Wednesday 26 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

Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic;

Chinese Canadian National Council, Toronto Chapter

Ms Avvy Go

Mr Keith Wong

Summerhill Ratepayers Association

Mr John Bossons

Ms Paula Fletcher

Mr John Belyea

Ms Elizabeth Lumley

Ms June Macdonald

Mr Edmund Fowler

Mr Bill Freeman

Mr Bradley Foster

Mr Joe Flexer

Mr Marc Meyer

Ms Rena Ginsberg

Mr Savino Quatela; Ms Maria Rizzo

Mr Joe Mihevc

Mr Sheldon Lipsey

Ms Moira Dunphy

Ms Daina Green

Women Working with Immigrant Women

Ms Salome Loucas

Ms Janice Etter

Mr Harminder Bhullar

Mr Peter Marcelline

Mr Joseph Izsak

Mr David Brown

Bloor Bathurst-Madison Business Improvement Area

Mr David Vallance

Mr Doug Lowry

Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)

Ms Anna DiCarlo

Mr Christopher Wilson

Ms Olga Kremko

Mr Bruce Kidd

Lakeside Area Neighbourhoods Association

Mrs Margaret Blair

Dundas West Residents Association

Mr Doug Webster

Mr Duncan Farnan

North Hill District Home Owners' Association

Mr Stanley Taube

Ms Patricia Petersen

Mr William Ferguson

Ms Betsy Carr

Mr Gul Nawaz

Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild

Ms Ann Douglas

Mr George Aregers

Mr Jeremy Gauthier

Mr John Gell


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)

Substitutions present /Membres remplaçants présents:

Mr RickBartolucci (Sudbury L)

Ms IsabelBassett (St Andrew-St Patrick PC)

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall L)

Mrs BrendaElliott (Guelph PC)

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber PC)

Mr SteveGilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)

Mr JohnHastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)

Mr DanNewman (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC)

Mr John L. Parker (York East / -Est PC)

Mr GerryPhillips (Scarborough-Agincourt L)

Mr TonySilipo (Dovercourt ND)

Also taking part /Autres participants et participantes:

Mr PeterKormos (Welland-Thorold ND)

Mr LenWood (Cochrane North / -Nord ND)

Mr PaulJones, manager, local government policy branch,

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Clerk Pro Tem /

Greffière par intérim: Ms Lisa Freedman

Staff / Personnel: Mr Jerry Richmond, Ms Susan Swift, research officers,

Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 0905 in room 151.


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. Our first presenters this morning are Avvy Go and Keith Wong. Welcome to the committee. You have 15 minutes this morning to make your presentation. If there's some time left at the end, I'll ask the government caucus to ask questions.

Ms Avvy Go: Good morning. My name is Avvy Go and I'm the clinic director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.

Mr Keith Wong: I'm Keith Wong, the executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council, Toronto chapter.

Ms Go: Our two organizations decided to join together to make a submission to this committee. Part of the reason is that there isn't enough space for everybody, but also that we have some shared concerns because of our mandate and the issues that we work with together. Since the public hearings began three weeks ago, over 2,000 individuals and organizations have asked to speak before this committee on Bill 103 but, as you know, about half of them have been turned away due to the limits imposed on public consultation.

Of all the delegates that have attended the hearings, very few are representatives from the ethnoracial communities and fewer still have spoken directly on the impact of the creation of a megacity on the multicultural communities in the six cities within the Metro Toronto area. For these reasons, the two of us are coming here today to bring to the fore our concerns about the megacity and its potential impact on the ethnoracial communities in Metro Toronto, and in the rest of Ontario for that matter.

Every year over half of Canada's new immigrants choose Metro as the place to settle in Canada, and in recent years 80% of all the new immigrants who enter Canada are people of colour. By the year 2000, about 50% of the people living in the Metro Toronto area will be racial minorities.

Toronto has been chosen as one of the best cities to live in the world largely because of the diversity represented in the city. Indeed, the entire municipality of Metro Toronto has benefited from the skills, cultures and energy brought by the immigrant communities, which have made Metro an envy of the world. Within this context, it is extremely surprising that Bill 103 is now being slammed through the Legislature by the provincial government without first considering the impact of the megacity on the immigrant communities.

Mr Wong: The purpose of Bill 103 is to eliminate six local city councils within Metro Toronto and to replace them with a mega-council. The immediate impact of the elimination of the local councils is the alienation of local communities from the political process. In the case of immigrant communities, the negative impact will be more deeply felt.

The process of integration for new immigrants is such that when they arrive in a new country, they tend to settle in areas already populated by people from the same region or the same country of origin. As the immigrant communities gradually become mature and immigrants become established in the host country, they start to spread out to other parts of the host country.

The demographic pattern of Metro Toronto is thus a reflection of the pattern of migration to the area. One can find clusters of ethnoracial communities throughout Metro, like the Chinatown in the downtown area and the east end, the Little Italy along College and Bathurst, the South Asian community in Toronto east and the Greek community along Danforth, just to name a few. Each of these communities has developed its own pace of life and its own character, and together they form the mosaic that makes Metro Toronto a vibrant place to live.

The immigrants who live in these communities therefore tend to be newcomers and people from the lower end of the economic spectrum. The local governments in turn play an important role in ensuring that the needs of these communities are being addressed. Very often, there is a fairly close contact between the local politicians and the neighbourhood communities. The local council works closely with the community on local problems and issues that are unique to the community.

Examples of such collaboration can be found in the east end Chinatown area, where the local councillors work with restaurants and merchants to implement recycling programs in an effort to reduce garbage produced by local businesses and hence improve the quality of life for local residents. The initiative has been a great success and received support from the local communities. Such an initiative may be no longer possible once the megacity is in place.

A megacity removed from the local communities will be less able to respond to the needs that affect a small segment of the population. A mega-council with a large constituency may not even see these needs as their priorities. Thus, abolishing the local council structure directly affects the way of life of these residents in the local communities. In the case of immigrant communities, they will lose an effective link to the government and the bureaucracy in power.

Ms Go: For many immigrants of colour, racism is a reality that they experience on a daily basis. Racism manifests itself in many different ways on an individual as well as systemic basis. Currently the Metro government and the six cities have each established a standing committee on race relations. Some of the committees are directly accountable to the cities' mayors and these race relations committees act as an liaison between the local governments and the communities to combat hate and improve race relations within the communities. These committees also provide directions to local and sometimes provincial as well as federal government on legal and policy issues that affect the wider immigrant communities.

By the same token, a lot of the anti-racism work within Metro Toronto is driven by local communities with the support of their local councillors. In Riverdale, for instance, the residents have launched many effective campaigns to directly challenge the hate activities undertaken by members of the Heritage Front. Their success lies in the ability of the local community, once again, to respond readily and quickly to counter hate activities.

What will happen to the existing race relations initiatives in the various cities, and what, if any, program will be put in place to make sure that the agenda of equality does not get lost in the new megacity? How can the immigrant and racial minority communities be sure that the elimination of racism remains a priority for the new mega-council? How can the mega-council effectively deal with hate activities in very localized areas targeting members of a specific community? These questions and more are not being addressed by the current proposal under Bill 103. Without first receiving any assurance from the province that they will be addressed, we cannot support the bill as it now stands.

Mr Wong: Megacity will also affect the accessibility of the political process to the people within Metro. In an ideal world, democracy means simply that all people have the right to vote for the government they choose. In reality, anyone who has worked on an election campaign would know that our democratic process is far from being perfect and that it suffers from a whole range of problems, one of which is poor electoral participation. The lack of participation is a particular problem for people who are unfamiliar with the political process, among whom are the immigrants to Metro.

Building a megacity is not going to alleviate the problem of voter participation; if anything, it will only worsen the situation. Already, members of marginalized communities tend not to come out to vote because they feel excluded from the election process. The larger the constituency the harder it is to engage in voter education campaigns to encourage higher participation. Ultimately, the marginalized communities will be even less represented among the electorate.

Across Ontario, the inequity is even more obvious once we start comparing Metro with the rest of the province. The ratio of councillor to constituency will be 10 times higher in Metro than in North Bay. Given once again that 50% of Metro residents are racial minorities, the disproportionate impact on racial minorities as a result of megacity will be more apparent.

Ms Go: The megacity proposal is one of the series of announcements made by the provincial government during the mega-week. The government is also proposing to download on to the municipalities a number of programs that currently fall within the responsibility of the province. The downloading of social services, transportation, long-term care, social housing etc will have a particularly adverse impact on low-income and racial minority communities.

Take the Chinese Canadian community as an example. According to the report on Ethno-Racial Inequality in Metropolitan Toronto: Analysis of 1991 Census, which was commissioned by the municipality of Metro Toronto, 19% of all families in Metro Toronto are below the low-income cutoff point, while 24.5% of families of Chinese origin live below that point in Metro. The same report also found out that the mean family income of a Metro family is $50,600 but that of a family of Chinese origin is only $38,300.

The stereotypes of rich Hong Kong Chinese therefore do not reflect the reality of our community. Many families of Chinese origin living in poverty have to rely on social assistance to support themselves. New immigrants in particular require various social services during the first few years after their arrival in Canada, and because Metro Toronto attracts the majority of all immigrants who come to Canada every year, the downloading of social services will have a severe impact on the ability of Metro government to meet the needs of immigrants. It is simply irresponsible for the province to devolve social programs without first assessing the potential impact of devolution on the local communities.

The megacity and the related changes that are brought about by this government will fundamentally change our city and our way of life forever. The haste with which this government has implemented such changes is a clear indication that it has very little regard for the people in this community and the future of our municipalities. As demonstrated by the latest ruling on the appointment of trustees, the whole legality of the process by which this government is proceeding is quite questionable.

Mr Wong: It is the responsibility of the government to maintain and enhance individual and community wellbeing. What makes all of us strong is that diverse communities can coexist in a society that believes in equality and socioeconomic equity. Bill 103 is an affront to our diverse community and our belief in true democracy and as such it must not be allowed to stand.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): Thank you very much. I want to remind you that when the minister announced Bill 103, he also mentioned the concept of community councils, by which the council for the city would be subdivided into six regions, with the councillors for each region meeting as a group to address strictly local concerns.

That's roughly parallel to the situation we have now with six municipalities with local councils, the difference being that instead of having two levels, where one level is restricted in what it can do and must defer to another level for certain other responsibilities, here everything feeds into a common pot, so the total council can make all the decisions that have to be made for the total municipality. The participants at the local level will participate at the larger level rather than having the dividing line between the two levels.

Given that, I'm just wondering why there is a concern that somehow the new council will fail to address the particular needs of communities of ethnic groups and minority groups and so on to any particular degree that's greater than the present system. What is lost by going to the new model?

Ms Go: I guess what is lost is that each community council -- they basically operate on goodwill, not to say that politicians don't operate on goodwill, but they are also directly accountable to the electorate. I find that a lot of the times with the local councillors, part of the reason for having community events or taking initiatives to address community needs is that they know that the next time people will come back to vote for them. So there is an accountability issue here that will not be addressed by setting up community councils. If you really believe there is a need for community councils, that means you believe there is a need for two layers. I don't know how that is different.


Mr Parker: Let me be clear. In mentioning a community council, what I'm talking about is a subset of the total municipal council, so that six, seven or eight -- I forget the number -- a subset of the total council would meet to address strictly local concerns in the subdivision they happen to represent. They would be able to meet directly with the residents of that area and address their concerns the same way a municipal council does now. I'm asking you, why would that model be any less responsive to local concerns than the situation we have now?

Ms Go: Because they're working with a much larger constituency. They are directly accountable to a much larger area. Let's say in the Chinatown situation, they are talking about working with the merchants on Gerrard Street. It's a very localized situation. If you have a councillor who has to be accountable to 100,000 people or whatever, they are not going to be able to deal with the tiny area that we're talking about, where the real change, the real work is being done: picking up the garbage, the recycling program. That kind of an initiative and little pockets of initiatives like that will be lost. You're talking about the mega-work, mega-recycling program, mega- whatever project, which is not directly answerable to the pockets of residents who live in different areas throughout Metro Toronto.

Mr Parker: If you're talking about a ratio --

The Chair: Excuse me, Mr Parker, we've gone beyond the allotted time. I want to thank you both for coming forward to make your presentation to the committee today.


The Chair: Would John Bossons please come forward. Good morning, Mr Bossons, welcome to the committee.

Mr John Bossons: Mr Maves, members of the committee, I represent an association of residents who live close to the centre of town between Bloor Street and St Clair. We're a very active association, as are many residents' groups in the centre of the city. Because of the nature of living in the centre of the city, there are always pressures. In order to keep the quality of residential neighbourhoods that has made Toronto so attractive as a place to live, it's very important that residents' groups can band together and work with the local municipality to keep Toronto's neighbourhoods of high quality.

I think Toronto has done a fantastic job of doing that and I give a lot of credit for that to the responsiveness in the city of Toronto, the city of Toronto council and, in other parts of Metro, to the local councils there. They are responsive to the concerns of residents and the governments have, I think, been very effective in finding ways of responding to those concerns while at the same time accommodating the pressures of development, the needs for change etc.

I think that is reflected in the rating Fortune magazine gave. It has undoubtedly been quoted to you many times but it's a fact. Toronto is a city that works well. As such, one has to ask, and certainly my neighbours are asking, if Toronto is a city that works so well, if Toronto is a city that's rated as the best place to live and work in North America by a magazine like Fortune, and if we know ourselves that the city works well, why change it? Why change something that's working well? I guess that is really the point I want to emphasize.

I know there are problems that need to be addressed in the GTA. There are problems that need to be addressed in the province concerning, within the GTA, the need for a regional government of some form -- call it a GTA services board -- the need for disentangling especially provincial and municipal functions, and the need to address the tax problems of the GTA, which, as everybody knows, are the key problems which really led to the formation of things such as the GTA task force chaired by Anne Golden. There are problems; they need to be addressed. Does Bill 103 solve those problems? Does it keep what is good? I don't believe the answer is yes to either of those two questions, so let me deal with the first.

What does it do to solve the true governance problem of the GTA, which, as everybody from Anne Golden to the board of trade has recognized, is the lack of a regional government? In other words, the problem here is the mistake that was made by the Davis government back in the early 1970s of setting up regional governments around Metro instead of extending the regional government to cover all of Metro. Does it solve that problem? No, it just focuses on rearrangements of functions within the existing Metro Toronto.

Does it deal with the problem of disentanglement? Obviously Bill 103 doesn't as such, but do the other reforms which go along with it do that? Yes, in part, and I give the government credit for starting to deal with the disentanglement problem. But I fault the government for undoing the benefits of what it's done in the disentanglement of hard services by providing worse entanglement of provincial and municipal functions on welfare. David Crombie, I think, said this best when he said it's wrong in principle and devastating in practice to move welfare down to the local level.

Finally, on the issue of taxes, the issue of the overtaxation of business assessment in Toronto, and not just in downtown Toronto, which is often focused on but especially in the industrial areas of North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke, where taxes that are twice as high per square foot as they are north of Steeles are driving industry out and in a very inefficient way: Does this do anything to that? No. The whole megacity package is doing the reverse, because the benefits that may come, that should come from a uniform tax on business assessment for education across the province are being undone, and more than undone, by the effects of downloading welfare.

As I say, is the whole package solving the key problems of GTA governance, disentanglement and tax distortions within the GTA? No. Is it keeping what is good? No, because within Metro it is simply amalgamating all of the local governments into Metro.

I would urge this committee to recommend to the government that it go back to basic principles, basically to how to deal effectively with those three problems; that it expand on what is being recommended for a weak GTSB to make that a true regional government, not a regional government with separately elected representatives but rather a regional government as in the Metro of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, where local councillors were members of Metro council. In other words, indirect election worked well. I believe Metro worked well. The problem was simply that Metro was not expanded to keep pace with the expansion of the GTA.

The residents in my area are very concerned about Bill 103 and the attendant other reforms that are associated in the so-called megacity package. They're very concerned about the downloading. They're concerned about the extent to which taxes in the Toronto area, in Metro Toronto, will be increased. They fear that the effect of all of this will be to make Toronto a less attractive place to live and work, and that by not addressing the tax problems of the area and by exacerbating them, this package of reforms is pushing us in the direction of US cities, where the kind of deindustrialization that's occurring now in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York was allowed to keep on going and made worse by bad tax policy there, resulting in a downward spiral of the US cities.

There's a lot of fear out there. There's also a lot of concern about the process, about the speed with which the government is trying to push through very important reforms. People in my area are pretty unanimous in saying to you: "Please, slow down. Do this right. It's too important. Quite frankly, you're not addressing the real problems of the region with this bill. You're doing something which makes the responsiveness of local government worse and is not doing anything to solve the problems of the region."


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Thank you, Mr Bossons. I guess originally this whole exercise, going back 10 or 15 years ago, started about trying to get rid of the tax gap between the 416 and the 905. I know you referred to that in saying that this proposal, Bill 103, which basically talks about the internal workings of Metro and its relationship with its six cities, does nothing to alleviate that gap; in fact, it entrenches the disparity between 416 and 905. Could you try and explain how it does that just in a bit more detail, because I think it's a salient point.

Mr Bossons: That's absolutely right. The key problem in the region is that the boundaries are totally artificial. It makes no sense to think in terms of different tax regimes north and south of Steeles. What that is saying is there's a need for a unified approach to tax policy, to regional problems, to transportation planning, to all those things in the region, and that we therefore need an upper tier that can deal with those. It seems to me that is the nub of the problem. The boundaries are totally artificial, and had we continued to have a single upper tier for the entire region, we wouldn't have these problems of tax policy we have now.

Mr Colle: I guess what the government is saying -- they've set up Milt Farrow to set up what I call the mutual debating society. What do we need there at that GTA level?

Mr Bossons: I think we need leadership from the province there. I would hope that the government members of this committee will see that partly as a result of, if you like, the shock value of Bill 103, attitudes have changed in the 905 area as well as in the 416 area. I think there is much more responsiveness now to the idea of setting up a real regional government and addressing regional problems than there was four months ago. I think the idea of the 905 having to deal with a monolithic Metro government is something which in their view is going to make it difficult to join a regional government. It's important to see that there are now, partly as a result of the fears that have been created by Bill 103, opportunities for the government to use leadership to get us a regional government that really addresses regional problems.

Mr Colle: Hazel McCallion has said that this is a mega-monster mistake because it just takes the whole thing out of balance when you've got a 2.3 million monster in the middle, with the cities of Mississauga, Brampton, some of them of the 100,000 size, so there's not going to be balance there.

You certainly support, you said, an indirect type of election, the way Metro was originally formed. Should they have taxing powers in order to alleviate this gap between the 905 and the 416?

Mr Bossons: I think the idea of taxing powers as such is a bit of a red herring. A regional government is going to have to raise money to deal with regional issues. If it's responsible for solid waste disposal, it's going to have to pay for the garbage dump. If it's responsible for GO, it's going to have to pay for the deficit in GO. It's going to have to get that money. Whether you call that a tax or whether you call that an apportionment to the member municipalities is really just semantics. It's going to have to raise money, regardless of what it's called. I think the distinctions that Milt Farrow makes in his report are really kind of distinctions without a difference.

Mr Colle: I guess the key area of social service is downloading, which puts a disproportionate amount of pressure on the Metro taxpayer. How should this GTA governance body, or whatever you want to call it, deal with that issue of apportioning costs for services across the GTA and the payment of those services, like long-term care, welfare, family benefits, drug benefits? How should it deal with that?

Mr Bossons: First of all, if those are left down at the municipal level, then yes, indeed, they're going to have to be pooled across the region. There's just no way out of that. Otherwise, the deindustrialization of Metro is going to continue. The board of trade has argued for that as a second best. Anybody who has looked at that has said you're going to be forced into pooling unless you address the real problem, which is the downloading.

I would argue the real solution is to eliminate the downloading of welfare, and I think there's a way of paying for that, incidentally, which David Crombie suggested in his earlier letter on education some months ago, which is to make municipalities responsible for paying for the capital costs of schools; in other words, making the municipal budget responsible for the school buildings, school maintenance, that kind of basic school infrastructure, which, after all, makes all kinds of sense to combine with community centres and other things to get cost efficiencies and service efficiencies. If you do that, I think there's actually enough money there as a download of those services to make it possible to upload all of welfare.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Bossons, for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee.


The Chair: Would Paula Fletcher please come forward. Good morning, Ms Fletcher. Welcome to the committee.

Ms Paula Fletcher: I'd like to thank the committee for this opportunity to appear here this morning. I'll start by saying: "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 municipalities." I happen to agree with this statement that Mike Harris made in October 1994, less than a year before the 1995 election.

In 1996, Premier Harris made the announcement that the six cities of Toronto, East York, Scarborough, York, North York and Etobicoke would be forced to amalgamate into one city to be called Toronto. Why destroy our roots and pride?

In December, Bill 103 was introduced, which not only forces amalgamation but, when passed, will put our entire democratically elected government structure in the municipality of Toronto under trusteeship. Trusteeship is usually reserved for those who have gone bankrupt or those who have broken the law. I don't believe that the city of Toronto is bankrupt or has broken a law. The court ruling yesterday on the trustees stands as a warning that this legislation was hastily drafted and needs to be rethought. I would ask the government to slow down and consult.

Is there anything to be gained by the government's moving so fast and without proper consultation? Yesterday even Bob Runciman was feeling the consequences of the government's blitzkrieg approach. He bemoaned the fact that there was no community consultation on the closure of a hospital in his riding. Welcome to the club, Bob. Let's work together to get this government to take a deep breath, slow down and consult with communities and residents on the big issues that will determine the quality of life in our communities now and for future generations.

The rationale for amalgamation has been increased efficiency in the delivery of services. So too was the rationale to amalgamate the service delivery of the FSP, the family support plan. Last fall we all witnessed the painful closure and amalgamation of eight regional family support offices that served thousands, that employed 290 people and made a healthy profit for the government. The government was warned early on by those administering the plan and those making use of the plan that it was not broken and did not need fixing. The plan was making a profit. But someone had decreed that it happen, so from August to November, chaos reigned.


Women were unable to get through to the new 1-800 line that was set up. Files, including cheques, were stuffed into boxes. Families were unable to get the money to live on and were being forced on to welfare. The minister responsible for the FSP blamed problems on computer glitches and insisted there were no problems, but when all was said and done and the pictures were published, the emperor truly had no clothes. I agree with what Mike Harris said in October 1994: Bigger is not better.

Perhaps the minister had been told there were no problems, just as government members are being asked to keep the faith on Bill 103 as having no problems. Every time I think of those pictures of the offices with boxes overflowing with documents that affect people's everyday lives, of the offices simply not set up, of desks overturned, simply of the entire mess, I fear that this will be the scene in the offices of the proposed megacity if this bill goes through.

Slow down and consult. I don't want to live under a forced restructuring that is poorly thought out, hastily executed, and then be lied to about the absence of problems.

I want to tell the committee a little bit about my neighbourhood. It is a very active community in east Toronto. We have a very busy community life with a strong residents' association, home and school, and community centre. We can pick up the phone at any time and get in touch with our city councillor or school trustee, and they work hard on our behalf.

As a community, we put a lot of effort into major projects. Over 500 children and adults participated in our annual Winterfest this year. Many of us believe that the strongest, safest community is one in which people know one another and work together in the community, one where they know one another's children and work together for all children in the community.

In Bill 103 and also Bill 104, neighbourhood councils and parent councils are being legislated. While Bill 103 is very vague on neighbourhood councils, it seems to me there is a strong element of adminstration and management projected for these councils. That work is presently being done out of our councillors' offices, and it seems it will fall to the community councils, which are volunteer groups.

There has been no community consultation about this arrangement. Will this simply add another layer of bureaucracy while local agencies and associations will have to deliver, on a volunteer basis, a level of municipal service? Can community members carry out management and adminstration on top of the countless hours of volunteer work already being done? How will such councils be approved, elected or set up? There has been no indication. Saying that this will be decided later on is simply not acceptable. Slow down. Consult.

I, for one, am happy with the current arrangement of division of responsibilities. With this new legislation and the cutback of ridings to 44, my new ward will have 50,000 people to be served by one elected official for all municipal matters. Is there any other municipality where there is one for 50,000? In North Bay, a city of 50,000, there is more than one elected municipal representative. In Sault Ste Marie, which is my home town of 60,000, there is more than one municipal representative for every 50,000 people. I don't believe it is fair to increase the ratio and transfer responsibilities to a neighbourhood council. Once again, I am in a position to agree with Mike Harris in what he used to say: "I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better."

Lastly, I want to talk for a minute about the referendum. I was glad when the government agreed to hold off on Bill 103 until after the referendum. Now the government should agree to respect the outcomes of the referendums. I am disheartened by the rather two-faced approach that the government seems to be taking to the referendum. There is referendum legislation now in place that was placed there by this provincial government. Many government members have actively promoted referendums as being a more pure form of democracy. Why is there such a fuss over this referendum? Why is there a declaration that we can have our referendum but the results will not be taken into consideration? How can referendum legislation be brought in one year and then the government declares it is disinterested in the results and refuses to take them into consideration when making sweeping legislative changes the following year?

One could speculate that the province is unable to fight the referendum on the merits of the case, or is unwilling to, and as a last resort is attempting to discredit our referendum process, a process that itself is set out by the province in legislation and where the voters' list is established by the province.

Shouldn't we all be agreeing to abide by the referendum results, to work within these results? If it is a No result, then the bill should be withdrawn and all parties go back to the drawing-board to negotiate to make the necessary changes, including addressing some of the fundamental problems GTA-wide: transportation, water, sewage, taxation and services. A divided house is never a strong house. Slow down and consult. I am prepared to live with the results of the referendum no matter what the outcome. Please tell me, will all of you?

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Ms Fletcher, we should just correct one point, because I know there was some consternation on the part of the government side. They actually haven't passed a referendum law yet, but they're going through a process in one of the other committees which will lead to a law being passed because they are committed to doing that. But interestingly enough, when it comes to the question of referendum as it would apply on the basis of citizen-initiated referenda to something like the amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto, I should tell you that the government members are contorting themselves all over the place to ensure that the new proposal that would come forward would not allow a citizen-initiated referendum to happen in Metropolitan Toronto unless you got agreement from across the province on the 10% threshold they are suggesting. They have turned down an amendment I proposed that would have done that.

Ms Fletcher: Thank you for correcting me.

Mr Silipo: You're quite welcome. I want to ask you on that very point, because it doesn't detract at all from your argument around the government needing to respect -- we have a situation here in which the government has been found to be in contempt, the court has now told it that the trusteeship process they've set up is illegal, and they are still saying they won't respect even the results of the referendum. What's your reaction to all of that?

Ms Fletcher: Of course the government should respect the results of the referenda. As I indicated, I am prepared as a citizen to accept them. If it's yes, I will accept that, and if it's no, I will accept that. I feel that has to be taken very seriously by the government and by the other parties in the Legislature and that the bill should go back to the drawing-board at that point.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs Julia Munro): Thank you very much for appearing here today, Ms Fletcher. We've exhausted our time.


The Vice-Chair: I call on John Belyea, please. Good morning, Mr Belyea, and welcome to the standing committee.

Mr John Belyea: Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, committee, for allowing me the opportunity to speak before this committee and give my opinions on Bill 103, which is currently being discussed. This is a very important bill, obviously. It's important that we get input from all citizens -- that's why I'm here today -- and to hear the input of those who are for and those who are against. This is a necessity, an important part of our democratic process. I hope this committee and the government will take note of the constructive suggestions and make amendments where appropriate.

I'm a resident of Toronto; I've lived in north Toronto now for about 13 years. It's a very strong neighbourhood, and the neighbourhood is really defined by the schools, by the parks we have, by the restaurants, the stores etc, but perhaps most important, it's defined by the people. In my neighbourhood, I'm surprised -- I shouldn't say "surprised" -- to see the number of families, people who have lived in that area for generations. It's a very strong neighbourhood. This is despite the fact that north Toronto is not just in Toronto; it straddles North York, really an artificial barrier through our area.

I very much love the city I live in and very much care about the place where my young family, my 15-month-old son, is going to grow up. I want there to be a future for him. I want there to be a city that's strong, vibrant and viable and recognized worldwide, as it is today, as one of the best places to live and work on this planet. This is why I'm here today supporting Bill 103 and amalgamation of the present seven levels of government into one strong, unified entity.


I want to focus on three points in terms of why I think that amalgamation makes sense. First of all, it's for a strong voice. There are presently seven voices speaking for Metro and these are often conflicting, contradictory, rarely agreeing. This is mainly because of political differences, not because of local circumstances. This really results in a weak position, particularly when defending the interests of our area in front of federal and provincial governments. With the changes being made at the federal level and at the provincial level, particularly with the restructuring of the funding and the way services are to be delivered, it's very important we as an area approach this as one strong, unified voice. The new mayor of the amalgamated Toronto will be one of the stronger politicians in this province, if not the country. It's that type of strong voice and leadership that we're going to require as we move forward.

The second reason is reducing duplication, waste and saving money. Presently we have six fire departments, six garbage collection services, seven parks and recreation departments, seven road maintenance operations and so on. This duplication is incredibly wasteful and very costly to the taxpayers in the current city. Rolling these services under a unified government will save money. There can be no question about this. I'm not aware of anyone who's arguing that the current amalgamated services, such as transit, policing, ambulance, water and sewer, be devolved back down to the city level. They're more efficiently carried out at the Metro level. Not even the latest mayors' report that came out late last fall calling for the elimination of Metro called for the elimination of these amalgamated services. The same argument logically would dictate that the other services I referred to earlier would be centralized and brought together, and clear savings will be made.

One area of considerable debate is, what are the exact savings? The government said there would be $865 million over the next three years and $300 million rolling on an annual basis thereafter. Opponents have said that actually there will be no savings and it's going to be much more costly to bring services together. I think these are both extreme positions; the truth probably lies somewhere in between. I think it's fair to say there definitely will be savings.

The opponents also seem to decry that we're going to lose 4,000 jobs, that 4,000 jobs will be eliminated as we amalgamate these services and make delivery more efficient. Well, 4,000 jobs are a salary cost to the various municipal governments. Using my calculation, that's $160 million right there. If they're going to use the argument that jobs are going to be lost, I suspect they should also say that money will be saved.

The final reason I'm supporting this is that we're pretty much already there. It's hard to understand how opponents to amalgamation say it's going to destroy our cities. Already 72% of the expenditures on services at the municipal level are delivered by Metro and it's time to bring those remaining services under one umbrella. The average citizen does not understand which level of government provides services now and they will not notice it after. The entity that collects their garbage, plows their streets in the wintertime or the fire department that responds to a fire situation in their neighbourhood -- those things are not going to change just because those services are moved from the city level as it currently exists to the amalgamated level. We seem to have a pretty good police department in the city and it functions very well on a Metro-wide basis. There's absolutely no reason any of these other services wouldn't work the same way.

Unification in our Toronto area has really been an evolutionary process. It started many years ago. Certainly you could point back to the 1950s with the creation of the Metro level of government. We saw many small, independent communities swallowed up by all the current six cities and those communities legally disappeared from the map. However, these communities, such as Leaside, Swansea, Forest Hill, Weston, have not lost their identities and are even stronger today than they were before they were swallowed up. I'd love to know what Mayor Barbara Hall's position would be today if we were to wind the clock back a few years, when the town of Forest Hill was absorbed into the city, whether she would be in favour of amalgamating that city or leaving it separate and independent. I have not heard her comments on that.

My community in north Toronto is really no different. The elimination of an artificial boundary is not going to destroy my neighbourhood. My neighbourhood is not defined by the boundary between my city and North York, which is three blocks away, which happens to cut through people's backyards. I consider those people my neighbourhood. I think they consider all of us in the same neighbourhood. What makes our neighbourhood strong will continue in the future and in fact may become even stronger under what the government's proposing here. I think it's fair to say that those who say that neighbourhoods will be destroyed by this legislation, by the amalgamation, really have no faith in the people who make up those neighbourhoods. It is the people.

I've been a little disheartened by the way this debate has turned out, particularly with some of the debate coming from the opponents of amalgamation. It seems that the volume is rising on a daily basis, with ever more outlandish statements and claims being made about how our city is going to be destroyed. While these opponents criticize the government for the supposed lack of concrete facts for the benefits of amalgamation, they offer not one shred of credible evidence to back up their claims.

Just the other night I heard Margaret Atwood claim that amalgamation would lead to the evisceration and evacuation of Toronto. I'm not sure exactly what she meant in that statement, but I think it's pretty irresponsible and it's backed by absolutely no facts. I don't know if she thinks the 700,000-odd people in this city are just going to leave the day this legislation is passed. This language she used and others have used is really the same language that opponents of free trade used in that debate nine years ago, and history has proven those arguments wrong and will also prove those opposed to amalgamation wrong in the years to come.

That's all I have to say. Thank you.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): Thank you, Mr Belyea, for that excellent presentation. You didn't touch on the referendum. The previous presenter suggested that the government respect the results of the referendum. You're from the city of Toronto?

Mr Belyea: Yes.

Mr Newman: What are your thoughts on the referendum?

Mr Belyea: I certainly have opinions on it; I didn't want to cover everything in my presentation. The referendum, if carried out in a proper way, could be viewed as a viable exercise. But the way the cities, whether it be Toronto or the others, have approached it causes a problem for me. I cast my ballot, but I was little appalled to see my name on a little sticker on the envelope it goes into. As much as they claim there will be privacy, I'm not sure of that.

When we're voting for municipal politicians, federal or provincial, it is truly a secret ballot; there are no names associated. I'm not sure the whole referendum process that's being carried through is a very viable one.

There's a lot of discussion going on -- there's discussion here today -- and this is a very valuable way for us to put forward constructive comments on the legislation. My concern, and I tried to touch on it in my last point, is that there has not been a lot of constructive discussion and debate on it. It's: "Stop. It's wrong. It's going to destroy us." I haven't heard any viable options. Even the six mayors in their report admitted that the status quo is not sustainable and that there has to be change. Then let's hear what we should move to.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Belyea, for coming forward to make your presentation.


