Lecture 5, Politics
1. Informal evaluation
2. Urban politics within and beyond city hall
3. Special guest, Math Galloway
•What is urban politics?
•How are different levels of government involved in urban politics?
•Do formal politics have a monopoly on the political?
•What kinds of things do municipal governments do?
•What are the various actors, institutions and spaces involved in governing the city?
Urban politics within city hall
Municipal government in canada
Canada’s municipal system is modeled almost entirely on the British system.
• In the 19th century, the British Parliament established a national municipal
system in order to implement and finance central government policies locally.
• In Canada too, municipalities were created in the interests of elites and central
government (not out of concern for democracy).
• Participation in local government was restricted to male property owners.CHECK SLIDE
‘Creatures of the Provinces’
• Canadian municipalities have no legal standing in the Constitution.
• Court challenge in response to 1997 Ontario municipal amalgamations
affirmed municipalities’ status as ‘creatures of the province’.
• Provincial governments have the right to create or dissolve municipalities.
• Provinces also control education, health care, higher education, social services,
The federal role in Canadian cities
• The federal government has no direct legislative authority over cities.
• The impact of the federal government is significant, however. i.e- fiscal policy,
government transfer policy, immigration policy, national security policy, labour
policy, ports, etc.
Riverfront advisory committee
Special purpose of bodies, they are often public private properties,
Neo-liberal contracting out, moving away form public and collective rights, away from notion of
• Varies dramatically in different provinces, and even within provinces.
• Common areas of municipal authority: police, parks and recreation, libraries,
tourism, waste and recycling, local roads, fire services, economic development,
local land use planning.
• Land use planning is an important area of local government, but ultimate
authority over planning decisions rests with a provincially appointed board (in
Ontario - the Ontario Municipal Board or ‘OMB’).
• Special purpose bodies and ‘public-private-partnerships’ (PPPs).
• User fees, public services and urban citizenship.
• Taxation, downloading and the fiscal crisis in Toronto.
•• City of Toronto Act (2006).
City planning (what is it?)
• Land use conflicts
• Actors: private developers, architects, municipal boards, city councillors,
residents’ associations, activist groups, the media…
• The roles and responsibilities of the planner: regulator, mediator, ‘expert’,
negotiator, technocrat, advocate…
• Uneven resources and power relations
Urban planning: Provincial authority
-The planning Act
-Provincial policy statements (PPS)
Urban planning: Municipal roles
1) Community planning
2) Policy research
3) Urban design