This one jumped out at me because it dealt with one of my favorite anti-democratic bodies, the Ontario Municipal Board. As a free-speech-crusading journalist, few things bug me more than government-sanctioned bodies that ram decisions down the population's throat - which the OMB has done repeatedly since I started writing about them.
For once, though, I think the OMB sorta got it right this time. So I felt somewhat compelled to get off my usual critic's chair and give them the writer's equivalent of a pat on the back.
I still think the OMB is undemocratic, and I'll still flay it when I think it has crossed a line. But for now, I'm smiling.
New ward system will drive change
Published Friday, November 25, 2005
The London Free Press
I’ve long criticized the Ontario Municipal Board for its heavy-handed rulings that have often gone against the will of the communities it supposedly serves. But I may become an OMB fan in light of its latest position on London’s municipal roadmap.
The OMB’s order to London to replace its current seven-ward system with 14 smaller wards has raised cheers from citizen advocacy groups. City councillors who oppose this ruling have said the new system will make it easier for special interest groups to hijack the city’s agenda. I think they worry too much.
This city needs a good shakeup. Tax rates have consistently outpaced the rate of inflation. Services have been cut. City hall has been rocked by one embarrassing and expensive controversy after another. Civic bureaucracy has steadfastly resisted calls for change.
Something needed to change, and like it or not, London’s new ward system will form the basis for driving that change.
Any city councillors who aren’t comfortable with this might want to find a new line of work.