Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis





Governance Notebook

Belinda Cole on City of Toronto governance

Belinda Cole

Legal Researcher Belinda Cole has been paying close attention to Toronto's municipal laws, regulations, policies and guidelines for CELOS for about five years. Her study of the effects of municipal governance on public space have led her to make some lists of what is necessary to address the problems of the City's current approach. The remedies she suggests will conserve our taxes by engaging the ingenuity and insight of the citizens of many more Toronto residents than has been the practice since amalgamation.

Community collaboration about capital projects

1. Suggested direction by Council that priority will be given to city projects based on making the best and widest use of the public amenities we already have, except where obvious disparities exist between communities (e.g. a neighbourhood has no playground equipment in its park, or no existing building that could be adapted as a community gathering place, etc.) 

2. At present, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Capital Projects section is funded by a percentage of capital projects cost.  This puts the department in a conflict of interest position – meeting the payroll will be best assured by large, expensive projects, rather than smaller projects of repair and on-going maintenance.

City budget and cost savings
A) Capital projects and State-of-Good-Repair

1) Cut the $88 M waterfront arena

2) freeze all budgeting for routine replacement of city amenities (under “State of Good Repair” until council has considered the existing evidence of unnecessary city spending and replacement.

Therefore, suggested direction by Council that city staff are to:

- Publish and revisit all priority list for on-going repairs and necessary improvements of existing public amenities

- identify any laws that require replacement of amenities, together with legal opinions

- identify the hard data behind any stated liability concerns which require the replacement of amenities

- identify and seek comments on the priorities of neighbourhood residents with respect to the care of, and proposed replacement of, public amenities

Stewardship principles

Suggested direction by Council regarding the principles that guide the city's stewardship and care of public amenities such as parks, community centres, libraries, pools, public squares and throughways.  

1) public amenities have been paid for and are held in trust for the people of Toronto

2) the city will focus on making the most of the facilities we have

- make existing amenities as widely available as possible

- keep public amenities in good repair, with a focus on fixing what is broken and ongoing maintenance

Content last modified on November 01, 2010, at 12:24 AM EST