Second City, Second Metro: Torbolton Requests a Regional Government that is Simple, Imaginative, and Great

In 1954, Constance Bay residents hatched a plan to turn a portion of the township into a beaver sanctuary that would rival Quebec’s “Beaver Town” Image: City of Ottawa Archives, Item CA004327. May 20, 1954.

Murray Jones heard from the Township of Torbolton that regional government it something that may be supported and that any Regional Council should be elected at-large. 

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The Ottawa-Eastview-Carleton area is highly urbanized. Almost the total population is urban, and even outside the two cities only 17.02% of the assessment is agricultural.

There is a conflict between the urban citizens who demands and is willing to pay for services, and the individualistic rural citizen who prefers to save by doing for himself.

Township governments, still mostly of a rural background, tend to impair and frustrate urbanization by failing to plan and prepare for it. None were able to combat urban sprawl, and few even now have comprehensive plans and zoning.

Metro government must represent the majority and be of sufficient size that repeated annexations are unnecessary; the whole review area is suggested. (It is a pity that a somewhat equal area in Quebec could not be included). Representation of sparsely-populated areas must nowhere equal nor impede that of the urban majority.

Ten representatives should be elected at large, two appointed by the Federal Government and one by the Provincial Government. They would elected a chairman amongst them, and be empowered to deal with area-wide matters such as planning, works, roads, transportation, law, police, fire, hospitals, health, assessment, courts of revision, etc. Elementary and secondary education would be governed by a school board of ten elected members.

Present local governments could be left with jurisdictions not covered by the Metro government, and as a strong complaints bureau.

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Should the area be less than the review area, Torbolton would choose to join the urban centre rather than the urban fringe.

As change must come, let it be simple, imaginative and great.



The Brief was submitted by Robert Thomas, Reeve and Harry Fleming, Deputy Reeve.

During the discussions Reeve Thomas augmented several aspects of the Brief as follows:

1) Rural-oriented township councils have not provided or
ensured that developers provide adequate services for the
urban development they have been receiving, nor are they
likely to be able to provide services along with
development in the future. This lag in services provision
is essentially a timing problem, reflecting the reluctance
of rural people to accept planning restrictions and tax-
supported municipal services.

2) The extent of urban development is indicated by assessment
figures which show that agricultural assessment now accounts
for only about half the total even in so-called rural
townships like North Gower and Osgoode. Within 10 to 15
years, even the more distant townships such as Fitzroy,
Huntley and Marlborough will be subjected ti urban
development pressures, particularly for large-lot estate-
type developments. For this reason, and to prevent future
annexations, the proposed metropolitan or regional
government should encompass the entire review area so as
to remain viable till [sic] the year 2,000 or beyond.

3) To overcome the accumulated deficiencies and put the
National Capital area in good physical shape will require a
large and powerful municipal government responsible to
the majority of the

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population, with the pooled resources of the area at its

4) Existing local governments need not be done away with as
they can continue to play a political role close to the
people; their functions, however, should be largely
transferred to a metropolitan government, leaving only
truly local matters like weed and mosquito control and
local parks under their jurisdiction. Their main
function would be to provide an avenue for complaints
from local residents to the Metropolitan government. The
loss of "local autonomy" in such a system and the fact
that voters in the present City of Ottawa would predom-
inate in elections at large, are not matters of
serious concern; what matters is that the majority must
control a government capable of meeting needs. Thus the
metropolitan government should be responsible for all
roads and sidewalks, public transportation, sewer and
water facilities, planning and zoning, hospital const-
ruction, garbage collection and in fact any function of
more than purely local significance. It should also
issue all debentures.

5) Present provisions of the Assessment Act provide for pro-
tection of rural properties from urban tax burdens. As in
Torbolton, services which do not benefit farm properties
need not be charged to them. The rural portions of the
review area do not therefore need to be excluded from the
metropolitan government's area of jurisdiction, although
at the local level it might make sense to consolidate the
most rural townships of Fitzroy, Huntley and Marlborough
into one township.

6) It is anticipated that the Provincial appointee who would
sit as a voting member on the metropolitan council, would
provide an impersonal channel of communication to Queen's
Park, serving rather like a local branch of the Ontario
Municipal Board, and simplifying provincial-local
relationships. With regard to the chairman of the metro-
politan council, it should perhaps be required that he be
chosen from among the elected councillors.

7) The Separate School system should be under a ten-member
Board similar to that proposed for Public and Secondary

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In summary, the heavily-urbanized review area should have a powerful metropolitan government, elected at large so as to be responsible to the majority.