to really look at the information, and in turn they find it extremely difficult to speak with knowledge on the issues. It is the public who can offer solutions and ideas that can help in the changes that are going on, but at the present time it is the very capable public who are being shut out of the decision-making process.
The government must, with these hearings and with all the other means by which the public is voicing its concerns, truly listen to what it is being told. They must take the time themselves to review and understand what the citizens are saying to them. They are not to treat these hearings as a formality. They cannot merely return to vote on the passage of the megacity bill as if the public meetings, public rallies, committee hearings and referenda never existed.
The citizens are deeply concerned and have countless questions that have gone unanswered by the government. The government must hear what the citizens are saying and must provide any and all answers to their questions. It is up to the government to prove that its proposed changes, the megacity bill being one of them, will do what it says. They cannot merely make broad and grand statements without the necessary facts to back them up.
I myself live in Seaton Village in the Bathurst and Bloor area. From this point, I can walk in any direction -- north, south, east, west -- for city block after city block of thriving and living neighbourhoods. They are filled with families and businesses, places of worship, parks, community centres, restaurants, stores, theatres etc. They are all so alive. My fear is that with the introduction of a megacity, as well as the changes in education and the downloading of welfare and social housing, these neighbourhoods will start to crumble and this livable city will become just the opposite.
I am truly afraid that what Fortune magazine and I myself consider the best city in the world to live in will come crashing down around us. I do not want to look back a few years from now with a deep sadness of knowing this is where it started but this is where it could have been stopped.
I have to say that I am strongly against the plan to amalgamate Metro's municipalities. I hope the government demonstrates the ability and above all the wisdom to consider all the drastic consequences of the megacity bill and all the other bills introduced during mega-week, which myself and others see as a package of linked bills. I hope this government will listen to the concerns of all the citizens. Thank you.
Mr Colle: Your emphasis is on the linkage and the packaging of all these bills together. The question Mr Hastings asked was: "Prove the linkage. How else would you undertake the market value reassessment unless you did the megacity?"
Mr Irish: There were other things too. How else would you create one school board without undertaking the megacity idea as well? What you do is get rid of your competition, get rid of the people who are going to question you. Then what you do, with your transition team, is put the people in place who won't question you. Therefore, in education the one public board could be put in place a lot easier without six mayors opposing it, as opposed to one mayor who will be too busy with too many other things and just completely rushed off their feet with everything that is happening.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for appearing here this evening.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Anne Dother. Good evening, Ms Dother, and welcome to the committee.
Ms Anne Dother: I don't have a prepared statement. I just wanted to come in and talk about how I cannot believe that there could be an arrogance or a kind of government that could say: "We have this plan and we don't care what the people think. You guys can have a referendum and we don't care." Basically, that's my only point: I just cannot believe that this can happen in a place that considers itself a democracy.
Every study I've read, everything I've read, has said that the megacity plan is going ahead too quickly, and even if it does go through it doesn't make any sense. I just wanted to come in and say I really don't want it to happen without a certain amount of studies that prove to the contrary. Right now, all the studies have proven that the megacity thing will be a disaster.
I look at American cities that have tried the amalgamation thing, and Halifax. So far, what I've begun to understand is that it costs a lot. It'll be more difficult to get yourself heard. Look at it now. Nobody wants to hear what the people think now. I'm just scared of the megacity plan and I really wish that someone would (a) listen to the people and (b) give it more consideration. That's all.
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Ms Dother, for coming and taking the time. I haven't, in my time, seen so many people who feel passionately about a particular issue. We've had hearings on many, many issues, but I have never seen such a wide range of people with such strong passion defending a particular idea, in this case, saving municipalities, local government.
A few questions; I've asked a few other people some of these questions and I want your feelings as well. Outside of Metropolitan Toronto, Mr Leach and the government have decided that it's all right for them to democratically decide how they might want to amalgamate. But in Metro Toronto, Mr Leach and the government have decided that that wasn't wise, that he was going to practise his omnipotence and decide what was good for us. How do you feel about being treated differently here in Metro?
Ms Dother: I feel that the city of Toronto is a really unique city. I think the arts and the culture and all of the communities that make up downtown Toronto are quite unique. I feel that a lot of the people who are right now pro-amalgamation are not the people who live in downtown Toronto. I don't believe that they are qualified to make decisions on my neighbourhoods and my culture and my community centres.The majority of them feel, "If you don't like the crime in downtown Toronto, move to Woodbridge, move to Markham, move to Scarborough, where welfare or whatever is lower, where the community centres are better." I don't trust any government that says it doesn't want to listen to the people, which is basically what it comes down to.
Mr Marchese: A few other things: I was reading what Mr Leach said in his speech. He said: "Recently, Fortune magazine called Toronto the best city in the world to live and work in."
