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Suburban Citizenship.docx

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Ryerson University
GEO 793
Cynthia Mason

Suburban Citizenship? The rise of targeting and the eclipse of social rights in Toronto - The amalgamation (collaboration) collapsed a two-tier system of local government into one “megacity”, forming a new jurisdiction out of the old city of Toronto and the surrounding mature suburbs - Amalgamation created confusion for city staff and politicians, who were charged with the task of harmonizing their policies, practices, priorities and employees, in the face of massive budget cutbacks - Understood as a social right, recreation was subsidized and in effect, “free” to residents - The institution of “targeting” across the new city marked the final dismantling of social citizenship approaches to public recreation that developed in Toronto in the post-war era - The decline of “universal” welfare forms of social citizenship and state forms, or advanced liberal technologies of government - The eclipse of welfare forms of social citizenship and the rise of selective or targeted social policy through a case study of public recreation in Toronto - Scholars have highlighted how governments are adopting targeting practices to achieve cost-savings, but they have also shown how this form of provision constructs particular groups of people as static and inherently problematic - These amalgamations were intended to provide public cost-savings through the elimination of duplication and through downsizing the local civil service and councils, but also provided an occasion for the province to reorganize both provincial and municipal responsibilities - “Community Action Policy” criminalizes low-income, immigrant, racialized and queer areas of the City - Important links between the social and spatial selectivity part and parcel to targeting, but there has been far less attention devoted to spatiality as it relates to the genesis of these practices and rationalities - The rapid suburban growth required the expansion of municipal infrastructure and triggered some investment in social services, which has previously been provided on a volunteers basis - Recreation services were considered “something people wanted, something they had a right to have” - The role of suburban recreation departments was limited to supporting the efforts of existing groups that were interested in acquiring recreational facilities for their own neighbourhoods - Reaction departments defined themselves as services that groups could chose to come forward and access, but without positive responsibilities independent of such external initiatives - In contrast to the downtown, the suburban municipalities also assumed that recreation needs should be met at least partially, if not primarily, by the private sector - Public recreation was charged with supporting the needs of the private sector through investment in facilities that were then leased to sport clubs and other social groups - Highlights of the key difference between suburban and inner-city recreation: the incorporation of market principals into public service - Since their initiation, recreational departments in the suburbs were expected to raise operating funds, in part, through user fees - Proportion of revenues generated from programs and facility rentals compared to operating expenses varies over time and between the different municipalities - Concern that the fee hike would result in lower registration levels and lower revenues was relieved through the extensions of age limits for the summer programs - In Etobicoke, user fees for swimming pools were raised repeatedly throughout in spite of the small impact that the added cost would have on the recreational mill rate - Council members argued that user fees encouraged responsible use of facilities, and that they represent a just payment system, as individuals who use the services pay the cost - Variety of approaches were used to reduce public expenditures and raise departmental revenues during the time, including increasing their reliance on volunteer labour in order to cut staffing costs and striking partnerships with other public-sector organizations and private-sector firms - Raising existing user-fees - Community centers with their tight budget and steep cost-recovery quotas, developed entrepreneurial practices - They responded to demand from higher-income residents who could afford to pay for services, rather than distributing resources to match the general demand from residents - Bare minimum of resources being devoted to lower-income areas
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