Amalgamation, which former Ontario premier Mike Harris pushed to fuse Toronto, Scarborough, East York, York, Etobicoke and North York as a way to cut costs, with its promises of more services for less money, has not materialized.
Their current budget debate shows the model is not working. The 2012 budget deficit is pegged at anywhere from $500-million to $774-million. So far, councillors who represent wards in the old city of Toronto have largely taken up the fight to preserve services with priorities of policing and improvements to the subway, while predominantly suburban councillors are advocating cuts.
In reality, services have gone down, taxes have gone up. Representation has gone down, taxes have gone up. That’s no savings.
Part of the problem is that they’ve tried to amalgamate different types of communities. Urban, or semi-urban communities, possess their own identity, and individual interests and needs are vastly different in those communities.
We need only look at the differences in priorities between the municipalities within the CRD, where amalgamation would breed a lack of identity and divisiveness among the communities. It would create a barrier between the communities, the opposite effect promoted now.