The present-day physical landscape of the Toronto region is a direct reflection and composite of
many years of intense planning policies, initiatives and debates (Sewell, 1993; Sewell, 2009;
Frisken, 2001). Initiatives for improving and or producing a “better city” in the early twentieth
century, marked the beginning and launch of planning in the Toronto region (Sewell, 1993, p.4).
From the early twentieth century (particularly after the Second World War) onwards, the Toronto
region has experienced a lot of planning-related measures fostering great influence on the social
physical, environmental and economical “makeup” of the Toronto region (White, 2007, p.8;
Frisken, 2001; Bourne, 2001). Regional planning first appeared in Toronto during the WW2, but
there were thoughts of planning dating back to WW1 (White, 2007). Without question the major
event of the 1950s and 1960s was the 1953 establishment of the Municipality of Metropolitan
Toronto (METRO) a regional government which encompassed thirteen municipalities (most of
the then urbanized territory plus ambient rural lands (Filion, 2000).
The focus of this analytical response will centre of investigating many different dimensions of the
creation of METRO (1953) by answering (1) why was it established and (2) in what ways was it
thought to be successful. The essay will close with an examination of the criticisms and or bad
things that occurred in Toronto regional planning, in the “post-metro creation”.
Why was it established?
A historical account is important in order to view the chain of events that have led to the creation
-Toronto was a prosperous city in the early twentieth century and major growth in the first half of
the 1940s (Sewell, 2009). At the end of the WW2, the Toronto urban area was dense and compact
-The three urbanized municipalities (The City of Toronto, Borough of East York and Township of
York) were extremely dense (Sewell, 2009). The growth pressures in Toronto following WW2
were substantial, but also was the continuing growth of the suburbs (Sewell, 2009).
-The extreme population growth in Toronto’s three urbanized municipalities, meant that growth
sought ought land just outside the built-up area, in areas such as North York, Scarborough, and
Etobicoke (which were considered suburbs at the time in early-to-mid-twentieth century) (Sewell,
The province was worried about low quality development in the suburbs without proper
infrastructure such as sewers and roads. All the growth (population) required water and sewage
services that these “farming communities” were unable to provide, at that time North York was
very rural for example with a population of less than 40,000.
-the Toronto and York Planning Board, with responsibilities for the city and a broad area around
the city, noted that these municipalities (the outer suburbs) had been unable or unwilling to
attract the non-residential development needed to produce substantial property tax dollars to pay
for these services (residential properties alone did not generate enough tax revenue (Sewell,
-it was recommended that the municipalities amalgamate into one body
-Toronto had been well-served by large sewage treatment plants (Ashbridges Bay) in the east and
in the west in the (Humber River) one along the Don River in Todmorden Park, but the problem
was sewage plants that lay beyond those borders (Sewell, 2009).
-The Gore & Storrie report estimated that the population in the areas outside Toronto, York and
East York would increase to an intense amount by 1970 of 550,000 people (Sewell, 2009).
-the report also noted that North York township (suburbs) already had severe servicing problems
and that in places such as North York and Scarborough that water services were equally limited
-Scarborough was made to with two small water supply plants on the lake, generally all water
quality on the lake, heavily polluted with sewage
-there were also problems with regards to infrastructure in these rapidly expanding communities,
one was the need for a vastly expanded system to provide water and sewage services to the
growing area (Sewell, 2009).
-a need to create a comprehensive system from the hodgepodge of disconnected facilities
-the report also suggested in response to the need for a comprehensive system “the sooner a
unified control is established over the whole area, the more efficient and economical will be the
results in the end” (Sewell, 2009). Specifically it recommended what it called a “Metro Area
Authority” to cover all thirteen municipalities which made up the Toronto urban area and its
immediate hinterlands in the late 1940s (Sewell, 2009).
-Richard White concluded (one of the key contributors to the Neptis Foundation-the many
readings for the class) that the report (“Gore and Storrie Report”) was a powerful incentive for
the creation of a federation of municipalities a few years later-METRO TORONTO (Sewell,
-Lorne Cumming chair of the OMB (heralded the panel which dealt with the application of
merging all the municipalities (Sewell, 2009). Cumming drew on the long history of municipal
government in Ontario reaching back to 1849 and reached into the British North America Act
-the BOARD decided on a structure that represented and gave legitimacy to two different values
(the regional and the local). This form of governance proved successful for the next 50 years, this
idea was considered mainstream (Sewell, 2009).
Summary : Continuing growth in the suburbs caused increasing concern, however
- The province was worried about low quality development in the suburbs without proper
infrastructure such as sewers, roads
- Such development creates large costs for retroactive servicing
- The need for large-scale planning was clear
- Successful wartime plans gave conﬁdence in planning capacity, (ALL THESE THINGS gave
the municipality and the province incentive for a new plan for the Toronto region= METRO).
IMPORTANT: the creation of METRO was a bold move undertaken by the provincial
government, after several years of study and debate, to address pressing problems associated with
growth and services in the metropolitan area (White, 2007).
METRO (CREATION AND CORE VALUES):
-so emerged the idea of two-tiered government for the Toronto area (thirteen municipalities
joined together in a regional structure (Sewell, 2009).
- In 1953 the province established the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto as a federation of the
13 existing municipalities in the area
- There was a 2-tier governance structure, with local governments retaining responsibility for
local planning, land use regulation and local public work
-Local councils chose representatives to Metro Council
- Metro assumed responsibility for major regional services and public transportation, water
supply and sewers, expressways - major spending in suburbs
- Metro had the power to issue bonds for public works projects
The present-day physical landscape of the toronto region is a direct reflection and composite of many years of intense planning policies, initiatives and debates (sewell, 1993; sewell, 2009; Initiatives for improving and or producing a better city in the early twentieth century, marked the beginning and launch of planning in the toronto region (sewell, 1993, p. 4). Regional planning first appeared in toronto during the ww2, but there were thoughts of planning dating back to ww1 (white, 2007). Without question the major event of the 1950s and 1960s was the 1953 establishment of the municipality of metropolitan. Toronto (metro) a regional government which encompassed thirteen municipalities (most of the then urbanized territory plus ambient rural lands (filion, 2000). The focus of this analytical response will centre of investigating many different dimensions of the creation of metro (1953) by answering (1) why was it established and (2) in what ways was it thought to be successful.