January 1st, 2023 marked the 25th anniversary of the City of Toronto becoming a ‘megacity.’
Prior to January 1st, 1998, the city we now call Toronto was comprised of six distinct cities: East York, Etobicoke North York, Scarborough, Toronto, and York. All those cities were in turn part of a regional municipality as well: Metropolitan Toronto (aka ‘Metro Toronto’ or simply ‘Metro’.)
The process to create the ‘megacity’ started in the early 1990s under the NDP Government but took off more after the election of the Progressive Conservatives under Mike Harris in 19951.
The new Megacity would become a single city absorbing all the other cities as well as the Metro Government.
Under the old system, many ‘local’ issues were dealt with by the smaller cities, but more ‘regional’ issues such as the TTC, policing, child centres, etc. were the responsibility of Metro.
The amalgamation of the seven jurisdictions into one city was sold by the Province as a way to save money. But the result did not live up to the expectations2. In many ways, costs went up3, and residents had reduced representation (one councillor on city council vs. a city councillor in the former city plus a Metro Councillor.) Questions were also raised as to the real reason for the amalgamation as well4.
But, we now have the ‘Megacity’ of Toronto which is now officially 25 years old! Happy Birthday to the ‘new’ City of Toronto.
1 Toronto was created by a premier forcing his will on us. So what’s changed in 25 years?
2 The Toronto Megacity: Destroying Community at Great Cost
3 The Toronto Megacity 10 Years Later
4 A decade later, some still criticize megacity merger