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)