Ms Dother: That's before amalgamation; I'm sorry.
Mr Marchese: He's going to make it better, you see. "But today, a city can't just rest on its laurels, no matter how high the praise. Given the relentless competition from the global marketplace, Toronto has to move forward just to maintain its current position...." He argues that this is an "opportunity to create a governance structure that will save money" -- there's no evidence for that --
Ms Dother: There is no evidence.
Mr Marchese: -- "remove barriers to growth and investment" -- I'm not sure what he means -- "and help create jobs."
We've had a lot of different people in front of this committee. We've had lawyers, we've had engineers, we've had consultants and we've had artists -- with good poetry, I must admit; each time they come I think it's a poem. We have a lot of people with a great deal of knowledge coming to tell us and Mr Leach they're on the wrong track. Do you think all these people are simply intellectually bankrupt? Is that our problem down here, or is it the reverse?
Ms Dother: What I don't understand is why there is a government that doesn't want to listen to the people. Why does this happen? How can it possibly exist that someone can say, "You guys can have a referendum and we're not paying attention"? Here are all these experts -- Golden, Crombie and all sorts of people -- coming in and saying: "This is going to be a problem. Don't go ahead with it." So far I haven't seen any noted mind, any expert come out and say, "Yo, amalgamation, that's a great idea." I don't see anyone who has nothing to gain. All I see is the minister saying, "Yes, go for this," and the people saying, "No, we don't want to go for this." It doesn't take a lot to understand that more time should be taken to consider what we're talking about and go slowly.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for appearing this evening.
The Vice-Chair: John Huot? Good evening, Mr Huot, and welcome to the committee.
Mr John Huot: Thank you. I want to thank the members of the committee for this opportunity to tell you something about the community that I live in and why I believe the proposed removal of local government could put at risk the ties that bind it together.
My name is John Huot. I live with my wife and two daughters, ages 10 and 12, in the west-central ward 12 of the city of Toronto. I have been an area resident for 25 years. What I value most about where I live is that people of very diverse backgrounds have woven together a community of neighbours who respect and care for each other. We are a community which has learned to resolve difficult problems and live together in harmony.
Ward 12's communities originally developed about 80 to 90 years ago near manufacturing and food processing industries which had located along the CPR and CNR lines which crisscross the ward. The modest semi-detached and detached houses we live in were first occupied by people who moved from rural Ontario, Britain and Europe to make a better life for their families. Today more than half the residents have come to our community from other lands, including Portugal, Italy, the Caribbean, Latin America, Greece, Hong Kong, China and Viet Nam.
We live side by side, in both the older housing and new, mostly social housing built on recently vacated industrial land. Our community has more than its share of poverty and not nearly our share of wealth compared to the rest of the city. The average family income is $43,230 a year, 20% less than the average family income in the rest of the city.
Our community doesn't have a lot of personal wealth, but it is rich in community life. We were proud to have the late Marian Engel, the award-winning Canadian novelist, as a neighbour, even when she published a novel about neighbourhood life titled Lunatic Villas. I believe the existence of local government, whose elected councillors and school trustees must stay close and accountable to the citizens if they hope to get our support on election day, has everything to do with the vitality of our community life. Let me give you a few examples from my own neighbourhood.
In my neighbourhood, children and youth are able to go to good local schools, drop in at a library, play in well-equipped playgrounds and parks, and learn to swim and be good sports in programs run by staff and hundreds of community volunteers at two nearby city recreation centres. The availability and high quality of these community institutions owe much to strong community involvement over the years.
Residents have stories of how the community pressured city government to get safer playground equipment, to get that library on the corner instead of a 7 Eleven convenience store, or to get more playing space for the Lizzies baseball program, organized through the local city recreation centre for some 800 girls and boys from ages 6 to 16. There are no user fees for most of these programs, a policy strongly supported by city of Toronto citizens and councillors. No other Metro municipality has the same policy commitment to ensure that all community members can access recreation programs regardless of income.
A second example occurred several years ago when a large property beside my neighbourhood was vacated by a structural steel manufacturer. A number of private developers wanted to build private homes only on the site. Thanks to several housing cooperatives and the city of Toronto non-profit housing company, city council was successfully persuaded to purchase the site and develop an innovative mix of social housing and privately owned townhouses. The city of Toronto is the only Metro municipality which has given its housing department a mandate to actively promote social housing.
Many homeowners were anxious about what would happen to neighbourhood life and property values. Today, most would agree that the diverse communities which became our neighbours greatly enriched our community and local schools. It was fitting that the public park in the middle of the new housing development was named in honour of Marian Engel, symbolizing the bond with the older community which surrounds it.
