THE METROPOLITAN PROBLEM
AN ADDRESS BY
ERIC HARDY DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF MUNICIPAL RESEARCH, TORONTO
Chairman: First Vice-President, Mr. Sydney Hermant
Thursday, March 23rd, 1950
Members and Guests of the Empire Club of Canada We are to hear an Address today by Eric Hardy, Director of the Bureau of Municipal Research. The Bureau is an independent fact-finding organization reporting to the Public on Civic Affairs in Greater Toronto. Mr. Hardy is also director of the Bureau's companion organization, the Citizens' Research Institute of Canada, which collects, interprets, and publishes facts with the aim of promoting effective Government at every level. In welcoming Mr. Hardy to our Club today we are expressing appreciation to the Bureau and the Institute for the fine contribution that they are making to the Community at large. Eric Hardy succeeded Dr. Britain in his present post three years ago, coming directly from the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, Ottawa, where he headed the Research section of the Supply Division. He was engaged by the Bureau of Statistics and Research of the Ontario Government to undertake special work with respect to their participation in the 1945-46 Dominion-Provincial Conference. It is a particular pleasure for me to introduce Mr. Hardy who is a classmate and personal friend. He is an Honour Graduate from University College in the University of Toronto, in Political Science, and is presently giving a special series of lectures there on local government. He is going to speak to us now on a subject with which he is thoroughly familiar and on which he is recognized as an outstanding and impartial authority--"The Metropolitan Problem". Mr. Eric Hardy.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Empire Club It is a particular pleasure and honour for me to be here today to address the club because, as Mr. Hermant has said, he is an old friend, and I see a number of old friends among the audience, and I am glad that they are here.
Mr. Hermant did not tell you that he is himself on the Council of the Bureau of Municipal Research, and is making an outstanding contribution to our work.
The Metropolitan Problem is a subject which I should have tackled somewhat differently had I been asked to speak here a matter of two or three months ago. But there has been, as most of you in this room will realize, a good deal of discussion and press comment on the subject, and while some months ago many were wondering 'What is the Metropolitan Problem', and 'What is this Amalgamation all about', people now are much more familiar with the problem and are much more concerned in trying to size up in their own minds the relative merits of different schemes of co-ordinating the local government functions in the area of Greater Toronto.
A metropolitan area is different from an ordinary small urban community. A metropolitan area somewhat resembles a spider web. It has a central city, or perhaps twin cities in the centre, and branching out from it, a number of satellite communicities; but we call the whole area a metropolitan area because it is a region through which urban development has become continuous. The spaces between the suburban communities have filled up with residential commercial and industrial sites, and rural land has disappeared almost entirely from what we describe as the metropolitan area.
Most of you can look back and think of the time when on the west of Toronto, the Kingsway area included much open country, and you have seen that section and other sections filling up very rapidly. The whole area around Toronto is changing and growing and that growth is not likely to stop: Toronto is destined to become a much larger and much more important city than it is today. In the process of growth, the suburban municipalities become linked ever more closely with the affairs of the city proper, and throughout the metropolitan area there is a continuous shuttle movement as people travel back and forth from their -homes to their work. Some ten years ago in London, England, it was estimated that one person in every ten earns his living in helping to cart the others around. The paid services in Toronto might not bulk so large, but people serving the Toronto Transportation Commission, the other transportation authorities throughout the area, the taxi drivers, and also take account of the amount of time spent by people driving their private automobiles over long distances back and forth to work, I think you would find that one in ten man-hours is not far out of line for our own part of the country here.
The metropolitan area then is an area with common problems and common interests and it has been suggested that it is necessary in order to provide the best civic services for the area, that some at least of these need to be brought together.
Many of you have heard Mr. Gardiner, as Chairman of the Toronto and York Planning Board, discussing the need to tie in the water facilities of Toronto with the water supply for North York and for the other suburban municipalities. The same is true of sewage disposal, the same is true of police services. Certainly it would be helpful if, throughout the Toronto area, there were a common radio communication system linking the police forces so that criminals could be apprehended more speedily.
