Merger Mania

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2000 - Political Science - 183 pages
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The idea that merging municipalities will improve local services and economic competitiveness has its roots deep in the nineteenth century. Municipalities in the US were first merged as early as 1848. However, despite being merged at the turn of the twentieth the city of New York was effectively bankrupt by 1975. In contrast metropolitan Boston - often seen as a recent success story in global competition - comprises 282 distinct municipalities.
Outside the United States, forced municipal mergers were a popular policy in many European countries and Canadian provinces during the 1960s and 1970s. The city of Laval, just north of Montreal, and the "unicity" of Winnipeg owe their origins to this period – both amalgamations failed to meet their original objectives. Despite the emergence of "public choice" theory - which justifies municipal fragmentation on market principles - some politicians and public servants in the 1990s have continued to advocate municipal amalgamations as a means of reducing public expenditure, particularly in Ontario.
In Merger Mania Andrew Sancton demonstrates that this approach has generally not saved money. He examines the history of amalgamation, as well as studying recent forced municipal mergers in Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Sudbury. In the concluding chapter he examines the case for municipal amalgamation on the Island of Montreal and argues that those who would abolish locally elected municipal councils are obligated to explain very carefully - especially in light of evidence to the contrary - exactly why they think such drastic measures are necessary.
A compelling examination of a timely issue, Merger Mania is a must-read for anyone interested in the politics of city governments.
Andrew Sancton is professor of political science at University of Western Ontario and the author of several books on city politics.
 

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Contents

Municipal Amalgamation in the Untied States 18541942
25
Consolidation in Philadelphia 1854
27
Consolidation in New York 1898
30
The consolidationist retreat
36
The Era of Big Government The 1960s and 1970s
41
Great Britain
42
Metropolitan Toronto and Ontarios Regional Governments
46
Laval Quebec
51
Great Britain
87
Nova Scotia
89
Ontario
101
Torontos Megacity
113
The Golden Task Force
115
The Harris Conservatives and Torontos Megacity
117
Staffing Issues
123
Financial Implications
125

Winnipeg
57
Europe
63
The Decline of the Consolidation Movement in the United States the Emergence of Public Choice and the New Regionalism
69
Municipal Consolidation in the US Since 1945
70
Public Choice
74
New Regionalist Approaches in the US
78
Amalgamations in the 1990s
83
New Zealand
84
Australia
85
Governance
136
More Change in Ontario Ottawa Hamilton Sudbury and Toronto Again
141
Restructuring Controversies Prior to 1999
142
The Special Advisors
144
The Fewer Politicians Act 1999
154
Conclusion
161
Bibliography
169
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