A third example occurred a few years ago when our community had a serious scare regarding a cluster of cancer cases among employees at a school built on the same former industrial lands as the social housing development. There were reasonable fears that soil contaminated by previous industrial uses could seriously put at risk the health of residents and employees alike. Social housing residents, local homeowners and school employees together organized meetings and committees to make sure that city councillors and the city health department conducted a thorough environmental assessment of the entire area and made regular reports to the community.
The assessment's conclusion that there were no hazardous wastes was good news for our physical health. It was also good news for our health as a community because we knew that our involvement at every step of the process ensured that we could believe the report that our health was not at risk, that there was no coverup by authorities worried about the potential costs of cleaning up the site. I believe this positive outcome owed much to having a local city council and health department which can be held accountable to local communities.
Our community is far from perfect. We continue to face many challenges to keep it a place where all members can live together in harmony and mutual respect. Our greatest asset as a community is the capacity, developed over many years, to work together, often with our elected representatives, to resolve problems. It is that asset, as well as the many other assets our residents and children enjoy as a part of our community life, which I believe are threatened by the megacity bill and other proposed actions of the current provincial government.
First, the abolition of city council and school board and their replacement by a mega-council and mega-school-board could do irreparable damage to the accountability of municipal government to communities like ours across Metro. Accountability is a two-way street. Accountability requires that our elected representatives have the ability to effectively represent the concerns of the communities which elect them. Accountability also requires that citizens can hold their elected representatives accountable to the community.
Under the megacity, the average councillor-citizen ratio will increase from 1 to 32,000 to 1 to 52,300. It will be much more difficult for councillors to be aware of the many concerns of local communities in their wards. It will be more difficult for communities to get their councillors involved in the type of local issues which have been so important in my community. Furthermore, the policy-making and administrative apparatus of the megacity and mega-school-board will be much further removed from accountability to local communities.
The new ward boundaries will also seriously undermine the accountability of elected representatives to local communities. For example, ward 12's current boundaries reflect actual historical communities with substantial commonalities of ethnic/racial background and relatively less income disparity. Under the megacity, ward 12 will be redistributed into three different wards. My community will become a tiny add-on to a ward based on the federal St Paul's riding, which has the highest average family incomes of any riding in Metro and much less ethnic and racial diversity. A megacity councillor or trustee will get all the votes they need in the more affluent areas and will have no need to be accountable to citizens in our community.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Huot, I must tell you that we're running out of time. Would you wrap up, please?
Mr Huot: I'll just finish.
The second important way in which the megacity government proposal is going to have a serious effect on community life is the proposal to download greater financial responsibility for welfare to the property tax. I have serious concerns that that could tear apart the fragile bonds that tie our community together. On the one hand, our ward has many families who need welfare and social services. On the other hand, homeowners in our ward live in about 60% of the housing. Neither group can afford to lose these services, nor pay for them from property taxes.
The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry; I must interrupt you. You've gone well over the time allotted. Thank you very much for appearing before us tonight.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Charles Middleton, please. Good evening, Mr Middleton.
Mr Charles Middleton: My name is Charles Middleton. I am an architect-planner. I live in Toronto and teach at Ryerson Polytechnic University. My background includes practice and education in this country, Europe, Africa and southeast Asia. Experience has shown me that Canada and Ontario have been highly regarded for the quality of their political institutions, their educational systems and the planning of their cities. Respect for Canadian ways certainly contributed to my career. I see no reason for the overwhelming change in Ontario that now threatens these.
Change, well considered and well managed, lies at the core of architecture, planning and education. Senior students in this field are trained, before they start design, to develop a clear and concise problem statement. The statement includes analysis of the context for their work and suggests directions for change and for design. If design does not result in a better world, what is the point of it? Or the purpose for students seeking a career in this field? The same might be said for anyone in municipal affairs. It is essential to analyse the context for change: what is already valuable, what must be retained, what can be enhanced and in which directions might change be desirable.
Change for its own sake results only in unnecessary expense. The greater the change, the greater the cost. This highlights the need for a problem statement of the utmost clarity. My concern over Bill 103 is that there is no problem statement. None was included in the Conservative manifesto at the election; none is available now. No wonder there is apprehension and opposition. No one knows what is intended by the bill. It is a classic case of a prescription in search of a problem. For a student, it would result in a failing grade.
But even without a statement of goals, what advantages and disadvantages might the prescription offer? It cannot be taken out of the context of other legislation being tabled. It comes as part of a wider package. It is not surprising that so far it has achieved turmoil, chaos, division and fear.
What does a quick cost-benefit analysis, typical of any large project, reveal? What sense of purpose can we identify?
First, the benefits. Will there be savings? We don't know. There are two camps. But bigger means bigger, for administration if nothing else, and that costs.
Will city government be more efficient? Again, two camps. But it takes mega-corporations, such as the amalgamated city, to generate armies of expensive middle managers. They simply cannot be supported in smaller organizations.
