Ford set to kill citizen committees, because he’s all about respect for taxpayers

Ford set to kill citizen committees, because he’s all about respect for taxpayers

City hall by night (Image: James Burry, from the Toronto Life Flickr pool)

The City of Toronto has a lot of committees, so it may be tempting to cheer when a small-government mayor like Rob Ford announces he’s going to do get rid of a slew of them. The problem is that he’s not shutting down some committee that spends a massive amount of money—he’s shutting down the free ones. According to the Toronto Star, city workers are recommending that council disband committees that have no budget and are full of volunteers. Suspiciously enough, the committees that staffers say we should axe are the ones that don’t jive with Ford’s agenda—the ones that are meant to give a formal voice to pedestrians, cyclists, Aboriginals and people working to help drug addicts. In other words, the polar opposites of the denizens of Ford Nation.

From the Star:

Councillor Adam Vaughan said the Ford administration just isn’t interested in consulting some sectors of the community.

“They only want to talk to some people. They only want some of the information, not all of it,” Vaughan said. “What they’re trying to do here is cut off access to city hall for a significant number of people, and it’s unacceptable.”

A staff review requested by Mayor Rob Ford led to recommendations to terminate 10 committees outright, citing them as redundant, dormant or having completed their mandates.

A further 11 committees would be disbanded without reason, but bureaucrats would consider whether to use other civic engagement methods such as town halls or social media.

The full report is here, and to give a clearer idea of why people are worried, it’s not just that Toronto would no longer have a cycling or pedestrian committee—it’s that public consultation on this kind of stuff would probably end up going to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee—currently chaired by Denzil Minnan-Wong, who (despite his conversion in recent months) has historically been more of a friend to cars than to cyclists.

According to city staff, some of these committees are now dormant and didn’t get filled during the last council term. Still, it was the pedestrian committee that recommended doing away with Toronto’s bizarre prohibition on street hockey. We sort of figured that was something the Don Cherry-endorsed mayor would love, but apparently, unless it moves on four wheels, it’s not on the radar.

• City’s citizen committees set to be scrapped [Toronto Star]