Will the city create three or four community council advisory boards?

A discussion paper released Wednesday urges the city to create three or four community council advisory boards across the city each composed of about 20 appointed citizens who would make recommendations to community councils and refer contentious planning applications to a new city mediation office.
Currently, Toronto is divided into four areas each represented by a community council — Etobicoke York, North York, Scarborough, and Toronto and East York. Councillors sit on the community council that their ward is in, hold public hearings and make decisions and recommendations on local planning matters. Most decisions made at community council end up going to city council for final approval.
Community council advisory boards would reduce councillors’ workloads by filtering through the number of deputations that go before community councils, said one of the paper’s authors, planner Beate Bowron, who wrote it alongside community activist Sue Dexter and political scientist Gary Davidson. They urged the city to form a task force to consult with the public on how these citizen-driven groups should be structured. 
“These are suggestions to feed into public discourse. We are not pretending we have all the answers,” said Bowron. 
The authors were motivated to write the paper because “we thought there was potentially a huge democractic deficit (with 25 councillors). The fear is the access of the community to councillors will be severely diminished,” said Bowron.
The paper also suggests consolidating city council’s 14 committees into three groups with seven to nine councillors on each, and replacing some of the 91 councillor appointments on the city’s 37 agencies, boards and commissions with citizens.
“We are not by any means saying those big important boards (like Toronto Transit Commission) should have no councillors on them, but might need to have fewer,” Bowron said. Some of the nine councillors on the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, for example, could be filled with citizens. 
Tory must push for these kinds of changes if he wants to have an effective second term, said Gabriel Eidelman, a University of Toronto urban policy professor, who was part of a team that made recommendations in 2017 on how city council could improve decision-making.

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