In 1995 Mike Harris, the leader of the PC Party and Premier of our Province “dictated” that Municipalities across Ontario be “forcibly amalgamated” in order to reduce the size of Governments and save tax payers $$$$$!
“Bigger is Better” pretty well sums it up and even though in theory, it would seem to be fiscally responsible, one huge “elephant in the room” was missing in this concept!
An “HONEST POLITICIAN”!
If all parties involved in this new form of Government were honourable, caring, moral and honest, it may have worked like a charm. But in real life, nothing keeps dishonest, power hungry idiots from taking advantage of idealistic and honest hard working people when given the opportunity to suck their money out their pockets without any repercussions!
18 years on in this experiment called “Amalgamation” we see Municipalities going broke, losing their identities and forced to sell out their citizens to foul politicians who roam the halls of Queen’s Park like vampires who live off the efforts of their fellow citizens.
To sum it up: “Amalgamation has been an absolute failure”!
Worse still, just try and reverse this act of destruction: “DE-AMALGAMATE??”………………….Good luck with that little exercise in Democracy…………..without taking back total control of your own Council and cleaning the rat infested halls of power, Democracy will remain as illusive as the honesty that almost existed prior to 1995!!!
Below is an excerpt from a report on just one area where Amalgamation isn’t doing anyone much good except politicians who want to “rule the world”!
Ontario’s Conservative government initiated an agenda to restructure municipal governments in the province beginning in 1995. The stated intent was to “reduce the size and cost of municipal government,” proposed as a benefit to taxpayers (Richmond 1999). Municipalities were required to initiate their own programs of restructuring or have the province do it for them; for the most part the result has been forced amalgamations among previously independent communities (Downey and Williams 1998). Research on amalgamation indicates that it substantially increases costs, rather than generating savings (Sancton 2000), and there are those who argue that Ontario’s amalgamations are not about efficiency but about increasing provincial control and decreasing democratic voice among citizens (Sewell 1998). As of August 2001 there were 159 amalgamations and 60 annexations in Ontario, nearly halving the number of municipalities and councillors (MMAH 2001). The first high profile case was the creation of the “megacity” of Tor onto, in which seven municipalities became one on January 1, 1998. A protest group calling itself Citizens for Local Democracy was formed, and in a referendum 76% of voters were against amalgamation, but the province did not withdraw its directive (Richmond 1999). Proposed amalgamations elsewhere were also met with civic protest. A referendum organized by the Wentworth Citizen’s Referendum Coalition resulted in high turnout from the municipalities that were to be engulfed by amalgamation into the City of Hamilton; 94% of voters were opposed (Hughes 1997; Kerman 1997). One major concern of citizens has been the removal of local access to the political system through the reduction in elected representation and the relocation of remaining representatives to the new municipal centre, away from their communities of interest. In some cases formerly independent municipalities have been reassigned the status of a single ward, and are challenged to represent local values in an arena where the centre is comprised of many wards, each with a vote equal to its own. Planners based in the municipal centre are newly assigned the task of planning for people and places that have well established collective place-based identities and planning priorities. Paralleling concerns about the ne w structure of political representation, there is a concern that as outsiders, these planners may lack awareness of and sensitivity to the local distinctiveness and values of the formerly independent communities. As a result, locally valued places that had received special protection may be threatened if the new regime fails to acknowledge their significance to community identity.