I could go on and develop for you arguments suggesting the value of linking together all the major services that the local government is called upon to provide. Take Education, for example: the location of school buildings can best be accomplished when these buildings are spotted throughout the whole area of urban development in line with population needs of that whole area.
And so there has come to be, I think, in many circles, recognition of this need to have some form of metropolitan government embracing a larger or smaller share of the local government functions.
The City of Toronto has made application to the Ontario Municipal Board for an amalgamation of 11 municipalities and parts of two others. This to my mind is the best method of bringing the metropolitan area together, and this is the minimum area which must be considered for a fundamental change in the governmental structure.
We need beyond this area a broad planning control embracing at least 23 municipalities, and the time will come in the future when the form of government, the amalgamated government, which is I believe a worthwhile goal, will not only have to cover 11 municipalities and parts of two more but will need again to be extended.
Not everyone is in favor of amalgamation, although more and more people are coming to give their support to a linking of at least some services-into a borough system, a county scheme of government or unification. From the point of view of administration, the arguments in favor of amalgamation, that is of complete unification, seem to me to be patent and obvious. We have an excellent example of how in one important piece of work the need of Toronto and the suburbs to operate together has already been recognized. I am referring to the Toronto Industrial Commission. Since 1929 that body has been organized to encourage the entry of new industry into the whole Toronto area. It obtains half its money from the city proper, and half from the suburbs and from industries located outside the City boundaries. This may not be a perfectly fair splitting of the costs, but the obvious advantages of having adequate funds have been recognized. The Toronto Industrial Commission is able to supply information in answer to enquiries from London, England, from New York, from Chicago, and from many centres outside of Ontario and outside of Canada.
I want to pay tribute to Mr. C. L. Burton, a member of this Club, and who would have been at the head table if it were not necessary for him to be out of town. Mr. Burton as the then President of the Toronto Board of Trade was very largely instrumental in fostering the development of the Toronto Industrial Commission. I believe that no one who is interested in promoting the industrial growth of the Toronto area will regret the action that he was able to accomplish at that time.
The main obstacle to amalgamation, as I see it, is political, and I don't use that term entirely disparagingly. It is a problem of people and how people should organize their local governments. We have actually an example that goes back many years, of an amalgamation that was proposed covering a larger population, and a very considerable area. In London, England, in 1837, a Royal Commission appointed by the Central Government came out flatly in favor of an amalgamation, a full fledged amalgamation, to embrace a population of 1 1/2 million people. Now if in 1837, with transportation facilities much less developed than they are today, that Royal Commission could contemplate an amalgamation embracing 1 1/2 million people, surely we in the Toronto area today can contemplate an amalgamation which will enlarge the population to approximately 1 million people!
Now it is plainly easier for people living within Toronto proper, and people connected with the government of the city proper, to face the prospect of amalgamation than for those living in the suburbs. People in Long Branch and Swansea, comparatively small municipalities, naturally are likely to have more doubts about what will happen to them if amalgamation comes about. But I would remind the residents of these municipalities and other suburban municipalities that in the amalgamation scheme presently proposed the population of Toronto proper would have added to it an additional half of its present numbers. Toronto, with a population of 670,000 people, would add approximately 330,000, therefore, I cannot see that the suburban municipalities will be swamped by the union with the City of Toronto. Nor is it fair to describe this proposed change as annexation.
There have been annexations in the past. The City of Toronto has annexed land and people to its territories about 45 times in its history, and the last major annex ation was accomplished without any opposition whatsoever-for at that time they brought in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
But with the speeding of transportation facilities, with the shortening of the working day, people are able to live much further from their work than in the past, and the population can fan out farther; people can settle in what have been independent communities, with their own centres of existence, of separate existence, and that has meant that annexations have not come about easily and automatically. It has required a good deal of salesmanship to convince even the present number of supporters, to convince the present Council of the City of Toronto, that amalgamation is a useful and a forward step.