The Chair: Would Elizabeth Lumley please come forward. Good morning, Ms Lumley. Welcome to the committee.

Ms Elizabeth Lumley: Good morning, honourable members. Thank you for holding this hearing. I want to thank you for choosing to participate fully in representative democracy by running for office and by taking on the responsibility of managing the interests of all the citizens of Ontario. You act on our behalf.

I'm here today to speak for democracy and against Bill 103, the proposed amalgamation of the city of Toronto. I am speaking to you as a parent, as a former teacher and as a citizen not only of Toronto and the city of York but of Canada. It is primarily as a citizen of Canada that I want to address the issue of democracy.

The United Nations Association of Canada declares: "The values we share and aspire to as Canadians -- respect for the rule of law and the dignity of the person, fairness and equitable treatment, tolerance and the acceptance of diversity, and the fundamental principle of democratic participation -- are inherent both in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies numerous rights and freedoms, from the right of due process to a right to the preservation of one's culture."

I believe that our cities and their form of local democracy are part of our culture and part of our right to self-determination. I believe our courts are part of our right to due process.


What Bill 103 does is to abolish democracy by imposing an appointed board of trustees and an appointed transition team whose decisions "are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court," whose decisions usurp the power of existing elected officials. To appoint a body that is not accountable to the courts is to start on the slippery slope towards dictatorship. When any society abrogates human rights for any reason, there is a real risk of disaster.

The Holocaust occurred because of the gradual erosion of human rights and freedoms and the rise of a dictatorship. We must remember all the Canadians soldiers who died overseas during the Second World War in the belief that democracy must be defended with their lives. In Germany at the end of the war, when good, decent citizens were asked, "How could you have allowed this to happen?" they said: "We didn't know. We didn't know."

Here in Canada, at the end of the 20th century, we do know. We do know how easily human rights and freedoms can be eroded. We do know as citizens that it is our responsibility to notice when such rights and freedoms are being taken away from us or anybody else, and that is why we, as citizens, so strongly oppose the proposed legislation.

We also know that the wholesale disruption of a culture and of its right to self-determination has a devastating effect on the children of that culture. We have only to look at 500 years of solutions being imposed on aboriginal peoples, including the recent residential school solution, to know that imposed solutions, ignoring the rights of individuals, leave a legacy of despair rather than hope.

When a government introduces legislation that creates a body of people, whether the board of trustees and the transition team on the municipal level or the Education Improvement Commission at the provincial level, a body of people that is not representative, that is not elected and not accountable, we are dissolving democracy and we are violating our principle that we are all equal under the law, not above the law. We are annihilating the existing culture and heritage which we have to pass on to our children. We are creating the same arbitrary conditions which first nations have faced.

In 1991 Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 5 articulates "the state's duty to respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and of the wider family to provide guidance appropriate to the child's evolving capacities." Parents have the right to provide guidance.

The package of bills which the Ontario government has recently introduced dissolves true elected representation, representation which allows parents to provide guidance appropriate to the child's evolving capacities, whether through municipal or educational planning. Consequently, it violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and thus violates Canadian agreement with a world body. The proposed legislation must consequently be withdrawn.

I have mentioned the international and national documents that must affect our decisions as Canadian citizens. I want to mention some documents that apply to many Ontario citizens. These are the regulations that pertain to education and the teaching profession, part of the wider family referred to in the UN document.

Excerpts from the regulations made under the Teaching Profession Act include: "A member shall endeavour to inculcate in his pupils an appreciation of the principles of democracy; concern himself with the welfare of his pupils while they are under his care; present in the proper manner to the proper authorities the consequences to be expected from policies or practices which in his professional opinion are seriously detrimental to the interests of pupils; recognize a responsibility to promote respect for human rights."

Teachers, then, by the very ethics of their profession, are bound to oppose legislation that is undemocratic, which is not in the best interests of the pupil. Since they are also bound to present the consequences to be expected from policies or practices which in their professional opinion are seriously detrimental to the interests of pupils, they are bound to articulate in what ways this legislation harms children. They are also bound to promote human rights.

In other words, what teachers are obliged to do out of professional responsibility and what parents have the right to do, that is, provide guidance for their children, may run counter to the government's position and to its legislation. If we allow this legislation -- and I mean Bills 103 and 104 -- we potentially create a situation in which the unelected, unaccountable, unreviewable boards of trustees consider those who promote democracy, that is, teachers, as political dissidents. We do not need Stalin, we do not need Tiananmen Square, we do not need the suppression of political dissidents. What we do need is an active citizenship, whether teachers or others, promoting the best interests of the child and of its culture, that is, democracy.

The Chair: Excuse me, Ms Lumley. We've actually come to the end of your time. I wonder if you could perhaps just wrap up quickly in your own words. We have the two paragraphs that we could read.

Ms Lumley: All right. Yesterday an announcement was made that the courts unappointed the board of trustees until the proposed act has been acclaimed. It is because we have the courts that we have some hope of safeguarding human rights and democracy. Regardless of whether the referendum results are yes or no, this legislation violates human rights and must be withdrawn.

I urge you to vote with your conscience and vote against both these bills. I urge you, as Canadian citizens and members of the larger global community, to adhere to the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to support, not destroy, the democratic process. I urge you to care for the children of this province by encouraging the democratic culture we live in. I urge you, as you vote on the numerous other bills which this government has introduced, to consider the impact each bill will have on the welfare of each child in this province. I urge you to vote with integrity.

Thank you for the interest and energy you bring to this issue.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Lumley, for coming forward and making your presentation today.



The Chair: Would June Macdonald please come forward. Good morning. Welcome to the committee.

Ms June Macdonald: Good morning, everybody. The changes this government has made have already had a profound effect on my life. I live in the core of the city, not a dozen blocks away. Increasingly in the past year there have been more and more people on the street asking me for money. Early in the mornings when I go for a walk, I find shop doorways on Yonge Street packed with young people sleeping in substantial numbers. This is my home and I hate this. I don't for one minute think they want to be there.

I feel the downloading of social services will make this a lot worse. Currently we feel the sting of the education part of our property tax but we know it's going for something of infinite value: a child's education. Will we feel the same forbearance about welfare? I don't think so.

I was born in this city, I love it and I don't want to leave, but if this keeps up, how can I not leave? I can't bear to see this misery every day. I live right down here.

I personally feel the taxes I paid were well worth it. I don't see our taxes as excessive when I see the benefits we get from them. I also feel the speed of the changes that we're undertaking is really unacceptable.

My major point is to the mandate of the government to make these profound changes. The government consistently states that it has a majority and the legal right to enact Bill 103. This mandate is the product of an antiquated electoral system which has been rejected as undemocratic by the majority of the world's democracies.

Very few jurisdictions retain this winner-take-all system, where we here in Ontario give a minority of people -- the 45% who voted for the Conservatives -- a full 82 seats when the majority, who voted against the government, make do with a mere 46 seats. Is this fair? It's not in my book and it's not in those countries that have a proportional system of government, such radical countries as Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand, all of which have a form of proportional representation which does not allocate all votes on a winner-take-all basis.

Interestingly, New Zealand has just instituted a form of proportional representation following an extended period of policies which are remarkably similar to those which are being instituted here in Ontario.

Our system can work and has worked in the past because we have been blessed by leaders who recognize the inequity created by our electoral system and conduct themselves accordingly. When they don't, we no longer have representative government or the hallowed rep by pop; we have something quite ugly.

I would personally like to see the present bill rescinded, or the steps towards it stopped, and replaced by a bill that would retain the present cities as constituted and extend a Metro-like government jurisdiction over the whole 905 area. I'd like to see the tax structure retained as it is at present, and I'd like to see some more continuity of services like the TTC. Because I live in the core, I find I use my car very little; I use the TTC a lot and I use a bicycle a lot. I find that this means of transportation is not a priority for people in other areas. This is where local government serves me personally very well.

Finally, I'd like to see the government institute a form of proportional representation for the next election so the proportion of sitting members is more representative of the people who voted. Maybe then we can prevent such major upheavals, like we're all going through now, after each new government is elected.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We have several minutes for questions from the Liberal caucus, starting with Mr Sergio and then Mr Colle.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Thanks for coming down and making a presentation to our committee. On January 28, in answer to some questions, I suppose, Mr Harris was quoted, "What's etched in stone is that we are not going to increase the burden on provincial taxes." That's his quote. Then he went on to say, "We believe we can control the cost and ensure that property taxes won't go up." Have you seen anything that would give us this assurance from the government side?

Ms Macdonald: No, I haven't. Again I don't have any hard facts on this, but you live a certain length of time and you see trends, and taxes don't seem to go down.

Mr Sergio: Would you say the downloading is a sort of tax on the local municipality?

Ms Macdonald: Yes, and I think the taxes may go down because people just won't pay that, and then I really believe we'll get a hollowing out of the city, much as they do in many of the American cities, because the ratepayers just won't pay for social services. It won't be the same. It's a real nuisance to pay all the money that we pay for education tax, but we pay it because it's for a good cause, but I don't think we're going to pay it.

Mr Sergio: If you were the government and you thought that taxes would go down, wouldn't you give that information out to the public, to us, to everybody so you can really show that indeed what you're proposing is going to decrease taxes, is going to maintain or increase the levels of services? Why do you think the government has not provided that information? Maybe they don't have it. What do you think?

Ms Macdonald: I think it's possible they don't have it. Things are happening too fast. I don't think things are being done very efficiently, and that's a big problem with all of this. I don't see the efficiencies taking place and I see a lot of things happening like they happened in New Zealand. But before people wake up and hear the penny drop, all this will have happened and it'll be in place just like free trade; it's done, it's a done deal and we can't do anything about it. That's what I really worry about.

Mr Colle: Ms Macdonald, you made some very interesting points in terms of your references to the need for perhaps looking at systems like proportional representation. I think the most intriguing comment you made was that in the past we have had governments that have maintained majorities, but it seems that they conducted themselves a little differently from this government in that they, as you said, conducted themselves accordingly. In other words, my sense of what you were saying is that even though they had a majority, they still respected the fact that they didn't have complete power, that they still had to respect the rights of the minority.

Ms Macdonald: Yes, exactly.

Mr Colle: It's interesting; the court decision rendered by Mr Justice Brennan yesterday I think further points to the attitude of this government in how they conduct themselves. As you know, when they were presenting before the judge, the government's position was that in essence they could appoint these trustees even before the law was passed because, their argument was, they had this residual discretionary, arbitrary authority, which in essence is the royal prerogative. That's the defence they used, that they could do these things because they had the royal prerogative.

It's interesting; in his response Judge Brennan was quite unequivocal. He said, "It seems to me contrary to fundamental principles of responsible government to invoke the royal prerogative without adverting to it." Perhaps we're seeing a shift here, that now majority governments mean you also have a so-called underlying royal prerogative. How is this going to fit in terms of hearing from the minority or people who didn't vote for this government?

Ms Macdonald: I think this is why people are so concerned about the loss of democracy. It hasn't clicked in that this appearance of a lack of democracy really is a lack of democracy and it's integral in this antiquated electoral system that we have. It's only a few countries in the world that have it -- very, very few. Apparently it's only Britain and the United States that have it, and the United States has essentially a two-party system, so it doesn't have the same impact. We really are out of step with what everybody else is doing, which is why people are so concerned about the lack of democracy, because that's what really is happening when you have this government which invokes this royal prerogative. It's really very dangerous, I think when it's not used to just --

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Mcdonald, for coming forward and making your presentation today.



The Chair: Would Edmund Fowler please come forward. Good morning, Mr Fowler. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Edmund Fowler: Thank you, Mr Chairman and ladies and gentlemen, for listening to me.

I just want to start off with a couple of quotations which some of you have heard perhaps all too much recently, but I want to repeat them. I think they bear repeating.

"The Garden of Eden: East York is indeed the Garden of Eden, a community with a special identity, a unique pride, a strong will for independence and a capacity to care for its own. The survival of this municipality has been questioned for years, perhaps decades, but survive it has and survive it will." These are the words of David Johnson, as I'm sure you know.

"There is no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity. Why destroy our roots and our pride? I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger municipalities." Mike Harris said this in the fall of 1994 to an audience in Fergus.

I have taught local government for 25 years at Glendon College of York University and I too believe that bigger is not better. I am here because I feel Mr Johnson and Mr Harris have made an about-face. They are proposing a terrible piece of legislation, completely antithetical to their position a few years ago. I want to figure out why.

To make sense of why Bill 103 is being proposed, we must start by remembering that everything fits together. Trust me, it really does. We love to separate things into categories, we humans, but in so doing we become so dazzled by our clever distinctions that we forget how they all fit together.

I want to start by way of example, by looking at what places are. Think for a minute about where each of us lives. It's really quite remarkable. Into one house or a building come water, hydro, telephone lines and highly trained men and women who are ready to help us in emergencies. Individual units are all linked to some vast waste disposal system and our garbage and sewage are whisked away. All these services and functions criss-cross and interconnect to serve one building, one block, one neighbourhood.

That's because buildings and neighbourhoods are like people: They are glorious, interdependent, multilayered bundles of energy capable of doing all sorts of different things. People don't just eat, sleep and sit on the toilet. We cook meals, we sing, we write computer programs, we have children, we tell stories, we make love and make change.

Places are like that. Ecologists have told us there is a remarkable interconnection in, say, just a tiny area of woodland; it just interlinks the activities of millions of different organisms: trees and their roots, squirrels, mushrooms and microscopic bacteria. In a similar manner, urban places combine human social activities with political economic and cultural pursuits all at once, all at the same time.

Places are really what local governments are all about. The basic functions that I described above -- police services and sewage, fire protection and so forth -- are services to places. We wouldn't be holding this meeting here if municipalities weren't providing us efficiently with lights and hydro, heat and all sorts of other services, including the roads and the TTC that got us here. But to separate those services from what we're actually doing here -- the meeting we're holding, the purposes of this meeting -- would be foolish. We have to link them together, and that's why local governments also have another very important function, which is to plan land use, to figure out sensible ways in which people and places and services fit together. That's what I mean by fitting together.

This coordination requires a really intimate knowledge of how local places and people fit together. This is a knowledge that provincial and federal governments are incapable of having. In fact, many large cities are incapable of having this kind of knowledge. After all, if you think of Metropolitan Toronto or the greater Toronto area from a bird's-eye view, if you try to look at them as a whole, the way people and places fit together really seems incomprehensible. These intricacies are not mysterious to those of us who know the places. Services and people at this level are not entangled, as we've been told, but integrated in the manner I've just described. It would be foolish to say there's no waste, but to say that duplication exists because, say, East York has one fire department and the city of Toronto has another defies logic. The two departments simply serve two distinct places.

I think it's really important to remember that large-scale regional and provincial governments with their bird's-eye view have a lot to do with why we're here today talking about problems in municipal government. With their policies of taxation, subsidies and so forth, they have encouraged an urban development which is causing all our problems with local government boundaries and with the costs of municipal services. Maybe most of you are familiar with the massive costs of urban sprawl. This form of development didn't just happen; it was fuelled by everything from tax and fiscal policies of the federal government to provincial subsidies of roads and trunk sewers.

Such practices made a mockery of municipal boundaries. That's why we have problems with the GTA. It caused us to spend billions and billions -- and I'm not mixing my consonants there -- of extra dollars on infrastructure, and caused grievous damage to our personal health and to the environment. Economic decline inevitably followed, and my own research has shown that large-scale, homogeneous development attributable to these policies of large-scale governments is associated with a loss of community, juvenile delinquency and rising rates of crime, which I understand Mr Gilchrist is concerned with in his own riding.

All this happened because large units of governments haven't the time or ability or intelligence to plan a variety of small-scale, diverse neighbourhoods that are necessary to a vibrant city. This planning has to be done from below, and our economic and social health depends on our grasp of this fact. Even bankers are telling us that successful cities are defined by the creation of new products and dense networks of caring from within, not by competing for outside capital to come in. That's not how cities work. Cities work by replacing imports, by nurturing our close-grained structure of land use and old and new buildings, not by smokestack chasing.

Years ago urban economists in the United States, Canada and the UK discovered that all this actually fits together in the sense that municipal services and zoning necessary to support a sensible physical environment are best coordinated at a population of about 100,000 to 200,000 people. The horizontal communication that's needed among public works, utilities, parks and police commissioners is practicable at this level so that Hydro workers don't dig up streets that road crews have just paved.

Bigger units produce urban sprawl with their zoning, and big, vertically integrated bureaucracies eat up tax dollars because they are hidden from public view and not friendly to integrating their functions horizontally. This was determined years ago.

The optimum unit size for cheap and efficient services, political and social vitality and population health is between 100,000 and 200,000 people, and I give lots of references in my paper. Political participation goes up at this level; services are cheaper. This was found out in the 1970s.

The Chair: Mr Fowler, I am sorry to interrupt, but you're coming right to the end of your 10 minutes and you don't have time to read through the remainder. I wonder if you could sum up.

Mr Fowler: I would like to sum up simply by saying, if this is such a bad idea, why is the government doing it? This government's leaders in the recent past have forcefully expressed opposition to amalgamation. It's okay to change your mind, but if you do, a proposal like this should be introduced with humility and time to discuss it. You never know when you might change your mind again.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Fowler, for coming forward and making your presentation today.



The Chair: Would Bill Freeman please come forward. Good morning, Mr Freeman. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Bill Freeman: Thank you for allowing me to come and make a presentation before your committee. I am somewhat familiar with Queen's Park. I was policy adviser for the previous Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ed Philip, and I want to let the committee know that I come with some expertise and some understanding of some of the problems that are being wrestled with here. Frankly, they are serious problems that do need to be addressed.

First of all, we should all frame our understanding of this to understand that the city of Toronto -- and I use the word "Toronto" to generally mean Metro or the Metro area -- is a very special place. I think some of the anger and discomfort, call it what you may, that you find people are coming forward and expressing here is because they think they have built a pretty special place here in the city of Toronto.

It's a place where neighbourhoods work, and I think it's important to remember this: It's a place that in a way has been rejuvenated from the central core out. There are new and vibrant communities built on old communities here -- Cabbagetown, Riverdale, the Beaches. There are new neighbourhoods along the waterfront. Parkdale and Bloor West Village and lots of other places in this area are becoming rejuvenated.

If there is one underlying theme that seems to be going through the protest and concern that we've seen about this bill in the last few days, it is the fear that Bill 103 is going to destroy this, and I'm afraid I have come to the conclusion that it is a very real threat to what we've known here in this city.

The problem in American cities has been rising crime, infestation of drugs, unbearable welfare costs, high taxes, shoddy services, poor schools, racism. What has happened in city after city in the United States is that the middle class has, if you will, fled the centre of the city and the centres of the cities have become places of poor people. This has not happened in Toronto, and I think it's very important to remember that Toronto has a very strong residential character to it. There are many people of upper income, middle income and in fact lower income living here and getting along quite well. When people from around the world come to Toronto and say that this is a good place and they rank Toronto as having a very high quality of life, this is what they're talking about. Frankly, if you tinker with these issues, you do it at your peril. I think this is what we're seeing.

When I was involved with government here at Queen's Park we wrestled with the issue of governance and the issue of taxation. These twin issues have plagued continuing governments for a long time, and frankly they're going to continue to plague us for a long time. But I think it's important to talk about them.

When I was involved, two key issues were debated very strongly. One was market value assessment here in Metro and the other was this disparity in commercial and business taxes between the Metro area and the 905 region, as it's come to be called. Typically, business and realty taxes are 45% to even 80% higher here in Metro than the area outside it. Frankly, that's a problem we tried to address, not with much success, but clearly one of the reasons the Golden commission was appointed was in order to address these problems. I think we all have a concern about that and everybody on all sides of the House when I was here at Queen's Park was concerned about this in a very genuine way.

The difficulty is that the proposals being brought forward by the government simply do not deal with these key questions. What is going to happen as a result of the proposals, if I read them right, is that with welfare being put on to the property tax, it's going to exacerbate this whole problem, and quite enormously exacerbate the problem particularly for people of middle and upper income in the city of Toronto and in the core. There is real panic out there and I think that panic is quite justified.

What we're going to see if these proposals go through is some of the dreadful things that have happened in American cities where the middle class flees the downtown core. As we all know from our economics classes, nothing shapes individual behaviour more than economics, and issues like taxes are very important. One of the reasons why Toronto and Metro generally have remained a favourable place for people to live is that taxes have been reasonable. If you're going to load higher levels of taxes on to these people, they're frankly going to flee. There's a whole syndrome here, because as people leave, the ability to tax goes down and you've got to raise taxes; raising taxes forces more people to go, and on and on you go. I don't need to remind you people of all this.

So taxes are at the core of this, and I am afraid that rather than solving those problems that were set out by such groups as the Fair Tax Commission, which was set aside by the last government to try and wrestle with these problems, the Golden commission that was set aside, in fact this government has gone in a direction that is going to increase the problem rather than lessen the problem. If there's one key issue that I leave with you, it is this problem: You ain't solving the problem.

Secondly, I want to talk about the political issues here, because I was involved in a very intimate way with the whole issue of dealing with the GTA mayors. I attended many of the GTA mayors' meetings, became a close friend of Hazel McCallion, among others. What I found in my whole experience, the directions that my minister wanted me to address, was to try and bring people together to see if we could begin to achieve some form of consensus. It would certainly be wrong to say that with that disparate group consensus was emerging, but I think, through the GTA mayors committee that Hazel McCallion worked at and established, there was a lot of coming together on this.

We assisted that group through economic development. Why? Because we thought this was a thing that spoke to all of the mayors and would help them begin to work together. The whole approach that we were attempting to do was to build consensus and build coalitions to make people come together. People in that committee were beginning to understand that this is one urban environment here, one contiguous region that stretches from east of Oshawa through to Burlington, and north from the lake certainly up to Newmarket and beyond, to Caledon. It is a totally builtup area.

We know that we need to be able to deal with these issues on this GTA-wide basis. Why? Because we need to be able to coordinate, in particular, issues such as transportation, planning, roads, sewers, water, all of those types of infrastructure issues that are the fundamental responsibility of government. How we deliver those things is very key and important.

Our attempt was to try and build towards some type of consensus where we could attempt to build some type of political unit that would make sense. The other part of our thinking was clearly a criticism of Metro and of the way Metro had developed.

I'll give my own personal opinion on this. When the Liberals made direct elections to Metro, I for one supported this. I thought this was a good idea. I think history has proven that it was a bad idea. What happened is that there are now at Metro competing political bodies between Metro and the lower tiers. That's perceived by the public as just a bunch of squabbling, and no doubt a lot of it is, frankly, turf wars. Politicians know all about that. My own sense is that the direct election was a mistake and that indirect appointment is much better. It does not create that type of conflict at a municipal level.

Those were two problems that we attempted to address and the Golden report was a result of that. In reading the Golden report, I certainly support the general thrust that was going in, because it did two things: It strengthened local governments and, secondly, it provided a type of political body that would be GTA-wide that could deal with the infrastructure problems and those types of decisions.

I think the direction of Bill 103 is exactly not the direction to go. I think it will be a very serious problem and a serious mistake. It doesn't take in the whole urban envelope; that's number one. Number two, what it does --

The Chair: Mr Freeman, I'm sorry. We're already at 11 minutes, and I know that you, having been a veteran of the place, understand the rules.

Mr Freeman: I do. I know the way it works.

The Chair: I want to thank you very much for coming forward today and making your presentation.



The Chair: Would Bradley Foster please come forward. Good morning, Mr Foster, and welcome to the committee.

Mr Bradley Foster: Good morning and thank you for inviting me here to speak.

I am a resident of Toronto, an entrepreneur, an employer, a father of three and an active community member. I am currently chair of the Palmerston Area Residents' Association traffic committee, which represents 2,000 households in our area. I wish to address the committee about why I think Bill 103 threatens our way of life and will make Toronto a lesser rather than a greater city.

I volunteer a great deal of my time to make my neighbourhood and community a better place to live. I do this for a number of reasons: I like to help people, I want to make my community the best it can be, I can use my leadership skills in a positive way and because I can be effective. There are thousands of people doing the same sort of thing across the GTA and in other communities in Ontario. Our time and leadership contribute to making communities more livable, safer and more desirable places to live and work. But we are often taken for granted because we have no official role in local government, and our coalitions rise and disappear with the issues. Taking us for granted is a major flaw in Bill 103, its neighbourhood committees and its community councils. There is nothing in the megacity legislation that makes government user-friendly for people like me.

Let me give you a few examples of the kind of community work I do. The small park across the street from our house rose from the site of an old rooming-house that burned to the ground about 20 years ago. The park had a few swings and a slide. When I moved into the area the park was not being used by the new families flocking into the neighbourhood. The park was neglected, often littered with papers, broken glass, and home to gangs of youth who spent evenings drinking beer and keeping the neighbours awake.

The city did a good job of maintaining the park, but the function of the park no longer suited the neighbourhood. They picked up litter from time to time, mowed the grass -- I can't say I ever recall seeing another city or borough mowing our lawn -- and maintained the playground equipment. Neighbours even called the police to get the youths to move on, usually to other parks. I asked my kids why they didn't play in the park. They told me it was boring, there was nothing to do. This was partly because there were no other children there, so I said, "Let's change that."

We started a petition to lobby the city parks department to install new playground equipment. In a few weeks we had the support of over 100 families. I contacted our city councillor, who put me in touch with a playground designer in the parks department. She was very supportive and worked with a committee of neighbours struck to help redevelop the park. It just so happened that the parks department had the money for a climber they were going to install in another park but the residents there didn't want it.

Since the new equipment came in, the park is full of children every day. It has become a focal point for our community where parents meet and exchange information. Vandalism has almost disappeared. Garbage and broken glass are a rare sight. Best of all, everyone involved in the process felt empowered because they took ownership of their problems. That's how great cities work.

A sense of ownership is what makes city dwellers feel in control of problems. No city gives people a sense of ownership, but cities can facilitate it by having open doors and by being responsive to citizens' needs. People also need to feel they can be effective. Not very long ago Toronto city hall was closed to public input and it was a less great city. It has gradually opened up not only the process but the bureaucracy to help citizens solve their own problems.

In case you're not aware, we have had an experience with a megacity for the past nine years or so. I'm talking about the Metro level of government. In the last election, the city of Toronto held a plebiscite in which a majority of voters chose to eliminate the Metro level of government. Several Metro councillors in the last election were acclaimed because nobody bothered to run against them. In fact, during the last provincial election Mr Harris said he was in favour of eliminating the Metro level of government. His announcement was greeted with enthusiasm in Toronto.

Instead, this government proposes to remove the popular level of local government, leaving us with a loathsome council. What are we to draw from this exercise? That we can't have the local councils we've worked to shape? Is this government trying to tell us we should hate government because we can't have one we like?

In my experience, dealing with Metro has been very frustrating and discouraging. I see no evidence that the megacity will be any different. One case in point is when our traffic committee wanted to change the direction of one street for 50 years from a signalled intersection, which means that Metro has to get involved. Everyone was in favour of this idea: residents, the store owner, the truck drivers who use the street and even the city councillors. We hit a wall of resistance at Metro. Transportation department mandarins spent a great deal of time defending their assumption that there would be chaos and death if this went ahead. Eventually we convinced enough councillors to try it and it went ahead. The intersection is now much safer than it was before.

A case could have been made to keep the six cities and expand the Metro level to cover most of the GTA as a coordinating body. This could have been done in a relatively painless way and harmony would have prevailed. Instead, this government is charging ahead like a bull in a china shop, smashing up everything that works. What we get is a reconstituted Metro with all of the city services and a lot of unwanted provincial liabilities.

The discussion around Bill 103 and the way this government is attempting to ram it through despite our wishes speaks volumes about the cynical way this government views citizen participation and debate in the formation of policy. The Minister of Municipal Affairs has been cited for contempt of the Legislature and he is repeatedly contemptuous of public input unless it supports the government. Mr Leach has done everything he can to make citizens of this city feel disfranchised and helpless. Several people have told me there is no point voting in the referendum because the government will ignore the results, so why should they bother? Are we supposed to trust this man to bring forth a system that is as fair as the local government we have now? Yesterday a court stripped him of his unelected trustees, which gives me a little more faith in the system.

Perhaps this government is just being naïve and they really don't know how to create legislation. They should look to the city of Toronto for examples of how to do it right. Before the city makes policy, they actually hold public hearings with all the stakeholders to get input and public participation to find out what they think. In my experience, people closest to the problems always have the solutions.

But the amalgamation bill is not about finding out what people want. It's not about saving money and it's not about streamlining government. It's not even really about reducing the duplication of services. Amalgamation is a bad solution in search of a problem.

Bill 103 is about all the other bills that come after it that download, dismantle and disentangle -- or is that "mangle"? Bill 103 has become a necessary evil for this government and that's why Mr Leach has been so emphatic and really quite clear that nothing will stop this bill. The government would fall on its collective face if Bill 103 fails to gain approval in the Legislature or fails to gain royal assent. That will not happen, because this government needs Bill 103 passed at all costs.

Does this make this committee hearing a farce? I don't think so. This committee has been a very useful process for educating the public about the nature and intentions of this legislation. Even those who would control the media can't halt the flow of information spilling out of this room. The hearings have even pulled a small group of the bill's supporters out into the light of day for all to see and hear.

Downloading and education reform are what amalgamation is all about and the government should have the guts to be upfront about it. The public mauling that members of this government get whenever they show their faces in public should convince them they've not fooled many of us, and we'll be even less amused if and when this government tries to ram this legislation through.


Bill 103 is profoundly flawed. Amendments can't fix it. Megacity doesn't have legs. As an idea, it has not travelled beyond a small circle of politicians, journalists and lobbyists with vested interests in busting up the six cities. As an idea, it is stillborn. As a concept, it is a lightning-rod for anger about downloading. The government is like a runaway train on the wrong track, but like most runaway trains they eventually run out of steam or they can derail at a turn.

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. I would also like to thank the government for bringing everyone in the six cities together on this issue. It's very inspiring to be involved in the fight against Bill 103, a fight which will only intensify if it is passed into law.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Foster. You have effectively used up your allotted time. I want to thank you for coming forward.


The Chair: Would Joe Flexer please come forward. Good morning, Mr Flexer, welcome to the committee.

Mr Joe Flexer: Good morning. My name is Joe Flexer. I've lived in Toronto since 1971. I moved here after living in many cities in Canada and around the world. Despite many serious problems characteristic of contemporary society, I found Toronto to be a congenial and good place to live. The city and its surrounding municipalities are clean, well serviced and relatively safe. Until recently, most working people were able to make a decent living for themselves and their families. The multicultural character of the Toronto area is a joy, making Toronto an exciting and interesting place to live.

All of that began to change in June 1995, with the election of the neo-conservative government of Mike Harris. Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution is part of the political drive by corporate Canada to force down the standard of living and democratic and union rights of Canada's working people. The mechanisms of this agenda are too many to detail here but I contend that virtually every move proposed and made by this government since its election in June 1995 is calculated to further this overall objective. These measures are what corporate Canada, the people who the Harris government represents and work for, thinks is necessary to augment their already bloated profits in the economic climate that prevails in the world today.

The implementation of this agenda has sparked in Ontario a popular fight-back movement which is larger, broader, politically more astute and more militant than is the case so far in any North American jurisdiction.

Municipal governments are institutions that are most directly responsive to popular influence and control. In the context of the fight-back movement that has emerged in Ontario, they have become centres of legitimate democratic opposition to the Harris government's agenda. The opposition to the gutting of rent controls and the opposition to the privatization of public services are but two among the many examples of this that I could cite.

Special mention should be made of the endorsement by the majority of the municipal council of Toronto of the October 25 and 26 Days of Action, including the Friday general strike. I hear by the grapevine that it was this endorsement that sparked the government's final decision to bull ahead with the megacity legislation. Bill 103 is the Harris government's way to rid itself of this impediment. It is a key part in establishing the political control needed by the government to implement its anti-people agenda. Mike Harris has been overheard saying, "We have to get rid of these lefties."

Bill 103 is primarily political in its objectives but it also aims at furthering economic objectives. Bill 103's political objective is to eliminate what I call legitimate centres of democratic opposition, resistance and education, and replace them with a remote and more easily controlled system of local governance. Its method is the bloodless coup d'état and blitzkrieg.

Bill 103 puts existing municipal governments under the trusteeship of a group of appointed bureaucrats accountable only to the Tory cabinet. Under the bill, this trusteeship has the power to veto all financial, budgetary, planning, hiring and promotional decisions of the democratically elected municipal councils. These bureaucrats will be answerable only to the provincial government and will be enjoined from speaking to the media. Their actions will not be subject to any judicial review or oversight. I certainly welcome yesterday's court decision that, for the moment at least, overrides these obviously anti-democratic measures. This notwithstanding, these anti-democratic provisions remain part of the bill.

Bill 103 then puts into place a new structure of municipal government to govern over 2.2 million people. This is a hefty percentage of the population of Ontario. A major anti-democratic aspect of this new structure is that to elect a majority to the municipal council of this megacity government can, and probably will, cost many millions of dollars. The people behind the Harris government have this kind of money; working people and their organizations in Metro do not. The authors of Bill 103 think this new governmental structure will likely do their bidding and help in an important way to advance their agenda.

To sum up, Bill 103 is anti-democratic and is clearly aimed at gravely weakening the democratic character of municipal governance in Ontario. It therefore should and must be vigorously opposed by all those who believe in the expansion of democracy and not in its weakening or practical elimination. The working people of Ontario have a particular interest in defeating this anti-democratic bill. They and many of their organizations are therefore participating in the popular struggle to force the government to scrap it. This movement will surely grow. I demand that the Harris government scrap Bill 103.

