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A Patchwork of Participation: Stewardship, Delegation and the Search for Community Representation in Post-Amalgamation Ontario

  • Zachary Spicer (a1)

In the wake of wide-ranging municipal amalgamations Ontario, the provincial government promoted the use of community councils, citizen-led boards that would have input in local matters. Community councils were touted as a way of preserving local identity and policy control. However, more than a decade removed from Ontario's restructuring process, few municipalities have community councils in place. Those that have implemented community councils established them with purely advisory functions. This paper asks why community councils were so inconsistently implemented and introduced with such limited powers. Overall, it is found that community councils were victims of restructuring politics. Blocked by city councillors fearing decentralization would dilute their authority and foster political rivals, constrained through a restrictive legislative framework and pushed aside by city officials fearing they would effectively recreate a two-tier system, community councils were either abandoned or installed with a limited mandate.

Dans la foulée des vastes fusions municipales en Ontario, le gouvernement provincial a encouragé la mise sur pied de conseils communautaires, des conseils dirigés par des citoyens qui contribuent à la prise de décisions dans les affaires locales. Les conseils communautaires ont été présentés comme un moyen de préserver l’identité locale et le contrôle des politiques. Cependant, plus d’une décennie après la mise en application du processus de restructuration de l’Ontario, peu de municipalités sont dotées de conseils communautaires. Les quelques conseils communautaires qui existent n'exercent que des fonctions consultatives. Cet article interroge cet état de fait. Dans l’ensemble, il est établi que les conseils communautaires ont été victimes de la politique de restructuration. Les conseils communautaires ont été abandonnés ou limités dans leur mandat, parce que les conseillers municipaux ont craint qu’une décentralisation dilue leur autorité et favorise leurs rivaux politiques. Les conseils communautaires ont aussi été contraints par un cadre législatif restrictif et mis de côté par les responsables de la ville craignant qu’ils recréent un système à deux niveaux.

Corresponding author
Brock University, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, ON, L2S 3A1, Email:
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