A Really Bad Argument Against De-Amalgamating the Toronto Megacity

Blog, Municipal Government, Steve Lafleur

Last Friday, Shawn Micallef, a Toronto Star author, wrote a very bad article about why he believes that de-amalgamating Toronto would be a bad idea. I wrote a letter to the editor to the Star, pointing out how ridiculous the article was, but they ran a letter from the last mayor of the former municipality of East York, and current MPP, who pointed out geographic errors in the article, and noted that many, if not most East Yorkers would support de-amalgamation if presented with the opportunity. It is worth a read. I also posted the text of my submission below:

RE: Why this east-end intersection exemplifies Toronto, November 15, 2013

I read Shawn Micallef’s argument about how the intersection of Victoria Park and Danforth allegedly makes the case against de-amalgamating Toronto with interest.

The argument that the intersection is emblematic of commonalities between East York, Toronto, and Scarborough doesn’t wash. A shopping mall on the East York side and apartments on the Scarborough side suggest similarities between the two communities, but they vanish quickly.

Just west of the mall on the East York side is the heart of transit oriented and walkable Danforth Village. Crossing the intersection east into Scarborough, one sees a used car lot, suburban LCBO and Beer Store locations with gigantic parking lots, and an Enterprise car rental in close proximity. As a pedestrian, one doesn’t feel welcome straying even that far east of Vic Park. Further east, Warden Station (the last stop on the Bloor Line) is more accessible by car than by foot.

Micallef also suggests that de-amalgamation would alienate the suburban poor. But by his logic, there should be a moral imperative for Toronto to swallow up Brampton and Markham. Inclusiveness isn’t the point of municipalities.

The reason why observers such as myself and former Mayor John Sewell favour de-amalgamation is that the formerly independent municipalities have different and irreconcilable interests from residents of Old Toronto. Suburban and urban settings require different regulations and services. The Megacity is evidence that one-size fits all prescriptions don’t work.

Mr. Micallef’s emotional rhetoric is unhelpful. He should stick to arguments based on reason, rather than emotion.