The economic objectives flowing from Bill 103 are three in number. First is to offload the costs of degraded social services on to the backs of working people and small and medium business people through increased property taxes and user fees. Second is to pave the way for the rapid privatization of large segments of government-funded public services, thereby destroying many thousands of good, unionized jobs, and through the withdrawal of successor rights replacing them with low-wage, unorganized and contingent labour. Third is to position the provincial government to plunder the education system's budget of the $1.2 billion it needs to finance Mike Harris's payoff to the already rich through his phoney tax cut.

In order to mask and hide its political and economic objectives, the government's principal argument has been that amalgamation and revision of the municipal tax structure will lead to greater efficiency and save lots of money. This outlandish claim is made despite the fact that every piece of serious research in the world has shown that in megacities the public services that are delivered are not only of significantly lesser quality, but actually cost more per citizen than they do in smaller municipalities. No reputable studies I have seen have shown that the government's case is credible.

Overall, the justifications and pretexts used by the government to cover their tracks on Bill 103 remind me of the labour leader who once said that if she goes to heaven, it won't be for the good things she has done, but rather in recompense for the bullshit she has had to listen to.

Finally, a word about the future as I think it will unfold: The referendum organized by the popular movement in conjunction with the municipal governments will show a good, if not massive, majority for the "No to the megacity" side. The government has already stated that it will disregard this outcome and go against this expression of the popular will. I believe this will be the case. The government will try to justify this by attacking the credibility of the referendum. This is already happening on a day-to-day basis in much of Toronto's mass media which, for reasons of furthering their own special interests, are supporting the megacity madness. This will not work. The people of Ontario will see through this elaborate con.

The key question is, what will the response of the mass movement be to this? I must commend the Citizens for Local Democracy, led by John Sewell, for raising the spectre of the 1837 rebellion led by William Lyon Mackenzie. The spirit, in modern form, of the democratic struggle that culminated in the Mackenzie-Papineau rebellion of 1837, together with the class struggle, is on the rise in Ontario and I think the Harris government will be very hard-pressed to prevail against it.


This committee can take my word for it. There are thousands of activists and many tens of thousands of good and sensible working people in Ontario who will rise to this challenge. I therefore urge and demand that the Harris government have the good sense to do two things: First, it must scrap Bill 103; second, since it has shown itself to be a government destructive to the wellbeing of many tens of thousands of Ontario's working people, it must resign and allow for a new expression of popular will through a provincial election.

Thank you for your attention and I'll be pleased to answer any questions.


The Chair: Order, please. Unfortunately, you have exhausted all of your allotted time, Mr Flexer.

Mr Flexer: I sort of figured it would be that way.

The Chair: I want to thank you for coming forward.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Chair, on a point of order: I'd be pleased to agree to giving Mr Gilchrist five minutes to engage in dialogue with this presenter.

The Chair: I'm sure you would, but everyone's just as important as the next person, Mr Kormos.


The Chair: Would Marc Meyer please come forward. Good morning, Mr Meyer, and welcome to the committee.

Mr Marc Meyer: Good morning. First, I'd like to thank the committee for allowing me to make this deputation regarding Bill 103 this morning.

I'd like to give you my background at this moment. I grew up in Hamilton-Wentworth and graduated from landscape architecture at the University of Guelph. I studied planning, urban sociology, design and plant culture. In 1990 I moved to Toronto to work for a private landscape architecture office. Since that time, I have been a landscape inspector for the town of Markham and a technician for Metro Parks in Toronto, where I redesigned parks. I now work in the brokerage industry, in First Canadian Place.

What I'd like to present to the committee today are my views on the discussion concerning Bill 103, based on my academic experience, my life as a Torontonian, but more importantly, my role in Toronto area municipal government.

The evidence for the need for change is really quite clear. Governments must be held accountable for their fiscal spending. We cannot continue to accrue debt. There is no question in my mind that a fiscally responsible government is the way of the next millennium. This committee has heard many deputations explaining how the present system of property tax assessment varies across Toronto and should be reshaped. You have also heard how bylaws vary from municipality to municipality and are often confused with Metro bylaws.

Clearly these issues and many others point to the need for change, which is why many people are in favour of Bill 103. Yet I have seen very little in respect of a plan as to how the Harris government expects to maintain the quality of life for Metro Toronto's visitors, employees and residents. I don't believe many of the supporters of Bill 103 understand that there is a large risk involved with this change.

The evidence that the Harris government uses to support Bill 103 for a cost-efficient Toronto, as we all know, is the KPMG report, which was written in only 10 days. This is hardly enough time to thoroughly analyse the data. As this committee has heard many times, there has yet to be an amalgamation of this nature that has not increased the costs for a city. Regardless of whether you may think duplication of services may be eliminated or that wage discrepancies will be averaged down rather than up or whether systems such as computerized firefighter dispatchers can be engineered at a reasonable cost, there is insufficient analysis to prove that cost savings will result.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been very particular in pointing out the so-called benefits of Bill 103, but he has not informed the public about the non-fiscal issues concerning Bill 103. It is these non-fiscal aspects of Bill 103 that I wish to focus upon next, based on my experience at Metro.

I would like to examine the difference in management style, comparing Metro to each of the municipalities, using Metro Parks as the model. Currently, Metro Parks is responsible for maintaining large recreation facilities. These facilities include soccer fields, such as at Eglinton Flats; public golf courses; extensive trail systems, such as along the Humber and Don Rivers; and vast parks.

Metro parks are much more homogeneous than municipal parks. It has been my experience that Metro Parks maintains its open areas better than its specialty landscapes. Parks such as James Gardens and Edwards Gardens are unique among Metro's collection because they combine plantings with retaining walls, walkways and wood structures. Metro Parks does not repair small problems in specialty areas such as these. Rather, it allows walkways, retaining walls etc to slowly decay to the point where the only option is to renovate whole areas on a large scale. By contrast, similar parks in the city of Toronto appear better maintained. The city of Toronto is more familiar with managing diverse materials and so is better able to repair these items when needed.

If the two tiers of parks are amalgamated, the Metro style of management will dominate over municipal. This is because the sheer size of the region will require a large-scale manager to coordinate the affairs, while the smaller municipal style takes a back seat. If the Metro style of management is applied to municipal parks, they will succumb to large-scale renovation practices.

Also, as a regional manager Metro distributes moneys for items like flowers equally throughout the region. The city of Toronto is more diverse. It tends to focus resources in key areas. A regional style of management applied to city of Toronto parks will result in areas such as St James Park and the Artists' Gardens having their resources averaged out over the region.

Last week, Janet May presented to this committee an example of how she and her friends were able to instigate changes to her local parks department with regard to decreased use of lawn chemicals. She explained that after approaching her local government: "Within a month, pesticide use was on the agenda of North York city council. Within a year, a multistakeholder committee had developed a pesticide reduction strategy for the city." She explained how similar groups have not achieved similar results in Metro parks. Her story illustrates the difference in the two management styles. Metro effects change more slowly because it maintains large areas and has a more bureaucratic management style. North York, by contrast, deals with smaller areas, is more flexible and responds more quickly.

Amalgamation of two mutually exclusive styles of parks management does not create a hybrid that automatically takes on the best qualities of both. I have used regional and local parks departments to illustrate my point, but the Metro versus local municipal examples can be seen in all areas of amalgamation. The minister, Mr Leach, has not addressed the issues of these two management styles. Without detailing how to marry the conflicting management styles, amalgamation cannot be effective.

I won't elaborate much on the effects that downloading welfare costs will have on Metropolitan Toronto, since you've heard much on that topic already. I will make the point that this added cost is another problem brought in at a time of restructuring and is hindered by the lack of a plan to resolve the difference in management styles. It will be beyond the ability of the new municipal body to meet targets within the time frame that the Ontario government has outlined. I would also like to mention that it has recently come to my attention that Bill 107, the waste management improvement act, also involves downloading costs to the cities. Although I have not had time to examine the bill, I wonder if the government has assessed how Bill 107 will impact the overpressured amalgamation process.

The Harris government's priority became quite clear to me at a recent public meeting at St Paul's Church which I attended. The minister, Mr Leach, was explaining how the proportion of municipal moneys spent by Metro compared to the local level. He joked that the services Metro provided were "the important stuff." Mr Leach smiled and paused, I assume so his supporters could laugh and applaud his statement. Unfortunately, Mr Leach's supporters were few and far between that night. No one smiled.

These are just some of the services Mr Leach insinuated aren't important: bike lanes, small parks, small recreation areas, rape counselling centres, family planning clinics, women's shelters, needle exchange program, public health clinics, art in public places strategy, local environmental groups like Save the Don, libraries, Toronto Arts Council, adult education classes, English-as-a-second-language courses and training for immigrant families.

All these services are used by most Torontonians at one point or another. I don't believe Mr Leach really cares whether or not the majority of these services provided locally should survive the uploading to a regional scale. At the same meeting at which Mr Leach spoke, a newsletter was distributed by the Ontario PC Party. Inside was an article called "7 Benefits to You -- Why a Unified Toronto is Good News to Taxpayers." Nowhere was mentioned a commitment to ensure the same level of local services is maintained after amalgamation. Why not? Since the province has appointed trustees to oversee municipal spending and a transition team to oversee the restructuring, why can't it make a commitment to taxpayers?


The minimum level of services that the taxpayers will receive in an amalgamated city should be the same as they currently receive. The government cannot judge one service to be more important than any other service. It was not elected for this purpose. It is severely tightening the purse-strings under the pretence of increasing efficiency by amalgamation. Mistakes made now will resound into the next millennium and will possibly never be undone.

I will be voting no on the question of amalgamation in the referendum. I will do so not because I am satisfied with the status quo, as Mr Leach calls a nay vote. Municipal problems can be resolved by moving services to the appropriate level, either regionally or locally, wherever they serve taxpayers best. This can only be determined through the cooperation of politicians, civil servants and citizens working together in the best interests of all. Until such a plan is proposed, I cannot endorse unilateral change.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Meyer. You have used the allotted time. We appreciate your coming today.


The Vice-Chair: I call on Rena Ginsberg. Good morning, Ms Ginsberg. Welcome to the standing committee.

Ms Rena Ginsberg: I'd like to say first of all that I'm very pleased to be able to speak at this public hearing to express my views on Bill 103. I currently live in the east end of the city of Toronto and before moving there lived for many years in Toronto's west end. I've never delivered this sort of presentation before, but feel I must speak out on this issue.

The prospect of the profound changes being proposed in Bill 103 has caused me to reflect on what I value in our city. It has made me realize that there's a lot about living in Toronto that's very important to me, things I've come to take for granted for many years now.

I've lived in Toronto since September 1972, when I moved here from the New York City area, supposedly for one academic year. I'd been to Toronto only once before, for a day and a half a few years earlier, and had so enjoyed it I decided to come back for a longer stay. I had been impressed with the city's friendly inhabitants, numerous parks, clean, safe streets and efficient public transit.

When I started to live here, I began to notice more profound differences between Toronto and New York, differences that I discovered underlay the things that had first impressed me. The most striking difference for me was the vitality of the downtown area, where people of all walks of life and income levels lived. I was used to Manhattan, where a large percentage of the inhabitants were either people who had the means to live in upscale neighbourhoods or those who couldn't afford to escape tenements and public housing projects.

While I saw some evidence of that in Toronto, I saw many more people who fell between these economic extremes, people engaged in a wide variety of vocations and pursuits, including raising families. They not only worked and shopped in some of the busiest parts of the city, but lived there too. Living downtown, I discovered, was an affordable option, one that many chose. The result was a city with a variety of downtown neighbourhoods, each with a unique sense of community.

The fact that people identified with and cared about their neighbourhoods created community activism, in terms of mutual help and volunteering and in terms of political action. Apathy was nowhere apparent. A burgeoning citizens movement strove to uphold the rights of those wanting a say in the future of their communities versus those who saw development solely in terms of dollars and cents. That the little guy could sometimes win against big interests was most encouraging. There was a sense of being part of a caring and supportive society.

Now, after weathering rough economic times, including the downsizing and cutbacks of recent years, community life as we know it in Toronto is facing a direct attack in Bill 103, as well as in the proposed downloading of social services. If these plans go ahead unchanged, neighbourhoods in Toronto will suffer, along with many of their residents. The quality of life will never be the same and the health of the entire city will be compromised.

We are told this will not happen. The government's public relations flyer promises, "Toronto will always be a city of neighbourhoods." That may be true if we're simply talking about areas where people happen to live, but for residents to have a sense of belonging and ownership in those neighbourhoods, they must feel that the structures and institutions function according to their needs and interests.

It is not by accident that Toronto's neighbourhoods are vital and distinctive. They are nourished by excellent services, affordable housing of different kinds and a system of local democracy that allows citizens a strong voice. With government being close to its constituents, we are better able to affect issues in our communities, whether they be the pollution caused by a local industry, a drug problem in the community or traffic concerns. I do not see how individual neighbourhoods can receive the same attention and commitment in the proposed megacity, with less than half the number of councillors and each ward correspondingly larger. The proposed neighbourhood committees will clearly have little or no power to bring action on local concerns.

I also believe that under one government it is doubtful the cities currently within Metro will receive the services and programs best suited to them. The characters of these cities and their subsequent needs are simply too different. The city of Toronto, for instance, provides grants to budding artists, choreographers, composers and writers because it knows that the arts community must be nurtured in order for our cultural industry to thrive. No other city in Metro funds the arts to anywhere near the extent that Toronto does, and the level has not dropped since 1993. I doubt very much that such funding will have the same commitment on a megacity council, particularly in these times of tight budgets. This is a very worrisome prospect to those of us who, like me, enjoy and appreciate the arts scene in our city and realize its importance for both tourism and Canada's cultural development.

The government says that the proposed megacity will be more efficient and save money. But the supporting evidence is far from conclusive, and information to the contrary abounds. As political scientist Michael Keating noted in a recent Globe and Mail article, "Nobody has seriously argued that economies of scale continue past a population of about half a million." So it mystifies me why an amalgamation bringing 2.3 million people in five cities and one borough under the governance of one council is being, in effect, foisted on us.

I do think there is a need for better coordination within the GTA and that certain aspects of municipal government are best organized at the regional level, such as transportation planning, environmental protection and business development. If Bill 103 were proposing some sort of umbrella regional body for the GTA, I would consider it a step forward. As it stands, we are being presented with a bill that offers no regional vision, while depriving us of systems on the local level that function to represent us.

I find it very disturbing that this government deems haste to be of such importance that it has not been willing to take seriously the views of constituents. There is no democracy without consent. A song comes to mind that says, "Take your time and do it right." Why the rush to have such a massive change signed and sealed for this year's municipal election? Better to take a little longer and consider such change carefully, in consultation with urban experts and citizens. The result will be a quality proposal that will stand the test of time and that people will be able to respect.

It is crucial that elected officials of all stripes speak out for the proper handling of reform in Toronto and area, so that while efficiencies are improved, the ability of our communities to be represented democratically is maintained. This is not frivolous. This means the difference between a city where people get together to solve problems and improve the quality of life and a city where neglect and apathy reign.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Thank you, Ms Ginsberg, for your presentation. I have to say that I have been very inspired by many of the presentations, the individual testimonies and the expertise they bring. Under normal circumstances, most governments would be very impressed and learn much from them, but we have a different situation that we're dealing with.

Mr Foster made a good point, and I think you've made it as well. He said that a sense of ownership is what makes the city dwellers feel in control of problems; that no city gives people a sense of ownership, but cities can facilitate it by having open doors and by being responsive to citizens' needs.

I think you said that, and Mike Harris agreed with that in 1994 when he said: "I disagree with restructuring, because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities." He knew that then, he knows it now, but something has changed.

Why do you think they would do something that seems to be so contrary to public opinion, public expertise in the field, the desire to keep local governments and the failure to deal with the regional questions that Metro and the GTA should have dealt with together? Why do you think they would do this?


Ms Ginsberg: It's a mystery. I really can't say. I've asked myself the same question. I don't know.

Mr Marchese: It is a mystery to us as well, but not so much a mystery, because I think it's all very much driven by big business interests. We know the developers love this. The Urban Development Institute came and said, "We love it," more or less; I'm paraphrasing, but they liked it. Why? Because it's so much easier for them to deal with one government. They can influence it better, of course. Through Bill 86, they can get more money now. They no longer have that ceiling of $7,500 that this bill changes, permitting developers and other wealthy partners of theirs to give more money. It's all to facilitate their work. This is a government that is an instrument of that particular objective. That's my opinion, obviously.

By the way, I wanted to share something with you. Professor Beth Moore Milroy, a professor of urban and regional planning, said something very compelling. She said this: "And go to studies that teach about the local, human scale." She's worried about the human scale -- "That is the scale at which people can understand their surroundings and at which they believe they can have an effect on their milieux. Understanding and believing in one's efficacy brings out energy, caring, innovation, dedication. Take away the capacity to grasp the scale and to have a say in what is going on and people stop paying attention, the city debilitates.

"The right scale feeds efficacy; efficacy feeds caring; caring feeds the city; and around we go." Do you have an opinion on that?

Ms Ginsberg: No.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Ginsberg, for appearing here today. We have run out of time.


The Vice-Chair: I call our next speakers, Savino Quatela and Maria Rizzo, to come forward, please. Good morning and welcome to the standing committee.

Mr Savino Quatela: My name is Savino Quatela. I arrived in Canada from Italy in 1966. I am a resident in the city of North York. Today I ask myself, is Ontario, Canada, as good as it was in 1966, 1976, 1986 and 1996? My personal answer is no. Ontario is good no more. Ontario citizens need a general protest, the European way, to stop the Mike Harris government from acting in an undemocratic way, just like a dictator. The referendum is the best way to let him know what people want, and he should respect the voice of the people, whether it is yes or no. Mussolini once said, "Live one day as a lion or 100 days as a sheep."

Please don't insult the beauty of the lifestyle of each Ontario citizen by dumping the load of social services on my municipality and on my property tax. My taxes will go up -- you can't deny that -- and services will go down. My family and I enjoy the services we receive, and I know we will lose them under the megacity.

The Crombie commission appointed by this government was against downloading social services. Why wouldn't Harris listen to his own people? Damn you, Mike Harris. If you and your government are not able to maintain these vital programs that we have paid for through our income taxes, then you should call an election. No one gave you the right to change Ontario for the worse. At the very least, the Tories should respect and accept the result of this referendum.

This government speaks from both sides of its mouth. From one side of their mouth they have the referendum legislation; from the other side they say, "We don't care how people vote in the referendum." Mike Harris is saying: "We'll do what we want anyway. We won't listen and we don't care what the people of Metropolitan Toronto say."

I know the proverb says, "The rich with the rich and the poor with the poor." I am happy to be on Robin Hood's side. Please don't destroy all those honourable citizens, because their hands and brains have built Ontario. I urge your government not to dishonour hard-working taxpayers with this legislation.

Mister Premier, there is no greater gift than the gift of giving the opportunity of a better quality of life to a human being: a senior citizen, a child, a youth, the disabled and the unemployed. I don't want a megacity. Please don't get rid of my city. Give me this gift.

I want to thank the committee for letting me exercise my right of free speech and my say on the megacity issue.


The Chair: Order, please.

Mr Quatela: I want to encourage the government, go see the books. There are a billion ways we can fix what is the matter.

Whatever he said, I keep as a souvenir, to have when the people promise something. If you're not able to do your job, resign. If you are not able to do the promise, it is better not to stay in those seats. Thank you very much.

Ms Maria Rizzo: Mr Chair, members, my name is Maria Rizzo and I am the North York councillor in the city of North York for ward 5. I am here today with Mr Quatela to represent the views of virtually thousands of people, thousands of residents who have had no voice in this process. The reason for that is that their first language is not English and this is a very intimidating process for them. Bill 103 will have devastating effects on the quality of life they presently enjoy and they want me to give you a very clear message: They do not want any part of a megacity. I urge the government to withdraw this legislation before it's too late.

People from all sides have come forward against the megacity -- Liberals, New Democrats, Tories and people who are unaligned. I received a letter about a week ago from a lifelong Conservative member, an urban developer, Mr Joe Sorbara, QC, and I want to tell you some of the things he says. He wrote a letter to Minister Leach and it was delivered to him on February 19. I quote:

"There is no question that the people of this province, myself included, elected a Conservative government to implement the policies set out in the Common Sense Revolution. However, on this issue I believe that the power and the right to govern have gone too far. I do not believe that implicit in the Tory election and consequent mandate was the authority of the elected representatives to change the municipal structure and world in which the citizens of Metro Toronto live, without further consultation.

"Public hearings do not constitute the type of consultation that I believe would be required to meet the test of fairness and democracy. In my view, any plan for municipal goverment has to be sold and not merely rammed down the throats of the people through majority government. Such an action is democracy in theory only.

"Without, at the very least, a delay in the enactment of the enabling resolution to give time to inform the citizenry more fully, I would have to vote no in any local referendum seeking to determine support for the megacity."

Even an urban developer, even your own friends, are saying, "No, this isn't good enough for me, the megacity, and I will be voting no in the referendum." In my view, this megacity proposal and the way it's been handled by the government have upset me more and offended more than any other action taken by any government in Canada for as long as I can remember.

What got me into politics in the first place was the belief that citizens have a right to fully participate in decision-making, that government has an obligation to make sure the public fully understands the effects of any changes it is planning to make, and that the best decisions affecting communities are those that come from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.

The megacity and all the legislation that comes with it, such as the downloading of social services on to the property tax, will dramatically change our way of life. It will, in my opinion, make it much worse. To have a decision of this magnitude imposed against the will of the majority is to me unthinkable in a democracy. If the majority say they want a megacity, I am prepared to accept that, even though I may disagree. I expect the government to do the same.


What if Mr Harris and Mr Leach are wrong? What if Mayor Lastman and John Sewell and Joyce Trimmer and Joe Sorbara and Alan Redway and Anne Golden and Jane Jacobs are right? If the megacity turns out to be a disaster, how will it be fixed? We all know how easy it is to scramble an egg. Have you ever tried to unscramble one?

I believe the changes being proposed will pit the young against the old and the old against the young, the rich against the poor and the poor against the rich, the educated and the skilled against the uneducated and the unemployable, tenants against homeowners and Metro Toronto against the rest of the province. Instead of bringing us together, I believe the megacity will tear us apart.


The Chair: Thank you, Ms Rizzo. There's very little time for questions. Order please, ladies and gentlemen. Each time I have to ask for order, we lose an opportunity for questions. Mr Stewart, we're down to a minute.

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): One question, back to you, sir. You might like to know that this government has put 372 new drugs on the formulary in the last year.

To you, ma'am, the mayors came up with a proposal to make some changes. Why do you believe that you, as part of the governance of this area, did not come up with a proposal sooner? Do you believe in the status quo?

Ms Rizzo: Yes, I do, as a matter of fact.

Mr Stewart: You believe in the status quo.

Ms Rizzo: If it's not broken, don't fix it. It is absolutely working. We have exactly what we want in the city of North York. We are well represented by our local politicians, as far as I am concerned. Our community and the city of North York have the best services for the people in a very diverse culture across the entire metropolis. And 600,000 people, thank you very much, is just plenty for us.

Mr Stewart: I have listened to people who believe in the status quo --

Ms Rizzo: I don't subscribe to that theory. I do not subscribe to that.

Mr Stewart: But you said, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." Don't you think we should do a little maintenance to it? If we had reinvented the wheel --


The Chair: Order, ladies and gentlemen. Mr Stewart, thank you very much for your questions. We've exhausted the time.

Ms Rizzo: Mr Stewart, all I want to say to you is that even if you want change and you support change --

Mr Stewart: We used to ride on stone wheels too.

Ms Rizzo: Even if you want change, don't, as Mr Sorbara said, ram it down people's throats. Have a process by which we're part of deciding the future of our society, of our cities, of our communities, of our neighbourhoods. That's all we're asking for.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Rizzo, and thank you, Mr Quatela.


The Chair: Order, please, ladies and gentlemen. I've had this conversation several times with many of you about outbursts and audience participation. This is a forum for presentations by those coming forward to make those presentations and we do have time lines. I want to hear everyone who's here. Every time I have to stop and make an announcement, I lose that ability, so please keep in order.


The Chair: Would Joe Mihevc please come forward. Good morning, sir. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Joe Mihevc: Thank you. First of all, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address the committee on this very important issue.

I realize there have been many speakers before me who have developed several good arguments for why Bill 103 needs to be sent back to the drawing-board. The key arguments have included the following points: A megacity will lead to property tax increases, even before the downloading outlined in mid-January; a mega-Toronto will be more expensive to run, as an enlarged bureaucracy will need to be developed to maintain an effective span of control for management; a megacity will be less democratic, given the size of their new wards; furthermore, the increased responsibilities at city hall will limit councillors' ability to interact with their constituencies.

For these reasons, as Wendell Cox has pointed out, in the United States there is virtually no jurisdiction currently pursuing amalgamation as a strategy for more effective, efficient and democratic local government. But rather than focus on these points, I would like to focus on four other points that, as I've perused the debate, have not been elaborated on significantly.

The first is that megacity threatens people's sense of identity. Bill 103 is being opposed by so many from so many different quarters across Metro because it is an assault on people's feelings of identity. Perhaps speakers have not focused on this too much because of the way in which the debate has circled around more quantifiable issues of taxation, roles and responsibilities. But feelings of identity are also powerful factors at play here and need to be considered by anyone wanting to make changes to governance structures in Metro.

We know that feelings of identity are a difficult thing to pin down; yet we see all over the world that when people's identify is threatened, all hell can break loose. The native country of my parents, which is the former Yugoslavia, is a fine example of how intensely people feel their ethnic and religious identity. If you push people's sense of who they are, they see no alternative but to push back as hard as they can.

In my own case, I've been back to Slovenia only a couple of times, but I feel my identification with my parent's home country very deeply. As Canadians, while we may not be able to name what makes our Canadian identity very clearly, we know that we feel it deeply, as witnessed by the Montreal rally in October 1995 before the Quebec referendum. Perhaps it doesn't make logical sense, but it makes emotional sense to know your identity by way of history and place.

Identity has to do with how people construct their sense of who they are. Identity has to do with how we feel we link with a particular place and with a particular people and communities. Without a sense of one's identity, we can lose our compass in life and risk losing our psychological health.

I believe Bill 103 assaults our feelings of identity here in Metro Toronto. People have deep feelings of connectedness with some aspect of local government. Perhaps it's city hall, a particular political personage, or a committee to which they've contributed, or a neighbourhood park, a library, a local program. They do not feel that local government is something outside of themselves but something they have brought inside themselves, that is, within their identity.

The demonstrations, the countless meetings, the organizing and the deputations reflect a grass-roots reaction to the assault on people's identity. It would be wrong to think of this movement as centrally organized. Believe me, this feeling of assault on people's identify is something very deep and powerful, even in little York, and I believe in the rest of Metro as well. The anger I have heard expressed in person and over the phone about Bill 103 reflects how deeply people across Metro feel about their sense of place.

I would recommend to the government not to disturb the sense of Toronto the Good that people have without their consent. You do so at your political peril and at our loss of community cohesion.

My second point has to do with a perspective on the future of York. I do think that identities shift and grow. I believe that one generation's sense of identity is not another's. Demographic changes have been occurring in York more rapidly than anywhere else in Metro Toronto. I believe that many, indeed most, of the citizens of York want change. Many citizens have spoken to me about wanting to pursue an option with the city of Toronto, a possible merger. Our housing stocks are similar, our borders are very long and don't make much sense, our tax bases are uneven. I can say that many people in York feel an identification with the city of Toronto.

We want a chance to pursue this alternative. We do not want megacity but want a chance to develop an alternative. This is where I think our people are ready for change, a change that can be defended not only on financial and service-level grounds but also on the qualitative ground of formally merging the identities of two similar sets of community.

We were on the road to working out a plan for merging York and Toronto before Bill 103 was introduced. We want to return to work as soon as possible on that plan to make appropriate changes in time for the next municipal election. I urge you to scrap Bill 103 and allow us that opportunity.

My third point has to do with the referendum process. York council struggled hard to discern the best response for York to the introduction of Bill 103. A referendum was chosen because of our sense that many people felt a change in the structure -- that's a key word, the structure -- of local government was one that required their direct consent.


York has followed the rules for conducting referenda as passed by the provincial government in mid-December 1996. York's referendum is following your rules, not ours. Furthermore, it is the provincial government's responsibility to maintain the lists through the provincial assessment office. It is terribly disturbing to see provincial officials now mocking the referendum process. Minister Leach's displaying his envelope with his ballot and his name on it, claiming that the ballot is not secret, is misleading and disrespectful to people legitimately trying to express their democratic will.

Claiming that the lists are out of date, suggesting that the municipalities are at fault, is misleading. How can the people of Metro Toronto trust your abilities to manage a transition to megacity if you cannot keep up the lists to your own satisfaction? It is unfair to set the rules and encourage people to play the game, only to criticize the process if the result is not going your way. The not-so-subtle message is that you will allow democracy through referenda only when the result agrees with your


In York we are running a fair referendum. The clerk's responsibility is to ensure that the vote represents the will of the people in York. His office is not involved in any advocacy work on one side or the other.

When your government sets the rules and then does not play by them and contends that you will not respect the results, I believe that your moral authority to govern is in question. Why should anyone obey any laws when those who make the laws obey them only when it suits their needs? Your government's open contempt of the referendum process is an affront to the rule of law in a democratic society.

I've often said in public fora in York that what makes good public policy basically has three footstools to it: support from political leadership, support from the community, and support from professionals in the field. If the three come together on an issue, then the issue can and should go forward.

The megacity legislation only has the first element, political support, and even that is precarious given the discontent that many a backbencher is quietly voicing. The referendum will display the extent of the second leg of the stool. The opinion of urban planners, social service analysts, and financial planners is overwhelmingly against megacity. The body of professional opinion is clearly against your proposal.

Assuming that there is a No vote, I would suggest to you that you lack the minimum criteria for proceeding. You will lack two of the three bases for developing good public policy.

In York, we are well aware that local government structures need to change in Metro and in the GTA. We are more than willing to participate in transforming what we have into what we want. The megacity proposal unfortunately fails to address, even in a minimal way, our basic problems. I urge you to withdraw the legislation and to facilitate a broader participatory process for urban renewal in York, Metro and the GTA. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Mihevc. We've effectively used your allotted time. I want to thank you for coming forward to make your presentation today.


The Chair: Would Sheldon Lipsey please come forward. Good day, Mr Lipsey. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Sheldon Lipsey: Thank you. I'm speaking as a private citizen and a resident of Toronto since 1954. While I have lived in other cities for short periods of my life, I have a deep attachment to Toronto, along with a strong sense of the rightness of things.

Before I go on, I would like to say that while I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the committee, there are many others who, because of the government's actions in limiting these hearings, are being denied that opportunity. This is in itself a grave injustice, an act of contempt for the democratic process. Fortunately, it is one still within the government's power to correct by extending the hearings so that everyone who wishes to speak can be heard. I hope you will recommend this to your government.

Bill 103 is wrong. It is an unprecedented, immoral, mean-spirited, arbitrary, anti-democratic, totalitarian and even illegal piece of legislation. It is wrong in both what it does and the way it does it. I am opposed to Bill 103 in any form, present or amended. It should be withdrawn and allowed to die unmourned.

The first mistake in Bill 103 was to steal the name of Toronto. As John Sewell has pointed out, history shows that autocratic regimes like to name cities and monuments after themselves, so why not Harrisburg or Leachtown? If I were in favour of amalgamation, which I'm not, I'd quite like the name Leachtown, because then we could be twinned with the other Leachtown in Canada. That one's located on the west coast, about 30 to 35 miles outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Twinning would be particularly appropriate because the west-coast Leachtown used to be a bustling mining town in the 19th century. Then, when the gold was all mined out, the town fell on hard times, so much so that no trace of it remains today except an abandoned mine shaft. A suitable metaphor, I think, for what the government is attempting to do to Toronto.

Bill 103 is wrong in substance because no one asked for the changes it proposes. The bill has been opposed by every expert or commission studying it and even by the government's own friends. It creates chaos and uncertainty where before there was relative order.

Bill 103 is also morally wrong in its approach to the issue of governance. Imposing trusteeship on municipal governments that were democratically elected, are not bankrupt and have committed no crime is dictatorship. What else can you call it? When China imposed trusteeship on Hong Kong, even using the same language of "restructuring municipal government" and "smooth transition," Canada's foreign affairs minister sent a diplomatic note to China calling the move undemocratic and asking China to respect the wishes of the Hong Kong people. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic refused to recognize the results of municipal elections and faced three months of massive demonstrations before he finally agreed to do the right thing.

Right here in Ontario, the government's advertising campaign for the megacity has been found in contempt by the Speaker of the Legislature, and only yesterday a judge ruled that imposing trusteeship was illegal before the legislation was in place. How many hints does this government need that it is doing something wrong?

There just aren't any commonsense arguments in favour of Bill 103. I don't believe it will save money. Experts say that previous experience in other cities shows large amalgamated cities cost more per capita than smaller cities. I don't for a moment buy the "one fire chief instead of six" argument. The fire chief of a city of 2.3 million people is going to need deputy chiefs, local stations, geographically based divisions -- in short, a large bureaucracy, probably larger than what we have now.

How many is too many local politicians: one elected official for 50,000 residents, one per 40,000, or one for every 5,300 residents as in North Bay? So who's overrepresented?

"The mayors are only looking out for their own jobs." This is perhaps the most mean-spirited, evil argument of all. The mayors were all democratically elected; some have been in office a good deal longer than the government, and none has been accused of any wrongdoing that I know of, except perhaps defending their city.

Bill 103, I concluded, only makes sense as part of a move by the provincial government to strip power from the municipalities and take control of the revenues they raise. The government couldn't just walk in and steal the money, so Bill 103, which puts municipal reserve funds under trusteeship, Bill 104, which removes educational spending from local school boards, and the downloading of social services were devised to that end. A power grab is the only plausible explanation.

