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A Bird's Eye View: When Lively Parks meet the Rules
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• CELOS submitted a 1) review of the City of Toronto Act, and 2) proposed changes to the law during a 2009 review of the Act.
Summary of our 2009 submission the Minister:
The Act was thoughtfully crafted to allow for regular reviews of how it works in practice. However, its language fails to reflect the active engagement and resourcefulness that people bring to their local parks and public amenities throughout the city. The law refers, instead, to a disembodied, invisible, inaudible citizenry - the "public interest", and misses the opportunity to empower the existing citizen energy as a key tool to further the effective, responsive, government promised by the Act. Instead, it promises Public Accountability by expanding the city's powers and city bureaucracy. In our local parks, this translates into an increasing emphasis on policing and "managing", rather than working in cooperation and collaboration with people in their local spaces and projects.
This law could become a vehicle which responds to citizens' priorities and direction, by amending it to clearly express:
1. the true public origin and responsibility at the core of the Act - recognizing that the law - and the jobs of all of the people who work for the city - exist for the benefit of Torontonians
2. that the goal of the city organization is to support and encourage the widest possible use of public facilities by people from all backgrounds, ages, cultures, according to neighbourhood priorities
3. a “can-do” attitude that emphasizes public spaces and amenities as spaces for citizen initiatives, pilot projects, exchanges of ideas, etc
4. support for different neighbourhoods' unique priorities, with an express limitation on central planning - except where it is is demonstrated - by neighbourhood preferences and hard data - to be the best tool
5. the requirement that non-elected city staff advise citizens of the source of their legal authority when they exercise their public powers
6. a requirement for posted, regularly updated access to complete, clear information about municipal spending and policy-setting for specific local parks and amenities.
Attachments to document: CELOS's submission to the Minister on the City of Toronto Act
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