THE CHARTER CITY PROPOSAL
Many people in our fast-growing and evolving city would like to see decisions in Toronto made differently.
They want decision-making that gives people in the city a bigger say and involves
a broader spectrum of voices.
Decision-making that reflects the dense, urban nature of the city and forcefully addresses city issues such as poverty, guns, youth in crisis, health issues, the housing shortage and gridlock.
All Torontonians want to build on our city's strengths: our unparalleled human diversity; our robust cultural, business and innovation sectors, and the global perception of Toronto as one of the most desirable places to live and work.
But those things can't happen--that conversation can't even be had--as long as the city lacks the power to implement those ideas and as long as the Ontario government continues to tell the city what it can and cannot do.
We believe Toronto needs greater power, autonomy and resources in order to succeed as a global city in the 21st century.
We believe the best vehicle to achieve that is a constitutionally-protected
Cities have no status or power.
The Canadian Constitution doesn’t recognize cities as governments in their own right. It says all municipalities, whether a hamlet of ten or a megacity of three million, are the sole responsibility of their province, and the province has absolute power over them. Period.
This may surprise many Canadians, but the people of Toronto have been confronting this grim fact since July 2018, when the Ontario government suddenly and unilaterally passed a law stripping the city of the power to determine how its own government works.
Bill 5 opened a lot of eyes.
That law, Bill 5, slashed the size of Toronto's city council almost in half in the middle of an election campaign without consultation or notice. The province ignored the advice of an independent city panel that had consulted the public for three years. It revoked decisions that had been duly passed at city council.
When people protested, the premier threatened to use his majority at Queen’s Park to wipe out their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well.
Bill 5 wasn't the first time the province interfered with Toronto's democracy, but it was blatant and chilling.
If the province can do this, what else can it do?
Torontonians’ fear and outrage at this act of civic vandalism was the spark that lit a thousand conversations—one of which has led to this proposal for a
constitutionally-protected City Charter.
Because it's not just Bill 5.
The province has all kinds of unchecked power over the city.
A provincially appointed body routinely disallows city land-use decisions. This year, the province scrapped parts of Toronto's downtown and midtown official plans, that had taken years of civic work and consultation to put in place.
The province has taken control of local transit planning. Control of our education system was taken away years ago. Our city of three million people needs
provincial approval to hire wardens to direct traffic on city streets--even to
change our traffic lights. The province tells us what taxes we can and
can't raise and keeps the city dependent on provincial handouts of taxes
that were collected from city taxpayers in the first place.
The province duplicates and second-guesses so much of city decision-making, you have to wonder why there is a city government at all.
A City Charter is the Vehicle to Give Cities Home Rule and a Place in Confederation.
Provincial priorities will never be city priorities because provincial politicians overwhelmingly represent the interests of people who don't live here.
The goal of a City Charter is to give Toronto—and other cities that want it—the constitutional status that is currently lacking. And the power, authority and resources Torontonians need to make their own decisions about how to
build a great city.
Decisions that can't be rendered inoperable with a wave of a provincial finger.
We hope you'll read our proposal and help us write a City Charter for Toronto into the highest laws of the land.
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