Having trustees and a transition team oversee and approve municipal spending seems to ensure that the government will be able to siphon off money to help it pay for its 30% tax cut, not to mention that the transition team can appoint bureaucrats, make contracts, and privatize public services, all with no accountability.

So 103, 104 and downloading are really one massive attack on Toronto. It was the Toronto Star, one of this government's most enthusiastic cheerleaders on the megacity issue, that despite its own rhetoric about there being no connection between the issues let this particular cat out of the bag. In an editorial on February 1, the Star suggested that we needed the megacity because otherwise Harris's axe -- cutting subsidies and dumping social service costs on to the city -- would result in "fiscal ruin" for York, East York, and Scarborough. Pardon me, but if the province is dumping costs on to a lower level that can't raise the revenues to pay for them, how will creating a megacity solve anything? Fiscal ruin is fiscal ruin, whether York, East York and Scarborough go bankrupt immediately or the megacity goes bankrupt in six months or a year or two years.


I said at the outset that I thought Bill 103 was illegal. I realize legislation gives the province the power to make or break municipalities, but that's not all there is to our legal system. To my understanding, there are actually five components: (1) the Constitution, which sets out such things as the division of powers between federal and provincial governments; (2) statutes and regulations; (3) case law, the law of the courts as expressed in judicial decisions based on precedents provided by past decisions; (4) the writings and opinions of judges and legal experts; and (5) perhaps most important, convention and custom which, simply stated, prescribe what governments ought or ought not to do, such as not act unilaterally or ignore public opinion.

A major characteristic of our common law system -- this from the Canadian Encyclopedia -- is the doctrine of the supremacy of the law, which originally meant that not even the king was above the law. Today it means that acts of governmental agencies are subject to scrutiny in ordinary legal proceedings. Clearly, Bill 103 fails that crucial test. So not only is it arbitrary and anti-democratic, I think it's as illegal as robbing a convenience store. Only this isn't a convenience store, it's Metro Toronto that's being heisted.

Bill 103 moves spending authority and decision-making power from the municipal to the provincial level, from elected representatives to appointed minions of the government. It is so far outside the Canadian parliamentary tradition that I agree with those who have described it as a bloodless coup whose authors are guilty of treason.

This government can still turn back. The embarrassment of withdrawing Bill 103 will be slight and transitory compared to the chaos, unrest and even civil disobedience to which it will certainly give rise if it is passed into law. Is this what you want the Harris government to be remembered for?

Dr Martin Luther King Jr, in his letter from Birmingham Jail of April 16, 1963, on the subject of civil disobedience, probably best put into words the sense of outrage at injustice, and the quiet determination to overcome it, of citizens treated with contempt by their government. King wrote:

"There are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St Augustine that `an unjust law is no law at all.'"

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Lipsey. You have effectively used all of your allotted time, but I want to thank you for coming forward to present to the committee today.


The Chair: Would Moira Dunphy please come forward. Good morning, Ms Dunphy. Welcome to the committee. You have 10 minutes to make a presentation.

Ms Moira Dunphy: Before I start, I'd just like to say that I'm hoping that while I'm here today -- I know everybody gets a copy of this speech -- you'll actually be listening and not just reading. I'm here today and I didn't send in a letter because I have never, ever felt more strongly that my future in this city has been threatened, and this is why I've come out personally here today.

My name is Moira Dunphy and I'm the community liaison for my home, the Charles Hastings Housing Co-op in downtown Toronto. At least a dozen of my co-op neighbours felt strongly enough about the impact of this bill on our community that they filed requests to speak before this committee. Since I do not believe any of them will get that opportunity, I feel the burden is on me to represent them here today.

My co-op has only 91 apartments. My neighbours are students, families, gays and seniors. My neighbours speak English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Yugoslavian and Arabic. My neighbours vote Liberal, Tory and NDP. Some of my neighbours own their own businesses, some have successful careers, while others need to use food banks. What we have in common is our beautiful home. We work together on committees. We attend several members' meetings each year. We lovingly tend our rooftop gardens in the summer, sharing advice and seedlings. We have celebrated together many holidays, births, adoptions, farewells and the lives of our deceased friends. My neighbours run errands for those who are disabled, care for those who are ill and accept all newcomers. I am very proud to say that my home does not start at my apartment door, but at the front door of my building.

After 12 years of self-government through a member-elected board of directors, we have learned how to be most effective. When our co-op has faced a crisis or a need for change, we work hard to communicate clearly and to allow all members to have input before any decisions are made.

Not only is our co-op diverse, but so is our immediate community. In our neighbourhood on the edge of Chinatown, there are student residences, single-family dwellings and non-profit housing as well as condominiums. We also have several people who have made their home on two hot-air grates within a block from us, in a shelter, and at a church that participates in the Out of the Cold program.

In spite of these broad economic differences, our neighbourhood works. I have never felt in danger at night walking the streets in my neighbourhood. It is not by chance that we survive side by side. We do so because of the efforts of our local city council. My co-op knows this at first hand.

A few years ago, a bar opened under new management next door and we started experiencing difficulties. They were serving after hours and serving minors, to name but two infractions, and we had to deal with the resulting noise and violence when they spilled out on to the street every night. Our city councillor, Dan Leckie, and our Metro councillor, Olivia Chow, were both quick to respond. They helped us in our dealings with the police and the LLBO and set up a meeting with our members, the police, themselves and the bar owners.

Do not think for a second that my co-op believes it will be business as usual with only 44 councillors on a new megacity council. The math is very clear. With only one representative for a much larger riding, our voice and representation is weaker. You can spin us a web of words such as "efficiencies and an end to wasteful duplication" but the reality is that most of our councillors' time is spent in direct consultation with citizens, working on local issues and projects. Since both our Toronto and Metro councillors work long hours, our new councillor, in a much larger riding, will not be able to do the same amount of work. So who picks up the slack? Volunteer neighbourhood councillors with no legal power won't do it. Citizens are already donating massive volunteer hours on local issues. No: Either work previously done by our councillors will simply be cut or will be performed by public servants. Why would anyone want to replace an elected representative with a bureaucrat?

This government says we apparently want less government in our lives. It makes no sense to remove and weaken the only level of government with which we have any direct input. My Metro councillor attends an average of 20 community meetings a week. My Toronto councillor's office takes an average of 375 phone calls a week from constituents. That's about 19,000 calls a year. The majority of these calls are from people who are the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society: citizens who live in a building whose landlord shuts off the heat in the middle of winter; neighbours with a crack house on their street; a neighbourhood with a high density of both commercial and residential buildings requiring smart governance to keep their interests balanced.

Once you upset the balance in my neighbourhood, the mobile upper and middle classes will move, impacting on our local small businesses and leaving the poorer and less mobile in an economically depressed area.

I do not understand why Al Leach continues to insist that the megacity was all part of the Tories' election campaign. If that is so, then why did Mr Leach himself prepare a report that promised to strengthen local government and abolish regions? Why did Mr Harris himself say over two years ago that "services always cost more in larger municipalities"?

Perhaps this government did not expect so many Torontonians to care so much about their homes. Perhaps this is why they did not live up to their own words about listening to the voice of the people and have instead worked hard to discredit it every step of the way.

Al Leach says it would take at least 13 questions to have a proper referendum on this issue. I suppose if he were actually to start from scratch and look at every possibility, there could be 13 different options. But if he were to look at every possibility, and he did so in an acceptable and agreed-upon process of consultation, he would never need a referendum, because he'd have the people alongside with him. This referendum is not meant to choose the governing model of our cities. It is in answer to a specific governing model being imposed without choice. Al Leach has offered only one choice, so there is one only one question on the referendum ballot.


The day I found out I would get my chance to be heard at these meetings, I attended a downtown meeting at which Al Leach spoke. I was surprised at the end of his speech when he held up his referendum ballot -- the envelope -- and said: "Yes, a secret ballot -- it's got my name on it right here. How secret is that?" I got up during question period and told him I was very concerned for his peace of mind, and that as a scrutineer making sure the election procedures are being followed, I would be happy to take him down to city hall and reacquaint him with the process outlined by his own ministry's act.

As the meeting wore on and Mr Leach began to look a little more lost on the stage, it occurred to me that perhaps he really is concerned about his own vote being secret. "Could it be," I wildly thought to myself, "that Al is having second thoughts and wants to vote no, and that's why he's worried about confidentiality?" But soon I began to regret my choice of being flippant with the minister. I grew angrier that he took such a deliberate and false stab at the referendum when he actually knew that the label on the secrecy envelope was to ensure that it is a valid ballot. I belong to three national associations that use this method when they have to hold nationwide votes. He did this ballot waving in front of the cameras and, sure enough, it was on the news that night with no follow-up explanation. I would not doubt that he convinced more than a few voters to remove the label in order to ensure their privacy, which would make it a spoiled ballot.

Mr Leach now leaves me with two choices. Living in a co-op, I'm well aware that Mr Leach, as the housing minister, has been quoted as saying, "Everything I know about housing can be written on the head of a pin." So it's not much of a stretch for me to believe that he actually doesn't understand why his name is on the ballot envelope. My other choice, which I believe to be true, is to believe that he lied, knowing full well why his name was on the envelope. I believe that Mr Leach should apologize to the citizens of Toronto for lying in an attempt to undermine this referendum. Surely, of all people, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who created the act under which this referendum is possible, should be held accountable for contempt of a legal voting procedure.

There has not been such a strong local grass-roots movement in more than 20 years in this community. In my co-op alone, trust me, I expect a 95% to 100% turnout of eligible voters, and they are voting according to their conscience and not their party affiliations. I urge this government to throw out this bill in the face of such major opposition.

When I was president of my co-op's board a few years ago, I never would have dreamed of forcing an issue that faced widespread opposition. That would have meant I was not listening to the people who elected me, and it would have made my job a lot harder. With all six mayors against it, why force it on an unwilling population? Put aside Bill 103 and consult those affected. Do not be afraid of appearing weak and do not confuse blind stubbornness with strong leadership. You will be applauded for being responsive to the citizens you represent.

If you will not throw out Bill 103, then I strongly urge this government to allow its members to vote according to their conscience.

I understand that Mr Leach professes to watch the videotape of these proceedings each day, even though he has made it clear that he will not be affected by what is said here. Since he's not listening anyway, if you could ask him to fast-forward to this portion of the tape, I'll translate for him the essence of my message the way he would hear it:

Mr Leach, blahty blah bloo bloo blitty blah. Blahty blah blah blah, Mr Leach. Blah, blah, Mr Leach, blah. Blahty bloo blah blah, megacity. Blahty blah blahty bloo provincial elections.

Thank you for hearing me today.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Dunphy. You have now effectively exhausted your time, and I want to thank you for coming forward today and making your presentation.


The Chair: Would Daina Green please come forward. Good afternoon, Ms Green. Welcome to the committee.

Ms Daina Green: Thank you very much. Greetings, honourable members. I'm here to raise my concerns about Bill 103 before this committee, which is charged with hearing submissions. I'd like to remind you that the committee is not just required to hear submissions; it's required to listen to them.

I am a self-employed resident of Toronto. I work and live here in the city of Toronto. I am also the chair of the Alliance for Employment Equity, which is a community and labour coalition of human rights advocates which last November took the Harris government to court for its unconstitutional repeal of the Employment Equity Act.

As Ontarians we like to think of ourselves as living in an open society. I'd like to start by quoting from George Soros, a successful financier who has recently been writing very thoughtfully about the underlying values of societies which think of themselves as open. Soros says:

"I envisage the open society as a society open to improvement. We start with the recognition of our own fallibility, which extends not only to our mental constructs, but also to our institutions. What is imperfect can be improved by a process of trial and error. The open society not only allows this process, but actually encourages it, by insisting on freedom of expression and protecting dissent."

Soros's thinking is very relevant to the legislative process. When Soros talks about recognizing our fallibility, he is saying that no one, and no party, has a monopoly on the truth. The government in power cannot know if its plan will work. This amalgamation plan could be a huge mistake. It could be wrong, as many people who have already come before you have argued today and other days. You must be prepared to be wrong, as your government has already been shown to be wrong. Here I am referring to putting trustees in place in defiance of the lack of legal mandate to do that. Other steps are much more difficult to undo once they have been taken. We heard earlier about the science of making omelettes and then putting the eggs back together.

Fallibility is also a concept which applies to the way our municipalities currently work. As Soros says, the trial-and-error process leads to improvement, and we have examples of this here. The city of Toronto, for example, is a recognized leader in fighting racism. The city of York is a recognized leader in local community economic development. Each of these municipalities went through a long period of trying out different approaches through trial and error. When a city finds an approach that works, other municipalities have often taken up that approach and improved upon it. This is a very healthy, pluralistic way of working that recognizes our inherent fallibility and also the value of creativity and openness. We would lose this if the government imposes Bill 103 on our cities.

Soros says that the open society not only allows dissent but actually encourages it by insisting on freedom of expression and protecting dissent. I would go further. It is a fundamental responsibility of a democratic government to support dissent, especially when the dissenters do not have the same level of social, financial and political power as those in office.

It is the responsibility of government to make sure it hears and listens to the voices of those with least access to power. This government clearly does not agree. As a result, your committee is not hearing from those with the least access to power. You are hearing mainly from well-educated, white, able-bodied people like me who feel enfranchised enough to get themselves before you. You are not hearing from homeless people or from too many new immigrants or refugees who have yet to learn the ropes or who have yet to learn English. You are not hearing from housebound older people or people whose disabilities make it next to impossible for them to get to these hearings. These are people who rely very strongly on locally provided community services.

However, my impression is that the members of this committee are not very concerned about this lack. Why? Because this committee has very little mandate to listen. Al Leach has said that supporters of amalgamation do not come out because they have busy lives and they are at home watching television. What does this mean? Does it mean that government believes good citizenship means staying at home and being quiet? I find this an outrageous implication. That and other comments from the government show that this provincial government has no respect for active citizen participation. The word "activist" has become a dirty word. The government is attempting to discredit me and others who come before you by saying we are "those kind of activists, professional protesters" or something like this. You discredit the groups that want you to listen to our referenda on the basis that we are "self-interested," whatever that means.

You have also discredited many of us by saying we are against change. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my case, I have been a strong advocate of change: change to improve employment opportunities for groups facing discrimination, through employment equity; change of the power that workers have to join unions, through Bill 40, may it rest in peace; change in our taxation system through the workings of the previous Fair Tax Commission; and also changes in logging practices to protect natural resources and natural habitats.

You won't listen to me or other activists or concerned citizens who have come here before you. My question is this: Whom does this government listen to? Even if you are not listening, I must speak out. I must not be an accomplice to this dictatorial agenda. I too am worrying about what this is the first step to, and I'm old enough to know that after this step can come many more that lead us down a very dangerous path to the total loss of democracy.

Premier Harris has pretended that when some deputants refer to other pieces of legislation that are going forward at the same time as the amalgamation bill, we are confused. No, we are not confused. We understand that the reduction of city councillors and democratically elected representatives is most definitely linked to the destruction of school boards and the loss of elected public trustees. We know that your proposal to shift the burden of social services to municipalities is linked to a single municipality in the Metro Toronto area controlled by élite Torontonians, who are the only ones rich enough to run for the offices successfully.

The imposition of unelected trustees with unlimited powers is most definitely linked to the strategy to sell off public services like water supply and sewer services, it's linked to defunding of environmental watchdog agencies and it's linked to your despicable tax cut, which is only a way to give rich people money that people in need are entitled to be getting from all of us. They are entitled to these social services, not as charity; it's part of our community commitment. This particular bill is just one part of a huge power grab, and you are trying to take power away from us, the citizens of Ontario.

In closing, I would like to leave you with these three thoughts. First, you have no mandate to proceed with amalgamation of the municipalities that make up Metro Toronto. This was not part of your election platform or of any other plan. This is an unnecessary, divisive, destructive and harebrained scheme that you came up with at the last minute, and we reject it.

Second, you must under no circumstances reduce the number of elected representatives who make decisions on our behalf at the municipal level. You are claiming to do this in the name of fewer politicians since for you "politician" is a dirty word. I see right through this. You really want to enshrine less elected representation of citizens and residents. This is an outright attack on democracy and we reject it.

Third and finally, you must withdraw this bill. In its place you should move immediately to put in place a process by which representatives of all constituencies within the greater Toronto area can develop a workable mechanism for the coordination of services, coordination of purchasing and for planning. We need a truly open society. Thank you.

Mr Colle: The point is that, as you know, this government has stated categorically from day one that it's not going to listen to the referendum. Now they're trying to do their best to discredit the referendum because they know from their own polling that they're going to lose it. They know they've basically touched a nerve and they underestimated people's intelligence.

What happens when this government boldly says on March 4, "We don't care what you said," and 70% of the people of Metro vote against megacity? What do we do then?

Ms Green: I think the government will make some cosmetic changes and say: "See? We listened." We reject that.

Mr Colle: You're not going to buy that cosmetic approach.

Ms Green: No. This is a bad idea.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Green, for coming forward to make your presentation today.

We will recess until 3:30.

The committee recessed from 1213 to 1533.

The Chair: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the standing committee on general government. The first deputant is Salome Loucas.

Mr Colle: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Before we begin, there are just a couple of things I want to clear up. As you know, we had invited the now illegal trustees to appear before the committee, and I guess at that time, because it was before the courts, they were advised by their legal counsel not to appear. I would still like to have them appear since, as the minister mentioned in the House today, they have made a number of recommendations to municipal councils in the last couple of months while they have been acting. On behalf of my party, I reaffirm our desire to have them appear before this committee as soon as possible.

The Chair: We can note that and extend an invitation to them as private citizens.

Mr Colle: Second, I had asked the legal staff of municipal affairs to give us a couple of examples where the proviso about decisions of the trustees or other officials being not subject to judicial review and their decisions being final had been done before in the Municipal Act or in municipal governance legislation. I haven't received any information on that and I want to put on the record that I'm still waiting for those examples from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

The Chair: Do you want to respond to that or just duly note it?

Mr Paul Jones: Duly noted.

Mr Colle: They're not ready yet then?

Mr Jones: Not that I'm aware of. I will check.

The Chair: I'll reiterate that to Mr Gilchrist when he comes in.


The Chair: Sorry for the interruption. The first deputant is Salome Loucas. You have 15 minutes to make your presentation.

Ms Salome Loucas: First of all, the pronunciation of my name is Salome, which means peace.

The Chair: I apologize.

Ms Loucas: I'm representing Women Working with Immigrant Women, which is an umbrella organization of 20 community-based agencies providing services to immigrant and refugee women and women of colour. The organization was established in 1974, and it identifies the educational, employment and health care needs of immigrant and refugee women and women of colour and initiates and sponsors in collaboration with other community organizations the development of community programs and services to meet those needs. It produces educational and training materials for the community and it does public education on issues of access and equity.

First, I would like to remind this committee that, according to statistics, by the year 2000 54% of the Metro population will be racial minorities. This means that larger numbers of those who will be affected by Bill 103 and the proposed changes are racial minorities.

For years, Women Working with Immigrant Women has advocated for coordination of services and for structural changes that facilitate the political participation of racial minorities. We believe, however, that this bill is yet another attack on issues of access and equity and on racial minorities and that the proposed new structure not only does not facilitate the political participation of our communities but will alienate and hinder further this participation.

Although it has been argued that people confuse Bill 103 with the issue of downloading, we believe that the purpose of Bill 103 is to eliminate elected bodies and replace them with appointed bodies to eliminate local opposition in order to clear the way for the downloading of services from the provincial to the municipal government, a move that will have disastrous effects on our communities.

To explain what I mean by that, years of experience show that during hard economic times and times of high unemployment, racial minorities become the target of hate crimes and racism and they are accused as abusers of social programs. We believe that when people are asked to pay through property tax for services such as public housing and welfare, the hate crimes and racism will increase. We have no reason to trust a government which was elected as a result of its attacks on our communities, we have no reason to trust a government which eliminated provincial funding for anti-racism education and we have no reason to trust a government which tells us that it will not take into consideration the results of a vote on this bill.

What is quite interesting is that the sections of the bill that deal with the protection of the powers and the decisions of these appointed bodies, the transition team and the board of trustees, were well thought out and clearly defined. However, sections that deal with the powers of local councils and local participation, supposedly through neighbourhood committees, have not been clearly defined. We, the people, have to wait until later and until it is too late to find out how we will participate in this great Mr Harris-made democracy.

We are told that amalgamation will eliminate local competition. How exactly does this new structure eliminate local competition? Will not regional councils have to compete with each other for adequate resources to meet the needs of their constituencies? Will each regional council not have to convince two million people and all other regional councils that a program or a service is needed in its particular region?


WWIW believes that volunteer neighbourhood committees don't facilitate public participation or accountability. In our experience, volunteering is a luxury that many people, particularly from our communities, cannot afford. The reason for this is that many people from our communities don't have the time to volunteer, because they're struggling to adjust in a new society, they are struggling in low-paying, deadend jobs and they experience language barriers. In addition, and most importantly, in our experience, even when we participate, we are not heard.

Our position is that change is needed and coordination of programs and services is needed. However, we do not support this particular proposal because we believe that it will alienate our communities and because of the undemocratic process by which these changes are being made.

What we would like to suggest is that the government stops the implementation of this bill immediately; that the government takes into consideration what people said in these hearings and develops a new proposal; and that the government respects the right of people to vote on this issue, a right for which people gave their lives.

Our advice to this government is, either listen to what people are saying or take a good look around you, because you will not see the inside of this building ever again.


The Chair: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, most of you have been here before, and you know the rules of the place. Just like being in the chamber, you're not allowed to have outbursts or participation from the audience. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep that to a minimum. I'd like to say that at the outset. Thank you. Mr Marchese, you have plenty of time for questions.

Mr Marchese: Thank you, Mr Maves, you're very kind. Ms Loucas, I heard your last comments, and I'm not quite sure whether they're going to pick that up. We feel that this movement of people who have come forward feels very strongly about keeping local government, as you do; they wouldn't be here otherwise. I have never seen, in my history of provincial politics, so many individuals who have come, worried about what's happening to their city. I have heard evidence, testimony from individuals, with a tremendous range of feelings and expertise; yours is yet another one.

Mike Harris used to say that big wasn't necessarily good. In fact, he used to say it would cost more. He's changed his mind. Do you think having a bigger municipality to deal with is going to give you a better say, is going to give you more access to this big mega-government? What is your sense of that?

Ms Loucas: As I said in my presentation, we are very concerned because local participation is going to be through neighbourhood committees. I explained that we feel that volunteer participation doesn't facilitate accountability, doesn't facilitate political participation, particularly for people from our communities, who are struggling with language barriers, who are struggling to adjust in a new society. Even when we participate, we are not heard. I don't see how, as people, we are going to have any input into the political life, if you want, of this city.

The other thing is that we know a lot of programs that benefit people from our communities are funded by different cities; not all of them, of course, but they are funded by different cities. Metro, for example, funds some of these programs and did play a leadership role on issues of access and equity. But what it means is that they are then going to have to find the money to make up for the funding we're going to be losing from the cities. Some programs are basically going to shut down. It's just a miserable $300,000 that Metro has, basically, to fund the whole of Metro for this program. We're afraid we're going to lose even that amount of money. As I say, those are some of our concerns.

Mr Marchese: I'm happy to listen to your presentation particularly because we haven't had too many people who have come forward from the variety of the various communities we have here in Metropolitan Toronto, and it worries me, because some of those voices get lost in the process. I think your voice, obviously, alerts us to the kind of worries that many of our communities would lose. In fact, some people who are not familiar with this process, who are intimidated by this process, are too frightened to come.

Ms Loucas: I was talking to a number of groups that had actually asked to make a presentation. They were not called. Also some people said they felt quite intimidated, because it is quite an intimidating process.

Mr Marchese: The minister and Mike Harris have used gut feelings to explain why there would be savings. They have no research -- very little research, and the one they used, the KPMG study, which they quickly put together within 10 days, has been discredited by most credible sources. But other than that, there is no other research that supports the fact that amalgamation is going to save them money, which is the basis of why they've introduced this amalgamation bill. We have looked at research that says it's the opposite, that amalgamation is going to create this mega-government that will become more costly. Do you think it should be the burden of each individual citizen to come forward and disprove that, or should the burden be on the government to come and make its case?

Ms Loucas: I'm sorry, I'm not an economist or a politician.

Mr Marchese: I appreciate that. But my question was, do you think you should come up with those facts to prove or disprove what they're doing, or do you think the government, that has the resources, should?

Ms Loucas: I think they should come up with those facts. When I was reading the bill and I saw they're appointing all these different bodies, I didn't understand how they were going to be saving money. I still don't understand how they're going to be saving money if they eliminate elected bodies and then appoint other bodies to do administration or whatever, unless they're going to be working for free, which would be nice.

Mr Marchese: Of course I agree. I want to thank you for taking the time to come and represent the views of the organization and the views of many who I think are often disfranchised by this process and many other processes of the government. Thank you for coming, and I wish us all good luck.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Loucas, for coming forward today and making your presentation.


The Chair: Would Janice Etter and Rhona Swarbrick please come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Ms Janice Etter: I'll try to hurry, then. You may have noticed that our names have come up and disappeared from this list three times in the last few weeks. We're so glad that actually happened, because every week that's gone by we've talked to more people on -- I think there are more than two sides of this question -- all sides of the question. It's been very revealing. In respect of those discussions with people of all points of view, we have set out to make this a 95% rhetoric-free brief. I hope we succeed in doing this. You'll find there's a fair bit of detail, particularly in the form of qualifying comments, in your written copy that I don't expect to have time to read.

I'm Janice, by the way, and this is Rhona. We are residents of the city of Etobicoke. We are here to speak against Bill 103. I think I'd better tell you up front that we've been very deeply involved in a number of issues over the years at the municipal, Metro and provincial levels. We have worked, in different ways, with people from all political parties on these issues. In order to sustain the kind of involvement we've had, we've had to really work hard to understand the complexity of the issues and to really understand how the system works and how it could work better than it does now.

Others have spoken so eloquently about Bill 103 and the democratic process that we're simply going to state our strong agreement with and respect for what people like Jane Jacobs, Ursula Franklin and John Ralston Saul have said, and I see that Edmund Fowler was here this morning. Many others have already talked to this issue, so our comments are going to be focused on the other reasons why we can't support Bill 103 and the proposed megacity.


Our perspective is that of urbanites who had to find out the hard way how really different suburbs can be from cities. We're going to start by just saying up front that Bill 103 really frightens us. The best way to illustrate the reasons for our apprehension, we decided, was to tell you three brief stories.

The first one is something that took place at a meeting about a year ago regarding Etobicoke's capital budget. One of the presenters argued strongly that the city could save a lot of money by eliminating the planning department on the basis that the city, after all, is already built up, and therefore there won't be more new development going on.

We relate this story because there appeared to be councillors who thought this was actually not a bad idea and because it is indicative of the widespread suburban ignorance about cities. Cities that are economically, socially, physically and politically healthy are not static. They never stop growing and changing. They're dynamic, and the challenges posed by redevelopment are even more complex than those posed by new development.

The second story is something that happened, I'm sad to say, at a government MPP's town hall meeting just last week. In the context of these hearings, this is a story that we think begs to be told. A resident got up and asked about the possibility that an amalgamated Metro could lead to the same kind of downtown core deterioration that has come to characterize large American cities like Detroit. The MPP's response was: "Such a thing couldn't possibly happen here. Canada is not the United States. In Canada we have gun control legislation."

To us, this is a truly astonishing statement. It connects two things that have nothing to do with each other, and if it is reflective in any way of this government's level of understanding about what cities are and how they work, we have to tell you we think you have a moral responsibility to keep your hands off all urban centres and towns in this province.

Our third story is something that I read in the paper just a few days ago, on Saturday. In glowing terms, it described a new development in Barrie that " popular with commuters who appreciate that it's only a 40-minute drive to the north end of Metro. Shopping is convenient too -- the community is five minutes away from mega-stores such as Wal-Mart, Michaels, Sobeys and others."

A year and a half ago, we had in place a Planning Act whose effect, over time, would have been to start curbing urban sprawl, decreasing dependency on private cars and protecting the natural environment. But large chunks of that bill were quickly amputated, and that wasn't good for Metro. It leaves us with the same anti-urban forces that have historically impeded the urbanization of the suburbs. These are the forces that have also impeded the development of positive, mutually supportive relationships between the city of Toronto and its suburbs, and also between Metro and the surrounding regions.

The point of these three stories is that we believe the legislative framework created by Bill 103 is inadequate to create and sustain a single municipality as big as Metro. There is no context of solid supporting policy and legislation about planning, transportation, urban ecology, social needs, cultural life, fair taxes, and a host of other matters.

We don't believe that the Toronto created by Bill 103 would be a better place for all its residents. It's likely to be insensitive to the variation and contradictions between its parts and their very different political cultures. I think the speaker before us spoke very clearly about some of these concerns.

I don't know how to say strongly enough that cities are not just political and economic constructs, and they're not simply dense, lucrative markets for business. They're living places where people of all kinds come together for mutual social, economic and cultural benefits, and everyone must be able to share in those benefits.

A lot of what we have to say about Bill 103 and what it means to us as people who are very involved in civic affairs in Etobicoke is rooted in the pattern of that city's development. It's really spread out, has highly segregated land use, has very few public focal points where people can gather, has very homogeneous neighbourhoods. Perhaps for us most important, there is a poorly developed sense of neighbourhood and community in large parts of the city, and the political culture and level of civic life reflects the city's sprawling physical structure and organization.

You won't be surprised, and you probably know from reading our papers in the last few months, that it can be maddeningly parochial, but we want you to know that working through the existing decision-making process and power structure is a daunting and frustrating task for most residents. For those in constituencies that are not recognized as politically significant, which again the previous speaker spoke of, it is prohibitive.

In short, we are people who are ready and waiting for change. We would have welcomed and tried to make the most of almost any proposal that promised hope that the problems inherent in our local government could be solved.

The Chair: Excuse me. You only have a minute remaining. I don't think you'll be able to get through that part at the top. You might want to go to your conclusion.

Ms Etter: Bill 103 and the megacity it would create offers no such hope to us at all. Rather it raises the spectre of a new municipal government that is even scarier than the one we have now. It does not address some of the most important problems we have experienced either in Etobicoke or in Metro and there remains a much-too-long list of outstanding questions. I'll leave you to read some of those questions on the paper, and I hope you will, because they're very serious questions.

We can't help but feel that something is terribly wrong when a government believes that it is acceptable to change the way people are governed, especially at the local level, without being able to substantiate a rationale for its actions or directly involving them in making the decision.

When I finished this up this morning I added at the end, when last did you check out that beautiful little quote of Junius that you find on the masthead of the Globe and Mail? Let me just remind you, it reads: "The subject who is truly loyal to the chief magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures." Before you challenge our use of the word "arbitrary," let me assure you I did check my dictionary. It means "based on or subject to opinion, judgement, prejudice, random choice or ideology," and we see behind Bill 103 an ideology that has not seen all of the variables in this discussion very clearly.

I hope it is obvious that we, as involved citizens of Metro and of Etobicoke, are loyal to the chief magistrate -- and we use this term figuratively to mean the keeper of the law and the protector of the public interest. We never advise arbitrary measures, we are never happy to see prerogative exercised and we certainly have no intention of submitting to arbitrary measures.

The Chair: Ms Etter, we are well beyond the time now.

Ms Etter: One sentence, that's all. Our No vote in the referendum will not be a vote in support of the status quo, nor will it be a vote against Metro, and it's not even complete rejection of the idea of a unified city. It will be a vote against Bill 103 and against the added crushing weight of Bill 104, downloading and all of the other 100 series bills, not all of which are going to be going to public hearings.

The Chair: Thank you very much for taking the time to put the presentation together and coming forward to give it to us today.



The Chair: Would Harminder Bhullar come forward. Good afternoon, sir, and welcome to the committee.

Mr Harminder Bhullar: Good afternoon, everybody. This provincial proposal to unify Toronto, East York, York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and the regional government of Metro Toronto into one municipality called the city of Toronto is a wise move. The reasons for the justification of this amalgamation are numerous and interestingly logical too. I would like to discuss a few of them.

Unification will end duplication and waste. Most Toronto area residents think there is too much unnecessary duplication and overlap. In some of the parks -- for example, Earl Bales Park -- the staff of one municipality are responsible to cut some of the grass and the staff of some other municipality have to do the rest of the job. If we have one police department and one transit commission, do we need six fire departments, seven roads departments, seven snow removal crews, six garbage pickup crews and seven parks departments? No, we don't need it at all.

Megacity offers a more accountable and less confusing system of local government. In a unified system, we will know to whom to talk about services and local issues. Instead of having to deal with two levels of government, that is, local municipality and Metro, we'll have only one.

Suppose you want to complain about a pothole that needs to be fixed. You will have to figure out whether it's a Metro road or a local road. Even if it is a Metro road, the local municipality may be responsible for the sidewalk. On top of that, Metro may be in charge of street lighting. A unified Toronto will put an end to the confusion. One council will be responsible and accountable.

Most important services are already amalgamated. As you know, garbage disposal, TTC, police, water and sewer treatment, ambulance, welfare, day care, homes for the aged, major roads and traffic signals are managed by Metro-wide government. Some 72% of city services are already amalgamated. Now it's time to bring the remaining services under one umbrella.

A unified Toronto is good news for small business. For someone opening a small business the current system of approvals and regulations is a tedious and confusing process. Six municipalities have different rules on everything from how to put up a sign outside your business to whether or not people can smoke in your restaurant.

Even municipal boundaries play a vital role in posing different rules and regulations for the same type of business. For example, if you own a restaurant on a boundary road like Victoria Park you may have different hydro rates and smoking regulations than the restaurant across the same road, just because different councils make different rules. This is not fair.

With a unified Toronto the days of confusing bylaws and multilayered approvals will be gone. A unified Toronto will have a better chance of bringing investment to the area, boosting the local economy and creating jobs. People outside of Metro don't understand where North York is, or Etobicoke, or Scarborough. They understand Toronto. They want to hear what Toronto can offer them.

