One Niagara

An article in The Standard about this Facebook group got me wondering about the makeup of a single-tier City of Niagara.

For the sake of argument, let’s use the same councillor-to-citizen ratio as Hamilton, about 30 thousand people. I fiddled with the exact ratio a bit to come up with a round total, but that’s not really important. Thirteen councillors may seem like a lot of politicians, but it is a considerable improvement on thirty.*

Municipality Councillors
Fort Erie 0.91
Grimsby 0.73
Lincoln 0.66
Niagara Falls 2.51
N-O-T-L 0.44
Pelham 0.49
Port Colborne 0.57
St Catharines 4.02
Thorold 0.56
Wainfleet 0.2
Welland 1.53
West Lincoln 0.4
Total 13.03

I think it would be prudent to do away with the old municipal boundaries in favour of wards (again, like Hamilton). First, Port Colborne cannot be represented by a half councillor. Second, it could help us get past the old parochialism is a councillor represents Ward 7, for example, rather than Thorold.

The reality today is that no municipality in Niagara exists in isolation of any other (except maybe Niagara-on-the-Lake; it’s more of an amusement park than a town). The beggar-thy-neighbour approach to local politics has to stop. When Niagara Falls gains at the expense of St Catharines (as in wranglings over NRP headquarters) the region is poorer for it.

Having said that, I do have misgivings about amalgamation, especially with regards to St Catharines. Being a designated urban growth centre and without green-fields to develop, the city faces challenges unique to the region. With a fairly progressive city council in place and the re-urbanization of St Catharines getting under way, I’m reluctant to give up any influence to people who are predisposed to ignore or be hostile to large cities. We get enough of that from the federal government.

(photo credit)

*2006 population statistics found here.


2 responses to “One Niagara

  1. The only worry I have about amalgamation can be found in the regional government. Instead of repalcing municipal government it was merely grafted on top of it. More councilors, more silly servants, more committees, more meetings, more , more, more. If they wish to do this it can only be useful if they disband the local governments and the regional one and create one government for the entire place. Best of luck with that. Bureaucracies never decrease in size or complexity.

  2. Part of the trouble with the regional level of government, I think, is that it exists in a nether-region (so to speak) between local governance, which deals with issues people care about, and provincial government, which actually has money and power that matter.
    The region, today, doesn’t have the money or power to tie together the towns and cities of Niagara, and is reduced to boring, mostly non-controversial things like garbage collection.

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