Amalgamation not mega-bad
Editorial Board 1999-2000
Amalgamation not mega-bad
Recent talk of amalgamating four more regions in Ontario has some politicians wondering what the mega-benefits could be to creating more mega-cities.
Politicians say the four regions in question, Hamilton-Wentworth, Haldimand-Norfolk, Sudbury and Ottawa could potentially save taxpayers an estimated $100 million by streamlining representation if they are amalgamated.
What's this? Less politicians, you say?
As seen with the past amalgamation of the Greater Toronto Area, forming a single tier of government would definitely reduce the number of political positions. Tories are predicting at least 200 politicians would be left out in the cold through an amalgamation a move which would undoubtedly be lauded by many as a good first step, for a reduction in bureaucracy usually means cutting out the unnecessary duplication of duties and create a more efficient performance on the part of politicians and the bureaucrats who serve them.
While this does seem a little harsh, the results are more focused, efficient and condensed city councils, capable of concentrating more readily on important issues. A council could change the policies affecting constituents sharing many like-minded goals.
With a potential savings of $100 million in taxes, Ontario could help other struggling communities by pledging monetary assistance to bolster school boards, police forces, tourism, even garbage collection.
The word "mega" may also attract more people to other cities rather than the first mega-city of Toronto. The economic possibilities are promising and bode well for cities who have not always shared the spotlight.
However, although any mega-idea such as this amalgamation does have a lot of potential, citizens must demand and keep a careful eye that any consolidated municipal form of government takes measures to ensure all of the needs of such a large area are met.
For instance, measures must be taken to ensure tax-burdened rural communities not be ignored in a move such as this. In addition, services such as community centres and general public services will hopefully be upheld and not downsized.
It worked for Toronto. It seems only logical the four areas follow suit, with the likely intention of increased profile, efficiency and communication.
But with a swelling population in southwestern Ontario and an obvious geographical spread which doesn't lend itself to convenience, well-wishers of such an amalgamation need to approach the idea with careful deliberation, lest they be mega-sorry.