It was with sadness, but not surprise, that I noticed that the sign at the entrance to the East York Centre had been altered.
The corporate symbol for the Borough of East York, along with the words “East York Centre” had been removed.
All that was left was “Thorncliffe Residential Community” in very small letters.
I have been doing some investigation as to why this change occurred and who made the decision but so far I haven’t been able to find any information.
Again, it does not surprise me that it has happened, though it’s interesting to note how long it has taken.
It was back in 1998 that then minister of municipal affairs Al Leach promised then mayor of East York Michael Prue that the borough would be wiped off the political landscape.
Indeed there have been many attempts to do so ranging from the attempted sale of the East York Civic Centre to the slow removal of street signs with the East York municipal logo on them.
What is rather ironic about this latest loss of East York’s identity is the release of a new report from the Fraser Institute.
The Fraser Institute, which is a well-known conservative Canadian think tank and commentator on public policy was one of the main supporters of Toronto’s forced amalgamation back in the 1990s.
Now, in a report released on July 7, the same institute is now openly discussing the possibility of de-amalgamating Toronto and other Ontario communities.
Why are they proposing such a radical proposition?
Well for the simple reason that their own studies have found that amalgamation has failed to achieve lower costs and more efficient operation of municipalities.
This comes as no surprise to myself as there were in existence back in the 1990s many reports and papers that clearly demonstrated that this would be the resulting outcome.
This reality was put forward to the Progressive Conservative government of the day in numerous and hundreds of public submissions by ordinary citizens and professionals in municipal governance.
Yet despite the evidence against amalgamation, and a referendum where roughly 80 per cent of the city rejected the idea, the provincial government went ahead anyway.
So now the Fraser Institute has discovered what the experts and citizens predicated 17 years ago: amalgamation of municipalities did not lead to cost savings or efficiency.
Instead it has found that amalgamated municipalities resulted in higher taxes, big raises in municipal worker’s wages and significantly higher long term debt increases.
So as mentioned, the primary solution being proposed by the Fraser Institute is de-amalgamation due to the fact that smaller municipalities are more efficient to run and finance.
You can read for yourself the reports by going to the institute’s webpage at www.fraserinstitute.org and searching on amalgamation.
Needless to say the report already has its nay-sayers who bring out the tired old argument of “you cannot unscramble the egg.”
That may be so, but before we begin the debate in earnest, let me at least have the satisfaction of saying “I warned you this would happen.”