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November 21, 2001
Toronto recommending improvements to new municipal act
  
The province's proposed new Municipal Act, 2001 is a good beginning but doesn't
go far enough in providing the legal and financial tools the City needs to deal
with increasingly complex responsibilities, City of Toronto Councillor David
Miller told a standing committee of the Ontario Legislature today. The act
takes a one-size-fits-all approach and fails to recognize the needs of large
urban municipalities.

"It has become increasingly clear that the Ontario government must provide the
tools this City needs to remain competitive," said Miller, Chair of the Council
Reference Group on the City Charter campaign. "We face 21st century challenges,
but we are still governed by a 19th century model that makes us almost
completely dependent on the province."

Toronto City Council has called on the province to enact a custom-built charter
to meet the City of Toronto's unique responsibilities and needs.
Responsibilities include increased funding of and delivery of social assistance
programs, full responsibility for social housing programs and, until recently,
full funding responsibility for transportation and transit. Challenges include
homelessness, deteriorating infrastructure, traffic gridlock, urban sprawl,
economic and social polarization, and air pollution.

"Bill 111 does not address the limitations on municipal powers and the
inadequacy of resources to fulfill municipal responsibilities," said Miller.
"These issues include limitations on municipal authority to raise funds locally
and the problem of too much provincial involvement in telling municipalities
what they can and cannot do."

Other cities in Canada, the United States and Europe have an array of financial
arrangements, including a portion of the sales tax and income tax. The City of
Toronto, however, receives only 5.1 per cent of the total taxes paid by a
typical Toronto family.

Bill 111's one-size-fits-all approach is inappropriate for the City of Toronto,
the fifth largest municipality in North America (by governed population), with
spending responsibilities of over $6 billion. The bill fails to distinguish
between the different needs, challenges and capacities of a small rural
community and those of a city like Toronto, with its 2.5 million people.
Toronto is at the heart of an urban region of almost five million people (the
Greater Toronto Area).

At the very least, a generic alternative to a unique city charter could involve
the enactment of an Ontario Cities Act addressing the needs and capacity of
Ontario's cities.

BACKGROUNDER
Toronto's submission to Standing Committee on General Government
Re: Municipal Act, 2001 (Bill 111)

Cities across Canada are seeking a new deal with the provincial and federal
governments that provides them with the legal and financial tools to deal with
increasingly complex responsibilities.

The City of Toronto, with a population of 2.5 million people, is at the heart
of an urban region of almost five million people (Greater Toronto Area).
Toronto is the fifth largest municipality (by governed population) in North
America after Mexico City, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Toronto's spending responsibilities of over $6 billion are 20 per cent greater
than the combined budgets of the cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Regina,
Winnipeg, Halifax and the recently amalgamated City of Ottawa.

Cities are the economic engines of the country. The City of Toronto accounts
for 44 per cent of Ontario's gross domestic product.

While providing natural person powers, the proposed municipal act limits the
extent of such powers and entrenches a significant level of regulatory power
over all municipal governments, including Toronto - a city with double the
population of the province of Manitoba.

Bill 111 defines spheres of jurisdiction but leaves out basic municipal
responsibilities such as land use planning, community and social services, and
the need to protect affordable housing.

City Council supports a City Charter for Toronto. A charter is achievable
within the existing constitutional framework and would do the
following:
  • Give Toronto powers and responsibilities that match the City's needs.
  • Spell out the City's spheres of power with respect to local matters and give the City the ability to act independently within these spheres.
  • Recognize that the City needs a new toolkit to ensure that financial resources match its responsibilities.
  • Provide the authority to conduct and attract business in innovative and more efficient ways.
  • Recognize Toronto as an order of government that should be consulted whenever provincial financing and policy changes are being developed.
  • Enable the City to communicate directly with the federal government on matters of mutual interest such as urban infrastructure, housing construction incentives, immigrant settlement and the development of a national agenda on urban issues.
At the very least, the province should enact an Ontario Cities Act
that provides broader authority to cope with social, economic, environmental
and political forces.


Media Contact
Media contacts:
Councillor David Miller
416-392-4072
Phillip Abrahams, Strategic and Corporate Policy Division
416-392-8102

 

 

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