Media Releases

City Hall task force says don’t overhaul the system, just fix it

June 29, 2017

Toron­to, ON – In the first gen­er­al review of Toron­to gov­er­nance in over a decade, SPPG’s City Hall Task Force has released its high­ly antic­i­pat­ed report offer­ing a prac­ti­cal blue­print to reform Toronto’s City Coun­cil.

The report out­lines six key pri­or­i­ties that City Coun­cil can act on imme­di­ate­ly, with­out the need for provin­cial inter­ven­tion, to make delib­er­a­tion and deci­sion mak­ing more effec­tive, more effi­cient, more trans­par­ent, and more inclu­sive.

“City Coun­cil is not func­tion­ing as well as it could, plain and sim­ple,” said Gabriel Eidel­man, Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor at the School of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy and Gov­er­nance, one of the Task Force’s co-orga­niz­ers. “But the sys­tem is not beyond repair. What it needs is a push, and a sen­si­ble plan of action. That’s what we’ve deliv­ered.”

In Fall 2016, the School assem­bled a group of cur­rent or for­mer politi­cians, pub­lic ser­vants, aca­d­e­mics, jour­nal­ists, and civic lead­ers, bal­anc­ing a range of polit­i­cal per­spec­tives, to form a City Hall Task Force to improve City Council’s core deci­sion-mak­ing process­es and pro­ce­dures.

Mem­bers of the Task Force:

  • Adri­enne Batra, cur­rent Edi­tor-in-Chief of the Toron­to Sun and for­mer Press Sec­re­tary to May­or Rob Ford
  • Shirley Hoy, for­mer City Man­ag­er (2001- 2008)
  • Sevaun Pal­vet­z­ian, CEO, Civi­cAc­tion
  • John Park­er, for­mer City Coun­cil­lor (2006–2015) and Deputy Speak­er
  • Joe Pen­na­chet­ti, for­mer City Man­ag­er (2008–2014)
  • David Sok­nac­ki, for­mer City Coun­cil­lor (1999–2006) and Bud­get Chief
  • Zack Tay­lor, Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor, West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty
  • Ange Valen­ti­ni, for­mer Chief of Staff to Coun­cil­lor Adam Vaugh­an (2007–2014)
  • Bian­ca Wylie, Head, Open Data Insti­tute Toron­to


  • Gabriel Eidel­man, Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor, School of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy and Gov­er­nance
  • Bri­an F. Kel­cey, Founder, State of the City Inc.

The Task Force debat­ed gov­er­nance reforms over four pub­lic meet­ings host­ed by the School between Novem­ber 2016 and April 2017, cul­mi­nat­ing in a pack­age of four­teen polit­i­cal­ly real­is­tic rec­om­men­da­tions that: help Coun­cil set and stick to its strate­gic pri­or­i­ties; ensure that City agen­cies, boards, cor­po­ra­tions, and com­mis­sions (the ABCs) are aligned with these pri­or­i­ties; del­e­gate author­i­ty so Coun­cil can focus on city­wide issues; stream­line Coun­cil meet­ings to avoid wast­ing time and resources, and fos­ter intel­li­gent debate; encour­age pub­lic input from a wider range of res­i­dents and stake­hold­ers; and pro­mote more time­ly and use­ful infor­ma­tion shar­ing to stim­u­late more informed deci­sion mak­ing.

The full report can be found at

“These rec­om­men­da­tions are about fix­ing the City of Toronto’s gov­er­nance chal­lenges. But the root issues they address are a famil­iar sto­ry for city coun­cils across Cana­da strug­gling with effi­ca­cy, account­abil­i­ty, and trans­paren­cy,” said Peter Loewen, Direc­tor of the School of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy and Gov­er­nance. “At SPPG, we cre­ate space where experts across the polit­i­cal spec­trum are able to find com­mon ground and gen­er­ate prac­ti­cal solu­tions unbound by par­ti­san­ship.”

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s School of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy and Gov­er­nance (SPPG) is a hub for excel­lence in teach­ing, research, and pub­lic pol­i­cy engage­ment. As Canada’s lead­ing aca­d­e­m­ic voice on pub­lic pol­i­cy, the School bridges the pol­i­cy sec­tor with pow­er­ful research and data being gen­er­at­ed by pol­i­cy experts.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

U of T Media Rela­tions, 416.978‑0100,