Research Progress Report

There are several vehicles that authorities can employ to realize the genuine, effective participation of citizens in the governance process. One such vehicle is community councils.Following the amalgamation of Toronto in 1998, six community councils were established. The community councils were meant to serve as the platform for participating the residents of Metropolitan Toronto, the new amalgamated city. The notion of amalgamation entails merging smaller local authorities with one larger municipality to form one large metropolitan area. Promoters of city amalgamations argue that it is more cost-effective to provide services and goods to one larger municipality than in several small local government areas(Schwartz, 2010). However, many scholars are of the view that amalgamation has not worked for Toronto and that the community councils are weak. This paper compares the Toronto model with two others: New York and Montreal. Scholars consider New York a success and Montreal, like Toronto, a failure. Based on the findings of the case studies, the author recommends two reform options for Toronto.Until 1997, Toronto had a two-tier regional government. The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto comprised the upper tier while the lower tier comprised the municipalities of North York, East York, Scarborough and Toronto and the borough of York. In late 1996, the premier of Ontario proposed the amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto. They argued that the move could save $645 million during the transition and $300 million a year afterthat (Schwartz, 2010). However, a report by KPMG revealed that the transition cost the government of Ontario $275 million while they managed to save only $135 million a year. As of 2008, the city’s budget stood at $8.1 billion, up from $5 billion in 1997. Only the number of politicians fell, but increases in the councilors staff and office budgets have canceled any cost