This will also reduce the size of government. You don't need 106 councillors to make good decisions for the unified city; no need for seven mayors and seven administrations. The province's proposal will see a 44-member council. Each councillor would serve about 50,000 residents. Neighbourhood committees will be formed. They are usually volunteer, community-based bodies that provide feedback and advice to the city council on the needs of the local community.

This will save money. Going from seven administrations to just one will cut costs. One administration means better coordination, more efficiencies and less bureaucracy. Financial experts KPMG estimate savings of about $865 million over the first three years and $300 million annually from there on. There is potential for savings. The outgoing mayors are on record as saying they could save $280 million by simply killing the Metro level of government and leaving six cities and their jobs intact. If this is correct, imagine the savings by having just one city administration.

Services can be delivered at less cost. For example, North York is the only municipality that still offers twice-weekly garbage pickup and that too at a lower cost per household. Etobicoke has an award-winning library system that is the envy of many cities. A unified city will take the best practices from Metro and from around the world and use them to deliver good local services at the best price.

Amalgamation is the best way to sustain the city. Some of our six municipalities cannot sustain themselves. East York, York and Scarborough rely on subsidies from Metro.

Two more pressing realities face Metro Toronto. First, Mike Harris promises to reduce government, such as eliminating Metro. Second is the provincial plan to offload all the costs of the roads, transit and, inappropriately, an increasing share of social services and all social housing to municipalities. Metro municipalities cannot by themselves handle such extra costs.

One coordinated, unified city to deliver equitable services, regardless of the assessment wealth of its current individual cities, is our best chance to survive and thrive.

It's a natural evolution of our metropolis. The municipal map of 100 years ago shows scores of municipalities within the present Metro boundaries. By 1953 only 13 remained. In 1965 they were reduced to six. Today all of Metro is indeed one city: one economy, one people, one urban outlook, one regional taxation and one common culture. Amalgamation will merely put an official stamp on an urban reality.

No more lost opportunities: The Metro system has given us some successes by providing some important services across the Toronto area. In other ways it has failed its residents. Bickering between local and Metro politicians, battles over who has control, has left residents with the short end of the stick. Perhaps we would have won past Olympics bids or World's Fair bids if Toronto was a unified city and had promoted resources and attractions of the entire area.

Local governments have a crucial influence over how cities grow and develop. The current system of government has created a metropolitan area that is envied around the world. It has got unique, well-planned neighbourhoods, a thriving business community and well-developed cultural and artistic communities.

The current system is faltering now. It is not adaptable to today's environment, a metropolitan area with boundaries that don't make sense, an area that cannot compete effectively internationally because it doesn't speak with one voice. Both academic research and experience have shown that the urban regions that work best are those that have a strong centre, a strong core. If Toronto is weak, the GTA is weak.

Metro-wide services are not a new idea. Some of the services people value the most are already provided Metro-wide. Some examples are police, public transit, day care, homes for the aged and public housing. Why not build on our successes, reduce wasteful duplication and provide more services across the Toronto area? Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. You've exhausted your entire allotted time, but I want to thank you on behalf of the committee for coming forward today and making your presentation.



The Chair: Would Peter Marcelline please come forward. Good afternoon, sir.

Mr Peter Marcelline: I'm just here as a private citizen, not representing any group or individual groups. I'm an urban planner by profession. I'd like to first thank the committee for selecting my name, because I never thought I'd be here, but I'm glad I got the opportunity.

Secondly, this is very interesting from the standpoint of history. This is Black History Month, and if you'll pardon my observation, when I look around this room, I don't see any black people in front of me. That's very significant, and I think if I didn't say it, then I'd be remiss. This government has done things which affect my community in particular, and we have to say it. I'm not speaking on behalf of that community. That's the black community or otherwise known as the African Canadian community. I know many of us don't get that opportunity to speak, so I think I'm speaking for thousands.

I support many of the comments, as you can see from my button, that have been said here against this megacity, this City of Toronto Act, 1996. I think it's awful; it's disgusting. It has not been well researched. It hasn't been thought out carefully and it seems to follow the pattern of this NonSense Revolution this government has put in place.

You may find me rambling because I didn't write a speech simply so that it's packaged neatly. Every day I was writing little bits and pieces so I have a whole bunch of stuff here. There's so much to say that I don't know where to start, but I'm going to tell you why I'm against this megacity concept.

We have had things in Toronto that work well. We have a two-tiered system of government that has served Metro very well. It has made Toronto the envy of other cities around the world, so much so that one of the major magazines, Fortune magazine, declared Toronto the most livable city in the world. Why do you want to destroy this? Why change it? Why fix it? If it ain't broke, why fix it?

The evidence shows that you don't have enough information. You've given us some concocted numbers from KPMG which don't stand any test. Those are the only figures we have to go by and we're not sure they mean anything to anybody except probably the Harris government.

The quality and delivery of services have been exceptional, and the high standards which achieved serve as a model for other communities throughout Ontario and Canada. Many of the services are already carried out by the Metro level of government. They're already amalgamated, and I think the previous speaker said so. However, I part company with him when he says if we can bring the others together, it will be great, but of course we can't do that because we don't have the information.

This government has hijacked the democratic process. Therefore, it means that citizens like me who should be making an input here don't get that opportunity to do so. The lack of consultation with the very communities you are trying to amalgamate is really an abrogation of the democratic process, and I feel very angry about that, that you have taken away my right to come and speak, and not only me but thousands like me, to address you here.

I know many of you don't live in Toronto. You don't know what Toronto means. I have been involved in cultural activities in this municipality for over 27 years. I have been, and still am, a member of the Caribbean Cultural Committee, the committee that puts on the annual Caribana festival. I have been chair, I have been vice-chair and a number of positions that involve directors of this organization. It's the largest cultural festival of its kind in the country. How many of you have ever been to Caribana? You don't think it might be important. It brings more money into Toronto than any other festival in this whole Metropolitan region.

The other thing that I'm really unhappy about is this downloading. Why are you passing on the cost of your so-called NonSense Revolution to the municipalities? Why are you doing this? You're going to make it more difficult for us to live here and in the process what you're going to do is destroy a great city. If you download the cost, what it means is they either have to raise the taxes or cut services, or a combination of both. When that happens, you have the United States of America, urban America moving northwards into Canada so that the cores of the cities become empty and they're occupied either by the very rich in their gated communities or the poor, the homeless and the disfranchised, people who have little or no stake in the community in which they find themselves.

The job loss: By the minister's own declaration, some 4,500 jobs will be lost, some through attrition, many through layoffs, but we have unions in this place. You have CUPE, you have other unions, OPSEU, that have collective agreements, and all of us who are familiar with unions know that collective agreements reinforce the seniority clause.

Unfortunately for many of my community, minority workers, they are usually the last hired and -- twist it around -- they're first fired, first laid off. That's a historical experience we as black people have experienced here in North America and especially in the United States. If you read the history, you'll see that it's always been the same. We're last hired in spite of our education, our abilities, and as the recent study from the federal government shows, we black people have more education than the average Canadian, yet we continue to be at the bottom end of the economic ladder with respect to jobs and income.

Why? Clear unadulterated racism; nothing else but that. The first thing this government did was to rescind the Employment Equity Act. It meant you were serving notice that you are trying to divide communities, to destroy communities, to make the playing field -- instead of it being levelled a little more, you have tilted it so that now only certain groups are going to succeed here and we are going to be mad and continue to be mad as long as this nonsense continues.

We have to understand that we have taken enough from the kinds of actions that governments like yours and previous governments have done to divide and to deny communities like mine their rightful place in society. I tell you, my kids, who were born here, won't put up with as much as I have put with in this society.

By rescinding the Employment Equity Act and the Labour Relations Act, you have set the stage for Bill 103, because you thought people were not going to take any notice. You're just going to sit back and say: "Okay, we got by with this. We slipped this one through. Therefore, we're going to slip 103 through." Well, this time you got caught with your pants down, so to speak, because we're not going to let you get away with it.

This bill is a horrendous piece of legislation. I really think you thought that because you got away with those previous bills, this one was going to get through. Well, it's backfired on you big time. I've never seen so many people angry. I've never spoken to so many people who are as angry as I am about this bill.

I've written so much, I don't even know where to continue but I'll do my best to tell you some of the things I feel that have angered me. If we continue on this course of pushing for a megacity, we will see the expenses which this municipality has had to bear rise to such astronomical levels as to make them ungovernable. We'll become broke. We'll have to go hat in hand begging to the senior levels of government for moneys to carry out simple procedures like cleaning the streets, fixing potholes and so on, which are getting worse, by the way. This past winter I've never seen them so bad. But it obviously would mean that we're going to be in for some financial hardships the likes of which we have never seen before in Toronto.

Half the population of Toronto are tenants, and if you have to increase taxes, then the landlords will pass the costs of these increasing expenses on to the backs of already overtaxed tenants who are paying 50%, 60% and 70% of their income for shelter. Like I said before, only the rich will be able to afford to pay these exorbitant rents or afford to live downtown. When you combine that with the flight of homeowners to the 905 area and beyond, the city will resemble this ghost town, which I said earlier. I'm pretty sure that with that, you'll have an increase in the crime rate, because people will be seeing the well-to-do carrying on as usual and the poor suffering, and of course what happens is that your police budgets will increase and the consequent problems, which have visited US cities, will really catch us by the throat.


The Chair: Excuse me, Mr Marcelline, we're nearing the end of your time. I wonder if you could wrap up.

Mr Marcelline: Okay. As I said, I have so much to say, but unfortunately, 10 minutes is not enough.

I ask you as members, think about what you're doing; think about what your government is doing. Has it been well thought out? I don't think so. Are you prepared to accept your role in the decline and destruction of a great metropolis? Are you prepared to carry on this lap-dog mentality whereby you allow our government to hoodwink you into thinking that what it's proposing for Toronto is a good thing? No, I hope not. I hope that when history is written, your names will not go down as the ones who helped to destroy this great municipality of ours.

You have hijacked the democratic process. Maggie Thatcher did it in England and she failed miserably. Wherever amalgamation has been tried, it has failed. London is a classic example, Indianapolis in the United States is another, Halifax -- many other examples. It's failed. The costs have risen; services have gone down.

Now we see the Brits are waking up. They're going to kick out that bunch of jokers they have there called the Major government and bring back government of the people by the people for the people. Let's hope that in the next few years you have in government, three years or less, the same thing will happen, whereby you'll be kicked out of your office and we'll bring back a government that will serve the people and listen to the people and that will make democracy safe and available for all of us.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I appreciate your coming forward today.


The Chair: Would Joseph Izsak please come forward. Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Joseph Izsak: My name is Joseph Izsak. I'm a businessman. I'm a communication and design consultant and something of a Canadian nationalist. I wasn't born here, though. I was born in Budapest, Hungary.

One of my earliest memories is seeing my parents and a couple of cousins in the dining room of our apartment, and they were whispering to each other with nobody around. I overheard them making reference to "tyrants" and "thugs," and as a five-year-old I was curious about who they were talking about and what was going on. My mother was quite alarmed, and she explained to me that the word I was looking for was "patriots."

The overwhelming recollection I have of life in Hungary is an all-pervasive fear. There's a class picture with me in it where there's a picture of Stalin over the heads of the children, and my parents had so many nervous debates about whether they should cut off the picture of Stalin: Would it look bad to have the picture after he had been deposed, or would it be insulting to his memory to cut it off? What if someone recognized the room and knew the picture should have been there? It was a place where individuals didn't have any value and people had no influence unless they were members of the party.

Then we had the revolution and there were several months when I couldn't leave the apartment and I couldn't look out the window because there was gunfire. I learned to recognize the sound of tanks -- they don't have mufflers, so they're quite distinctive -- and the cannons on the tanks and all these different explosions. We were lucky, because the closest a bullet came to one of our windows was hitting one of the bricks. I would look out and I could see the sky, and something hit a brick and chipped it.

After the uprising was over and it was clear that things wouldn't get better there -- and I heard stories of people hanging from lampposts by ropes and I didn't really know what that meant. We went for a walk through the streets to the home of some relatives and I saw bombed-out buildings and rubble and everything. We never went home again. We took a long walk through a great deal of mud and ended up in Austria, and eventually ended up here.

It became clear to me that I was pretty fortunate, because I was living in what was very likely the best country in the world. You would think that after 40 years I'd begin to take that for granted, that this is just home, but day after day I could never shake the feeling of being so fortunate and so blessed to live in a place where people matter, where being a citizen has some meaning, where citizens have rights. It was really a wonderful thing and it seemed that even if I never got a mansion in Forest Hill, I was living in such a wonderful place and I could have a meaningful life.

Now I see a government that gets elected and says: "You voted for us. We can do whatever we want. The law says so. It doesn't matter what you think; it doesn't matter what you want. We think this city, which is generally considered the best city in the world to live in, is a terrible mistake to have. We have to get rid of it. It's all wrong. People who come here wanting to understand how Toronto became such a good place to live are presumably misguided. We don't care about them. We have to emulate the cities with a crumbling core, decaying infrastructure. The most wonderful thing we could do in Toronto is to privatize public services, because it's cheaper."

If a corporation makes a profit, then if people are employed on a non-profit basis working for themselves and their fellows -- the logic of this escapes me.

Unlike a lot of the people who are against the amalgamation, I haven't seen any compelling evidence that this government is evil -- there's circumstantial evidence -- but I don't understand what they're doing. I don't think they're bad men, honestly, but I'm completely mystified.

What I'm going to address now is the pretext for making all these changes that are, in my view, certain to destroy this city and this province, or if not destroy it, harm it in very serious ways and dramatically degrade the quality of life for most Ontarians. The pretext is always the shortage of money. We live in a strange time. If future historians can reconstruct this period from whatever's left in a few hundred years, they are simply not going to believe what went on here. We have people who treat money as if it were a precious non-renewable resource.

What would you think of a post office that had huge numbers of people wanting to send letters and were not able to because there was an artificial shortage of stamps? What would you say if Air Canada had a tremendous number of people wishing to fly and they had airplanes and trained pilots, but most of their airplanes were in storage and the ones that were flying were half empty because there was a shortage of tickets? People would discuss at great length how you can't create a successful airline by just printing tickets, that what we need to do is make wiser use of the tickets we have. Everyone knows this is idiotic. Tickets don't have intrinsic value. They're just a way of transferring value from one spot to another. They're bookkeeping.

Money isn't gold any more; money is bookkeeping. I've got about 70 books on economics at home. I've spent the last four years doing nothing but studying economics. Every morning I wake up and I pinch myself because I can't believe I'm living in a time when most people are content to believe that a government can run out of its own money.

Before I run out of time, what a responsible Ontario government would do is tell the federal government that it's played this game long enough. We had twice the debt in 1946, relative to the size of the economy, the gross domestic product, that we have now. At that time, we experienced unprecedented growth and paid off most of that debt painlessly by the early 1970s. At that time, the federal government decided that had been a terrible mistake and what we needed to do was return to the 1920s, and we have. It's a really crazy thing.

The fact is that the Ontario government, apart from having the option of putting pressure on the federal government and educating the population of Ontario, can create money the same way the private banks do. The government in Ottawa has privatized money creation, so private banks now create money that the government used to create at no cost, and then the government borrows from the private banks and pays them interest. What a wonderful system if you happen to own a bank.

I didn't choose my parents carefully enough, and unfortunately I got stuck with a family that doesn't own a bank. It's a damned good thing I'm not too materialistic.

We have our own bank here in the province of Ontario; it's the Province of Ontario Savings Office. If we started using that to create money for us the way other banks do, the private banks would go crazy. They would say: "You're going to kill us. How can you do that? This is Communism." Well, what do you expect them to say? They're earning record profits; they're happy. I think the rest of us deserve to be happy too.

The federal government used to create 10% of the new money every year; 90% came through the private banks. Now 100% comes from the private banks. Is it so much to ask that most Canadians could have 10% of the money created spent on them and let the private banks earn their damn profit on the remaining 90%?

Questions, comments, vegetables?


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): You're actually the third speaker since we came back this afternoon to stir up fear with comparisons to American cities. I want to talk about the difference between American history and Canadian history, particularly with regard to urban planning. I know a little bit about urban planning as well; I studied it in university. I grew up in Toronto.

The American experience has been profoundly different, back to the American Civil War, when there was an exodus of people from the deep south, looking for opportunities for work and trying to exercise their freedom. They went to the north and because of the nature of society, couldn't find work, had no opportunities and have lived trapped in certain communities with little opportunities for work.

Federal government money in the United States given to cities has gone to build expressways outside the cities, instead of supporting infrastructure, transit systems in the cities or support services for people or institutions to maintain the inner core of the cities. That's been a major difference.

Banks actually redline certain neighbourhoods, refuse to give mortgages to people in certain neighbourhoods, so that if a young couple wanted to come in and renovate a house and rejuvenate the neighbourhood, they couldn't get a mortgage to do so.

Real estate developers practise a terrible practice called blockbusting, where they buy up one or two or three houses on a block, let the properties deteriorate and then buy up the rest of them for peanuts and put up a skyscraper. There was nothing to block that. They didn't have the wisdom to plan their cities. They're basically very badly planned cities.

Those are just some of the reasons. When I was studying urban politics in the 1970s, David Crombie -- and he deserves a great deal of credit for this -- brought in a height bylaw in Toronto and said, "You can't build a skyscraper unless you're building homes as well." They built communities in Toronto. There are certainly over 100 communities.

This bill will support the communities by establishing neighbourhood councils, because Toronto is a community of communities. It will be supporting neighbourhood councils. There is absolutely no valid comparison between our tradition and our city here in Toronto with the American experience.

A couple of ladies before, who live in a beautiful community in Etobicoke --

The Chair: Mr Young, I apologize for interrupting, but we're way past the 10 minutes allotted for this presentation. That's going to have to stand as a comment.

Mr Izsak: Could I respond briefly?

The Chair: No, we're beyond 11 minutes.

Mr Izsak: I think these comments are not relevant because I -- come on. I'll just take a few seconds, okay?

The Chair: I'm sorry, Mr Izsak. We don't have unanimous consent to extend your time. Thank you very much for coming forward.


The Chair: Would David Brown please come forward? Hello, Mr Brown, and welcome to the committee.

Mr David Brown: Thank you very much. My name is David Brown. I'm a lawyer. I live in downtown Toronto. I've been a resident of this city for most of my life. I'm not usually inclined to appear before committees like this but feel compelled to do so in direct opposition to the type of rhetoric which has been exemplified by the last two speakers. I've heard in the last 20 minutes that most of the evils of the modern world can be attributed to megacity or amalgamation, namely racism, political tyranny and -- a new one to me this afternoon -- excessive bank profits.

I really would encourage the committee, and I'm sure you will, to take a deep breath and a big step back and consider what the real issue is. The real issue is the efficient and cost-effective delivery of municipal services in an environment which is unfortunately marked by constrained resources. We are, in this province, unfortunately not meeting the mortgage bill. We wouldn't allow our own households to be run this way and there's no reason we should expect the government of the day to conduct its affairs in any different manner.

In terms of what's gone on -- and I don't want to belabour this because there are valid points in favour of amalgamation, which we'll get into. The silk-stocking socialists, represented by Layton and Sewell, are really propagating incredible myths. They're fearmongering, and over their Sunday morning mimosas are discussing political theory, when this government of the day has to get on with managing this province in an effective and responsible manner.

I can do no better in speaking in favour of amalgamation than to point to recent articles in the Toronto Star over the weekend. The Toronto Star, it's well known, is no fan of this government. They haven't gone out of their way to be particularly sympathetic to the political initiatives. The editorial on Saturday -- I can do nothing more than repeat those points.

We are talking about bringing a political alignment in the Toronto area -- that's all we're talking about -- an amalgamation of six jurisdictions into the reality of the 21st century and allowing it to go forward. When these jurisdictions were drawn up, North York for the most part was a cow pasture. That's not the case any more.

These actions of this government are simply a reflection of that. Most of the services are already amalgamated, as you well know -- and I'm not telling this committee anything new but I just felt compelled to make these points and get it off my chest -- TTC, police, sewer treatment, garbage disposal.

Is there any cultural difference between Scarborough and East York, North York? These are not in and of themselves zones with any great differences or distinctions and I don't see that amalgamation will change that. It merely reflects the fact that these are artificial boundaries. If we can save some money in delivering services, then please let's get on with it. Let's get on with the process and stop the fearmongering.

Dealing with duplication, why is it that in Earl Bales Park the grass is cut by the city of North York and the hills are groomed by the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto? No legitimate reason why. I, in my own mind, cannot understand the distinction between a municipal councillor and a city councillor. These issues tend to be city-based issues and one governing body can deal with them effectively in a cost-efficient manner. All the studies say there's a potential for savings. I've already alluded to the fact that we are not meeting the mortgage payments in this province. It's got to change, or else the great cultural events, the Caribanas, all these great, beautiful things that distinguish our city are in jeopardy if we cannot deal with this deficit.

There's an assumption that we can go on and do nothing and still enjoy this great city and the great services and events we have come to know and love. It's time that we deal with the fact that there simply is not enough money to go around so we can enjoy what we've got. I think this government is doing so, and these open public hearings are an example of that. This is not tyranny. They were elected by the people of this province. This is not something that's come out of the blue. They've always talked about delivering services more efficiently. This is one way of doing it, and this is something that's a natural offshoot of the policy papers that were put forth to the electorate before the election in 1995.

Those are my comments. Thank you for your time.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Thank you very much, Mr Brown, for your presentation and for your opinion. Although I don't agree, I respect that you have the right to voice your opinion in a democratic society.

You are a lawyer, you said earlier. You mentioned the word "compelling" twice and certainly you must have some compelling evidence that the government's model is going to be better. There's compelling evidence to the contrary. Can you maybe refer to some of the studies that you've done, that you've read, that indicate it will be better?

Mr Brown: Just approaching it from the most basic standpoint, why is it that East York, North York, Scarborough have their own planning departments? Why is it that all of that cannot be amalgamated into one planning department that will deal with these requests? Let's get rid of all of the bureaucracy that's involved, the duplication. That is fundamental, basic, a clear example of savings, amalgamating these various departments so that they're dealt with by one department. I'm no accountant, but I just cannot see how we wouldn't save resources in amalgamating services such as that.

The experts have been hired, the big consulting firms, and my understanding -- I haven't read the reports in detail; I only go by what I see on the news and read in the press -- is that money will be saved. That's what this government got elected on, delivering services more efficiently. "Efficiently" is a politically correct term for doing it at a cheaper price, freeing up resources so that we can deal with the deficit.


Mr Bartolucci: The government refers to the KPMG study, and most experts have soundly disputed on very firm ground that their study was a good study. But there are experts that the government isn't listening to. Do you have any concerns that the government is not listening to the author of the Golden report, not listening to experts like Wendell Cox, Andrew Sancton, Jack Diamond? Are you concerned that this government refuses to listen to what they have to say and incorporate their ideas, because they truly are the experts in the field? Does that concern you at all?

Mr Brown: It would concern me if it was true, but these proceedings are an example of the fact that they're listening. Every one of those individuals has had an opportunity or could come and speak and in my view -- I mean, I hope everybody's listening. We've been told that there will be changes to the legislation based upon these public hearings. I think implicit in your statement is that they're not listening, but these proceedings are, I think, the complete opposite or don't support that conclusion at all.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Brown, for coming forward and making your presentation today.


The Chair: Would David Vallance please come forward. Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the committee.

Mr David Vallance: Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I think it's appropriate that the lawyer is for it because the legal bonanza this is going to create with the mess will be a boon to them for the next 10 years at least.

Before I start my presentation, which is written down, I'd like to preface it by saying that I'm chair of CORRA, the Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations. I represent the Bloor Bathurst-Madison Business Improvement Area at that association. Last November I attended a meeting, as a result of my association with CORRA, with David Crombie, and before the meeting the question was asked: "Is everybody here opposed to amalgamation? Put your hands up."

All but three of us put our hands up. One fellow said he thought it was good for the city because it would save money. He has since done a 180 degree turn and he's now absolutely opposed to it. I said: I'm neither for nor against it, because we haven't got a plan. We've got no document, we've got no discussion paper here. We're just talking about an idea and I'm not for or against an idea until I have some substantial evidence for or against it. That's where I come from."

Since then, I've been involved in forming TAM, Taxpayers Against Megacity, which pretty well tells you where I'm coming from now.

This submission will focus on Bill 103. References to Bills 104, 105 to 150, or however many the Harris government plans to pass to create chaos in this province, will be only in passing.

Bill 103 appears to have been conceived in the back of an empty TTC bus -- and there are lots of them around -- in a fit of passion, for all the planning that has gone into it. According to someone who has a fairly senior position at municipal affairs, this was not even a twinkle in the minister's eye before October 15, 1996. Others have spoken to this fact better than I can, but like all conceptions, the result can be painful, will be expensive and will likely require lifelong support payments.

The question now is whether to abort what is by all examinations a badly deformed and probably severely retarded offspring. The decision is less agonizing than for a real child because the critter is not a living, breathing human being, but nonetheless, for those of us who care about cities, it will be the death of the parent cities and it is highly unlikely the father will provide much support. Forgive me for the analogy. My concern is for a badly conceived idea.

Differences between cities come about for many reasons and built form is one of them. For most of you, the term "built form" has little meaning, except for the planner over here. What I'm referring to is the density within each of the municipalities, which largely determines the lifestyle of the residents.

The cities of Toronto, York and East York are very similar in their residential densities. The differences occur in the amount of commercial and industrial buildings in each. Much of the C and I has been lost in York and East York, for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the high tax burden imposed on Metro by a provincial government that has since time immemorial used Metro cities to subsidize the rest of the province from their property taxes. Several reports in the last few years have established that, but all three major political parties have ignored them. The studies are referred to there. Other presenters have referred to this problem, but there is no discussion in the daily papers because the commitment to intensify, even to the minimum suggested by the Blais report, just isn't there.

The questioner over here talked about American cities. I'm going to talk about Montreal, which almost everybody will agree is in serious trouble right now. I had a conversation with a senior economic development officer in Montreal nearly two years ago. He said that Montreal's problems were only slightly the result of the separation factor. The main causes of Montreal's economic decline were more provincial policies that treated the city of Montreal as a cash cow. This policy left nothing for the renewal of infrastructure that is essential for an aging city. The second problem for Montreal, according to this official, is that all of Quebec's poor people have been housed in Montreal, for the same reason; obviously not all but a very large proportion. The attached article from the Globe will outline the details.

What has all this got to do with Bill 103? Careful study of the financial details of York and East York will show that as cities they are actually more efficient than Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. The high taxes of York are really the result of provincial policies that have forced the municipalities of Metro to finance things from property taxes that other cities of similar size in the rest of the province don't have to finance. This flies in the face of all logic because the household income of the residents in the cities of Metro are among the lowest in the GTA.

It is no coincidence that the city of Toronto is actually the worst spender of the cities in Metro: It is the largest. It was able to get away with it for so long because of a growing economy and a constantly expanding tax base. It was also possible because Toronto extracts high taxes from small properties while the outer cities extract relatively small taxes from large properties.

Although the tax base is growing again, most of it is in the form of residential development. In a report in the newspapers during the Sheppard subway debate, the chief financial officer for Metro pointed out that residential property does not cover its own costs from its property taxes, let alone provide extra to finance additional services like welfare, homes for seniors, subsidized housing or subways.

When the Minister of Municipal Affairs announced Bill 103, he said it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that you can save money by having one big city. He also said it has been studied to death. He was right on both counts. No rocket scientist, let alone anyone of average intelligence, would come to the conclusion that you can save money with one big city, and all of the studies conclude that it would be death to have one big city.

The minister himself can apparently find nothing to support his proposal. A quote from the Globe of February 12, 1997: "His," Mr Leach's, "speech was full of the same explanations and pat answers that he has given since he announced that Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, East York, York and Metro Toronto would be melded into a megacity."

The ball is in the government's court. It can plunge ahead in the face of all logic and common sense or it can have the minister resign, aborting Bill 103 with him, and get someone to examine the whole picture and try to make some real sense from it.

If the Harris government insists on proceeding, then it should also pass the following act, which was found on the back of an envelope in the secretary's wastebasket in the minister's office, written apparently as a press release:

"Bill 142, The Newspaper of Toronto Act, 1997. Government plans to amalgamate Toronto's daily newspapers." Bill Saunderson announces the "birth of a mega-paper. The new paper will be born on January 1, 1998, and will bring together the Globe, the Sun and the Star, in descending order of relevance, into one system of news delivery, called The Daily Universe.

"The goal is to create a competitive, efficient newspaper that will eliminate confusion about who does what and where there's one cost-conscious and accountable editorial board.

"`It's also about economic efficiency and creating an image that projects a uniform theme so the paper can thrive. Assuming all the editors and reporters fall into place with intelligence, this is a reasonable proposal,' announced Mr Saunderson. `By getting rid of three unnecessary editors, replacing them with a mega-editor with mega-pay and three associate idiotors (sic) at the same salary and streamlining the Queen's Park, Metro, national and international news bureaus, the hypothetical savings to possibly nearly millions of dollars,' as demonstrated in a report from KPMG done on the morning of December 23, 1996, by reviewing the editorial pages of the three papers.

"The overlap of editorial content where one newspaper supports one political party and another supports a different one is a ridiculous waste of money. We propose a uniparty policy that will lead to the elimination of multiparty politics in the province and ultimately the most efficient of all governments, a dictatorship." That was crossed out and replaced by "an all-knowing, benevolent Premier."

"We have no detailed plans on how to do this amalgamation, but like everything else we are doing, we'll make it up as we go along."

As one small business owner said when I asked about Bill 103, "If we can't have much impact on a council of 16, what chance do we have with one of 44?"

I refer you to the plan from Mr Leach on page 4.


The Chair: Excuse me, is that it?

Mr Vallance: Yes, I'm finished.

The Chair: Mr Marchese, you have about a minute and a half.

Mr Marchese: I have two questions but the one that comes to mind very quickly is, Mr Leach's response to questions in the House and the way he continues to respond to them is to say: "This bill is going to save money. It will get rid of politicians. It will eliminate duplication. It will get rid of a bloated bureaucracy." He continues to say that all the time.

My worry is that, although he sat here one day to listen to a few people, he's not listening to people like yourself who I think have a great deal to say, with a great deal of knowledge; you and many others with a great deal of expertise in this area. I'm afraid he's disregarding what you and 350 or more other people have said before. What do you say to that?

Mr Vallance: I was interviewed on CBC Newsworld back in December and at that time I expressed two things. One was my concern for the democratic process, of which there was none at that time and there hasn't really been a lot since, and the second thing was my concern about the minister, from all reports, being very stubborn, dogmatic and unwilling to listen to reason once he's made up his mind. If I were the people sitting on this side of the room, I would be very concerned about that because the long-term cost to the government is going to be very high for this. I'm sure of it.

Mr Marchese: The minister relies on gut feeling and what he calls common sense, and the lawyer before you said: "It's common sense there are going to be savings. You make six bureaucracies into one and you've got savings." Do you rely on that kind of gut feeling for the comments you're making or do you look at other research before you come to your conclusion?

Mr Vallance: I think the question was asked of the lawyer and he returned the same rhetoric that Mr Leach has returned, and that's all they've got. They don't have a single study that backs up their proposal and that's really the concern that everybody who talks against it is saying. I don't know what's wrong with the backbenchers. Can't they read?

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Vallance, for your presentation.


The Chair: Would Doug Lowry please come forward. Good afternoon, Mr Lowry. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Doug Lowry: Hello. My name is Doug Lowry. I live on Palmerston Boulevard in the city of Toronto and I work for one of the banks down at King and Bay. I belong to my neighbourhood residents association, PARA. I belong to the PC Party both provincially and federally. I belong to the 14 division community liaison association, and I'd like to see Rosario Marchese defeated next time.

Mr Marchese: I understand.

Mr Lowry: You're my MPP.

When the bill on amalgamation was introduced at Queen's Park in December, I reflected on what I liked and didn't like about the concept of the legislation, and on December 30, I wrote to the Minister of Municipal Affairs about some of the things we as a neighbourhood association had done, including traffic calming, which was something that was relatively new. It took us about five years to get this thing through in a city where, more or less, people have the same common interest. So I thought, what happens? How long is it going to take 44 people when it's a very new issue? It's going to take much longer, because the minister has said at public meetings the laws passed would necessarily be generic laws for all the city, which is the reason why some of the members from northern Ontario complain about bills which happen in southern Ontario. The same thing is going to happen in Metro with one big city.

This also applies to park facilities. I go swimming at a community pool, Bickford Park, every Saturday. It's free. The outdoor pool is free during the summer because in the city of Toronto the politicians and we the citizens have said that recreation facilities should be free. When they made their cuts, and they made an awful lot of cuts around their budget, they kept recreational facilities as close as possible with few service charges. I don't think the larger city would make that choice.

Bill 103 is about the structure of the new city; however, the ability to finance the administration was introduced in January. The province had a wonderful ability at that time to seriously consider the future of municipalities, to look at what they should do and not do to clear inequities and to present its case to the people of the province. I don't think they've done that. I think they've failed miserably.

The overriding concern seems to be to cut taxes, but without asking what we really want as a city, because presumably we would elect people who would provide the kind of services we want. If we wanted gold-plated service, we would get gold-plated and pay for it. If we don't, we'd get fewer services. Presumably we'd elect councillors of that nature. That's the way the game used to be. Presumably if the council would seriously consider annexation or merger or amalgamation with neighbouring municipalities if they couldn't afford it, the citizens would vote and the deed would be done, or we would just replace the councillors to get what we wanted as citizens. The area with better services in the amalgamation would benefit. The area with the worst services would get their services but they would have to pay a little bit more.

In the amalgamated city what do we get? The famous KPMG report suggests that, over three years, the savings are going to be between $565 million and $865 million, which is a difference of $300 million. That's okay, but then Metro Toronto says the new financing structure is going to cost it $400 million. So I have no savings. There are going to be no savings and taxes are going up, so what is the benefit, especially when you look around at York East?