Will it be responsive to citizen needs? We don't know. But the greatly diminished access resulting from fewer elected representatives suggests that it will not.
Will property taxes drop? Again, there is only speculation. Despite glowing assurances to the contrary, it appears that they can only rise, given the downloading of social costs. As the saying goes, "There is no free lunch." Everything in the end must be paid for. Since the bill will be introduced with overlapping change to property tax assessments, the true costs of Bill 103 to taxpayers will be obscured.
Will services be maintained? Where is the proof that they can be? If benefits turn out to be conjectural, what of the costs? What is certain? There is no doubt on the following: There will be a tax cut. Little matter that it benefits the well-to-do. That must be paid for. We are assured that social costs will be downloaded to municipalities. They must be paid for. Implementing any amalgamation of this scale will incur mega-cost. It must be paid for. Property taxes will continue to be paid.
These are monetary costs. What of costs to the society that we know is the envy of much of the world and is now put at risk by this bill? Unelected government appointees will take the place of elected municipal representatives, at least in the interim. There will be no recourse to the courts. Unelected government appointees will be given power over neighbourhoods. The changes of Bill 103 will be irreversible. Last but not least, the massive contingency fund will wrest control over urban life from the citizenry, to concentrate it in the hands of the powerful élite holding the purse strings. All this takes place in an atmosphere of wasted energy and creativity lost in confrontation.
We tally the score in cost and benefit. Taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for a scheme with these characteristics: (1) Risks are extreme; (2) costs will be in mega-dollars; (3) benefits cannot be identified with any certainty; (4) control over the venture is stripped away; (5) the package generates not stability but wild confrontation. Bankers would turn the proposal down flat. Why should taxpayers be bullied into funding it, particularly when it is they who stand to lose?
But the heat surrounding this ill-conceived bill masks a much more fundamental issue. It is the question of what kind of place we want greater Toronto to be, what sort of city we want to live in, what kind of collective vision we have.
Bill 103 works to centralize and consolidate power, removing it from the electorate. In the absence of a problem statement, is this the best vision we can achieve for an urban centre that the world respects? There are plenty of examples of this approach in less fortunate countries around the globe, and I've seen a number of them. They do not inspire confidence, and certainly not emulation.
Finally, we live in a rapidly urbanizing world with a population approaching six billion. The central issue at the beginning of the next millennium will be the sustainability of cities and their relationship to the environment that supports them. Toronto already offers a workable solution. Why should it be turned into a conventional anonymous sprawl focused on the car, not people? Do we want to enter the information age entrenching irrevocably the worst excesses of the industrial era? The Premier has just been on a tour of southeast Asia, drumming up support for Ontario business, yet he allows one minister to wreck, through this bill, one of Ontario's greatest assets. Is this common sense?
What are the alternatives? The first and most important relates to the work of this committee. What amendments should be made to the bill? In my view, the major one has to do with the dates for implementation of this flawed proposal. It is my contention that this rig and its driver should be pulled off the road with an immediate, mandatory licence suspension for 90 days at the very least. I urge the committee to find an appropriate legislative mechanism to achieve the same for Bill 103. This would allow time for reflection.
Then perhaps the expertise for which Ontario has been known around the world may start working again for a better alternative, with people, not cuts, at its core, and incorporating, not ignoring, the many creative ideas from reports that have already been submitted. There must be time beyond that to develop the kind of problem statement or vision that is worthy of this city and province for the next millennium.
I would like to thank you all, as a committee, for listening to my views. I hope that they may, in some small way, contribute to your power to make a difference. Thank you very much.
Mr Parker: Thank you very much, Mr Middleton. I want to pick up on one point that you made very articulately, and that is the question of, what is the collective vision we're trying to move ahead with? You're quite certain that by amalgamating services we're going to increase costs, that this is not the way to go. Metropolitan government was established in 1953 as an amalgamation of sorts to coordinate certain services across what are still the Metro boundaries. Over the time since then more and more responsibility has been vested at the Metro level. Right now, the Metro level taxes more than the collective local levels and spends considerably more and carries out considerably more municipal services. The ratio is something like 72% of the spending is done at the Metro level and 28% at the local level. Have we been moving in the wrong direction all this time? Have we been going the wrong way?
Mr Middleton: I'm not necessarily concerned about avoiding amalgamation. What I'm saying is that there are a lot of alternatives out there and that this one has been put in place with very little thought. It moves to something that is gigantic. It moves to something that becomes almost impossible to change.
I'll just give a very quick example, if I may. I worked in Zambia just after it had become independent and there was concern about which direction the university should move in. Some were going for a mega-structure: "Let's build an empire. Let's build a wonderful thing." Others were saying, "No, let's move in a direction where we can incorporate change as it comes and as we find it." That's what I would like to see.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Middleton.
