Toronto Sprawls: A History.
Contains Bibliography, Index
Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto broadcaster and public relations
This work is an excellent addition to the ongoing debate regarding the pros and cons of the development of suburbs in general and Toronto’s suburbs in particular.
Solomon believes that, unlike the conventional arguments that blame the creation of suburbs on greedy developers and the automobile lobby, it is in fact local government politicians who encouraged the formulation of policies to disperse Toronto’s urban population. The city, therefore, spread out rather than up, necessitating an ever-increasing network of roads and expressways, public transportation, sewer systems, and waste management.
Toronto’s urban history is an absorbing tale. From 1912 to 1952, the Metropolitan Toronto area was segmented into many parts. There were 13 municipalities surrounding the city core, three villages, four towns, and five townships. Each had its own local government, services, and particular pattern of development. Little if anything was shared among them even when their representatives sat on Metro Council, the body created as a first step toward what would become the Greater Toronto Area.
Solomon’s clear and precise prose and his obvious expertise in the subject at hand make the reader’s journey from the status of turn-of-the century Toronto to the present a fascinating exercise. He supports his arguments with direct quotes from the speeches of Toronto’s municipal and provincial representatives and the minutes of endless committee meetings that addressed amalgamation over the years.
The gradual support for and eventual agreement to amalgamate the many segments of what is now the Greater Toronto Area is shown to be a very long and often painful process; its value and success still a big question mark for many. The economic burden placed on former City of Toronto residents in the form of heavy taxation, the proceeds of which are used to underwrite the needs of services to the suburbs, remains a constant irritant and point of contention.
Regardless of the future of Toronto’s city limits, Solomon’s book is a compelling read for urban and suburban supporters alike. It should be mandatory reading for all provincial and municipal representatives and officials involved in urban affairs and the Greater Toronto Area’s future.