Those living outside the boundaries of the city proper have in particular, been concerned with the question of Costs, and they have every reason to be concerned. One factor affecting the cost is that in a metropolitan area some of the suburbs may be what we call "dormitory" suburbs, that is, largely residential--like Forest Hill Village or Swansea--and others may be heavily industrial centres--like Leaside and New Toronto. With real property as the present major source of municipal revenues, and with real property likely to continue as the major source of local government funds, an industrial community like Leaside will find no immediate advantage from amalgamation. They may be called upon to pay a larger share of the total costs of local government throughout the whole area; and if they are called upon to pay a larger share, in my opinion it is because they should be doing so now!
Some of you will remember the experience of municipalities in the depression years with the relief problem. Certainly I hope that the municipalities will not again be asked to saddle such a large bill for relief as they had to at that time. During the depression I was not living within Toronto, but I did hear certain people suggesting that Forest Hill Village was perhaps getting off lightly. And in the presence of the former Reeve of Forest Hill Village I am prepared to say: I hope such inequities of taxation will be ironed out in amalgamation, and let the chips fall where they may!
The suburban municipalities have another reason to be concerned, and with some of them it is very genuine. Some of them have built up real assets, buildings and municipal assets generally of which they have very good reason to be proud; and if they have taxed more heavily in the past, and if they have operated with greater efficiency in the past, I think those economies ought to be recognized in the event that amalgamation takes place. But that recognition can be given much more fairly by an impartial referee than by trying to honour all the claims of all the individual municipalities which are being put forward at the present time. If amalgamation comes about there is an impartial referee to deal with this question, and that referee is the Ontario Municipal Board. If they wish, the board can bring in experts to assist them in the job of arriving at the financial settlement. But surely, if the City of Toronto with its very substantial assets, is prepared to entrust the allocation to an impartial referee, such as the Ontario Municipal Board, the smaller municipalities haven't too much to fear.
Another question which has worried people, both within and without the city proper, is the question of local autonomy. Concern has been expressed especially from the suburbs. We have heard it said that local autonomy is threatened by the suggestion that we have a full-fledged amalgamation. Not many people are saying that local autonomy is threatened by any or every metropolitan authority. They are recognizing that some form of metropolitan authority is inevitable. But they do say "let us preserve as much of our independence as we can and only join together those services which it is absolutely necessary to link up." Yet when you come to consider the services which need to be joined, it is very difficult to draw a line which leaves a substantial portion of the job of local government outside.
Mimico has made an application to the Municipal Board for an interurban service area, and they have suggested that certain services be linked. They have suggested there should be common control of education, of transportation, of the main highways, of water, sewage disposal, health and welfare. About the only things that I can think of that they have left out are parks--and there we can see the need of a metropolitan authority to take some interest in parks designed to preserve a green belt around the heart of the city--and the other thing that has been left out in Mimico's suggested allocation of services is local roads and streets. But, even there, it is possible to picture a situation where an authority, an independent authority, charged with the control of local roads and streets, might come into conflict with another authority charged with the development of an adequate network of main traffic arteries.
As I see it, if any substantial share of the local services are left in independent hands, the existence of these separate Councils not subject to the control of the metropolitan authority can threaten proper metropolitan planning-not by a failure to co-operate but by failure to cooperate sufficiently quickly, to co-operate with expedition.
Those living in the suburbs and speaking about local autonomy might also examine the voting record in their own municipalities and compare it with the voting record in a large city like Toronto. In the latest year in which there was a contest for the chief municipal office, in the suburban municipalities on the average only 27.4% of the eligible voters turned out at the polls; and in Toronto's election in January 1950, the turn-out was 52.8%. Now you will quickly think of the special issues that entered