There's an MPP here from York East. His community is not merging. Richmond Hill has a city hall. Richmond Hill has a regional government and somehow they're not amalgamating. Metro has to be. What happened to the great "less duplication"? Somehow we missed it. I don't know.

What else do we lose? We lose an ability to make good, bad and indifferent decisions at the local level. We lose because the new financial structure imposed automatically causes our taxes to go up -- in Metro, I'm talking about. So if there was any money to be saved on amalgamation, then it's lost with the new funding that's in place by the provincial government.

Rationalization and restructuring and amalgamation is not something new. It's done lots of times in all of the provinces but -- I am a small shareholder. I own stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange. A small company, Fletcher Challenge, wanted to reorganize their company. They sent me this. The Bank of BC has no assets; they merged with Canadian Western Bank. I got a report.

So the announcement comes out. I phoned the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, I phoned Management Board. I said: "Gee, I'd like to read some of the reports that suggest all these wonderful savings. As a Tory, I have to support this stuff." I didn't get anything. I finally went through the Premier's office and city hall and got the KPMG report.

On Sunday I was watching Rogers community cable TV. The minister was on and he mentioned there was a $100-million saving in amalgamating Toronto Hydro, York Hydro, Scarborough Hydro, which is nice. I had called Toronto Hydro because I thought, "We're going to save some money on hydro rates." No, there is no report. They said they didn't know anything about the savings. I called the mayor's office. Surely if there's $100 million to be saved in hydro, the mayors would know about it. Didn't know about it; nobody had seen the report. I called Ontario Hydro because I thought that's what it said; I didn't go back to Rogers. They went through the information bureau; no report. So I'm not sure where this report is.

The lack of financial information, with all due respect to the KPMG report, which itself says savings are "possible" -- the time frame in which they did it was very short. In their announcements they made those kinds of statements that it depends on the management of the resources and there's only a range of possible savings. Either the supporting documentation does not exist -- the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, when I went through urban planning, produced a wealth of information, management studies. That's what Municipal Affairs did; that's about all they did. They produced lengthy, detailed reports. They probably do not have an optimistic reflection of the KPMG report.

So I find it strange, with the ability in this city, when you have Lotus computers, you can do worksheets, you have three major universities in the proposed megacity, two of them producing MBA programs, when the graduating class of the chartered accountants brings out government minister Marilyn Mushinski, when the city of Toronto is the financial capital of Canada, the provincial government does not produce financial reports to substantiate its claims. Surely, you've got to believe the citizens are not interested in how much taxes are saved but where they can be saved and how the provincial government believes they can be saved and where opportunities lie for non-government companies to take advantage of areas where they will have to cut back.

For a large number of reasons, I anticipate a no vote. Apparently the Minister of Municipal Affairs does too, which indicates a whole bunch of thing to me, including the government did not get its message out or got a bad one out. I remember going to a number of provincial PC fund-raisers, and on one of those occasions a member of this committee told the gathering: "During our first year the ministers were very well prepared. They were extremely well prepared. They knew their issues. They knew what were going to be the types of questions to be asked. They prepared for all that. They came out with flying colours." Everybody looked at them and said, "Gee, you guys really know what you're doing," and that was absolutely wonderful and as a Tory I was damned proud of them.

However, I went to amalgamation meetings in mid-January and I looked at some other Tory supporters and said, "God, it's going to be really tough to be a Tory in Toronto." One of the reasons I'm here is because on this issue the government has been lousy, to be kind.

So what happens with a no vote? Because it's much easier to vote against the megacity than to be in favour of the provincial government. Basically the province says: "Trust us, it's going to be fine. We'll do the right thing in an effort to lower your taxes." But if I really wanted lower taxes, I'd just go north of Steeles and have a 905 phone number because I know, under the existing financial structure and the existing structures, I get close local government and I get cheaper taxes; almost a reason to move.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Lowry, I must ask you to bring your comments to a close. We're running out of time.

Mr Lowry: I think the province did a really great thing when it removed education from property taxes. I think you should remove a whole lot more. It should only be, when you go to look to buy a house, those things that you look for and those are the things that you should be paying for in property tax.

I think that now we have referendums, I'd like to keep a tight fiscal framework and have a provision by taking away social services off them that they could not raise --

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for presenting here this evening. We've run out of time.

I'd like to call on Robert Wilson. Is Mr Robert Wilson here? Is Christopher Wilson here? James Binnie? I'll declare a five-minute recess then.

The committee recessed from 1703 to 1707.


The Vice-Chair: We're going to resume. We have Anna DiCarlo with us from the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Welcome to the committee, Ms DiCarlo.

Ms Anna DiCarlo: Bill 103 is part of a province-wide program of municipal amalgamation. As you know, it's part of the Common Sense Revolution's promise to dismantle so-called big government. Notwithstanding the fact that Bill 103 is actually going to create a bigger rather than smaller government, the argument that's being presented to us is that the several existing smaller city councils plus the higher-tier Metro Toronto council constitute a form of government which is inefficient, uneconomical, bureaucratic and full of so-called red tape. Savings are being promised to us.

The government has also stated it wants to privatize various government programs and services. In this regard, the special cabinet committee on privatization, headed by Finance Minister Ernie Eves, was formed and Bill 26 and Bill 103 have followed. Municipal amalgamation is creating economies of scale for the anxiously awaiting corporations and financiers. Already, purchase agreements have been negotiated, as in the case of the acquisition of ambulance services in several central Ontario cities by one American corporation. All the legal obstacles in the way of privatization are being removed before our very eyes.

The division which has been created in this province, especially in Metro Toronto, between the government and the people over the megacity and the downloading of services, has a very surreal aspect to it. On the one hand, we have the government promising that it is going to provide us with savings, promising to reduce taxes and even promising to get rid of bureaucracy, one of the things everybody hates, but the people are screaming no.

The problem we have here is that people can see what is going on before their very eyes. The privatization of water in England, for example, has not yielded any savings whatsoever for the people. Far from it; prices have gone up, quality of services has gone down and the people have lost even the remotest level of control over their national resource of water. The exploitation of workers in the sectors which have been privatized has increased.

It is a very peculiar definition of savings which is being presented to us. It is one which results in the people paying more for the things that they worked and paid to create in the first place, especially when they not only have to continue to pay the same level of taxes but are also paying new user fees.

People are also seeing the results of these so-called savings in their own lives, when they pay extra fees in hospitals, it they can afford it, and when they pay extra fees for the children to participate in school activities. They have seen the result of these so-called savings from welfare cuts in the increased numbers of pauperized and destitute people in the streets.

The other problem is that before we can speak about savings we need to speak about what needs to be purchased. If we use the example of a family, the notion of savings is that first the family sets out what is required and then it figures out how to economize. It begins from the needs of all its members, for housing, food, clothing, general wellbeing, culture and entertainment, security in the future and so on. Once the needs are budgeted and the amount is calculated, then the family can proceed to discuss how to save money. It could hardly be classified as savings if the parents stopped providing meals at home and forced their children to find the money to eat out, but this is precisely the kind of logic that government restructuring and so-called savings are being presented with in Ontario.

Recently, Minister of Municipal Affairs Leach stated in justification of Bill 103 that the form of municipal government which we now have is not appropriate for a modern society. I would agree with him on this. He told reporters, "Most of the communities that we see...were set up in the 1850s and it" -- the existing municipal governments -- "was appropriate for the 1850s. It's not appropriate for the 1990s or going into the 21st century."

What was needed in the 19th century really is no different in essence than what is needed today. People, then and now, need the mechanisms to exercise control over their lives and over their societies, more so today when we live in a world where corporations with unprecedented powers are attempting to eliminate every single thing that stands in the way of their profit-making.

Of course, there are many things that are different. What is different from the 1850s? To determine what we need today, we have to start from the concrete reality. In the 19th century the constituency which was represented by local government was comprised of propertied men. They chose their selectmen, as they were called at that time, to deal with matters such as roads, sanitation, crime and so on, and all of their activities were overseen by the Governor General, who was appointed by the British crown.

Authority over local government was later passed on to the provincial governments in the British North America Act, and while municipal governments have come to greatly expand their responsibilities, this non-recognition of the right to self-government remains the case to this day. That is why we can have such a phenomenon as a government coming along and simply dismantling the local governments that exist. The fact is that local government has never been recognized as a right in Canada, and this is certainly one of the anachronisms that belongs to the 1850s, to the period of British colonial rule and not to a modern Canada.

Secondly, from the 1850s to this time the constituency of local government has dramatically changed. While municipal electoral laws were the last to have property qualifications removed, today every citizen of a certain age is eligible to elect and to be elected. The remains of this notion of political rights which are qualified by the economic status of the citizen, however, is still seen in the electoral process, where any serious contender must have either their own financial resources or second-party financial backing.

This will become even worse if Bill 103 is implemented, as the most powerful economic forces will throw all their resources behind their candidates to ensure that they are among the powerful cabinet of 44 representatives who will govern the city. This is also an anachronism which belongs to the past and which should be replaced with laws that provide public funding for candidates.

Furthermore, as compared to the 19th century, today we have an extremely diversified society. It is comprised of peoples from many different national origins and many different collective interests, whether we speak of the industrial working class, or workers from different sectors, or women, or youth and students and professionals in various fields. All the collectives in the society have a right to participate in governing their own local affairs. The mechanisms and the provincial legislation pertaining to local government, however, still remain connected to this notion of serving property owners, a notion which belongs to the 18th and 19th centuries.

As we approach the 21st century, what kind of local governments do we need? If reform is to be brought about, we would recommend the following: first is withdrawal of Bill 103 in its entirety; second is amendment of the Canadian Constitution to recognize the right to local self-government; third is the enactment of legislation for the creation of people's councils; fourth is the enactment of legislation which would place all locally based social programs and services under the direct jurisdiction of people's councils.

These measures, in our opinion, would go a long way towards people producing savings and eliminating waste and duplication in government as well as providing themselves with the services they actually need and require and without which they can't function in this society. They would fulfil the great demand of the people to exercise control over their own lives and over the affairs of their society. They would bring local government into the 21st century and liberate it from the 19th century notions which belong to a period of empire-building. Thank you very much.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Ms DiCarlo. Mr Flaherty will have just about a minute.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): A whole minute. Thank you for your presentation. I'm interested in what you said about constitutional reform and I gather creating, in effect, constitutional city states in Canada is the idea of a constitutional amendment.

I'm also interested in the misconception that seems prevalent -- I've heard it in this committee and I've heard it in the other committee, on Bill 104, with the education bill -- that we have a hierarchical constitutional system in this country, which we do not have. We have a federation with a separation of powers, equal governments, federal and provincial, with a division of powers. The division of powers that the provincial government enjoys includes property and civil rights, which is why municipalities are creatures of the province. I think it's important for people to understand the basic constitutional nature of the Canadian democracy.

More importantly, I think your proposal of what I would call city states as constitutional entities in this country would freeze the urban situation in this country as it is now. If we look at the last two generations of Canadian history, I'm sure you would agree with me that would be inappropriate. Even if you look at the history of southern Ontario, it would be inappropriate, because it would put us in a situation where we, the constitutional governments of Canada, the federal and provincial governments, would not be able to change boundaries, so that the town of Forest Hill would be forever the town of Forest Hill.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Flaherty, I must interrupt here. We've gone past time.

Thank you very much for coming here today.



The Vice-Chair: Christopher Wilson, would you come forward, please. Good afternoon, Mr Wilson, and welcome to the standing committee.

Mr Christopher Wilson: Thank you very much. I'm a long-time resident of Toronto, at least the last 30 years, and I am a development professional.

I intend to speak to you today from a pragmatic point of view. I appreciate that there has been much outflowing of feeling here and a certain amount of expression of political principle, but I'm going to come at this a different way. I'm going to appeal to your pragmatism, because I think there are many pragmatic members of this government. It's a pity the minister isn't here today. I've had experience dealing with him. I know him to be a pragmatic person.

The basic criterion for a pragmatic person is whether something makes sense. I want to suggest to you, when looked at from a commonsense point of view, one that I know you hold dear, I and others like me certainly see some practical problems with this legislation and with the broader concept behind it.

First of all, dealing with the structure of amalgamation, I just want to make a couple of points here. The idea that creating a bigger level of government, subsuming the local governments of Toronto into a government the equivalent of or bigger than Metro, will realize efficiencies runs against the practical experience of many of us who have had to do work here in the city. I only have to look back and compare my experiences of trying to get approvals, trying to deal with development issues with local governments versus having to deal with the Metro level of government or the province, to tell you that there's an enormous difference. If I run into a practical problem at a local level, I can phone up the bureaucrat involved and get the matter settled within a matter of hours, certainly not more than days, usually. The experience dealing with Metro, and this isn't impugning anybody's commitment, is that things take a lot longer and the situation is much more inflexible.

I don't think people with practical experience doing business here would accept readily the argument that creating a larger level of government will be more efficient. It also runs against pragmatic, commonsense thinking to think that creating that level of government will make things more efficient. I've often heard the reference to amalgamating the planning departments into one department, but I've also heard talk about running the planning departments out of the former city halls. What that tells me is that we're much more likely to wind up with an additional layer of bureaucracy rather than removing bureaucracy, because if we eliminate six planning commissioners, my strong guess is that we'll end up with six new deputy planning commissioners and the savings won't have been very great at all. From a business point of view, the risk here is that it will become much more difficult to do business in the city.

Looking beyond the structure, I think we have to be concerned about the overall content of this plan. Here I'm going to go beyond the matters of this bill. I realize that's the focus of your attention, but the government has presented this as part of an overall plan, and from a business point of view you have to look at the business plan, you have to look at the big picture of what's being proposed. From that point of view, practical concerns arise too.

My greatest practical concerns have to do with the financial health of the new megacity with the transfer of massive responsibilities from the provincial government. It seems clear to me, and I know many people like me have raised these concerns, that these responsibilities are beyond what is within the scope of municipal governments to logically, reasonably handle. When you're talking about large-scale welfare costs, long-term care and housing, these are burdens that are very difficult to handle on the property tax base. The point has often been made that property taxes are a rather rigid form of taxation, and these costs are quite volatile.

Since my experience is strongly in the housing field, I thought I would bring to you today some recent research that has been completed by a coalition of housing providers called Homefront Ontario, which commissioned an independent study of what the costs would be for the transfer of housing to the megacity. They came up with some rather disturbing conclusions.

Some of you at least will have in front of you perhaps all the spreadsheets they did, which are just a summary. The simple facts that emerged were that the older housing stock is quite deteriorated. It's no secret that public housing has been sorely neglected and repair of public housing has been neglected. I think, frankly, all parties bear responsibility for this, because it has crossed many different regimes. Some may quarrel, but the fact of the matter is that it's not in good shape. That's confirmed by studies done by KPMG for Metro housing.

We've worked to put together figures for the province as a whole based on known studies and come up with over $1 billion in remedial repairs that are required. This has to be seen as a very conservative estimate of the cost. It's based on existing studies. Most of the studies are not thoroughgoing engineering studies. It also, as well as covering the cost of urgent repairs, covers the cost of topping up replacement reserves for the newer social housing stock. This is a very prudent practice, followed by all condominiums, of putting money aside for the future. It was discontinued by the last government, most unwisely, and now the piper has to be paid.

When you look at this on an annual basis, this means something in the order of $218 million in additional costs, of which about $81 million is a Metro cost. This adds on to the $365 million or so that's already been estimated, to come up with quite a disturbing bill that's somehow going to have to be covered. Even if it's amortized, even if there is refinancing, even if there is every scheme in the world, the fact of the matter is that bills have to be paid. The alternative is to allow housing stock to grossly deteriorate and you wind up with slums; the centre of the city and pockets of the suburbs will decay seriously. The things that have made this city quite attractive -- freedom from crime, freedom from a large number of people on the streets -- will go out the window.

The fact of the matter is that we're placing this new megacity in the unenviable position of having to choose between the fiscal health of the municipality and the social health of the city, the quality of life of the city. If you jack up property taxes to balance the books, you risk driving people out of the centre of the city, you risk the kind of deterioration we've seen in American cities. If you choose the other way and allow the social housing to deteriorate and cut welfare and so forth -- which I recognize may be, at first blush, attractive to members of this government, but I would suggest that if you take a broader and pragmatic view, the fact that we've had these programs and these programs are in place is part of what makes this city generally a more decent and safer place for people to live and do business.

I'd suggest to you that the implications of these decisions have not been well contemplated. It's very attractive. I know the government has a strong commitment to reducing the deficit, which many people in this room, including myself, share. But we have to look carefully at the ways we try to do it. Shifting these kinds of volatile costs on to municipalities, from a pragmatic, business point of view, does not recommend itself. We risk killing the goose that laid the golden egg. We risk creating social hardship and social unrest.

I suggest to you the government needs to revisit this package and look at a structure, look at the kinds of efficiencies, the maximum efficiencies, that can be acquired structurally by achieving a municipality, say, 700,000 to one million in size, which we know from studies has proved to be the most efficient financially. We need to look carefully at the kinds of costs that are being downloaded and back off this formula which risks the future and safety of our city.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Wilson. Mr Cleary, we have less than one minute. One quick question.

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I'd like to thank you for your presentation, Mr Wilson. Your presentation reminds me and those who were in municipal government in the early 1970s of when regional government was coming in. A number of the municipalities that were involved in that were bringing up the same issues you were.

Since I have only one question, less than a minute, do you see any benefits at all in Bill 103?

Mr Wilson: As others have said, I think the government has certainly taken the initiative to tackle a hard task that needs doing, but frankly I think the wrong question has been answered. The problem that needs to be addressed is coordination across the GTA and preventing the hole-in-the-doughnut phenomenon with the city itself. I don't think Bill 103 really gets to the heart of that issue at all, and it risks undoing something that in fact is working quite well.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Wilson, for coming here this afternoon.



The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Olga Kremko. Good afternoon, Ms Kremko, and welcome to the standing committee. You have 10 minutes in which to make your presentation.

Ms Olga Kremko: Members of the committee on general government, my name is Olga Kremko. My parents came from eastern Europe in the time between the first and second world wars. Although I grew up in poverty in Toronto, my parents emphasized how fortunate we were to be living in a democracy and that we would never be hungry.

Later, after the Second World War, when my father opened his own business with the generous help of his employer, we moved to North York. My husband and I brought up our family in North York. The last home we owned was at Bayview and Cummer. My husband went to university and Osgoode Hall with Premier Bill Davis and had been a member of the Progressive Conservative Party for a time. My father, my husband and I helped in a couple of elections. In 1984, I separated and moved back to Toronto to finish my master's program at U of T.

I am opposed to the process and contents of Bill 103 and to the downloading. The amalgamation of the seven municipalities is part and parcel of the provincial government's overall restructuring of the delivery of services, the downloading of hard and soft services.

Bill 103 is not democratic. The amalgamation of Toronto with 12 communities that surrounded Toronto was initiated by Mayor Allan Lamport of Toronto through the Ontario Municipal Board in 1950. The provincial government took 17 years to do the above amalgamation, establish a two-tier government and then further amalgamate the municipalities into the five cities and one borough that we have now. The provincial government did much more careful studies and was more willing to compromise than this government is. This is from the Globe and Mail, February 17, 1997.

With Bill 103, none of the mayors had asked for the amalgamation. In other words, the amalgamation as well as the downloading is being forced on the municipalities of Metro Toronto. With such sweeping legislation, a white paper usually is produced to explain in detail the government's proposal.

Why is this government treating the 905 areas differently and letting them decide how they are going to amalgamate? They were given another two to 10 years, negotiators and facilitators.

Indeed, the real problems are these and other inequalities between the 905 and 416 areas in the greater Toronto area. Taxes are 40% less in the 905 areas because they are given more subsidies in education, health and ambulance. The 905 area does not have the big welfare rolls, subsidized housing or the TTC system to operate. Metro Toronto is where people from all across Canada come to find work and then often find themselves on welfare and subsidized housing when they can't find work, especially during a recession.

Both the Crombie and the Golden studies have emphasized that the greater Toronto area have a cohesive network concerning transportation and a more level playing field in the economy before anything is done within the Metro area.

The bill creates new levels of bureaucracy by giving extraordinary powers to the board of trustees and the transition team that are above the law. The decisions of the two bureaucracies will be final and cannot be reviewed or questioned by the court. This is sections 12 and 18.

The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply to the boards nor to the transition team. They can make decisions in secret. The board and the transition team are protected from personal liability: sections 15 and 21. Their decisions are also exempt from the various freedom of information and protection of privacy acts and any other acts which Bill 103 is in conflict with. This is in sections 13 and 19.

The powers of the board of trustees over each of the six municipal governments and Metro were retroactive to December 1996: section 30. Yesterday, Mr Justice Lloyd Brennan of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled that these powers are not legal until Bill 103 becomes law since the legislation will allow the trustees to override the authority of the municipal councils.

The 1997 expenses of the board of trustees and those of the transition team are to be paid by the municipality of Metro Toronto and the 1998 expenses are to be paid by the new city -- sections 14 and 20 -- grossly unfair because it is not the cities and the borough of Metro Toronto that want this amalgamation.

The trustees and the transition team gain complete control over every aspect of our elected councils and decision-making: sections 9 and 16.

The board of trustees does not report to a democratically elected city council, but to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Al Leach. That is in sections 6 and 9. Since these regulations do not have to be approved by the cabinet, Mr Al Leach's power is autocratic. Mr Leach has the power to make any other orders he thinks are necessary; for example, the trustees were not permitted to speak to the press.

A council of 45 members from 44 wards will be elected for the new city. It will decide if there are to be restrictions imposed on the amounts to be raised and spent in any year and make recommendations to the minister. The new council will probably cut discretionary spending powers by 15%, as in the amalgamation scheme of Kingston. This means cuts to services. This could only be achieved by a board with dictatorial powers that is not responsible to the public.

The team can sign contracts with whomever it wants and on whatever terms it wants. The new council cannot challenge these contracts because they will be done in secret. The transition team can privatize any service it wants. Since the transition team has no obligation to do its business in public, no one will know what contracts it will give to whom.

Also, there is no clause in Bill 103 that specifically says what happens to the reserve fund. The main objective of Bill 103 is to get public control over the services provided in our city and possibly to take over municipal finances.

As a tenant living in the Annex, my rent will go up for several reasons. The amalgamation, the downloading of social services and hard services and the market value assessment will result in higher property taxes under Bill 96. Under Bill 96, any rise in property tax will be considered an extraordinary operating expense and will not be subject to any limits. Since I am on a widow's pension and the Canada pension plan, my rent could very easily increase to 75% or 85% of my income.

Also in the experience of amalgamated cities is an increased influence by special interest groups, professional lobby organizations. The larger governments are more susceptible to special interests. This is for three reasons: First, special interests have the financial resources to hire professional advocates such as lobbyists to learn, understand and manipulate the rigid process of larger governments. Conversely, individual citizens and neighbourhood groups rarely have financial resources to hire professional advocates. Second, there are economies of scale with respect to political advocacy. It is simpler and less expensive for special interests to influence a larger government than multiple smaller governments.

The Vice-Chair: Ms Kremko, I must tell you that you're running out of time. Could you give us your final statement, please.

Ms Kremko: What I would like to say is that this government is no longer progressive because most of the legislation that you have put forth and the acts that you have done have been regressive. The Conservative Party does not do things as quickly as you have done them. They take time to do it and they make sure that everything is fine and they like to reach a consensus.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for appearing here this evening. I'd like to call on Robert Wilson. Mr Wilson? Okay, is Mr Binnie here? Bruce Kidd?



The Vice-Chair: Good evening, Mr Kidd, and welcome to the standing committee. You have 10 minutes in which to make your presentation.

Mr Bruce Kidd: Thank you very much, Madam Chair and members of the committee. I'm grateful for this opportunity to present my views to you. As you've heard, my name is Bruce Kidd. I've lived in the Metro area for more than 50 years and I'm an employee of the University of Toronto.

I'm here to oppose Bill 103. I urge you to withdraw it and to rethink it to get it right. I'm not opposed to reorganization of the Metropolitan community, but I don't think this bill is the way to do that. My reasons for my opposition to the bill in its current form are as follows.

It is not coordinated with a plan for the overall governance and administration of the entire GTA as recommended by the Golden and Crombie commissions, and it seems to me, as they have argued, that should be the first priority.

Coupled with the proposed downloading of welfare, Bill 103 will cripple the new municipality, jeopardizing a number of important essential services, including housing for low-income people, long-term care for the elderly, child care, public health services, programs to prevent violence, employment equity programs, and public education for the diverse needs of our community. I fear that in its current form, Bill 103 will set in force changes that will disadvantage those most vulnerable in our community.

There is no provision in Bill 103 for ensuring that the level of services offered by the new megacity continues and generalizes the best practice of the six existing municipalities, many of which are highly innovative and as a result are highly valued by their citizens. My fear is that the new common standard will be at the lower end of service. I regret that there has not been a fuller discussion of the level of service to be established by this bill. I think it would be much more attractive if everyone in the proposed new municipality knew that it was best practice that would characterize the municipality.

The sections in the bill dealing with the trustees which completely unnecessarily freeze the democratic process are also objectionable. There is no evidence that the promised administrative savings will ever result.

What particularly upsets me about Bill 103 is the hostility it exhibits towards the institution of government, especially local government. I know it's not fashionable to defend government these days, but as a historian, government has been very important to the growth of Canada in economic terms, in terms of social and cultural development. In fact I think it's one of our defining characteristics set out in the British North America Act of 1867 and enshrined in the Constitution Act that unlike the Americans, who sought to achieve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we chose to create a society of peace, order and good government. I think that's particularly important to the Canadian character, and I see a complete thumbing of the nose of the important characteristic of our society in this bill.

Local government in particular is a valuable part of Canadian society. As the political science textbooks tell us, it's the most accessible to the people, and in my long experience in Toronto that is generally the case. It's invariably the first to respond to new conditions, to immigrants, to changes, and its processes are much more open, much more flexible, much more adaptable.

We must consider government not just in terms of economic efficiency but what it provides to the character of a city. Local government is extremely important, I believe, and I have experienced, in the nature of a society. It creates narratives of self. It creates a sense of assurance and openness on the one hand, or a sense of fear, as you've so often heard in the proposals before you in the last couple of weeks, on the other hand. Government must be planned, exercised, evaluated and changed with great care because it's an extremely important, valuable institution in Canadian society.

As I've told you, I've lived in Metro virtually all of my life, but I've lived elsewhere and I've travelled extensively. I've had the honour of representing Toronto across North America and around the world in athletics many times, and through my work in athletics I've had an opportunity to compare different cities and how they work.

Through my work as an Olympic leader and analyst, I get this experience of comparing cities almost every four years as the International Olympic Committee evaluates the cities proposing to stage the next Olympic Games in the cycle, and all of us take courses, really, in urban planning, design and local government in the course of evaluating bids. On all of these measures Toronto stands up very well. People who visit the city, people to whom you talk in other Olympic cities, all praise the nature of this city and how it works. They praise its open character, they praise its multicultural openness, they praise institutions like intervenor funding that facilitate the opportunity for otherwise marginalized or disadvantaged groups to intervene in the public participation process. They admire it for all of the reasons we love this city, why it means so much to us, why the character of this city is part of our narratives of place and home that we cherish.

Don't wreck it. Please withdraw this bill and start again.

Mr Silipo: Mr Kidd, thank you very much for your presentation. I want to start with the last point you made. I don't know if we'll have time to get into others but I wanted to get that one in particularly. One of the arguments that government members have made -- I think in fact the minister himself made it -- was that one of the examples of one of the good things they see will come out of this amalgamation is that Toronto will be in a much better position to host future Olympics and that somehow this unification is going to make the difference. Others have pointed out that cities that have even more local governments than we do, such as Sydney, are standing just as well in terms of their competition. I wonder if you could just comment on that, what the amalgamation does or doesn't do on that kind of line of rationale and thinking about something like an Olympic bid.

Mr Kidd: Quite frankly, I don't think it can be claimed as either a plus or a minus for the Olympic bid. I was a member of the bid group in 1990 for the 1996 games. People loved our city who supported us in that bid. I can assure you that whatever happens, even if the worst eventualizes, we will make a strong pitch the next time around. There's a tremendous respect for Canadians and our ability to stage major events well, with openness and so on. Some of my friends who oppose this bill would also bring the Olympic argument in; I just don't think it's relevant.

Mr Silipo: In making reference to our Constitution, you referred to peace, order and good government as being one of the tenets that we've chosen which makes us different from other societies. Just as more of a comment, and I'd ask your reaction to it, it's certainly my sense that what we are getting as a result of this is in fact the eradication of good government as we know it at the municipal level, that what we are seeing is in fact not something that's going to make for better government, because I understand that to mean a closeness at the local level that brings about the kinds of quicker reactions you have talked about in terms of dealing with emerging problems and being more open than perhaps other levels of government are. I just wonder if you'd comment further on that.

Mr Kidd: That's certainly my fear. I tried to say that, and you've said it much better than I have. I think one of the qualities of life in this city that so many of us value is the openness of government, and that's not only in the city of Toronto, where I currently reside. I've been a citizen of Scarborough; I've lived in North York; I briefly lived in York. It's that feeling that city hall is accessible that is so much a part of how we define ourselves, as I've said, our narrative of ourselves. I fear that will be lost.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for appearing before us this evening, Mr Kidd.

I'd like to just check and see: Do we have Robert Wilson? James Binnie? All right. This committee stands adjourned until 7 pm.

The committee recessed from 1751 to 1900.


The Vice-Chair: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the standing committee. Our first presenter is Margaret Blair, of the Lakeside Area Neighbourhoods Association. Good evening, Mrs Blair. You have 10 minutes in which to make your presentation.

Mrs Margaret Blair: On behalf of the Lakeside Area Neighbourhoods Association, I would like to thank you for inviting us to be part of these important hearings. Our association makes three points.

I'll just stop. It seems to be a bit noisy over here. I haven't got a very loud voice.

The Vice-Chair: Could we have quiet back there, please. Do continue.

Mrs Blair: The first point is that it seems to us that the Progressive Conservative government is not acting as genuine conservatives should. Genuine conservatives, we think, are cautious to institute change, in particular where nothing is wrong. Any change is made after due consideration and due process, after a period of thought.

We agree that there is a problem of overlapping and sometimes conflicting levels of government at the local level. However, Metro municipalities are relatively fine. The acute problems are (a) the higher tax rates for Metro businesses versus the outer area businesses, and (b) the fragmentation in the outer areas, with no fewer than 18 different economic development areas and uncontrolled, expensive sprawl. The Ontario government has not even mentioned tackling these acute problems.

We urge the government of Ontario to take account of the well-considered reports which come from studies of local government matters with no previous bias as to what they should find out and conducted with due process and input from interested parties.

The Crombie Who Does What report and the KPMG report were both from studies conducted in too short a time frame to allow for in-depth thought leading to sound conclusions. They were conducted without consultation with all the affected public and took amalgamation as a given.

The genuinely conservative approach is reflected in the Golden and Fair Tax Commission studies, which were conducted with enough of a time allowance, consulted all the relevant interests and produced thoughtful, sound conclusions on what we should do.

To sum up, we'd like the Conservatives to return to acting like genuine conservatives.

The second point is that we need stronger local government. Since 1988, I and local residents, members of our association, have worked to ensure that local politicians will understand the concerns we have in our southeastern area of the city. Given the small size of the city of Toronto's government, we have been able to establish contact with all the politicians and explain our position. We have been able to persuade local government representatives to take action on our local matters, even when they have not picked up on these themselves.

Examples have been the matters of having the dilapidated roads and sidewalks in the area renewed to a higher level than previously, ie, to the level of other parts of the city; relocating the stench-producing Darling Rendering Co, which was to receive a new 20-year lease; and traffic control and parking, among many others.

In a larger area of representation, local interests and leverage will be lost. We need a strengthened local level of government.

We also favour replacing the middle levels of government, such as the Metro government, with an expanded regional government to plan for such aspects as cost-saving intensification of the suburban outer areas and overall economic and transport development in the GTA. However, returning to being conservative about this, we must do this on the basis of sound financial studies and widespread consultation with citizens, agencies and different levels of government, such as are to be found in the Golden report.

In other words, our point is that we need a stronger local government at the local level and then a GTA one.

The third point is, we would like everyone to take the time to think things through and do them properly.

Lastly, you have shown the good and conservative judgement of giving the outer areas a year to think about what they would like to do, but you have not given this time to the Metro Toronto municipalities. Why? The GTA must be planned as a whole.

The November municipal election date need not be graven in stone. Residents will be happy to allow their elected representatives another year. In the meantime, we can think and produce sound conclusions. In this scenario you, on your part, should be willing to open yourselves to different, creative solutions which will lead to better management of scarce resources. If you don't, you will fail. You will be fought by residents' groups through to and after the next election, if necessary. They will fight to achieve a sound outcome for all our municipalities.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Thank you, Mrs Blair. I appreciate your coming forward and taking the time to prepare and deliver a presentation here today. One of things that's a bit frustrating for us is that when you have an issue like this -- and we are sympathetic with the press; they've only got a certain number of column inches they can dedicate towards a topic even as important as this one -- a lot of the background information doesn't get out there.

I look at your first point, because we may not have time to deal with all three. For example, in your point 1(b), on the very same day this bill was introduced, the minister was very clear that there would be this spring a board put in place that would provide that missing piece of the puzzle as you've described it there, the Greater Toronto Services Board. Milt Farrell, a very respected former civil servant -- respected, I'm sure I can say, by all three parties, because we all employed him at various times -- is right now, as we speak, having discussions with every one of the councils of the 905 and 416 cities and trying to develop some kind of consensus before bringing forward a bill that will address a lot of these concerns and ensure that there is the coordination across the boundaries. That point perhaps is not quite accurate in your brief.

