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

Convenors:

  • 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 uoft.me/cityhalltaskforce

“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.

-30-

For more information, contact:

U of T Media Relations, 416.978-0100, media.relations@utoronto.ca