"Toronto's Struggle Against Amalgamation
It is an unwritten code of conduct for big-city life: avoid speaking to strangers on the public transit system - and if talking to a friend, keep it down, please. So ingrained is that protocol that when a group of Toronto teenagers started talking loudly on the Gerrard streetcar one late-February afternoon, the discomfort among other passengers was almost palpable. It was only heightened when one of the kids, a long-haired girl in a green bomber jacket, actually addressed an older stranger. "How are you going to vote on megacity? You gotta vote No, man," she remarked, unbidden. Before he could respond, another teen piped in: "I dunno. It's gonna happen anyway - Scarborough's going to get sucked up by Toronto. Scarborough's so small." The
stranger, getting a word in edgewise, pointed out that Scarborough and Toronto
are, in fact, about the same size. "Really?" said the second teen, her nose-ring
twitching with curiosity. "I dunno, around my subway station, Kennedy - " "That
station sucks," interjected Teen No. 1. "Yeah," continued Teen No. 2. "Anyway,
around there, it's pretty small."
For once, strangers are talking to one another in Toronto. And what's got them talking - even the teenagers - is municipal politics, something Torontonians usually find so unenthralling that only about a third of them vote in civic elections. But in Toronto - that somewhat arrogant metropolis the rest of the country loves to hate - these are unusual times. The city is in the grip of Mega-Madness, and a rivetting drama is being played out on the civic stage. To the provincial Conservatives and their supporters, it is a tale of solid municipal policy and sound fiscal management. But to many Torontonians, who fear that the province's reforms will destroy their city, it has taken on the proportions of a horror movie - Megacity: The Tory Monster that Ate Toronto....
You can read the rest at: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0011182 Here's another good read:
"Discredited Ideas/Utopian Ideals drive municipal amalgamations
Toronto, March 20, 2001 — Amalgamations forced on municipalities by provincial
governments are the product of flawed nineteenth-century thinking and a bureaucratic urge for centralized control, says a C.D. Howe Institute Commentary published today. What’s more, says the study, smaller and more flexible jurisdictions can often deliver services to residents at lower cost, throwing in doubt the financial assumptions typically used to defend amalgamations.
The new study, “Local Government Amalgamations: Discredited Nineteenth-Century Ideals Alive in the Twenty-First,” argues that some provincial governments have been guided by an intellectual fashion of the nineteenth century: an apparently unshakable faith in monolithic organizations and central control. The study’s author, Robert L. Bish, Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, explains that this flawed thinking is unlikely to suit the rapid change and the need for institutional adaptability that will characterize the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, large and centralized governments will be further removed from their voters, and less able to respond effectively to local needs and choices.
Aside from the intellectual dubiousness of amalgamation projects, says Bish, an
extensive review of scholarly research since the 1960s demonstrates that the background assumption that smaller and more numerous jurisdictions provide services at high cost is typically wrong. Small municipalities contract for services with their neighbors, private suppliers, or other providers when it is cost effective to do so, and provide services themselves when that is less costly. In each case, the decision is based on what is technically efficient in specific lines of activity and depends on close familiarity with local conditions. Because distant mega-councils have less information on which to base decisions than do councils closer to their voters, the cost savings that provinces hope to deliver through amalgamation often prove illusory, and services are thus less likely to match voters’ wants and willingness to pay.
The key, argues Bish, is local flexibility. Metropolitan areas with numerous local
governments and a variety of production arrangements can respond to local needs at less cost than monolithic amalgamations. The superior performance of such “polycentric” structures stems from competition among governments — and from their service arrangements with outside organizations of various scales, including cooperation in specific tasks with neighboring governments. Decentralization among local governments is no hindrance to economic growth, says Bish: some of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas are also among the most governmentally fragmented. Amalgamation, on the other hand, tends to eliminate the very characteristics of local government that are critical to successful low cost operations....
Check out the full Bish report (starts pg 7): http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/bish.pdf