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Inter-municipal collaboration and forced amalgamations A summary of recent experiences in Toronto and Montreal.

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Presentation on theme: "Inter-municipal collaboration and forced amalgamations A summary of recent experiences in Toronto and Montreal."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inter-municipal collaboration and forced amalgamations A summary of recent experiences in Toronto and Montreal





6 Toronto post-war Rapidly growing city and 12 suburbs in post- war era Toronto had run out of developable land to house growing workforce and industry Suburbs needed to ease growth pressures on city Suburbs lacked $ for infrastructure Water, sewage, roads, transit, schools, etc. Fragmented service delivery 163 separate municipal contracts Better coordination and cooperation desired

7 The “Metro” solution (1954) 1954 - creation of Regional Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (Metro) by Province Toronto + 12 suburbs = Metro Two-tiered, federated structure Viewed as compromise between outright amalgamation and doing nothing Benefits to Toronto and suburbs Reduced complex & fragmented services delivery New workers needed housing, transportation, water, schools, etc. Stronger region = stronger Toronto economy

8 Cooperation and coordination under Metro system Metro councillors appointed from municipalities Metro responsible for water, sewage treatment, major regional roads, transit, social assistance, policing, ambulance, regional parks and regional planning Municipalities maintained autonomy; responsible for local streets, local parks, recreation, community centres, garbage Other services shared with Metro (snow removal, seniors housing, childcare, street cleaning)

9 Effectiveness of the Metro government Generally viewed as successful model of inter-municipal coordination Achieved objectives of its mandate: water and sewage issues dealt with, new schools built, transit and highway systems built and enhanced, equitable social services delivered throughout region, regional planning established Distanced from municipalities with creation of directly elected Metro Board – 1988 Resulted in less inter-muni cooperation Growth of Greater Toronto Area lessened Metro’s relevance

10 Municipal amalgamation Six independent municipalities of Metro merged into one new City of Toronto 2.4 million residents (was 650,000) Widely unpopular in all municipalities – nobody asked for such a merger Accompanied by provincial cuts and downloading Stated rationale for amalgamation Less waste and duplication of services, more cost efficiencies, fewer bureaucrats Unstated reasons for amalgamation Political differences with Toronto councillors Blunt calls for creation of larger Metro within GTA

11 Assessment of Toronto amalgamation experience Provincial downloads cloud analysis Chaotic and costly process Social and environmental outcomes not an objective of process (social inclusion, regional sustainability, comprehensive planning, etc.) Cost savings have not materialized Staffing levels higher, budget deficits ($575 million in 2007) City government further removed from public Less accessible than before Citizen input funneled through Community Councils Community Councils only advise City Council Parochialism

12 Assessment of amalgamation (cont.) City Hall culture does not actively engage public and civil society Episodic consultations rather than sustained or institutionalized Limited opportunities to participate in activities or forums with city-wide focus for sustained period Still no mechanism to coordinate planning and services with broader GTA (5.5 million residents) Greater Toronto Services Board disbanded No region-wide growth management strategy Bedroom communities and sprawl Deterioration of municipal services






18 Montreal pre-2002 Two-tiered municipal governance, similar to Toronto with Metro 28 independent municipalities + Montreal Urban Community island-wide structure Large discrepancy in municipal services, standards and tax rates on Island of Montreal, as well as in greater region Montreal wanted greater share of suburban taxes; lobbied Quebec govt for merger “One island, one city” – Montreal “Hands off!” - Suburbs

19 New Montreal megacity Quebec govt legislates municipal mergers across province 200 cities legislated out of existence - merged Not expected, not requested, not recommended (except by Montreal Mayor) Very unpopular in Montreal suburbs Less controversial in municipalities around province outside Montreal area Broader region-wide metropolitan governance body also established (Montreal Metropolitan Community)


21 Rationale for forcing municipal mergers Fiscal equity Those who benefit from proximity to city and its services should pay “fair share” More centralized decision-making for metropolitan area Less competition between municipalities Increased efficiencies; less fragmentation Improve quality and consistency of services Unspoken reason: merge English-speaking suburbs into Montreal megacity to prevent potential future secession from Quebec

22 De-merging process New Quebec Liberal govt campaign promise to allow merged munis to hold referendum to demerge 15 of 28 former Island municipalities voted to demerge; regained some – not all former powers and autonomy Montreal city government now consists of City Council, 19 boroughs and Agglomeration Council


24 Municipal Governance Montreal City Council Mayor and 64 members from each of the 19 borough councils Approves decisions made by borough councils Responsible for broader urban issues Borough councils Mayor and borough councillors elected by residents Sit on City Council and borough councils Boroughs manage local services: roads, garbage, parks, recreation, culture, public consultation, local planning

25 Municipal Governance (cont.) Agglomeration Council - 2006 Structure created to give representation to de- merged cities proportionate to size (13%) Mayor of Montreal chairs, appoints 15 city councillors and 15 mayors of de-merged suburbs Responsible for island-wide services: courts, social housing, homeless issues, transit, water, sewage treatment, etc. Suburban mayors frustrated by lack of power on council (13 percent of votes)

26 Regional inter-municipal collaboration Montreal Metropolitan Community (est. 2001) 82 municipalities, 3.6 million population Mayors and councillors from around region have weighted votes on council Responsibilities include regional planning, economic development, social housing, transit planning, regional road network, air quality, wastewater treatment Funded by contributions from member municipalities Over half of budget goes towards social and affordable housing programs

27 Assessment of Montreal amalgamation experience Still a work in progress Projected cost savings can not be substantiated City, borough and agglomeration council structure confusing De-merged municipalities dissatisfied with agglomeration council Ongoing tinkering with governance structures More equitable tax and service delivery across Island of Montreal Borough mayors and councillors close to their constituents and local issues

28 Assessment of Montreal amalgamation experience More holistic approach to city and region Responsibility for affordable and social housing spread across region Quantifiable progress being made Montreal policies emphasize strong commitment to citizen rights, including public consultation and engagement of civil society in decision-making Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities Office of public consultation Office of ombudsman

29 Lessons from Toronto & Montreal experiences Forcing municipal mergers not popular or productive Senior levels of government have different agendas than cities Public buy-in and participation in process of reforming governments would likely have improved the outcomes Clearly articulated vision, expectations and outcomes required Per capita costs tend to increase, not decrease after cities reach a certain size

30 Lessons (cont.) Big cities tend to be less accessible to citizens Less sense of ownership, less civic involvement Tendency towards parochialism in megacity Inter-municipal consortium model (like Metro) seems to promote more regional thinking, less parochialism Region-wide cooperation (and structures) essential for variety of reasons Regional inter-municipal governance structures are ignored and irrelevant without real power

31 Questions/Comments

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