Toronto is a single tier municipality that elects its councilors and a mayor every four years, without term limits. The city uses a first-past-the-post electoral system. According to the City of Toronto website, “In this system, the candidate elected is the one who receives more votes than any other candidate”[iii]. We will focus on Alderwood, a neighbourhood in Toronto’s Ward 6, in which the councilor is Mark Grimes, who was elected to his second term in office on November 13, 2006. The head of council for Toronto is Mayor David Miller, who was also re-elected recently for his second term in office. The public school board trustee is Bruce Davis, and the chair of the Toronto District School Board is Sheila Ward.
Alderwood is a neighborhood located in Toronto, in the western part of the city which was formerly the city of Etobicoke. On the federal level, this riding is referred to as Etobicoke-Lakeshore and is represented by Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff, who was also recently appointed as a deputy leader of the Liberal party by leader Stephane Dion.[i] The provincial riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, which shares the same boundaries as its federal counterpart, is represented by the honorable Laurel Broten of the Liberal party[ii]. Laurel is also the Minister of the Environment for the province of Ontario.
Toronto is the sixth largest government in Canada
The city of Toronto employs about 45,000 workers and has an operating budget of $7.6 billion and a capital budget of $1.25 billion.[iv] It is the 6th largest government in Canada, bigger than the provincial governments of Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick combined. The city has many agencies, boards and commissions (ABC’s) that help the city function. Some of these major ABC’s include:
- Board of Health
- Exhibition Place
- Toronto Atmospheric Fun
- Toronto Parking Authority
- Toronto Police Services Board
- Toronto Public Library Board
- Toronto Transit Commission
- The Toronto Zoo
Some agencies that have been in more spotlight than others as of late include the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, who is in charge of revitalizing the waterfront and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, who run the Pearson International Airport, which is located in Mississauga.
Alderwood grew out of the original Etobicoke Township. The township eventually became the Borough of Etobicoke, and then the City of Etobicoke in 1954. This was also the year when Metro Toronto was formed by the merging of various municipalities and villages around the Toronto area. Metro Toronto initially had only twelve councilors including the mayor. As the city grew, more councilors were added to the various city halls and civic centres around the city.
Etobicoke was eventually amalgamated into the city of Toronto in 1998, when the city and the Ontario government decided to simplify Toronto’s government structure. Prior to the amalgamation, Etobicoke had its own mayor and council, which controlled many essential city services. Due to amalgamation, many services were reduced or cut back outright.
In 2000, the city of Toronto reduced the number of councilors from 57 to 44, which drastically affected the ward boundaries. Even though a reduction of councilors occurred, the number of wards in the city actually increased from 28 to 44. The old Lakeshore-Queensway ward for example was split into two wards – 4 and 5.
There are many issues facing Toronto and the neighborhood of Alderwood, which is home to some very heavy industry that produce a lot of pollution. According to the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), Ward 6 is one of the worst polluted areas of the city.[v] The city and the province have committed in tackling the pollution problem. One of the major contributors to pollutions was the coal based Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga, Ontario. This station was shut down and demolished by the province in early 2005. Other coal power plants are also set to close across the city of Ontario, which will further reduce pollution.
Toronto traffic, pollution and the LRT Network
Traffic is another problem in Toronto, and more cars on the roads contribute to the pollution problem. The city’s public transportation network is slowly falling behind in keeping up the pace with the rapid growth of the city. Toronto’s master building plan has tried to solve this by placing higher density development within the city core so that people do not have to rely on the automobile to take them to work into downtown. There has been also an added emphasis placed on improving the city’s LRT (Light Transit Rail) network. Major capital projects include creating specialized ROW’s (Right-of-Ways) along St. Clair Avenue and the Queens Quay.[vi] It is hoped that more LRT lines in Toronto will alleviate many traffic issues within the city.
Garbage in Toronto is always an issue
Garbage is another issue that is on the mind of most residents. Currently Toronto ships its garbage to the state of Michigan at a great expense. With the garbage contract expiring, the city will have to find a new place for its waste. Recently the city bought a parcel of land around the London, Ontario area, and it hopes to start shipping household garbage to that landfill in 2010. The city has also made a huge effort on placing an emphasis on recycling and composting. The Green Bin composting program has such a success that other municipalities around the GTA have followed Toronto’s footsteps in implementing the program.
- [i] CTV.ca News Staff, “Dion appoints Michael Ignatieff as deputy leader”, Dec. 18 2006, CTV.ca
- [ii] Ministry of the Environment, 2007: <<http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/org/minister.htm>>
- [iii] City of Toronto Website, 2007: <<http://www.toronto.ca/vote2006/terms.htm#electoralsystem>>
- [iv] City of Toronto Website, 2007: Toronto Facs
- [v] Toronto Environmental Alliance, TEA, 2003 Toxics in Toronto Map
- [vi] Torontoist “St. Clair ROW is a Go!”, Ron Nurwisah, February 2006