The Vice-Chair: I call upon Jacques Kornberg. Good evening, Mr Kornberg, and welcome to the committee.
Dr Jacques Kornberg: My name is Jacques Kornberg. I am a professor in the department of history at the University of Toronto. I am a long-time resident of the city of Toronto. If I have to count, I must admit it's been 30 years. I want to thank the members of the committee for giving me this opportunity to express my views on the issue of amalgamation.
I'm going to talk a little about why I went from neutrality to opposition to this bill, because when I first heard the government speak of amalgamating Metro into one city, I had no opinion one way or the other, I must say. I was eager to learn more about the idea, hear its advocates discuss its merits.
Much later, it dawned on me how naïve I had been then. I realized that I had no opinion because the idea had not been part of public discourse. It had not been proposed, so far as I was aware, by any significant segment of public opinion, by government-appointed commissions, by think tanks etc. Later I realized or I concluded -- and this is what I think now -- that the idea was never a long-considered one, at least the way it's been proposed, but had emerged as an improvised and ad hoc solution to certain immediate problems facing the government.
I heard the Minister of Municipal Affairs say on TV once that amalgamation would create a more efficient city, provide better access and less waste and duplication. I then looked for his supporting evidence and I just have not seen the evidence. I have not seen summaries of impact studies in the press supporting this assertion.
In announcing major and sweeping change, the government has not released the reports by the experts or the commissions, or the policy papers, justifying this change. This is different from other cases. For example, with the consolidation of school boards or the new actual value assessment, the field has been prepared after a considerable period of debate and a great deal of available information. I'm really talking about process, but I think process is what it's all about, because process is either transparent or can hide its dark secrets.
Almost as an afterthought, it seemed, what the government offered the public was a quickie three-week study, the KPMG study, that was so full of qualifications about its own conclusions that it carried little weight and doesn't seem to be referred to much as supporting evidence any more. Its critics say that the report omitted a whole range of expenses in its estimates: the cost of harmonizing services upward, the cost of harmonizing collective agreements, the cost of harmonizing thousands of bylaws etc. The report has worked against the government by demonstrating how untenable, or unsupported, its claims are. I believe that if the government had had something better than that report, it would have been to its benefit to release it.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs has been quoted as saying, with regard to amalgamation, that there is "a one-time opportunity ahead of us to take advantage of the best ideas in government innovations and planning." Again, where are the experts speaking up for these ideas?
On the other hand, I read Michael Keating, a political science professor from Western, writing in the Globe, "Nobody has seriously argued anywhere that economies of scale continue past the population of about half a million," and of course we're talking about a population way beyond that, of 2.3 million.
In other words, the wisdom seems to be that bigger always means greater costs per capita. Professor Andrew Sancton, director of the local government program at Western, has also written: "The academic literature on amalgamation is unanimous. It always raises the cost of government."
As I understand it, municipal amalgamation has never been presented as a cost-cutting or efficiency-enhancing measure. There may be all sorts of reasons for it, but not those. It has been done to control growth, to redistribute income or for any number of other reasons, but seemingly not for the reasons stated.
What is really the government's agenda? My own conclusion is that the government has moved in this direction in order to manage its provincial budget. This is a surmise on my part, speculation on my part. But the government hasn't shown any other reason it favours amalgamation, certainly not a persuasive reason. Amalgamation makes the downloading of soft services to the municipalities easier. Put it another way: With Toronto standing alone, downloading soft services on to the city would be a catastrophe. But with Toronto amalgamated into Metro, downloading becomes merely a tragedy. It seems that the government seeks to do what governments do, what the federal government has done: reduce its expenses and load costs on to another jurisdiction. The results for citizens will be that what is given with one hand will be taken with another. My provincial income tax will be cut and my property tax will rise.
Here I can raise the same question as I did about amalgamation, that the policy seems ad hoc, seems a hasty improvisation and not thought through. Who has advocated downloading so high a proportion of soft services on to the property tax? What commissions have proposed it? We've seen friends of the government, like the board of trade, back away from it. The government says it wants strong local government. Is downloading social services on to the property tax a receipt for strong local government? Quite the opposite, it seems. Metro will have to shuffle, cap in hand, to Queen's Park for its annual grant of extra funds to stave off bankruptcy.
But I believe there is something even more dangerous here in putting social assistance services under the property tax. The property tax is not geared to a person's ability to pay, whereas social assistance costs can be volatile in bad times. It seems to me you are putting the costs of welfare directly on to the backs of many who will least be able to afford it: those in danger of falling into arrears on their property tax, those in danger of losing their homes, those who will not be able to buy homes because property taxes are so high.
