Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Better Model for City Government

All organizations represent the basic idea of community of interests. A few years ago such a structure was circulated to stimulate thinking on how to attract a strong team of political candidates. That was expecting too much. Through the device of an "appointed" task force, the status quo report council so desperately wanted was delivered.
The city has three main economic engines -agriculture, commercial/ industrial, and university/medical. There are three somewhat corresponding population bands: the outlying rural area, the expanding circle of of post-war suburbs, and the more mature central area. In the spoke configuration, the mid-town and rural sectors are marginalized since councillors cater to the concentration of voters in the "burbs."
Spoke wards neither reflect distinct communities nor optimize the mix of skills and experience needed. A more balanced council respectful of distinct community needs corrects the slide to a suburban agenda at the expense of central job growth and agri-enterprise. Eliminate a profusion of ward boundaries, and there will be less infighting over dollars for road upkeep and sports facilities. And, with the focus on community conditions and outcomes, more spokespeople will engage the civic process.
Better to allocate four wards to the urban ring, two wards to mid-town, and one to the rural south. This helps counter disruptive rivalry amongst too many councillors in too many wards. The board of trade in Brampton contends the 17-member council is too large for their city of 300,000. Neighbouring Mississauga functions well with a 10-member council. At 19 members, London is bloated.
The challenge: change both size and structure to put broad community interests ahead of special interests. That is the only way we will get what we need -a lean team of the brightest and the best.
There is always a better way; find it, refine it.
Proposal Advnced in a September 2002 issue of TheLondoner

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