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GREENINGS: Urban under-representation (Aug./Sept. 2018)

September 11th, 2018 · No Comments

Giving the suburbs a leg up at the expense of progress

Premier Ford wants to do Toronto a favour by slashing the size of council, and only Toronto seems to be targeted. Our ward of University-Rosedale, population 98,600, is now represented by a single councillor. To put this into perspective, Grey County, population 93,000, has 19 representatives to make decisions about roads, sewers, zoning, and all the other services that are vital to day-to-day living.

This wasn’t about cost savings. This move was about gerrymandering. Councillor Mammolitti admitted as much when he gleefully declared the move would produce fewer left-leaning councillors.

The population of the Annex alone is similar to Haliburton, with its eight municipal representatives. If this was about slashing costs, surely there are better ways to do it than decrease representation for the most densely populated city in the province. Substantial costs are unlikely to be saved since representing 100,000 people will be no easy feat. The reality is that more staff will need to be hired to take on the added workload.

This wasn’t about cost savings. This move was about gerrymandering.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) admitted as much when he gleefully declared the move would produce fewer left-leaning councillors. The 47-ward system will briefly bias the urban centre as the condos fill in and, by the next election, the over-representation is projected to balance out. This is obviously a threat to car lovers, so we are now back to the core being woefully under-represented and the suburbs of Toronto having the greater voter influence.

Take for example Spadina-Fort York, our neighbours to the south, which has a population of 115,000 and is projected to grow substantially. By comparison, Scarborough Rouge Park has a population of 103,000, and a much lower population growth trajectory. Under-representation of the urban core was the agenda, not cost savings.

For the foreseeable future, the urban core — which tends not to drive, taking public transit and bikes everywhere — will have less of a voice on council. The threat wasn’t the waste of funds by having too many city councillors. The threat was that councillors might actually vote for bike lanes and get them.

Ford has been vocal about his disregard for climate change. Though he admitted during a debate it was likely a man-made phenomenon, every policy position he has taken since assuming office has been on the side of climate change denialism: green energy initiatives have been cancelled and he earmarked $30 million to fight the federal carbon tax (a legal fight no legal minds think he can win). Slashing council to give the right-leaning suburban councillors the edge is absolutely in line with this.

When he was city councillor, his brother the mayor killed the 5 cent plastic bag fee, and went as far as removing bike lanes that were already in place.

The ideology knows no bounds and has no cost limits.

Thanks to this premier, we can expect much of the same from city council in the future. Projects that get people moving, like the King Street Pilot, will not see the light of day. New bike lanes? Not likely.

Increased tree-planting budgets? Don’t hold your breath…they want your lungs black from the car exhaust.

Perhaps we will see a twist of fate and Ford will grant Toronto a “strong mayor” system in time for it to backfire if we elect a progressive mayor who will fight for a greener Toronto.

Toronto has to fight back. The health of our city depends on it.

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy and distinguish environmental truths from myths.

 

READ MORE BY TERRI CHU:

GREENINGS: Nurture the neighbourhood by cultivating green canopy (Summer 2018)

GREENINGS: Results beg for electoral reform (July 2018)

GREENINGS: Choosing the lesser evil (Election Special 2018)

GREENINGS: Reduce, reuse, and then recycle (May 2018)

GREENINGS: Car-free parenting is not rare (Spring 2018)

GREENINGS: The science of board games (Mar. 2018)

GREENINGS: Driving fuelled by unseen subsidies (Jan. 2018)

GREENINGS: No solutions for nobody’s problem (Dec. 2017)

GREENINGS: Celebrate science not milestones (Nov. 2017)

GREENINGS: Down to the data (Oct. 2017)

GREENINGS: Reducing paper waste (Fall 2017)

GREENINGS: Taking tolls to the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway (July 2017)

GREENINGS: Lessons from Madrid (June 2017)

GREENINGS: Thoughts on hitting the 400 benchmark (May 2017)

GREENINGS: Solving the food waste problem (April 2017)

GREENINGS: Kellie Leitch was right (March 2017)

Tags: Annex · Columns · Life