It seems an axiom that income redistribution measures be taxed according to ability to pay so that you do not create a huge antagonism of interests between the almost poor or the almost middle class and the poor and destitute. It seems to me that if I wanted to think of a better formula to pit Ontarian against Ontarian, to tear the delicate social fabric that holds us together -- and I think it's always delicate -- I could not come up with something better.
The Chair: Mr Kornberg, I'm sorry. We're going to have to ask you to wrap up. You're a little bit beyond the 10 minutes.
Dr Kornberg: Okay. The concluding point: The government has shown in the past that it can be flexible. The government has sought the public's response on such issues as environmental deregulation and privatizing Hydro. They've listened to the arguments and postponed making decisions until further investigation. There is so much at stake here that the government should take the time so that whatever decision is made is based on more detailed, factual investigation. I believe we, the citizens of Ontario, expect and deserve nothing less.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Kornberg, for coming forward this evening and making your presentation.
The Chair: Would Michael Craig please come forward? Good evening, Mr Craig, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Michael Craig: Good evening and thank you. Michael Craig is my name. I'm a long-time political activist in Toronto, a one-time school trustee on the Toronto board. My remarks are called A Progressive, Conservative Analysis of Bill 103. I will end them with an appeal to the Conservative members of this committee to rethink and speak out against this bill.
One of the things that strikes me is that if this half-baked concept for an amalgamated Metropolitan Toronto had been brought forward by Mr Marchese and the NDP government which preceded this one, I have not the slightest doubt that the vast majority of the members on this side would be speaking out against it vociferously, effectively with many of the arguments that we have been hearing tonight.
As a long-time observer and occasional participant in local and provincial politics, I thought I was shockproof. But I have to admit that many recent actions of the Ontario government have shocked me deeply. At the top of the list is Bill 103 to amalgamate the six municipalities of Metro into a megacity. In my opinion, this plan is badly conceived and fatally flawed, and should be rejected.
I am shocked because the Ontario Government is led by Progressive Conservatives and it seems obvious to me that the amalgamation plan is neither progressive nor conservative. "Conservative," in the literal and political sense, means prudent and cautious, inclined to preserve the best of the past. One would expect a Conservative government to act only after careful consultation and analysis, after the financial costs and benefits have been convincingly established and only, in the Bill Davis tradition, when the situation and electors scream out for reform.
In the case of Bill 103, consultation has been at best minimal. The government has characterized its municipal political critics as a free-spending, self-interested group of crybabies. It slanders them by suggesting they're only interested in preserving their jobs, ignoring their very real fears for the future of Toronto as the most livable city in North America.
The government and the Minister of Municipal Affairs have also made it clear that they are not concerned about public opinion. They say, "Referendums aren't worth the trouble and expense because they won't change our mind." So much for consultation and democracy.
As for conservative fiscal analysis, that seems to be beside the point. The government has asserted that there are numerous examples of taxpayers saving millions through amalgamation, but the examples I've read about have been unconvincing. In fact, there appear to be as many examples of taxes increasing in amalgamated cities as decreasing.
The consultants brought in with a mandate to prove the fiscal wisdom of amalgamation filled their report with "ifs" and "maybes" and concluded that under ideal circumstances a small amount of money might be saved or that, I gather, a small amount relative to Metro's budget might be lost. Given their mandate and government paymaster, the consultants' lukewarm conclusions amount, in my view, to a repudiation of the amalgamation option.
Logically, the consultants' conclusions did not surprise me. If we were examining 13 small jurisdictions, as was the case before 1953, amalgamation probably would save money but today even the smallest of Metro's municipalities, East York, has a population of 100,000. Therefore, I am convinced that money will be saved by local efficiencies, not the creation of a massive bureaucracy.
Of course, all that analysis has been tossed into a cocked hat. The simultaneous, instant policy of uploading education costs, downloading welfare and social services, with a few ifs, ands and buts to totally confuse the fiscal picture, leaves us with a new municipality, new funding and taxing arrangements, and no guarantees.
This would be radical policy and radical change if it had come about after years of consultation and hundreds of reports and academic papers, but given the circumstances of minimal consultation, and not so much independent reports as hasty rationalizations, this set of policies is more than radical -- it's foolhardy.
The urge to reform is commendable when something is broken, so we have to ask, is Metropolitan Toronto broken? As someone who was born at the East General over half a century ago when Toronto was Hogtown, I have to say that Toronto is not only not broken, it's working magnificently. The world tells us frequently that Toronto is a great place to live; a city where the core is alive and well; where people live downtown in safe, healthy neighbourhoods; where public transit, though expensive, works; where people from dozens of cultures have found responsive schools and municipal governments which have helped them become proud Canadians.
