Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Election Issue # 2 -size

How many does it take to change a bulb in council chambers of Mississauga vs. London?
Mississauga: One to turn the bulb + ten to hold the ladder.
London: One to hold the bulb plus 1.5 dozen to turn the ladder.

Mississauga, with nearly twice London's population, manages well with 11 council members. Ditto for Windsor.

London voters asked for a downsized council at the last election; by a 9-7 recommendation on May 17, members opted for preserving the backward-looking status-quo; full council will decide on June 13th whether to protect their jobs with 19 positions, consider expansion to 14 NIMBY wards, ...or consider a 7-ward re-alignment based on broad commonality of economic interests. In any case, voters capable of envisioning the benefits and possibilities change offers, will note the "status-quo" holdouts or expansionists...and take appropriate action at the 2006 polls.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Council Size

Things are tough when a blogger links to his own archives.
In the midst of these posts is a Sept 2002 op-ed proposing 4 wards for the suburbs, 2 for mid-town, and one for the rural south. Scroll to: Better Model For City Government.
Inclusion of the far southern lands draining into a Lake Erie watershed was an accident of annexation. Since they could not be urbanized, the Annexation Act stipulated a distinct rural ward.
In spoke wards, councillors have to pretend they are qualified to represent all of the above distinct communities. They struggle with their given cross-section ...and the central and rural areas are marginalized.
With re-population of core underway (in spite of fights over demolition of every low-density eye-sore that has out-lived its usefulness), burgeoning central inhabitants deserve meaningful representation. Without a ward shake-up, the bulk of voters will live in the subdivisions and those they re-elect will continue to cater to suburbia.
Were candidates drawn form broad "Community of Interest" wards, they would have an excellent grasp of local concerns ...and constituents (and the city) would be better served. Using the proposed structure with 1 councillor per ward we get 11 elected civic servants --including controllers but excluding the Mayor.
Servants who won't put aside self-interest (job protection & name recognition) to advance the public good are requested to make the case for London having over 50% more elected reps than well-managed Mississauga. A comment of 25 to 30 words on this post should suffice. If they have no comment ...or their case is not not convincing, they risk being rejected by their masters at the polls. Incumbents are always an important election issue. Let the spin begin.
Given historical turn-out, voters themselves are perhaps the most pressing issue; that calls for a separate post.

PS posted May 26~~In reacting to a 14-ward proposal by the Urban League, Prof Sancton commented that London is too small for communities of interest. Such conundrum is avoided by the Sept 2002 proposal for 7 wards based more on communities of common economic interests than on feuding neighbourhoods.

~PS posted on eve of 2006 municipal election ~~~ Voters coping with 14 wards rather than 7, might want to review the 1991 Supreme Court decision in the Saskatchewan Povinicail ridings case. Professor Sancton was prescient in observing that groups will inevitably argue "effective representation" means boundaries must be drawn to take account of their particular concerns. As applied to London, an OMB Chair (not a boundary commission) determined "the right to effective representation" meant a doubling of wards.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Accountability, Semantics & Transparency

Files 1.055 and 1.072 mentioned in a recent Environment & Transportation Committee agenda use such terminology as "northern freeway corridor" and "peripheral freeway." A May 7th e-mail to the Mayor and to Environment & Transportation Committee pointed out:

  • Freeways: divided roadways carrying traffic at high speed under free-flow conditions with access at interchanges only, typically connecting larger cities.
  • Arterials: roadways where movement of through traffic is the primary consideration with land access a secondary function.
  • Expressways: generally divided arterial roads with at-grade intersections.

Elected representatives are left with these questions: What city are they connecting to in Middlesex? If a freeway is preferred, why not engage all affected counties and the Province?

Buried in the January 04 State of City Address, "...we have continued our discussions with the County of Middlesex and the Province regarding the ongoing issue of a ring road." In the January 05 address neither a ring nor a peripheral expresssway is on the radar.

Back in 1972, Queens Park committed to helping with construction of Airport Rd. Thirty-three years later it's not a four-laner. Yet, some members of council would kid taxpayers that London can go it alone on a northern corridor (twice the length of initial Airport Rd) ...and in another municipality, without financial and planning assist from the province. For the sake of accountability, the January 06 State of the Capital address should reveal the amount spent on ring/peripheral road studies over the last 10 years.

Montreal, in its fight to retain the Shriner's Hospital, plays the "poor transportation access" card. Local support for a northern trade corridor provides broad regional access ...and 403 interchanges at major arterials takes pressure off an already jammed Wellington Rd.

Now, this blog encourages comment; pro, con or straddling the median. Perhaps a few brave council members will lend some transparency by accepting the challenge to sell voters on their doable 33-yr peripheral vision?

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