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Planning for tomorrow: Provincial policy, regional government and public opinion

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  1. Introduction
  2. The Province's attempt to participate
  3. The government's approach to the Niagara Escarpment
  4. Provincial intervention in local municipal planning
  5. Problems faced by regional governments
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

Provincial politics can often be as overstated as it is often outdated.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). [...]

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