Let's not forget that it didn't have to be this way. If the city of Toronto hadn't been led in the early 1970s by councillors like David Crombie, John Sewell and Bill Kilbourn, who were allies, we might very easily have killed the downtown with expressways, housing for the rich only and policies which ignored the integrity of neighbourhoods. In other words, Toronto could have followed in the footsteps of Detroit and Washington, with death at its core. If you proceed with your Bill 103, it may still achieve that distinction.
If the city had been dominated by the priorities of suburban areas, with their car-oriented, shopping mall culture, I believe we would not have been as responsive to the needs of immigrants and the poor. City councillors and school board trustees -- and not just the lefties, either -- fought long and hard to get Metro and the province to fund programs to address the needs of people who don't speak English, who are disabled, retired or poor who are found in disproportionate numbers in the city.
What will become of the city if it is submerged in a megalopolis of 2.3 million? I think that inevitably, and especially if the province holds the purse strings, the city and its most vulnerable residents will lose big time.
The Metro system, as devised in 1953, has worked well. We have achieved a metropolitan perspective and created metropolitan services as required. If structural changes are necessary, they should involve Metro's relationship with the GTA, not the cities inside its borders.
In conclusion, let me address the Progressive Conservatives on this committee and the minister in particular. If "conservative" means that you preserve the best from the past, initiate change cautiously after the need is carefully established, act primarily to reduce taxes and make services more cost-effective, then you will vote against Bill 103 because it offends your conservative principles. If you're concerned about protecting the tens of thousands of vulnerable people who call the city of Toronto their home, then you will vote against Bill 103 because it offends your progressive roots and values. Please be true to your progressive, conservative traditions. Speak out against Bill 103.
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Thank you, Mr Craig, for your presentation. I was interested in your comments about the KPMG report and the disclaimers that are in it. A very close associate of mine has a favourite saying about consultants: They borrow your watch to tell you what time it is. It seems to me that is exactly what has happened with this report. You see the disclaimer. It says: "We've done no original research. All the material was provided to us by the ministry." As you have said, there is no real credibility to it. Do you really feel that a decision of this magnitude should have been made on the basis of that kind of study?
Mr Craig: I am truly shocked, as I said in the beginning of my remarks, that this has come about on the basis of such flimsy evidence and flimsy policy. The whole thing has struck me as sounding like it came about when Mr Leach and the Premier had a couple of brandies after a dinner and worked it out on the back of an envelope. It really, sir, strikes me as the most mindless policy based on the most flimsy rationalizations. I am shocked, quite honestly, that a Progressive Conservative government has brought this forward.
The Chair: On that note, Mr Craig, I want to thank you for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee this evening.
The Chair: David Hanna, please come forward. Good evening, Mr Hanna, and welcome to the committee.
Mr David Hanna: Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I understand, Mr Leach, that you said that you're not really listening anyway, but given that you're here -- I mean, at least to the referendum. But that does speak of democracy, and it is seriously lacking if the government that is elected by the people refuses to listen to a referendum, especially considering that referendum regulations were changed in the fall of 1996 by your own government and now it turns out that you're not even going to be following them. I find that rather obscene.
There are many things I could talk of. I will just try to limit it to a few on a list here. I think what we should be concentrating on is what the Golden report said, having local cities remain and strengthening them and having a GTA organization that handles the region, but not a megacity. Metro in a megacity will have half the population of the GTA, but eventually, when that association is made in whatever form you're talking about now, which doesn't sound very serious, we'd only get one out of five votes. So that certainly isn't fair.
I question why you're allowing Sudbury a choice. You said that you'd do whatever their council said and that you're not listening to the cities in Toronto or to Metro and even -- although Mr Tonks forgot it when he spoke here; I wasn't present -- but Metro voted against it as well. I am wondering why you're allowing Sudbury to do it and yet Metro you're not. Is it for some partisan reason? I understand Hamilton doesn't want it either.
What is going to happen is that you're going to make a class system. Let's be honest: We already have a class system, but you're going to bring disparities that are going to make things worse. You are following an American example. We have heard a professor from Ryerson speak about the example of Chicago. Is that a good example? It's got a history of corruption and Mayor Daley was famous for his "strong mayor" tactics.
I could tell you personally about Dearborn, Michigan. I think they have the world's record for the longest-serving mayor, 35 years. So much for your strong mayor concept. He stayed in because he was a racist. He was ousted about 12 years ago, but I think he actually died, because the last five years he was handicapped and in a wheelchair and people voted for him on a 1940s billboard that he kept replaying each election. But they were happy with their racist mayor, keeping the type of community they wanted.
I did bring a calendar for you all tonight. I didn't get time to get it Xeroxed, but I'll drop it off another night. It's called Megacity, Greetings from Detroit, the City of Urban Angst. You might think that it's farfetched, but it's not. I'm from Windsor originally. I'm 42 and I watched Detroit go down the tubes, although historically things started even before I was born, to a small extent, but I watched the greatest part of it. That's how some people are getting fooled today. They think that it will be little steps and all the things that are happening: "We'll catch it in time. We'd never allow that to happen." It's perhaps not as severe as that, but what you have planned certainly won't make things better.
