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Etobicoke seeks to join an enlarged Mississauga and leave alienating Toronto Megacity

Edited by Traci Lawson

  Etobicoke map
   

TORONTO - On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the City of Etobicoke’s demise, the city’s last mayor had nothing good to say about the forced amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto’s six former municipalities into one giant megacity on Jan. 1, 1998.

In an interview published in the Etobicoke Guardian on 28 December 2007, Doug Holyday cited a long list of failures over the past 10 years of amalgamation. The last mayor of Etobicoke, who is still a megacity councillor for Ward 3 (Etobicoke Centre), went so far as to say that it would have been better if Etobicoke had merged with Mississauga back in 1998.

“It would have been a far better match for us. We could have had a very dynamic city,” he told The Guardian.

Given Etobicoke’s long history and strong stature within the former Metro Toronto government structure, including seeing former Etobicoke mayor Dennis Flynn as Metro’s chair, it’s sad that the last 10 years have left such a legacy of bad feelings and failed initiatives.

And it’s not as if Etobicoke is alone in its dissatisfaction with amalgamation. Feelings against the plan were even stronger in Scarborough and East York than they were in Etobicoke back in 1997, and a Metro-wide referendum saw some 75 per cent of local residents vote against the plan.

And, yet, it happened anyway.

Many will say there is no use crying over spilled milk, and after a decade we have no choice but to accept the megacity and all its problems and start working towards solutions. If we are all looking back in 2018 still complaining about amalgamation, then the megacity will truly have been one of the greatest failures in Canadian political history. And along the way it will have ruined what was one of the world’s truly great cities.

We’ll go so far as to say that if the megacity messes are not sorted out within the next few years, Holyday’s comments about merging Etobicoke with Mississauga may gain a high level of acceptance.

What we need right now -- and Etobicoke residents must start putting pressure on their Liberal MPPs on this one -- is for the provincial government to start accepting its responsibility for this city.

We know that Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals did not create the megacity, it was the work of former Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris. However, the Liberals are now into their second majority government at Queen’s Park and they’ve shown no desire to de-amalgamate so they must concentrate their efforts on making the megacity work. And first and foremost that means addressing the crushing cost of provincial downloading that Toronto must bear.

But that alone won’t be enough. As Holyday rightly pointed out, there is an attitude of entitlement among far too many Toronto councillors. They seem to have virtually no respect for the residents who elected them as was shown by the outrageous items they spent their office budgets on. “Too many councillors down there think we’re just playing with Monopoly money,” Holyday told The Guardian.

Here’s hoping 2008 is the year those councillors stop the game playing and dedicate themselves to making Toronto the great city it should be.

Reference:

The Etobicoke Guardian.

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