Thursday, August 19, 2010

De-amalgamation, sort of Smitherman says community councils should make more decisions

Not de-amalgamation necessarily but de-amalgamation when necessary.
Candidate George Smitherman floated the idea of giving more power to community councils to make more local decisions during a mayoral debate Thursday.
The pitch described by Smitherman, the details of which he says he still needs to work out, would empower community councils to increase the delivery of services they feel is important to their unique section of Toronto.
“Instead of this one size fits all approach, I think we should favour an approach which gives discretion back to community councils to make a broader array of decisions even it means that the services in Etobicoke and North York might be slightly different,” Smitherman told the audience at a debate hosted by the Association of Jewish Seniors. “In Etobicoke they love leaf collection, in North York they love to catch the snow on the shovel before it hits the sidewalk.
“We can in a city as big and mature as Toronto allow for some flexibility in the level of service delivery.”
Citing the city’s push to have a uniform zoning bylaw, Smitherman said you can’t reduce the city to a one-size fits all approach.
“This city is moving towards a one-size fits all approach that rejects the very nature of the city,” he told reporters. “We like to talk about Toronto as a city of neighbourhoods, well part and parcel of that means we should allow community councils to have more, to actually have power. Instead of just being a debating society for issues that are resolved on the floor of full council. Otherwise, why have them?”
But although Smitherman described his proposal as a kind of de-amalgamation, he stopped short of calling for de-amalgamation of the city.
“I’m calling for de-amalgamation in a sense that we have created an environment of city-wide services, one size fits all,” he said. “Within the boundaries of the City of TOronto we have lots and lots of opportunities to push power back out to other areas.”

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