Media Releases

Who governs? City hall and civic participation

February 24, 2012

TORONTO, ON – The fifth lec­ture in the pop­u­lar Toron­to in Ques­tion Lec­ture Series host­ed by U of T’s Cities Cen­tre will focus on how the City of Toron­to oper­ates, and how cit­i­zens par­tic­i­pate in its gov­er­nance. The event will take place on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 28, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. at the John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, 230 Col­lege Street, Room 103.

Speak­ers Adam Vaugh­an (Coun­cil­lor, Ward 20) and Richard Stren (Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus, Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and Pub­lic Pol­i­cy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to) will dis­cuss issues relat­ed to city gov­er­nance and the par­tic­i­pa­tion of cit­i­zens in the process.  Eric J. Miller (Direc­tor, Cities Cen­tre, UofT) will act as mod­er­a­tor.

The City of Toron­to, with over 50,000 employ­ees, is one of the largest and most com­plex pub­lic orga­ni­za­tions in our coun­try. The City has a huge eco­nom­ic impact on our com­mu­ni­ties. How can cit­i­zens under­stand how it oper­ates, and how deci­sions are made? Should we focus on the deci­sions of elect­ed offi­cials (in their cor­po­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion as the Coun­cil)? What about indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens, who vote, and what about “stake­hold­er” groups with an abid­ing inter­est in the out­comes of deci­sions in areas such as trans­port, plan­ning, health, and law and order? Can we under­stand city gov­er­nance as a whole, or do we have to look more nar­row­ly at issues as they are raised (or not raised) in pub­lic dis­cus­sion? And what about oth­er gov­ern­ments, such as the province or the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment? This ses­sion will address many of these questions—and more—in the light of both aca­d­e­m­ic research and the expe­ri­ence of a sea­soned prac­ti­tion­er.

Ques­tions and dis­cus­sion will fol­low the pre­sen­ta­tions.


Adam Vaugh­an is serv­ing his sec­ond term as the Toron­to City Coun­cil­lor for Ward 20, Trin­i­ty-Spad­i­na. He has been pro­mot­ing more fam­i­ly hous­ing, afford­able hous­ing, and new arts spaces. He is active in a num­ber issues – includ­ing the pro­mo­tion of bet­ter com­mu­ni­ty con­sul­ta­tion — in the devel­op­ment and parks port­fo­lios, and serves on many of the City¢s boards and agen­cies, includ­ing all 11 Busi­ness Improve­ment Areas in his ward.

Richard Stren is Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and a for­mer Direc­tor of the Cen­tre for Urban and Com­mu­ni­ty Stud­ies (the fore­run­ner to the Cities Cen­tre), at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. Most of his past aca­d­e­m­ic work has been at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Africa. Recent­ly, he has been research­ing the City of Toron­to, and is the lead author of the recent Cities Cen­tre paper “The Gov­er­nance of Toron­to.”


Eric Miller is inau­gur­al Direc­tor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Cities Cen­tre. He has been a fac­ul­ty mem­ber in the Depart­ment of Civ­il Engi­neer­ing, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to since 1983, where he served as Act­ing Chair in 1998–99, 2003 and 2007. Pro­fes­sor Miller is Chair of the U.S. Trans­porta­tion Research Board (TRB) Com­mit­tee on Trav­el Behav­ior and Val­ues, past-Chair of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion for Trav­el Behav­iour Research, and Mem­ber Emer­i­tus of the TRB Trans­porta­tion Demand Fore­cast­ing Com­mit­tee.
The City of Toron­to is over 175 years old, and over the years it has gone through many changes and respond­ed to many chal­lenges. In the 1990s there was the chal­lenge of amal­ga­ma­tion, and the resul­tant absorp­tion of six munic­i­pal­i­ties (Toron­to, Eto­bi­coke, York, North York, Scar­bor­ough and East York) into a sin­gle one-tier city.  In the first decade of the mil­len­ni­um, the new City of Toron­to grew into a world-renowned metrop­o­lis, and became a focus for inter­na­tion­al tourism, a flour­ish­ing film and media indus­try, med­ical and oth­er hi-tech devel­op­ments, and many oth­er new and relat­ed fields. Now, the City is being chal­lenged to jus­ti­fy and explain itself, in the face of major fund­ing issues and con­cerns about pol­i­cy and gov­er­nance.

To dis­cuss some of these impor­tant ques­tions, the Cities Cen­tre has orga­nized sev­en events, all open to the pub­lic, in a series enti­tled “Toron­to in Ques­tion?”

Com­ing events in the series include:

  1.  March 27: “Who Needs Arts and Cul­ture in Toron­to?” Speak­ers: John Ral­ston Saul and Dr. Mark King­well; Mod­er­a­tor: Eric J. Miller.  FitzGer­ald Build­ing, 150 Col­lege Street, Room 103.
  2. April 17: “Toron­to in Ques­tion: Explor­ing the Answers” Pan­elists: Armine Yal­nizyan, Cana­di­an Cen­tre for Pol­i­cy Alter­na­tives; Alan Broad­bent, Avana Cap­i­tal Cor­po­ra­tion and Maytree Foun­da­tion; Tanzeel Mer­chant, Diver­seCity Fel­low and Board Mem­ber, Her­itage Toron­to. Mod­er­a­tor Dr. Shau­na Brail. Innis Town Hall, 2 Sus­sex Avenue.


WHAT:     Who Gov­erns? City Hall and Cit­i­zen Par­tic­i­pa­tion

WHEN:     Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 28, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE:   John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, 230 Col­lege Street, Room 103, just east of Spad­i­na.

For more infor­ma­tion, or for media RSVPs, please con­tact:

Richard Stren
Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus, Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and Senior Advi­sor, Cities Cen­tre
(416) 817‑1330 (cell)