Former East York mayor Alan Redway doesn’t mince words when it comes to his feelings about the 1998 amalgamation of six municipalities into the current City of Toronto.
“Amalgamation has caused destruction for Toronto,” he told those attending a forum Tuesday evening at the S. Walter Stewart library branch at 170 Memorial Park Ave.
Redway, a retired lawyer and MP, published a book about amalgamation in 2014 called Governing Toronto: Bringing Back the City That Worked. In it, he highlights the relevance of a decentralized system of government that offers bureaucrats more input within the community.
“When I moved to Ottawa, I realized that I was apart of a very centralized system where many of the decisions were formed under the recommendation of civil servants,” he said. “Canadians have very little input when the Parliament of Canada is making decisions.”
Redway was steadfast about returning to the previous six municipalities of East York, North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough, York and the City of Toronto.
“We had a metro council that dealt with city-wide problems and most of those were accessible to the citizens,” he said. “Everyone felt comfortable when they attended East York council meetings, but times have changed.”
Redway said there are fewer councillors now who are willing to spare their time and effort to help their constituents.
“If we want change, we’re going to have to do it ourselves,” he said.
Also speaking at the event were East York Historial Society president Pat Barnett and Grade 6 student Olivia Walsh, co-winner of the Agnes Macphail Public Speaking Contest. After delivering her speech on homelessness and mental health, she received a standing ovation.
Ward 31 councillor Janet Davis and Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts were among the 100 people in the audience.
Redway closed his speech with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.
“First they ignore you,” he said. “Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you; then you win.”