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Mayor John Tory wants Ontario to give Toronto more power

Both Edmonton and Calgary are getting more power to do things on their own, with new city charters.

Toronto Mayor Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne have been locked in a dispute this year about the amount of permission the city needs from the province to carry out a variety of functions.

Torstar News Service file

Toronto Mayor Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne have been locked in a dispute this year about the amount of permission the city needs from the province to carry out a variety of functions.

Mayor John Tory is renewing calls for the province to give Toronto more power as Western cities gain more indepndence.

"The City of Toronto Act is 10 years old and we should be going further with it," Tory told Metro on the heels of Edmonton and Calgary agreeing to city charters with the province of Alberta.

And, Tory said, it's not just about getting more money from Queens Park. While that's one thing he would focus on in an overhaul of the Toronto Act, largely in the name of transit and affordable housing, there are a number of other areas in which "we have to go up the street to ask for permission to things."

Tory has long touted the example of road tolls, which the province has denied the city's request to levy on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. Among the countless others, he said, is appointing traffic wardens who fall outside the police force.

"I'd be going through probably what are 900 areas that you could identify where we have to get their permission to do something and trying to carve about 450 of those out," Tory told Metro.

Terms agreed upon in the charters signed last week by Edmonton and Calgary give the cities more predicatble sources of funding, more say in budgeting and cut some of the red tape between them and the provincial government. The three parties have been negotiating since 2014.

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Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the final product, which is up for public comments until fall, "the most significant change we've made to inter-municipal relations in the province."

Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor of geography and planning at U of T, said Alberta's move is part of a "growing tend" in the right direction to expand the roles and responsibilities of Canadian cities.

While cities provide many of the services people use on a daily basis — such as transit — they haven't had the finacial tools to pay for the services.

"It's a disconnect," Siemiatycki said.

Other cities with charters include, Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

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