Provincial politics can often be as overstated as it is often outdated. In the case of the former, this is a result of the dependency our provincial governments have on federal funding. As for the latter, consider that provincial policy making is often a tense and contradictory affair whereby policy agendas have to contend with the overarching influence from higher authorities and the unrelenting force of public opinion. It would seem that the growth of urban centers is anything but an exact science. Certainly, it is at best a reactionary science in which our regional political minds attempt to forecast a future of growth using an infinite number of variables that often at odds with one another. Historically, the Toronto of the post war decade was no exception.
The Toronto Centered Region plan was an unsuccessful attempt by the provincial governments at accommodating a period of rapid demographic growth in and around the city of Toronto (MacDonald, Plan Canada: 97). It would seem to make sense that at the close of the Second World War, Canada experienced a mass flux of immigrants from Europe. Many of these individuals settled in Ontario and specifically around the city of Toronto. At this time, the provincial government began to see startling numbers of growth and development and decided an immediate plan was required to address the issue of Transportation.
While the plan seemed promising initially, we learn from Matthew Lawson that the expectations high growth were never realized as the province met strong opposition from both local governments and the public. (Lawson, Plan Canada: 135). In the context of public opinion, it would seem that the overall level of economic confidence made people less inclined to submit to government policy that offended them and more inclined to demand that their surroundings should evolve the way they wanted them to.
[...] The Provincial government, faced with the need to encourage local municipalities to plan for their own growth and devise local solutions with provincial money to problems, has to organize and coordinate its many branches and departments along similar lines and then funnel them through municipal planning and approval processes. It cannot though, as occurred with the Design for Development plan, adopt a central role in directing regional planning all the while strengthening municipalities through a program of regional government (Suichies, Plan Canada: 161-162). [...]
[...] Not surprisingly, without strong public support, the provincial government was not able to rally the support of the municipal governments to help raise the necessary funding for many of the development projects (Macdonald, Plan Canada: 97). The public just did not see a need for the government to step in and regulate development. Inevitably, even more problematic for the plan was the fact that the period of great economic growth predicted in the 1960's never actually materialized, as Lawson informs us, birth rate rapidly declined and growth fell off quite sharply” (Lawson, Plan Canada: 136). [...]
[...] Subsequent attempts at intervention, including the aforementioned Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Parkway Belt, should not be viewed in the context of their failure to meet the innumerable competing demands but rather, as Cullingworth argues with regards to the Design for Development program, as attempts by the government to come to grips with the important interrelationships between developers, municipal authorities, the province and the public and achieve major reform that would align the central planning machinery with a regional development contained within the broader spectrum of provincial development. [...]
[...] With the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act, the Province was seemingly attempting a much more interventionist approach to regional planning. The plan would have allowed the province to designate broadly the course of development in the Toronto Region, and yet as Wronski and Turnbull point out, it was a wasted opportunity. Consumed by public hearings and countless disputes and publications, the entire raison d'etre for the Act was no longer in force as the project wore down. The glacial pace of consultations and the abandonment of earlier development plans for the Toronto Centered Region meant that there was no longer anything to be gained politically (Wronski & Turnbull, Plan Canada 132). [...]
[...] The role of the Provincial government in approving planning serves to provide broad public participation at all levels, but its reception in smaller localities may be much different than in major urban centers. The strengthening of regional authorities to direct and implement broad planning initiatives in areas of intense habitation may help to coordinate the long-term and complex requirements of those areas. In contrast, a deferring to small local authorities, without the burdensome administrative approval process of the OMB would help focus debate at the local level without the concomitant political fallout that has stalled earlier attempts at provincial involvement. [...]
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