I disagree with this aspect of your wanting to change something that works right now and is renowned around the world just for the sake of cutting costs and dumping things on the city so that you can pay for your tax breaks, so you can try to get elected next time. I think that may be reaching into some difficulties, no matter what some pseudo-polls are saying now.
We've had people from London, England, tell the mayor of the city of Toronto about what happened when they got rid of their metro. We've seen what happened with privatization there. All you have to do is watch the CBC to see some of the specials they had on that. We've seen the former mayor of Halifax come and talk to people here and tell you that amalgamation didn't work there. We've seen two renowned examples, both a huge city, London, England, an international city, and one in our own country, Halifax. It didn't work and isn't working.
You're not listening to your own Who Does What panel that you appointed. Mr Crombie was against downloading and yet this is happening. Why? You call it a fair exchange but it's already been proven that it won't be. I've read your report here too. I've got all kinds of them. Even the Fraser Forum -- I mean, Ernie's talking about the cuts in there, but who's backing that? The Fraser Forum, that's a real good journal isn't it? Is the Donner foundation in there too, the C.D. Howe, the Mackenzie Institute?
Provincial policy statements: Your Ontario, Your Choice: A Preliminary Look at Referendum Alternatives. Are we serious? Is Metro being allowed a referendum that you're going to listen to? You published this; are we being allowed to do anything with it? A Guide to Municipal Restructuring. These are all late ones, since you've been in power.
Let's be serious. What's really happening with education is that you want to have charter schools like they're doing in the States. With the province taking over education, that's what's going to happen eventually, at least on a certain scale. It's not going to be any good for anybody except the rich.
As I was saying, when I was a younger person in Windsor, I went to Detroit with my parents. I went with friends when I was a teenager and I went to school there, which was a big mistake. But I saw a lot of things happen and I know a little bit about its history, both in a historical sense and in a full-fledged experience. Although even perhaps Professor Lemon at U of T would disagree, saying that we would go more like New York, meaning just disparities, super-rich and very poor, because we don't have the racial problem that Detroit does, we'll still end up with American-type problems with the proposals that you're putting forth so far.
This talk about a $1-billion fund to offset the welfare things, when in fact it's not even new money; it's money that was already there for other things anyway. You're giving this image of its being new money when it's not. That's just as bad as your saying that this is happening and putting out brochures that the Speaker of the House admonished you for. Where is democracy?
You're talking about re-engineering education, but look who we have doing it: a dropout owner of a garbage-hauling firm. We have a Minister of Transportation who at one point was actually trying to sell cars to his own government before he found out it would be a conflict of interest. That's interesting.
Disentanglement and privatization: To me they seem like words. There'll never be disentanglement. There'll always be some. You look at everything as black and white, and you might as well look at this poster because it's black and white too. You'll never get rid of total disentanglement.
There's a certain amount of diversity that makes a city interesting. You listened to Jane Jacobs speak here. She's an expert on it. She's had architects follow her all over the world and she says herself that you need this diversity and you need this local aspect of a person being able to go up to their own city hall, not a megacity mayor whom it'll take $1.5 million to even run for the office. We all know who's going to run if this happens; you don't even have to read the paper for that. An expert like Jane Jacobs who moved from New York and came here and has lived here and raised her family here; you're not even listening to somebody like that who is world-renowned. She used to live up the street from me when I lived on Albany. It is important to listen to people and not shuffle through on these hearings, and to listen to the referendum. I attended a meeting by a Professor Bourne and Professor Lemon just the other day at U of T. They had some interesting things to say, although they're more against the downloading, if anything, because they see that as the worst aspect, which I do too. But the mayors have put forth a proposal and there are comparisons, actually in your own KPMG guide and --
The Chair: Mr Hanna, we're actually coming to the end of your allotted time. I wonder if you could try to finish up.
Mr Hanna: I'll allow some more questions, but things like welfare and senior costs, which are going to be going up, are going to be the killers of the cities when they're dumped on Metro and on the municipalities. We can see right now that welfare is starting to rise again. There's this aspect of these changes and what you think you're going to force people into, workfare programs and stuff, and that's been proved not to work around the world either.
I've read Bills 103 and 104; I haven't got 106 yet. I don't claim to be any expert, but I have an architectural background and an historical urban planning background and I don't think that what you're putting forth is very good for the city at all. I think that some day it will come back and haunt you in your paid-for retirements in Boca Raton, whoever is paying you from the south, or big business is going to make you retire.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Hanna, for coming forward this evening and making your presentation.
This committee is in recess until Wednesday morning at 9 am.
The committee adjourned at 2108.