There's another thing I would like to ask you in the form of a question. In your opening preamble to point 1, you say, "Any change is made after due consideration and due process, after a period of thought."

Last fall, in response to the first discussions about the specific bill -- not the whole issue of municipal reform; that's been debated by all three parties for many years -- the six mayors themselves went out and prepared a report. You may recall that one; Change for the Better, they called it. In that report -- and all six mayors signed off -- they said, not us, that there were savings of $240 million to be achieved by consolidating the services. They also said, and I'm not misquoting them here, that the time to do that was now, that there was no reason to delay that.

If we have even the mayors telling us that there are those many dollars on the table and the only point of dissension between the two of us is that they think we should consolidate all the services but still keep six governments -- we think if you consolidate the services, it makes sense to consolidate the governance over those services. In the context of $240 million a year that we're leaving on the table in duplication, why would we delay any further?


Mrs Blair: This was again a hastily put together study by the mayors, wasn't it?

Mr Gilchrist: All they did was ask their own officials, "How much would you save if you could put this together?" I think you don't need to spend a lot of time. If you're the chief planning director, presumably you know your job well enough to give an answer to the mayors on that question.

Mrs Blair: If you've read Andrew Sancton's comments, he seems to have done a worldwide study. There seem to be diseconomies of scale after you get beyond the one million people level of delivering services. Even Mike Harris said this in a quote in the Fergus News Express, I think it's called, in 1994. In very large agglomerates, services do cost more, and I don't think any of the other evidence fits this, that it would cost less. It seems to be it would cost more beyond a certain size of numbers of people.

Mr Gilchrist: As a final point, because I know we're running out of time here, unfortunately that's one of the myths that's out there. I could show you three studies that have been done by people who say that unless you grow beyond a million, you won't have the economies of scale to compete with the other leading cities of the world, like Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mrs Blair, for being here tonight.


The Vice-Chair: I call upon Doug Webster and Duncan Farnan of the Dundas West Residents Association. Good evening, gentlemen, and welcome to the standing committee.

Mr Doug Webster: Thank you, Madam Chair. My name is Doug Webster. I'm a resident of Toronto. With me is my neighbour, Duncan Farnan. Another member of our association, Hilary Bell, was not able to attend tonight due to stomach flu; she sends her regrets. We are members of the executive committee of the Dundas West Residents Association. We will talk about the role of residents' associations, their importance in maintaining a healthy community and why Bill 103 is bad for residents' associations and, in turn, bad for our city and Metro at large.

Toronto achieved its status as the best city in the world because it works. One of the characteristics of Toronto that makes it work is the existence of hundreds of residents' associations like ours. Our neighbourhood is in the riding of High Park-Swansea, represented here at Queen's Park by Derwyn Shea, who I see is not present. We are bounded to the south by Bloor Street, to the east by the CNR railway line, to the north by the CPR railway line and to the west by Keele Street.

The area contains approximately 2,200 homes, and our membership includes 186 households and approximately 350 registered voters who represent a cross-section of society. It has been in existence for over 15 years. It is not incorporated, nor is it affiliated with any political party, and the members participate on a voluntary basis. We meet on the third Monday of each month, at which time concerns are tabled and addressed in a semi-formal, democratic environment. Our mandate is to provide a forum for addressing issues that impact on the wellbeing of the neighbourhood. Those issues range from crosswalk safety to rezoning.

Too many of the problems that the association has to deal with exist because our elected officials haven't recognized them as priorities. Too often the reason for their oversight is that they're so busy swimming upstream that they lose touch with what matters at a neighbourhood level. Our elected representative who is most in touch and most responsive to neighbourhood concerns is our city councillor, Rob Maxwell.

A city ward is small enough that councillors know their neighbourhoods. They also know that residents' associations can significantly influence the vote come election day. On the other hand, a Metro ward is large enough that a neighbourhood's votes may not be so significant. Judging by lack of response by our Metro councillor, Dennis Fotinos, to our concerns, he believes this to be true.

The DWRA knows from experience that bigger wards result in less responsive elected officials. For this reason, among others, the association is against Bill 103. Toronto's residents' associations have contributed immeasurably to making this the best city in the world. To function effectively, they need access to responsive elected officials who are in close contact with and dependent on the neighbourhoods they serve.

Mr Duncan Farnan: Good evening. Tonight I'd like to make two points, one regarding Bill 103, section 5, which is the so-called neighbourhood committees, and one regarding my neighbourhood skating rink. I'm going to take the most important one first.

Each night since mid-December, a dozen or more neighbours from our area take turns to scrape, sweep and flood in our local park to make a rink. It ain't fancy, it hasn't got wooden walls, it hasn't got lockers and it hasn't got hockey nets. It's snowbanks and sandbox seating. We're often out at all hours, from 6 in the morning to 12 at night, to do the chores that a volunteer rink imposes on its owners. On a real cold night, at 20 below and at 1 am, you can hear the ice freezing.

As we flood, we talk. We don't talk politics -- much. We talk family and we talk community. We actually have quite a few interesting topics: We talk shell ice; we talk about whether we could market a rink video; we talk about which houses have been sold; who's on the Web; who's got whose kids and whose dogs; traffic; parking; schools; and of course, about when spring finally arrives. I think it actually arrived today.

None of us really knows each other very well, but a common sense brought us together: to build just a rink, just a small piece of common ground which we could all own and enjoy. Local skills, local knowledge, local love, local choice and local attachment built that rink. There was no false claim of institutional prerogative to its making. There was no city government help to speak of, just a few hoses and maybe a lot of water.

My point in telling you this story is that you cannot teach civic ownership, nor can you impose it. You learn it by doing it, by walking the walk, by flooding the rink -- and by sitting across from you tonight. When people are left alone to work out their own local destinies, good things happen. I think this government knows that, or did know it; I refer you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing's Guide to Municipal Restructuring, 1996. This bill does not permit us that opportunity.

My second point is that Bill 103, through sections 5 and 16, the proposed neighbourhood committees, attempts to conceive of local government as an engineering problem for which a new solution or institution has to be found. I would recommend to this committee that it rethink embedding such an institutional structure into legislation.

Legislated monopolies, such as are proposed, invariably end in apathy and disorganization; they're prone to both political patronage and manipulation. I would also suggest that the deepest purpose of the committees will be to regulate and to make uniform. Like all institutions, their first goal will be to fight acrimoniously for survival and growth within the civic arena, not to take on the missions that are nominally staked out for them. And they will be costly.

At bottom what are the committees? A quick fix, an easy way out, a belief in magic and a mechanistic view of what constitutes community.


In addition, the bill's provisions on the subject are so sparse that I had to turn to One Toronto for All of Us, December 1996, to understand what was being proposed and who was to do what to whom. Our reading is that we do not need "bodies [that] will create opportunities for citizens to participate directly in municipal government." Another quote, again from One Toronto for All of Us: "Nurturing Our Neighbourhoods. A special effort will be made to ensure that communities and neighbourhoods receive flexible and sensitive responses to their local needs -- and that local voices are heard loud and clear."

I would suggest to the committee that the neighbours at my rink and those who presented to you over the last several weeks know infinitely more about their neighbourhoods and the things that matter to them than any committee can possibly plan for or envision. Thank you for your attention.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Thank you for your presentation. You're in kind of a unique position. I gather Mr Shea is your local member. I wonder if you've asked him this question. There was the Mike Harris task force on Metro before the election and Mr Shea was a key member of that, actually a co-chair. His report said, "The strongest signal we received during our consultation was that local government was the one closest to the people and it must remain so. The Metro level of government will be eliminated." This was the major recommendation of the Mike Harris task force and the starting point of the government's reform process. "The present number of six local governments will be retained." "Mike Harris will implement these reforms." In other words, it was very clear before the election what Mr Harris and Mr Shea, who was a co-chair, felt. Did Mr Shea explain why he's changed his opinion from that report to your group?

Mr Farnan: If he told us, I'm not sure I remember, but I'd like to pick up on one of your points. In the 1995 municipal elections, 10 out of 28 of the councillors were acclaimed. I'm really appalled at that.

Do you want to know the ridings? I'm happy to read them into the record: York Eglinton; Etobicoke Kingsway-Humber; Toronto Davenport; North York Centre; North Toronto; North York Spadina; Etobicoke Markland-Centennial; Toronto Trinity-Niagara; North York Centre South; North York Humber. That's not representative government for us. Those people were acclaimed. They're not the people we refer to. We refer to our local councillors at the local level.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for being here this evening. We've run out of time. We appreciate you being here.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Stanley Taube. Good evening, Mr Taube, and welcome to the standing committee. You have 10 minutes in which to make your presentation.

Mr Stanley Taube: I am the president of the North Hill District Home Owners' Association. The North Hill district comprises approximately 1,000 homes in Toronto. The boundaries are St Clair on the south, Spadina Road on the west, Avenue Road on the east, and up to the belt line. Our association currently has 442 paid-up homeowners.

The district is very established. It's part of the old village of Forest Hill. Our association has been in existence in its present form since 1953. Many residents have lived in Toronto all their lives. Some of the homes are occupied by second generations of the same families. I personally was born in Toronto a little over 60 years ago and have lived here continuously.

First, let me give our conclusion. Based on all the materials we've received, based on the many meetings our directors and many of our members have attended, based on our district's general public meeting, which we held February 19, I have to tell you that the overwhelming majority of our directors and of our members is opposed to amalgamation.

The best evidence we've received seems to indicate that the optimum size of a municipality is greater than 100,000 so you get some economies of scale, but less than one million, because once you get over one million people the structure becomes unwieldy and less cost-efficient.

The study we found very helpful in this regard is the Wendell Cox study, which I'm sure has been alluded to by other participants. That shows how it becomes proportionately more expensive for megacities to deliver municipal services. Your government, the provincial government -- our government -- is proposing to dismantle the municipality. We take the position that the onus is on you, the proponent of the idea, to prove the case. We don't have the onus to disprove the case.

If I can give you an analogy to the private sector, imagine if you had a corporation that had $7 billion of revenues, which is what we're talking about at the Metro level of government and the six municipalities. Imagine the studies and the irrefutable evidence that would be brought forward before that structure was taken apart and reorganized.

We're concerned, and this has been brought up many times, that with fewer elected city councillors representing a larger number of citizens, there would be a lack of responsiveness, there would be more reliance on staff members, on bureaucrats who are not elected and who are of course not accountable. A megacity would focus on mega-issues. Mega-issues are important, but local concerns, the small items, would tend to get shuffled to the bottom of the pile. It's these local concerns that can really make a great deal of difference in the quality of life we enjoy.

A second issue that has arisen is this uploading and downloading. It's not part of Bill 103, but because of the way you introduced it, because of the way the public debate has gone, this uploading and downloading have become interwoven irreversibly with Bill 103. We feel, as do virtually all participants at these hearings, that soft services are completely inappropriate for the municipal taxpayer to bear. Soft services fluctuate widely with economic cycles; they go up astronomically in times of recession. Municipalities can't really have their property taxes going up and down according to the economic cycle, and as you know, municipalities are unable to borrow to finance operating deficits should they incur them.

We believe in income redistribution. I think all fairminded people do. But surely the way to do your income redistribution is through the progressive income tax system, which is based on ability to pay, not on the size and location of your house or business property.

This whole debate focuses on the need for better coordination among the three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal. Each level is trying to get its house in order by downloading financial responsibilities, and the buck unfortunately stops at the bottom for the municipal taxpayer.

We feel that as a minimum this uploading and downloading should be revenue-neutral at the end of the day, hopefully even a little bit of tax relief for the property owner, particularly the business owner. Let the property tax bear hard services -- roads, parks, transportation, police and fire protection and similar items -- and, if necessary to keep a financial balance in the province, then leave the hard component of education costs on the municipal tax roll: the building and maintenance of schools.

I'd also like to deal briefly with the assessment issue. It has come into the forefront as more taxes are loaded on to the homeowner, and it's also part of the discussion. I want to use the opportunity to express our association's strong opposition to actual value assessment. We feel it would be very damaging. We recognize the need for change; we understand that. I would like to suggest that if AVA is to go forward, either consider putting a cap on the amount of increase, say up to 15%, or if a cap doesn't seem to work, consider extending the phase-in period to 20 years from the present eight. At least 5% a year will give the opportunity for some reasonable adjustment.


Going back specifically to Bill 103, one has to recognize the political realities: The government has gone too far to back away; the opposition has gone too far to back away. We are suggesting as a reasonable compromise that you go to the four-city model; that is, eliminate Metro, fold York and East York into Toronto, and wind up with four municipalities that are of manageable size. That way, you will have gone forward and the opposition will have received some satisfaction, and 10, 15, 20 years down the road the thing can be visited again to see if further changes have to be made.

Use a GTA coordinating body to ensure the delivery of efficient services over a wider area. We'd also recommend the appointment of an independent municipal auditor-general to periodically review municipal finances and look for cost efficiencies. It seems to work at the federal and provincial levels. Why not try it at the municipal level?

What our association wants, really, is just enough municipalities and just enough local politicians -- no more and no less than are necessary -- to maintain the level of services we now have and the quality of life we now have. We urge you to consider the four-city model as a reasonable compromise. It may be a win-win situation for everyone.

I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to be here this evening. I thank Isabel Bassett, our MPP, for being here to allow us to put forward our association's concerns and our suggestions for you to consider.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Taube. We have less than one minute, Mr Wood.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to thank you for your excellent presentation. You've brought forward some amendments. I'm not sure if the government members are going to listen to them. If you have a comment on that, I'd like to hear it; I know they're sitting here. When we get ideas and suggestions that come forward, are they going to be listened to or are we going to have this battle continue even after Bill 103 is passed into law, with the dividing lines continuing for years and years to come?

Mr Taube: The government doesn't confide in me, but I hope with fairminded people like Mr Gilchrist and others present, consideration will be given to suggestions that have been made. I'm hoping you'll come together and come up with something that everybody can find acceptable.

Mr Len Wood: Maybe we'll get some amendments tabled tonight.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Taube, for being here tonight.


The Vice-Chair: I call upon Patricia Petersen, please. Good evening, Ms Petersen, and welcome to the standing committee. You have 10 minutes in which to give your presentation.

Ms Patricia Petersen: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. I think I'm going to be the odd man out this evening. My name is Patricia Petersen and I wish to speak this evening in support of the proposed amalgamation of the governments of Metropolitan Toronto. I speak both from professional and personal experience.

I'm a political scientist and have been teaching urban politics at the University of Toronto since 1980. I direct the urban studies program at that university. For the past 25 years, I have been active in municipal politics in Metro Toronto as a citizen, first as an executive member of the Association of Women Electors of Metropolitan Toronto and later as the chairman of the Scarborough planning board. I have lived in the Beach for the past 33 years.

I must admit I feel a bit like the oracle at Delphi this evening, sitting here discussing the issue of amalgamation. Ten years ago, when the Liberal government of David Peterson was considering the direct election of Metro council, I appeared before the city of Toronto council executive committee to warn Toronto that if it supported the direct election of Metro council, it was highly likely that the province would amalgamate the city governments in Metro within 10 years. Thank you for proving me right, actually. Why? Because the friction between the Metro council and local councils would increase and eventually reduce the ability of all councils to govern effectively.

The battle over market value reassessment is just one case in point. The most absurd incident in this fight was the decision of my council to appeal the assessment of a number of residential properties in Toronto. Toronto council retaliated by appealing the assessment of a number of homes in Scarborough. This created a tremendous backlog in assessment appeal cases and frightened many residents of Toronto and Scarborough who were barraged with official notices of reassessment and had no idea what was going on.

Madam Chairman, members of the committee, like the people who have spoken against amalgamation, I too want a city government that is innovative, I too want a government that is sensitive to the community, I too want a government that is democratic. However, I believe very strongly that an amalgamated government gets us much closer to these goals than the structure we have now or a return to only six or four local governments. Let me explain.

Innovation: Most of the innovation that has occurred in government policy in Metropolitan Toronto has originated with municipal staff. It is not the size of an organization that determines whether it is innovative; it is its structure. Institutions that are organized hierarchically are less likely to be innovative than those that are more democratically structured. "Flatter" organizations, and "entrepreneurial" organizations are some of the terms we use to describe these democratic forms.

For the past three years, I have been studying how one city government, with over 108,000 employees, is redesigning itself -- successfully I might add -- to become flatter, more democratic, more innovative. It's also the richest city in Europe, by the way.

We have some outstanding city employees in every government in Metropolitan Toronto. I know, for I have taught and worked with many of them. They deserve a supportive, progressive council that understands the needs of the entire Metro community and that has the authority to plan for this larger community in all areas of municipal politics.

Sensitivity to the community: For the past 10 years I have directed an internship program at the university which places students in the offices of municipal politicians. I would argue, and I am sure my students would agree, that Metro councillors are as sensitive to their communities as city councillors. We all know that there are many councillors on all councils, Metro and local, who are very responsive and supportive of their communities. I notice people here tonight did not like Dennis Fotinos, but I'm sure Jack Layton and Olivia Chow's communities would feel they are certainly supportive and sensitive to the community.

Furthermore, I have evidence to show that the smaller governments in Metro are not always as sensitive as they could be to constituencies in their communities with special needs. In 1991 I did some research for the International Union of Local Authorities. I examined the response of the seven governments in Metro to what StatsCan calls "visible minorities." As you know, there has been a very large increase in visible minorities in Metro over the past 30 years. This is a population that has been very vulnerable to discrimination in other anglo-American cities in the past and we wanted to make sure that this discrimination did not happen here.

I examined policies on employment equity, access to services, distribution of grants, contract procedures and the establishment of race relations committees. The two governments that had done the most in all these areas were the city of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto. Part of the reason for this was money. They were the two richest governments and could afford staff to design and implement these policies. However, there were other governments that were almost as rich as the city of Toronto and that had larger visible minority populations than the city of Toronto, yet these governments had done extraordinarily little.

Democracy: Democratic government demands an informed and responsible citizenry. How informed are our citizens? Not very, if municipal elections are any example. Most people learn about the candidates and the issues from the newspapers, but there are so many people running for office that it is impossible for the papers to give them more than cursory mention. Approximately 85% of election news focuses on the campaign in the city of Toronto, and in particular the mayoral race. I have been involved in every municipal election since 1972, and every election there are always some people who enter the polling station where I am scrutineering -- it could be anywhere in Scarborough -- angry because they could not vote for David Crombie or Art Eggleton or June Rowlands or John Sewell.


How responsible are our citizens? I sometimes think from community meetings that our sense of responsibility stretches only as far as the end of the block. John Stuart Mill believed in local government because it educated us in democracy. What kind of an education do we get here? More often than not the lesson is: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I cannot believe that this tyranny of the loudest is the democracy Mill had in mind.

Like it or not, Metropolitan Toronto is one city. The city of Toronto was already aware of this in 1949 when it petitioned the province to allow it to amalgamate with the suburbs because, and I quote from the city of Toronto master plan of 1943, "The political boundaries of the city bear no relation to the social and economic life of its people." It is something the Association of Women Electors of Metropolitan Toronto believed in, even though most of its members lived in the city of Toronto.

The present system of fragmented government, that understands the term "community" as only a cluster of streets, makes it easy for us to forget other interests in this city, especially the interests of those who are less articulate, just because they do not live in our neighbourhood. The present system of fragmented government does not instil in us a sense of collective responsibility for the Metropolitan Toronto community, our community, and its future.

I find it curious in this debate that the people who are fighting amalgamation and who would consider themselves social egalitarians are using the language of public choice theory, the theory of free market economists, to support their position and that a conservative government that is committed to the market and free enterprise is giving us a government structure that will allow us in Metro Toronto to distribute benefits and costs more equitably across the city.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. We have one minute. I'll ask Mr Gilchrist, then.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Ms Petersen. I appreciate your coming before us tonight. As I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised, we've had a number of educators and a number of urban planners come who had a different perspective. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish a point with an earlier presenter that there's this myth around out there that all urban planners and certainly all educators are of one mind, that cities reach a certain size and then they collapse on themselves.

I don't know whether you're familiar with the work of Neal Pierce or Robert Dahl or Michael Keating or J.J. Palen.

Ms Petersen: David Rusk was the other one.

Mr Gilchrist: David Rusk, exactly. Could you comment on the general conclusion they have about the need for growth?

Ms Petersen: Generally speaking, most Americans who come to Toronto would think we were absolutely crazy if we were going to get rid of Metro or wouldn't even consider amalgamation seriously. David Rusk springs to mind because people are very interested in number crunching, and he studied about 250 metropolitan areas in the United States. What he discovered was that cities where the governments were fragmented within these metropolitan areas suffered more from inequality, racial and economic segregation, so that you ended up with what everyone is afraid of here: the hole in the middle of the doughnut.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Ms Petersen. I'm sorry, we're out of time. Thank you for coming this evening.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call upon William Ferguson, please. Good evening, Mr Ferguson. Welcome to the standing committee. You have 10 minutes in which to make your presentation. If there is time then, we'll ask Mr Phillips of the Liberal caucus to ask questions. Please begin.

Mr William Ferguson: Madam Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill 103 on amalgamation. My background is being a lifelong resident of Toronto. I believe we have a very good thing going for us, and I feel that Bill 103 will certainly subtract from that in a very significant way.

Based on your track record and the timing on the omnibus bill one year ago, it appears this government tried to slip another one by us this time. Thankfully, we were alert enough to detect that something was wrong when we realized the democratic process and a political mandate were missing.

I admit to voting PC, for Ms Bassett, and was hopeful of a tax cut of 30%, or less if necessary; 30% isn't mandatory in this, I don't think. It was a worthy experiment to get Ontario and Canada closer to full employment targets. Structural tax reform to rejig a fair deal for everyone is fully supported without any partisan politics, and I have no objection to paying my fair share.

My current vote is one of no confidence, however. This seems to be echoed by your own MPPs' blend of contradictions and doubletalk. Citizens indeed voted for one level of government in Toronto, and that is, in the last municipal election we voted to do away with Metro council. Instead, we were presented with Metro Toronto amalgamation without consent or consultation, as well as unelected trustees for good measure. Thankfully, Justice Brennan provided a clear message on trustees being implemented illegally. Also ignored were the current recommendations from local expert studies like the Golden report and the Who Does What report.

The actual experiences of other cities like Winnipeg and Halifax suggest there are no cost savings, yet we are asked to support a large scale plan on blind faith with a blank cheque when there is no hint of success. There was no thought or hint of this plan in the Common Sense Revolution either.

Further umbrage followed with a KPMG study and an advertising campaign at public expense which attempts to sell the program via window dressing. The birth of this amalgamation plan is clearly a premature breech birth that offends our sensibilities. I speak for many of my neighbours and people in my neighbourhood. In short, premature birth means too soon and it's backward.

The planned powers of the transition team are even more disturbing. They appear to have unlimited access and power, yet offer no disclosure or review by the public or redress via the courts. Private deals with public funds can become the operating standard behind closed doors, without any accountability. The experiences of other communities appear to have resulted in horror and hostility rather than the image the government is portraying to the public in this respect.

My experience in implementing large-scale new ideas has revealed there is no substitute for full disclosure of the facts and how people will be affected by them. Unproven new ideas are often viewed as either very smart or very dumb. These committee hearings clearly reveal where Bill 103 currently resides in this respect.

My suggestions are these:

(1) Listen to the people with respect.

(2) Formulate a plan that is clear to everyone, with full disclosure.

(3) Legislate the mandate of the people fairly and openly.

(4) Implement the plan once, correctly, in an open, calm and reasoned way.

(5) Send me a bill for my fair share.

In closing, the failure to keep the quality of our life going forward in Toronto shall surely be a drag on all of Ontario. Without a healthy Toronto, foreign tourists and trade could well skip Ontario, and I could too, but not before I vote in the next election, for sure.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Ferguson. We'll go to Mr Phillips for a question.


Mr Phillips: Thank you, Mr Ferguson. I think your brief reflects the sense of frustration we hear from many people certainly about the process we're going through and the feeling that we're tinkering with what many regard as the finest urban area in North America without really knowing where we're going.

If I were betting, I thought Mike Harris was going to do what he said he was going to do before the election. I was very familiar with this because it was the former mayor of Scarborough who headed it up and Mr Leach, Mr Kells and Mr Shea, all three members of the government now. They looked at this over a fairly lengthy period of time, and their conclusion was the exact opposite of what the government is doing here. They said that the strongest signal was that local government closest to the people was the best. They also pointed out, "Beware of so-called false economies of scale in which smaller operations are subsumed in the larger ones for the sake of efficiency but are soon bogged down by the growth of bureaucracy." In other words, be very careful of people saying that bigger is cheaper. We've now had, yesterday I guess, Deloitte and Touche, who looked at it and suggested that costs may very well go up in a substantial way with amalgamation.

The other thing Mr Leach said before the election, as Mr Harris's co-chair of this, was that their recommendation was to get rid of the Metro level of government, the present number of six local governments would be retained and the Mike Harris government would implement these reforms.

My question to you is, as a community leader, was that more or less your expectation of what you would have expected would more likely have happened than what we're seeing here now?

Mr Ferguson: Yes, I believe so. I think the population at large fully supported local government in the form it now exists, and if you want to do away with the one level of government, do it at the Metro level. There is more representation, but I think we like it that way and can afford to keep it that way. The additional expense of doing it that way is something the average taxpayer is willing to bear, willingly. I have no problem with it.

Mr Phillips: The theme of your suggestions, your recommendations, is, "Let's stop."

Mr Ferguson: Slow it down.

Mr Phillips: Slow down.

Mr Ferguson: Just like Barbara Hall said, slow it down and do it once, correctly.

Mr Phillips: An earlier presentation suggested the delay of the next municipal election, at least in the metropolitan area, for a year to provide more time for reasonable study. Remember, the Peat Marwick study was done in three weeks. Would you think that would be a reasonable suggestion, to say, "Let's give ourselves another year to look at this thing in some detail before it's rammed through"?

Mr Ferguson: Yes, and more time if necessary. I don't think this agenda has to be streamed to the next provincial election.

Mr Phillips: The previous presenter reached some conclusions that suggested that on a Metro-wide basis they'd be more likely to see some community programs implemented than on a city-by-city basis. In other words, that we'd be more likely to see some innovative programs implemented across Metro if we had one Metro rather than an organization like the city of Toronto or the city of East York. From your experience with dealing with the issues that I sense are important to you, do you have any feeling for that?

Mr Ferguson: It's possible that you might get larger programs but fewer of them. To support one of the previous people with his ice skating rink at a local level, that doesn't sound too viable. It'll get lost in the shuffle, I believe.

Mr Phillips: Your five recommendations here, as I say, I think the theme of them is all one and the same, which is, "Let's give ourselves some reasonable time." Why would you think the government is trying to rush this through from start to finish in three months?

Mr Ferguson: Because it is radical change, and if they thought they could get it through by disguising it, properly or improperly, they might do it more quickly and more successfully, in their mind.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Ferguson, for being here this evening.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Betsy Carr. Good evening, Ms Carr, and welcome to the standing committee. You have 10 minutes in which to make your presentation. I'll ask Mr Wood from the NDP if there's time for questions. Please begin.

Ms Betsy Carr: Good evening. My name is Betsy Carr, of North York. Our family has lived in Don Mills since its inspired conception as a planned community, and with my husband we continue active, informed participation in public affairs.

My universities are Manitoba and Toronto. My career was in social work and activism via the Raging Grannies' protest songs. I am proud to add my honour of receiving Canada's Persons Award from then-Governor General Jeanne Sauvé for my service.

My intervention starts with my unequivocal opposition to the terms of the Ontario government's Bill 103. Further, I oppose the methods of implementation, which are totally unacceptable. I take exception to the proposed arbitrary downloading of soft, unpredictable social services on to the property taxes, which are least related to ability to pay. Such income-levelling programs should be a charge on income tax. In return, ability to control more predictable school operation financing would be a prize for the province. As well, the $1-billion total reserve funds required of the five cities appear to be vulnerable in the event of amalgamation unless legal constraints are imposed.

You have heard this many times in these hearings, yet the unsupported arguments and blandishments continue to upset and offend voters, including some of your own party members. Aroused citizens like the thousands who marched in opposition down Yonge Street on February 15 matched the route and the anger of the Mackenzie Rebellion in 1837.

The responsibility of this committee and all members of the Legislature to their constituents is not just to hear objections to Bill 103 but actually to take them into account. Presentations and other protests show serious and well-founded weaknesses in the bill's concept. MPPs must act on what they hear in this process, not on evidence they may hope to hear. On this basis, they must vote No to Bill 103.

In support of my position is the upside-down process employed by the Ontario government for such mammoth changes. Discussions should be before drafting of the bill. The process is, first a green paper, in this case provided by the Golden report on the GTA, which has been virtually ignored; then circulating a government white paper setting out the government's intentions and inviting public discussion and recommendations. Using this information, the bill can then be drafted. If well done, expensive and time-consuming hearings could be unnecessary. We all know these things.

First, on substance, withdraw Bill 103. There is no room for tinkering. Second, reverse the upside-down process which offends many who see some need for change. Give us a white paper for discussion of such government proposals first.

I wish to speak of fears that Bill 103 could return us to the bad old 1960s, when city planning was set by the development industry. The Globe and Mail's Colin Vaughan this week found an apparent link between Premier Harris, when he chose to attend here, and developers' president Stephen Kaiser of the Urban Development Institute and president David Hirsh of the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association. Both see ahead a quicker, streamlined approval process for a bonanza in mega-developments.

Beyond the ongoing need for some development and redevelopment of our city, we need a "healthy tension between neighbourhood concerns and grand designs," Colin Vaughan wrote. He reminded us that the original design for the Eaton Centre included demolishing old city hall and the Church of the Holy Trinity. Their preservation after citizen protests makes them a continuing source of pride in our city today. The downtown church ministers to human needs and even provides weekly practice space for us Raging Grannies who earlier sang megacity protests at these hearings. So it was a victory for the Toronto we want to live in.


Also, I wish to make a spirited defence of Don Mills, Canada's first planned community. At present the Don Mills Residents Association is in prolonged dealings with North York planning department and big developers, similar to Mr Kaiser and Mr Hirsh. They are trying to add towering blocks of apartments or condos and closely packed town houses to our low-rise, treed landscape. We expected the Don Mills secondary plan, as approved by North York council, to avoid such excesses. Even with the present political system, it is very difficult: Two years of meetings and lobbying for citizens to oppose mega-developers who would prefer, as Colin Vaughan said, "to rid themselves of pesky neighbourhood types" in the way of their huge expected profits. For shame. Is this what a megacity will bring? Is it a forerunner of the future? Hubert Humphrey once observed, "We are in danger of making our cities places where business goes on but where life, in its real sense, is lost."

In summary, withdraw Bill 103, thereby perhaps earning a second term when you can get it right. Thank you.

Mr Len Wood: Thank you very much for your excellent presentation. I paid special attention. You're saying that no amount of tinkering or amendments that would be brought forward can help Bill 103, that it would have to scrapped and start with a public consultation process that should have been done before Bill 103 was drafted, and then based on that, over a period of time, draft a new bill.

You're saying that you marched on February 15 down Yonge Street and had a discussion with a lot of people. There are comments that have come out that taxes could increase as much as 30% for residential, business taxes could increase hundreds of dollars, maybe thousands of dollars, and at the same time, thousands of people, unionized workers, will have to be fired in order to keep the cost of the megacity from going up. In your discussions with the other people, I'm sure that they are not going to be able to afford increases in taxes and don't like to see their neighbours, friends and relatives thrown out of work with this particular bill. Do you have any comments on that?

Ms Carr: I quite agree with you. I must say that on February 15 I was one of the Raging Grannies singing at the parade at the corner of College and Yonge for half an hour in the cold. But I still am, as you can see, very supportive of that show, where people were really demonstrating in a very good-humoured fashion how they felt and wanting to make some impression. I think what you say is quite true. The consensus seems to be now from the experts and from everyone that we would be heading into higher taxes, poorer services and a time of great disruption for us all.

Mr Len Wood: Bill 103 is only one number. Bill 104 and most of the other series of bills are a way of the province dumping or downloading on to the municipalities, whether it be cuts to long-term health care, education, municipal restructuring, right across the province, with the threat that if they don't amalgamate they won't get any assistance from the province whatsoever from the emergency fund that is set up.

I was at the Good Roads Convention and people are saying they voted Conservative in this last election but forget it the next time around because of the way everything is being rammed down everybody's throat and the province dumping everything on to people and getting rid of thousands of workers in this province. What reaction are you hearing from the people you're talking to? Is there more anger? Is it worry about what's going to happen? Is it concern out there?

Ms Carr: Yes, I believe so. My former federal MP, Alan Redway, who is a Conservative, has come out against this, and he's just one example of the switch, I think, in a lot of people's thinking.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry I must interrupt. Thank you very much, Ms Carr. We've run out of time.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Gul Nawaz.

Mr Gul Nawaz: I have my friend Zubair. He also wanted to say something but he could not get a time, so basically he agrees with my views.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. Good evening and welcome to the standing committee. Please begin.

Mr Nawaz: First of all, thank you, Madam Chair, and members of the standing committee, for giving me the opportunity to speak to you. My name is Gul Nawaz. I am a practising chartered accountant with one of my offices located in Downsview. I used to live in Toronto. My two children were born in Northwestern General Hospital in the city of York.

Bill 103 deals specifically with the amalgamation of seven municipalities into one great city of Toronto. I get confused when the media and some people call it a megacity. Mexico City in Mexico, Los Angeles and New York in the USA, London in the UK, Tokyo in Japan, Manila in the Philippines, Karachi in Pakistan and Bombay in India all have several times the population of the proposed unified city of Toronto, yet these cities are not called megacities. This makes me wonder why Toronto is being called that.

As you know, several municipalities were unified to make the city of Mississauga. There was opposition even from the present mayor. However, it all went very well. Now I am sure both the residents and mayor are happy that Mississauga was created. Even so, the names Cooksville, Streetsville, Port Credit, Clarkson, Erindale and Meadowvale are all still being used and remain functioning communities. In Mississauga the councillors serve both regionally and locally, with the average ward much larger than proposed in Toronto. I am sure, with the passage of time, the residents of Toronto will not regret unifying the city.

