Over the next couple of years, city hall’s public works and infrastructure committee will make recommendations about bike lanes, road safety and other infrastructure in Toronto’s rapidly growing downtown.
But there’s a problem. Unless something changes, the committee won’t have anyone from downtown on it. There won’t even be anyone who represents an area south of Bloor Street.
The five councillors recommended for mid-term appointment to the committee this week are Coun. Christin Carmichael Greb and Coun. Anthony Perruzza from North York, Coun. Stephen Holyday and Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti from Etobicoke, and Coun. Chin Lee from Scarborough. They’ll join committee chair Coun. Jaye Robinson, who represents a North York ward.
Asked about the lack of downtown representation on this and other key city committees during a meeting with Metro on Wednesday, Tory downplayed the issue.
“I think too much is made of this. I do my best to achieve a balance,” he explained.
He also pointed out the appointments were simply based on a survey where councillors ranked their top three committee choices.
But his explanation falls a bit short.
First, while, sure, it would be impossible to give everyone their first choice, it is notable that every councillor who selected the public works committee as their top choice was selected, except for two: Coun. Gord Perks of Parkdale-High Park and Coun. Mike Layton of Trinity-Spadina. Both come from urban wards and would have been good picks – even if their ideology doesn’t always align with Tory’s.
Second, Tory should know that handing people responsibilities based purely on their whims and wishes is no way to run a business.
The make-up of city hall committees should prioritize representation and experience above all else.
By both measures, the current slate of appointees to the public works committee is questionable.
New member Mammoliti earlier this year referred to cyclists as “psychos” while returning member Holyday has voted against lowering speed limits and claimed that “somebody needs to stand up for drivers in this city.”
Not really views shared with most of the people I know living downtown. Not really people I want shaping the infrastructure strategies that will affect my life.
It’s easy to downplay this. Sure, everything decided by committee need to be approved by council eventually, but a balanced and representative committee could be better equipped to develop better consensus recommendations that don’t lead to council squabbling and on-the-fly amendments.
Thankfully, there’s still time to fix things.
Tory and council will vote to approve the committee appointments at their meeting next week.
Before they do, all committees should be reviewed to ensure they will have representative membership.
This shouldn’t be about surveys or ideology. It should be about making sure the entire city has a voice.
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/torys-toronto-matt-elliott/2016/12/08/city-hall-committees-must-reflect-the-entire-city-elliott.html on 2016-12-08T00:00:00.000Z