UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Metropolitan government and planning : a case study of selected metropolitan areas in Canada Lee, Eugene Lieh-Jing


In the twentieth century, we are experiencing rapid urbanization and metropolitanization in North America. Following this metropolitan area explosion are the severe social, human, and physical problems that have occured in our big urban areas. Solutions of these problems are inhibited by the complex structure of local governments in metropolitan areas. The problem is described as too many governments and not enough government. Today, regional planning deals not only with the problem of resource development, but also with the development of metropolitan areas. However, if metropolitan planning is to be effective, it must be integrated into a formal area-wide political structure with legitimate power. Thus, the hypothesis is established: for planning at the metropolitan level to be successful, it must be integrated into a well organized area-wide government authority, and must obtain a well-co-ordinated working relationship with suitably modified local governments and local planning bodies. Cities of our time are governed by two kinds of gravitational forces: forces of concentration (centripetal), and forces of dispersal (centrifugal). The inter-action of these two trends produces a new form of settlement called the metropolis. This phenomenon is the result of the scientific and technological advances of the past century. The spread of population outward from the core has brought with it a corresponding decentralization of the government pattern. New units of local government have multiplied with astonishing rapidity in the outlying areas. Metropolitan problems, such as water supply, sewage disposal, open space, transportation, unbalanced taxation, cannot be met without some fairly substantial institutional changes and comprehensive planning on an area-wide basis. In Canada, we have generally used a committee system for our local government organization. However, our local governments are unable to deal with these recently developed metropolitan problems. They have to be re-organized; and the attempts to re-organize local governments have been along the following lines: (1) inter-governmental arrangements; (2) special-purpose authorities; (3) annexation or consolidation; and, (4) city-county separation and consolidation. However, none of these attempts has furnished a satisfactory solution to the manifold problems involved in the development of the metropolitan area as a whole. Although community planning can be traced back to ancient times, the modern era of city planning began in this century. Today, city planning has been recognized as an aspect of the process of local government. However, regions of high population density and complex urban development activities require a responsible planning function for the development of regional interests. The metropolitan planning agency should seek establishment and acceptance of goals, both long-range and immediate, for the metropolitan area's physical, economic, and social development. It should strive to co-ordinate local planning, both public and private. The most desirable arrangement is that the metropolitan planning function is integrated into an area-wide and multi-functional government. By this, the planning function can more easily be tied into the programs and decision-making processes of an on-going body that has operational powers. We desire efficient government. Large-scale, metropolitan wide organization is not the most appropriate scale of organization for the provision of all public services required in a metropolis. Local governments still have vital roles to play in the lives of their citizens and in these roles they should be conserved. However, municipalities can be made more nearly equal in size through consolidation and amalgamation to strengthen the capacity of their local governments. Then, a division of functions between the "metropolitan" government and the "local" governments is necessary. The same argument is that reasonable distinction can be drawn between the concerns of metropolitan planning and those of local community planning. Duties and authorities must be appropriate to area, population, and financial resources. Only when all of these factors are balanced at the highest level, will community satisfaction be maximized. Based on the theoretical findings, the Criteria for the purposes of testing the actual cases can be derived as in the followings: I. Metropolitan government authority should be organized as general--purpose government. II. Metropolitan government authority should have enough legal powers to perform services. III. Metropolitan government authority should remain controllable by and accessible to its citizens. IV. Local municipalities should be modified to make efficient local governments, and local planning functions should be encouraged. V. Geographic adequacy. VI. Basic metropolitan planning function should be research, planning, co-operation and co-ordination, and advice and assistance. VII. Metropolitan planning body should have power of review over local plans. Three actual cases are studied based on Criteria to test the hypothesis on its practical grounds. The three cases are Metropolitan Vancouver Area, Metropolitan Winnipeg Area, and Metropolitan Toronto Area. The three metropolitan government authorities are studied under Criteria I to V; and the planning functions are studied under Criteria III to VII. The study both in depth and in scope of these three metropolitan areas is able to prove the validity of the Criteria which are derived from the theoretical findings. Therefore, the hypothesis is properly proved to be both theoretically and practically valid. In Canada, the provinces have vital roles to play in resolving our metropolitan problems. However, this should be the subject of another work.

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