Unification will reduce some jobs, eg, mayors and other senior administrative staff. At present Metro is providing 72% of the facilities and it is only the remaining 28% of services that are being unified. Therefore, I can't understand the reason for argument against the amalgamation.

Increased efficiency will decrease the cost and, I hope, also decrease the taxes. At present people don't know where to call for fixing potholes or cutting grass in the park. One political representative for all functions creates clearer and more accountable representations. Increased efficiency will reduce jobs in certain areas. You are all aware of how people in the public works department work: One works and four supervise or watch. I do hope there will be proper supervision to create efficiency, not to create more supervision.

We, the public, demand elected officials spend our dollars wisely. What recently happened in Etobicoke should be avoided at all costs through common and better rules. A unified city will come into operation in early 1998. In 1997, however, the elections will provide new elected officials for the amalgamated Toronto. These elected officials will have time to adjust and shape the new realities. I strongly feel that we should go full steam ahead with implementing the unification of the city as soon as possible.


A unified city will present benefits to all of the residents of Toronto. Outside Canada, Toronto is a well-known city, unlike Etobicoke, North York, East York, Scarborough or York. A unified city can present and coordinate a better approach to our tourist industry, which creates jobs that bring prosperity. People doing business across the greater Toronto area will deal with a more coordinated system of bylaw enforcement and policy on things such as smoking, for example. I think we have 144,800 bylaws for all the municipalities. One instead of seven municipalities will allow better implementation of rules and regulations for the entire city.

A clear new mission statement for a unified Toronto will have one council responsible to protect neighbourhoods, do long-range planning, as well as protect the central core. The number of politicians will be reduced to 44 from 106. Instead of seven city halls there will be only one. One local councillor in each riding clearly accountable to the people will bring clarity, efficiency and less costs. A unified city will also have more clout internationally. A unified city will reduce the artificial barriers between the current municipalities.

Municipalities currently have to compete against each other for growth and new business. This unification will have us all working together. At present the taxpayers are confused as to who does what. Some politicians also question about savings from streamlining the services. KPMG concluded that by the year 2000 there will be an annual savings of approximately $300 million. Prior to that, the first three years' expected savings was to be over $550 million. According to this study, over $100 million will be saved just moving from seven governments to one. The KPMG study assumed there would be no reduction in services to the public. Services will be delivered where facilities are located and will be based on common sense. There will be a transitional body that will incur costs of training and employment, but it will not affect the overall savings.

Every day I meet people living and doing business in Toronto, Scarborough or Etobicoke the majority of whom are in favour of the unification. Some people have concerns for the municipal employees, but these employees are covered by separate legislation which defines the terms of their employment. Staff reductions can be effected by retirement planning and non-replacement of workers who leave voluntarily.

Business will grow and the builders will have to deal with fewer bureaucrats for their permits. A clear new mission will bring bureaucrats and politicians together, working for the good of the unified Toronto instead of just part of it. Neighbourhood committees and community councils will continue to provide input to the proper authorities.

In the end, I applaud the government for having the guts to introduce such reforms. This should have been done a long time ago. Even further, the government should not be concerned about the referendum being conducted by the present officials. They cannot be both party and referee. To me, this is a big hoax. Thank you once again for listening.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Nawaz. I appreciate your coming before us here tonight and making a presentation. Just to correct one fact in your presentation, there are actually over 180,000 bylaws in the seven cities right now. That's what a business has to come to grips with to do business within Metro Toronto.

I'd like to pick up on something you mentioned early on, because there have been an awful lot of people who have made the point that somehow there is intrinsically a connection between the number of people a councillor serves and the quality of service. Do you believe, looking at how Mississauga has performed in the last few years, that Mississauga councillors have done a good job?

Mr Nawaz: They have done a very good job. I know most of the councillors and most of them were acclaimed, except there was one by-election because the present councillor retired. Their taxes have not increased for the last five years. This is one of the best cities in the world.

Mr Gilchrist: That's a pretty good indicator that people are happy with their councillors, that they're getting acclaimed.

In terms of the city as a whole, would you say Mississauga has out-performed economically the six cities within Metro?

Mr Nawaz: Absolutely. It has out-performed in every instance. But I still tell you that I love Toronto. I had a lot of trouble around the world, and when I come home I feel this is the best city in the world. I don't think we are going to reduce that by amalgamating. There will still be the aquarium now being built. There will be a lot of attractions. Our city is still the best city in the world.

Mr Gilchrist: We agree with you, Mr Nawaz, and in fact this is all about making a good city better. How would you suggest we deal with people who say that even though the councillors in Mississauga serve 64,000 people each, on average, and serve not just on the city council but also on the regional council, so they're doing in effect the city work and what we would call Metro work here today -- how on earth can we be sympathetic to people who say you have to just keep serving 12,000 people, which is the case in some parts of Metro today? Is the proof not there in Mississauga that the quality of councillor is what is at stake, not the quantity?

Mr Nawaz: Absolutely. You are 100% right, because it's the quality. Our councillors have much bigger, wider areas, and I think they have done a very wonderful job attracting businesses and everything else.

Mr Gilchrist: We still have a few seconds. You've raised an interesting point there too, because geographically Mississauga is much larger than any of the component cities within Metro. Have you ever seen a problem with a councillor in one end of Mississauga understanding an issue in another part of Mississauga?

Mr Nawaz: No. I attend many meetings, I honestly tell you, and they are very sympathetic. They do listen.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Nawaz, for being here this evening.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call upon Ann Douglas, the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. Good evening, Ms Douglas, and welcome to the standing committee. Please begin.

Ms Ann Douglas: Thank you, Madam Chair and committee members. I'm speaking this evening as the president of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, more familiarly known by its acronym, CBBAG, or "Cabbage," to add our voice to the growing number of those in the arts community against Bill 103, the proposed amalgamation of Toronto. We would like to express our conviction that its passage would have a deleterious effect on the citizens of Ontario, Metro, Toronto and in particular the arts community. At a meeting on Monday night, our members took the opportunity to discuss and express some of their concerns, which have been incorporated into this address.

The guild, composed of bookbinders, printers, marblers, calligraphers, papermakers, conservators, archivists, librarians, book lovers and other members of the book arts community, is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization formed to promote the art of hand bookbinding and related fields in Canada. Our goals are as follows: to create a spirit of community among hand-workers in the book arts and those who love books; to promote greater awareness of the book arts; to increase educational opportunities and to foster excellence through exhibitions, workshops, lectures and publications.

We have approximately 500 members, 250 of whom live in Ontario. The rest are spread out across Canada and abroad. The skein of our national membership is held together by our newsletter, exhibitions and catalogues. It is important for the guild to reach its members by these means, for not all members live in or close to Toronto. CBBAG, like many other arts groups, is part of the larger warp and weft of the vibrant arts community which weaves the rich fabric of culture that Toronto offers to its citizens and visitors.

Our organization is self-supporting in our day-to-day activities. However, we do receive additional funding from the province, Metro and the city of Toronto, which allows us to hold workshops and bring a variety of speakers to our public meetings. Over the past 14 years the guild has sponsored, curated and circulated, both nationally and internationally, six major book-art exhibitions. In addition, CBBAG newsletters and exhibition catalogues have promoted a greater awareness of the book arts among our members and the general public, as did our first conference and book fair held last June here in Toronto. The abundant and diverse arts community is a major reason why people come to Toronto and Ontario. The rest of the world finds today's Toronto both attractive and intriguing; they say so in print, recommending it as a place to live and to visit. People come and spend their money on food, accommodation and other attractions while they're here.


CBBAG has found the province and the city of Toronto supportive of our efforts, while the larger Metro council often cannot be. In the past four years, we have received $4,000 from Toronto and $1,500 from the larger Metro, a ratio of two and a half to one. The bigger city-wide Metro council, in our experience, gives less to the arts than some MPPs' golf fees, for example. As amalgamation will mean fewer councillors from the downtown area, CBBAG is aware that funding for the arts will suffer. Our membership across Toronto and Ontario will feel this horrific and significant change.

Without a doubt, local government has always been the most approachable and easy to deal with. There is less red tape and bureaucracy. If citizens have concerns or problems, local city politicians are readily available. They are not tied by party politics in the support they are able to offer to their constituents. CBBAG is apprehensive that with the devolution into megacity, we will have to become involved in lobbying to gain the attention of the fewer, overburdened councillors. As volunteers, we have only so much time available to give to our organizations. Excessive time spent lobbying is time taken away from the pursuit of the goals of our organization.

Once cities become larger, they become not more but less efficient. Fewer councillors will have less time to represent many more diversified groups. Amalgamation will result in a larger bureaucracy that will become more time-consuming and frustrating to deal with. The speed with which megacity is to be forced upon us will result in chaos for several years while people try to figure out how to meld cities, institutions and groups into single bodies. Which system shall prevail? At what cost? In this chaos, many people and groups will suffer. No one but the Conservatives can see why this fundamental change has to be forced through with so limited an opportunity for public input and debate.

Solicitor General Bob Runciman is quoted as saying in the Globe and Mail: "What really disturbs the fact that there has been literally no consultation. We've been excluded from the whole battle and that raises some very serious questions about the credibility of the results." Although he was speaking about hospital closures, now he knows how citizens feel about Bill 103 and amalgamation.

As for the province's idea of local neighbourhood committees, this plan would pit neighbourhood against neighbourhood. Realistically, affluent neighbourhoods will be more influential than others. Neighbourhood committees will not be as effective as the present city-wide system of committees and boards. Now in Toronto and other cities many citizens and elected politicians already serve on these committees and boards, giving their input to the local council. Various cities have different committees and boards according to their individual makeup and interests.

CBBAG members object to the black-or-white attitude of this government. Shades of grey are important and necessary; they are what give our multicultural society its character and life. The emphasis on being "with us or against us" evokes memories of the McCarthy era in the US, something I am sure Canada and its citizens do not wish to imitate. You have created an unnecessarily adversarial situation. No one or government should be above the law, something this government seems to have trouble remembering. Do not let Bill 103 follow the omnibus bill as rungs descending the long, slippery ladder of declining democracy.

Two good things about this amalgamation mess are (1) that it has made citizens aware of just how fragile democracy and our cities really are and (2) that it has caused citizens to come together to think and to discuss what it is about these cities of ours that is valuable and important.

We are not against change, but we would like the opportunity to participate in that change and to decide what would work best for us. Toronto is a great city. How fortunate it is that we are not like other large, gutted cities. Here, there is both the opportunity of employment and the enjoyment of the quality of life. We are the envy of other big cities. The vibrancy and diversity of the arts in Toronto make it great. They need our continuous support. Please do not let the arts, as represented by this colourful and healthy CBBAG, become so much wilted coleslaw. Stop this bill and let us, the citizens, discuss with you and contribute to Toronto's potential growth.

Mr Phillips: Thank you, a very good presentation, and I appreciate it very much. I don't think the government appreciates that we have a very unique urban environment here that's been shaped by decades of organizations and people like yourself who have helped to create it. I have a small understanding. I used to be chairman of the Metro school board, and so I had a chance to work first hand with the school boards around Metropolitan Toronto.

Believe me, I was very surprised at the recommendation of the government; I thought it would go the opposite way. This has all happened in three months. I don't think the government understands that for hundreds of thousands of people in Metropolitan Toronto this is a huge change in the way of life, and we are tinkering with something that is dear to the core of a lot of people.

Can I interpret from your remarks that your major recommendation is to stop this and give some time for reasoned debate on it? Is that the essence of your argument, and then at least let that debate take place over a sensible period of time?

Ms Douglas: Yes. I believe very much that this bill should be stopped and that we should all have a chance to debate it fully. As the lady from Don Mills said, I think there is a process by which this government has failed to deal with this situation. I'm sorry that they have done so, and I think it's a great disservice to both the city and the province.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Douglas, for being here tonight.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call upon George Aregers, please. Welcome to the standing committee. Please begin.

Mr George Aregers: My name is George Aregers. I was born and raised in this city, and I'd like to tell this committee I'm ashamed of what it is today. In the past 10 years, I've seen rot set in. I'm disgusted by the dirty streets, and the politicians we have seem to be catering to a certain group of people.

We have taxpayers, hardworking people, and especially the people -- and I know a lot of them -- who are working for minimum wage. They work maybe 12 hours a day, have a child and live in a basement apartment, and they're not looked after. They're the people who are paying a lot of taxes, and they're totally ignored.

My job takes me into a lot of places where I see a lot of waste in welfare. A lot of you people here don't really realize that there's a lot of welfare abuse; that possibly it's over 75%. You don't go any further. Take a trip down to Yonge and Dundas, Parliament and Dundas, and look at the rot we've got.


I had an opportunity the other day to go to Scadding Court. I don't know if you people know this or not; it's at Bathurst and Dundas. That was part of my job. I walked in there. There's a lot of kids running around the library, the swimming pool, a lot of elderly people, nice Portuguese people, and a big thing is set up there by the city of Toronto: Say No to the Megacity -- all kinds of pamphlets and, heaped up in a big, huge basket, maybe 1,000 condoms in the same display.

When you call the politicians to say, "Hey, is that where our tax dollars are going?" -- I'm ashamed. I've got five kids, and I'm ashamed to have them walk up Yonge Street. When we hear the horror stories about Maple Leaf Gardens -- you hear the word "paedophile," but you don't hear a thing about homosexuality, and the reason the Gardens never went to the police, never fired these people is because they were scared of the homosexual community. I've got boys. I don't like to hear what's going on. I want this city cleaned up.

I'm tired of having politicians that cater only to a certain group of people. I'm a family man. I pay my taxes. I was disgusted with the man who was here previous to this lady to tell me in Mississauga it's better. It's not. When you go to all-candidates meetings, you're not allowed to speak like we are here. You have to put it on a note and the mayor controls it. There's rot out there.

I gave you a little piece of paper that was handed to me this morning by my union. Those same people are the ones that are chosen to count the ballots in the city of Toronto. There's a statement there by the great mayor, that she doesn't want to live next to a monster that's going to be created. I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there's a monster out there in Mississauga. It's controlled by the developers. It's okay for her to have a 200-acre, nice home in Orangeville with 50 racing horses, but when she says she's going to live next door to a monster, I think what she's talking about is the monster in Mississauga.

Still, we do have a problem here in Toronto and if I could quickly just go through my notes, I'm a little bit irritated. I think the Liberals and NDP should stick together with the Conservatives, and let's clean up this mess, please. I just went and did a call the other day and the super said, "George, come on in here." This is 77 Huntley Street. He said: "Look at this. There are three people in this apartment. They're all on welfare." He's got a key to the mailbox: seven welfare cheques to the same unit. What's going on? I complained to politicians. They don't want to hear this.

The important thing here is, when we talk about 100% funding, some person in Michael Harris's government has said, "Hey, there's a lack of accountability," and no incentive for the social workers, the people who administer the welfare, to make sure that only the needy receive it. Go out and take a look. I've spoken to people and they've bragged to me, these homeless. They go with a little receipt from any landlord. All they need is just to take that into the welfare office and they're given $600-some-odd, and if they can say they've got a bad back or they're anti-social, it's an extra $300. That's 100% tax-free.

Have you people ever gone to Crombie Court? A lot of that subsidized housing? These people live better than I do. Why? Is that where our tax dollars are going? The problem is that the politicians do not listen in the city of Toronto. There's a certain group they cater to, and if it's possible, this committee -- what would be very important if you want this province to work, and it's about time -- like you hear that inmates in the penitentiary have a right to vote. Why? Who has done this? I think landlords, homeowners, businesses should have more say in what politicians we put in power. Why not?

Why should people who are on welfare have a right to vote when they're milking the system? They could have a partial vote. We go to Jack Layton down there, and Olivia Chow. Mostly it's high-rise buildings. I'm talking about commercial. It's a few people that vote them in and it's welfare people. They cater to this group of people.

I hope this committee hurries this thing up. When I read this thing, like the last person here in the book says, "Let's give it another chance. Let's give it more time." There's no time. Take a walk down Yonge Street. See our kids, the drugs, the dopes. It's terrible and it's disgusting. We've failed our children.

I highly commend Michael Harris and Minister Leach, I think it is, for being so responsive and caring. One suggestion I give to him is like a movie with Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood walks into this room and there was the bad guy in the bathtub taking a nice little bubble bath. A confrontation: The bad guy had a gun underneath the water and Clint Eastwood noticed this thing and shot him. Clint Eastwood said, "If you're going to shoot, shoot. But you can't do both things at the same time."

I think we better stop our talking and get the work done, because there's a lot of work to be done out there. The most important thing I'd like to leave is that I confronted my colleagues and I said to them -- this is the last; I apologize -- "If the ministry or anyone is offered a salary increase to $200,000 or more, is that going to make you go out and do your job?" The answer is no. There's no incentive, and that's the problem with our civil servants and politicians. There has to be an incentive.

When I talk about the rot that set in, it was when the Liberals with Peterson took over. We had two systems; we had two councillors in a ward. The reason it worked so well was that one councillor or both, each one would try to get as many votes and once he got elected in there, he would be appointed to Metro and get an extra $12,000. There was always this little jousting and working hard. Now that the Peterson government said, "Hey, we can have another tiered system," these councillors don't care and most of them -- once you get elected you are all politicians. You know your name carries you through. You can do nothing and you get carried through.

That's what I'm saying: Let's bring some incentives in this Bill 103. There's nothing there for the politicians. If I may add, the other important thing is for the politicians, and I brought this thing out in another committee, now that we are going to have a reduction they have to go out and see the people, have public meetings. They have to be mandatory. Right now, their job is part-time and I know a lot of politicians who only show up once a week.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Aregers. We've run out of time.



The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Jeremy Gauthier, please. Good evening, Mr Gauthier, and welcome to the standing committee.

Mr Jeremy Gauthier: Thanks to the committee for hearing me. It is my belief that the real common sense revolution is what has arisen in response to the Harris Tory megacity proposal. My opposition to this bill and its linked mega-legislation is threefold.

First, it is underhanded, undemocratic and contemptuous to present such overwhelming revision as a fait accompli without either prior direct allusion to it in the election campaign or serious public consultation, and since Mr Leach says the bill goes ahead regardless of what is said here, these hearings are not serious public consultation.

Second, I believe the fire-sale urgency driving this legislation is political sleight of hand intended to distract from the government's real agenda.

Third, the legislation itself is ill thought out and will have a huge negative impact on Toronto and the neighbouring cities and borough, and ultimately the repercussions will hurt the entire province.

Let me expand on these in reverse order. The proponents of megacity suggest that this unification will improve efficiency and reduce costs, at least in part by eliminating redundant politicians. The reality is that fewer politicians representing larger constituencies will have less time for individuals and individual communities. Moreover, their election expenses will increase, thus obliging them to spend more of their diminished time in drumming up the bucks for the next go-round. Did you know, for instance, that the average California congressman has to bring in $10,000 every day he's in office to finance his re-election campaign? How much time do you think he has left at the end of the day for the people? Is this the direction we want to go in?

Megacity proponents counter that there are provisions for neighbourhood committees, but this is pure cynicism. Are we supposed to believe that this new mega-government, made by and in the image of the Harris Tories, is supposed to do not as they do but as they say? The Harris Tories don't want to listen to Torontonians now. Why should the mega-bosses?

Even more troubling is the imbalance between urban and suburban interests that will result from megacity. North York is not Scarborough, nor vice versa, but the differences in types of community among the various suburbs, the so-called 905 belt, is much less than the differences between those suburbs and the dense, polyglot cosmopolitan centre that is Toronto.

The megacity bill will profoundly shift the balance of power in favour of those who are car-dependent, and this is absolutely unacceptable. The two most anti-communitarian, widely commoditized technologies in existence are the television inside the home and the car outside of it. Never mind the pollution aspect; the car is responsible for dangerous, destructive and unsustainable land use patterns. It is hugely subsidized by the taxpayer and the megacity will only exacerbate this trend, not reverse it. If the Harris Tories were true conservatives they would find the gumption to make the car start paying its own way, but I won't hold my breath for that one.

What about other cost-efficiencies? Virtually every study of a megacity say it will cost more. Only the Harris Tories specifically commissioned audit of their own plan suggests savings, but these are duplicitously presented as hopeful, best-case possibilities and are based on assumptions that cities will do more service-slashing.

What about the tax shuffle? Snatching away education's link of accountability to neighbourhoods and homeowners and substituting for it an increase of 150% of our share of social welfare costs -- again, unacceptable. Even the government's hand-picked golden boy, Toronto's own Mr Tiny Perfect David Crombie, had to come out of hiding to decry this move. If it's revenue-neutral, why do we need to do it? Because it will force our municipalities to do the Tories' dirty work, cutting social services in order to balance our annual budget, which by law we are required to do, unlike the province or the feds.

Mr Leach says, "There have been cuts since Christ was a cowboy." Does he mean since never? Christ was a carpenter, and I could accept an analogy that he was a shepherd of souls, but soul cowboy number one, I don't think so. But to address what I take to be Mr Leach's point, if we are going to talk about what's been happening since time immemorial, people come from the small towns, the outlying regions, to make their fortunes in the big city. Not all of them succeed, but they usually stay in the cities because they don't want to lose face and because, bad as it may be here, there's even less for them back home. So the towns effectively offload a liability and now they'll get to ignore it completely.

I always thought welfare was that we all agree to put into the pot for those who need it. The effect of this aspect of legislation, which I understand may not actually be part of Bill 103 -- but let's be honest: Megaweek was a cynical and calculated attempt to overwhelm the opposition, just as the omnibus legislation was a year ago, legislation which I believe paved the way for Bill 103. I haven't had the time to consider it all in detail. Who has? That's the point. That's very deliberate. That's the Harris Tory style, keeping the rug pulled out from under our feet. Well, we may not know what's hitting us, but we sure know whom to hit back in two years.

That's another thing about this legislation: It appeals to small-town Ontario resentment of the Big Smoke. If they had pitched the megacity in the election platform, they might have won a minority government, but it would have made the division between Toronto and the rest of the province as sharp as a knife. So this is a chance to put the boots to old T.O. Talk about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Tell you what: If you're so eager to roll Toronto up into one big ball, why don't you just fill out our application to become the province of Toronto, mail it to the feds and then crawl to somebody else's door when the money runs out? Because we'll be all right, Mike.

That's what this is about. The real reason for this legislation, bringing me to my second point, is to pay for the tax cut. I ask this government, if you do not proceed with the megacity and the welfare for education tax switch, can you deliver on the irresponsible promise you used to buy the election? It's sure nice to think we're paying too much tax, but the reality is, regardless of any wrong-headedness of the tax structures or what they are used for, we in the west and/or the north or however you want to term our corner of the global economy, are vastly overconsuming far more than our share of the world's wealth. Yes, we all can expect some downward changes in lifestyle, but this isn't the way to bring them about.

Try a Pigovian tax; that is, the tax proposed by French economist Nicholas Pigou, who realized that so long as the prices of goods and services do not reflect all costs assessable to them, such as the costs of pollution, recycling, welfare costs, unfair labour practices etc, as well as the costs the manufacturer is prepared to pay, plus the profit, until all costs are included, the marketplace is dysfunctional and gives rise to abuse, corruption and unsustainable development.

His tax would stand in for those costs and then we'd see who'd bought cars or products from the maquiladora or China. Mother Nature doesn't forget those costs and in response to those who challenge environmentalists with the observation that progress and technology are natural processes, I say yes, and nature has no morality, no compassion and cares not if we choose to live so gracelessly that we make our planet fit only for cockroaches. Fine, the cockroaches will get it anyway, sooner or later.

Why is all this being rushed on through so darned fast? Why does Mr Leach say that this is Toronto's last chance to do this? Why must it be done before the next municipal election? Isn't there going to be another one? Does he know something he's not telling us? Where's the fire, Al?

The Harris Tories are politically canny. They are doing as much as they can, as fast as they can. To be fair, that way they'll have time to make adjustments in the latter part of their term as they have to start sprinkling sugar on the re-election path. If they tried to do this the year before the election, we'd kill them. You remember the last bunch of Tories who tried to panic the public into taking a pill that was too big and too bitter to swallow? That was Charlottetown and there are only two of those clowns left. You want to do something really fast? Say, "Harris Tory" fast enough, and you know what? You're history.

Now we're ready for the first point: Why didn't the Harris Tories tell us they were going to do this when they were campaigning? If they had, they wouldn't have won a single seat in the entire GTA, that's why. They didn't have the strength of character to be honest. In a few days, when the results of the plebescite are in, we'll see if they really are so self-assured that they try to go against Toronto just because they think they can.

A week ago, there was an informational megacity meeting coordinated by the Regent Park Community Association. They had planned the meeting weeks in advance and had asked their representative, Al Leach, to be there. However, they were turned down because he claimed to already have a commitment elsewhere. Then at the last minute, Leach's riding association cobbles together a pro-megacity rally, and hey, presto, there's Al. But it didn't do him any good since it was substantially attended by challengers of the megacity and there weren't any supporters to speak of.

A representative of the riding association, however, claims that this is no indication of a real lack of support because, so he says, he knows the supporters and they all have lives, they all have families and can't take the time to come out. This is absolutely abhorrent. This cretin, this representative of the nannied class, this toady, has the audacity, the stuck-up ignorance to infer that those of us who have made the time to speak up for what we believe in don't have lives. We're just a bunch of welfare cheats and ne'er-do-wells cluttering up his rosy vision. Why won't we just go away? What's next? "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Wake up. This is an ugly cycle. The existence of poverty highlights the selfishness and inadequacy of the wealthy whose self-doubt must be denied to avoid self-loathing, so an emotional rationalization transfers and transforms it into contempt for the poor, and a government supported by the wealthy then echoes this contempt, lending it a veneer of establishment approval.

John Ralston Saul points out that the élite have forgotten the single most important consideration for their continued existence: that so long as most of us have nearly enough, the wealthy few can enjoy their privileges relatively untroubled. However, the more of us there are with not nearly enough, the more of us there are with very little left to lose. This is the seed of violent revolution.

This government has repeatedly demonstrated a tremendous contempt for those who oppose it, and Mr Leach was specifically found in contempt of the Legislature and therefore of us all, for spending tax dollars on propaganda, on misinformation proclaiming the megacity a done deal. In a sense, he's being more frank than perhaps is politic, but I have to ask, why does he still have a cabinet post? He has the gall to suggest that Sewell's people, whoever they are -- I am not one inasmuch as I have never been to one of those meetings -- but apparently, Propaganda Al believes they are stacking the deck at these hearings. He just carries on because unlike Bob Rae's gang nobody here is worried about being spotless. To paraphrase Lily Tomlin as Ernestine the operator: "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the government."

For my part, I think this is the most critical moment in their term of office. As John Sewell observed --

The Vice-Chair: Mr Gauthier, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to wrap up your comments. We've come to the end of your time available.

Mr Gauthier: I've come to the end of my page; I'm wrapping up.

We who are opposed to megacity need to find a compromise that can allow the government to proceed without losing face. Here's my proposal: Give the Toronto region, because it must be the entire region from Oshawa to Hamilton, 18 months to come up with our own restructuring and unification plan. Then let the public choose which they prefer in a true referendum.

The people of Toronto do not support Bill 103. The courts have just ruled that it is undemocratic and illegal. If this government proceeds in spite of overwhelming opposition, then I say it's time for the Toronto tea party.



The Vice-Chair: John Gell is next. Good evening and welcome to the standing committee.

Mr John Gell: Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the standing committee and honourable members of the public. That's an awfully hard one to follow. That was wonderful. Wow. I think this is wonderful, seeing citizens come out like this and say these things. Someone said earlier there's a silver lining in this whole thing, the way people are suddenly getting together and talking about everything.

My name is John Gell. I am an old-time resident of the city of York. Some of you might know my mother, Mrs Florence Gell. She was very active in the Conservative Party for a long time. She's still alive. I'm a local historian. I've been looking into the Lambton Park area and surrounding communities, trying to understand the way the communities developed, the vitality of community life and what's happened since then.

Everybody on the committee here knows that a lot of the historic communities are very dispirited now. Walk around the Junction or Weston or along Eglinton in the city of York, along Jane Street. Our communities, which used to be such vibrant places, are very dispirited. It's amazing, in the sad, tired old city of York, how many people are turning out now to fight for York. East York's got a huge campaign going, and bless them for that, but the city of York? Who would have thought that anybody would fight for it. Part of it is people are so disillusioned with their local councils that have let them down time and time again that some people won't fight for local government now. Yet the overwhelming majority do.

I've been going around. I've been trying to find the origin of all the street names and the history of the local churches and all the local stories -- anything that will get people talking about the community and coming together like they used to in the old days. You know all those links that used to hold a community together have been snapped, one by one. This is the way it's gone and now the community is plagued by social problems. We have street prostitution -- very visible along Jane Street, along Dundas Street, down into Warren Park. We've got a lot of drugs at the corner of Jane and Woolner. We had a murder there on Thursday. The whole area had to be cordoned off and so on. At Rockcliffe middle school two students were just arrested there for forcible confinement of another student and for assaulting the student and so on.

We've got all these problems happening and we've got a few community groups now that are forming. They're trying to fight these things back. I have a dream that the Legislature would stop its proceedings and partisanship and just say that these are the real problems that are happening in Canada today, that local communities are in a lot of trouble, and what could we do, as a board of education or as a municipal council or as the Ontario Legislature or as the federal government of Canada, to help breathe life back into communities, and let that guide all your deliberations. It could be wonderful. I have some ideas about things that could be done too.

But this thing, the megacity -- you're better to abolish Metro but certainly keep local government, which people feel an emotional tie and identification with. When I go around and talk to all the oldtimers, to elders, to women, to parents, to community-minded people, to people with deep roots in the community, none of them wants this. None of them wants a megacity at all. It's this movement towards bigness and impersonality that's a real threat.

The last gentleman gave a terrific speech. He was really eloquent and it was well written. Some people keep hinting there's a lot of anger out there. You can almost see the revolution. People are really upset about this because you're tinkering around with intangibles they hold very dear. I don't think we're going to have a revolution. I think you're going to have more apathy and more cynicism. That's the decline of the western world. That's the way it's going.

That's what's going to happen unless you stop right now and say: "We're off on the wrong track. We don't want to make political hay about this." The No campaign has obviously swung public opinion on this. I think you just have to stop and say, "What can we do now to revive our communities?" If you did that, you'd get hundreds of people with suggestions and it wouldn't necessarily cost a lot of money. This is costing a lot of money.

Mr Len Wood: Thank you very much for your presentation. It's good to see people come forward and get their views on the record. I understand some of the polls that have been taken agree with what you sense out there, that there's a lot of anger and frustration, people are worried. The Toronto Star and CITY-TV have taken polls saying 75% of Metro residents are opposed to the megacity. The concern that is out there, we had other presenters when I was here last week saying they're worried with all the dumping that is taking place, all the services the province used to deliver -- long-term care, nursing homes, all these services -- being dumped on to the city at the same time as you're talking about amalgamation.

I just want to know if you want to elaborate further on that. It wasn't talked about during the election campaign. It was promised that it would not happen, they would not demolish the six cities and bring them into one, and now you have 75% of the people who have been polled out there saying that they don't want any part of it. What would be your reaction, to do it over again?

Mr Gell: What's your riding, Mr Wood?

Mr Len Wood: I'm in Cochrane North, in Kapuskasing.

Mr Gell: There's a lot of lingering anger at the NDP still.

Mr Len Wood: Not in the north, there's not.

Mr Gell: There is in Metropolitan Toronto.

Mr Len Wood: That's possible.

Mr Gell: At all the political parties. I think people are very suspicious. The Conservatives are plotting their own downfall here. You've got a citizens' movement. Who would have believed you'd have this? The early moves of the Conservatives were fairly popular, but they're bringing about their own downfall. This is the way governments go; they always defeat themselves. People think the Liberals and the NDP will just use this for their own partisan purposes, you see, and once they get in, they'll come out with their hidden agenda which they won't have talked about during the election.

I'm telling you, this is the cynicism of people. Just go around and talk to people. This is the distrust, the cynicism of people now for all the political parties. Who will really listen? I get the impression a lot of you are entrenched in certain positions. What we've got to do is put that partisanship aside and everybody's got to sit down and look at Canada's problems and come up with constructive solutions.

Mr Len Wood: I've heard that because of some of the reactions that have been happening -- the courts have ruled against the trustees and Leach -- some of the reaction that I've heard just walking around Toronto is that the Conservative caucus is considered to be a bunch of bullies in the school yard, where you lob snowballs or objects and then hide. That's the attitude I'm hearing. Are you getting the same reaction from people?

Mr Gell: People don't want things imposed. They imposed the amalgamation of Weston on the city of York. Poor Weston didn't get a say. Now people know how Westoners feel. You know what I mean? Weston resented it and Weston has gone into quite a tailspin since. Other areas have been amalgamated. As East York keeps saying, we've been threatened with amalgamation many times, and we're ready for it.

Setting up and appointing the trustees was a gaffe. They've actually been taking on a supervisory role before the legislation has even been passed. That's the height of arrogance, of course. That's been struck down. But that's not a fundamental criticism of the amalgamation bill, nor should we confuse the two issues, amalgamation and the downloading of social services. You could have amalgamation without the downloading of these services, you could have amalgamation that would save money and I'd still be opposed to it.

Mr Len Wood: Amalgamation took place back in the 1970s in my area. I know personally it cost money. It cost big bucks.

Mr Gell: Halifax, Dartmouth and other areas, yes.

Mr Len Wood: In Kapuskasing, Timmins, all these areas where the amalgamation took place, it cost big bucks.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Gell, for being here this evening. We've run out of time. I appreciate you coming.

I'd like to call upon Harpal Sandhu, please. No? Okay, this committee stands adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.

The committee adjourned at 2101.