Local and Urban Politics
Session: E2 - Urban Political Authority (I): Regulating the Urban Environment
Joint Session / Séance conjointe: with/avec CHA)
Chair/Président: Jack Lucas (University of Calgary)
Participants & Authors/Auteurs: (Click titles for Abstract and Paper.)
Mark Sholdice (University of Guelph) : Ontario Hydro in Municipal-Provincial Politics, 1906-1939
Abstract: This paper will investigate the role of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (“the Hydro”) in municipal politics. Initially conceived of as a distributor of privately produced power, Hydro Chairman Sir Adam Beck quickly reoriented the Hydro towards a monopoly on production and transmission, with distribution to a network of allied municipal utilities. Beck’s empire-building began a new phase in 1914 with his plan to create an electric railway network to connect the major centres of Southwestern Ontario. This increased activity, along with various expansion plans, led to conflicts with the City of Toronto, other municipalities, and the provincial cabinet. This paper will evaluate the municipal political activities of the Hydro, outlining the commission’s role in directing and funding its own pressure groups and its influence on municipal partisanship, particularly in Toronto. The Hydro helped to recast political alliances on municipal councils, with the rise of pro-commission factions in many areas. Overall, the Hydro developed policy in a relatively independent manner throughout the era, mixing Progressive Era reformism with power politics.
Sean Kheraj (York University ) : Governing Urban Livestock in Nineteenth-Century Canada
Abstract: In the nineteenth century, municipal governments in Canada spent a lot of time thinking about animals. Some of the earliest municipal by-laws were concerned with the management of domestic livestock in cities. Domestic animals were a part of everyday life in nineteenth-century Canadian cities, critical sources of labour and food that supported the development and growth of large urban centres. As the human population of cities grew, the use of such animals became more complicated, requiring municipal governments to develop and amend regulations to facilitate continued exploitation of domestic animals while mitigating any adverse effects. Using Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg as case studies, this paper will examine the development of municipal regulations concerning domestic animals in the nineteenth century. It will show that these regulations were intended to manage an asymmetrical symbiotic relationship between people and livestock that allowed for the development of these cities. A set of common characteristics and concerns influenced the governance of animals in nineteenth-century Canadian cities, including ideas of private property, public health, and the behaviours and biology of specific species of domestic animals. As North American urban chicken advocates struggle to convince city councils to permit small-scale livestock husbandry in the twenty-first century, this paper illustrates the regulatory complexities involved in the management of domestic animals in cities.
James Hull (University of British Columbia Okanagan) : Expertise and Municipal Governance: The Case of Toronto 1891-1914
Abstract: Contentions surrounding reform of municipal governance in Toronto involved, in part, the increasing involved of scientific and engineering expertise to address problems of the urban built and natural environment. While elected officials retained decision-making authority, both hired its own expert personnel – medical officers of health, city engineers, city architects and the like – as well as extra-mural “experts” became a part of the making and the administering of those decisions. Through both classes of experts ideas which were common currency among professionalized sanitarians, engineers and the like found specific application. In the case of Toronto two factors which particularly informed the manner in which such expertise was acquired and applied were a) the city’s status as a junior level of government in a federal state and b) the presence of a major university in the city.
Jamie Benidickson (University of Ottawa) : Urban Governance Meets Global Change: Perspectives on the Sewage-Society Relationship 1850-2015
Abstract: In the same way that mid-19th century advances in epidemiology and public health ushered out privy pits and cesspools to bring wastewater infrastructure to growing urban centres, new engineering opportunities in the 21st century offer the possibility of transforming waste streams to sources of energy, nutrients and indeed renewed water supply. Will this happen? This paper considers the changing story of urban wastewater – 1850 to 2015 – from the perspective of local governance, initially transformed by a public health agenda and now under pressure from the global challenges of climate change. The epidemiological analysis of devastating cholera epidemics in London in the 1850s set in motion local government changes ranging from inspection powers, through borrowing and taxation authority to inter-governmental financial arrangements, among other governance innovations designed to safeguard public health. The water and wastewater revolution thus set in motion continued for over a century and a half and has been echoed in Millennium Development Goals for global implementation. Today, with climate change mitigation and adaptation prominent on the public agenda, the urban agenda increasingly includes a new round of innovation to recover energy and nutrients from wastewater and to re-charge water supplies and aquifers. As these measures are contemplated, cities will once again be central institutions in a possible social transformation that will call in question municipal autonomy, fiscal capacity, civic capacity for collective action and so on, in much the same way that 19th century municipal governments experienced a new story line.
Abstract: Multiple panel workshop
Political scientists and historians in Canada have long shared an interest in Canadian cities. Theories, methods, and interpretations from both disciplines – ranging from pluralism and community power to urban ecology and urban social history – have formed the basis for a shared conversation about the distinct characteristics of Canada’s urban politics and local government institutions and their historical foundations. Recently, however, this interdisciplinary exchange has been in decline.
We believe that an interdisciplinary exchange between historians and political scientists who are working on questions of urban politics, policy, and political development continues to hold much promise. To this end, we propose a set of two interdisciplinary panels, each featuring both historians and political scientists, on the broad theme of urban political authority. We will propose these panels to both the Canadian Political Science Association and the Canadian Historical Association, with the intention of scheduling the panels during a period of overlap between the two conferences, and listing the panels in each association’s conference schedule.
We believe that each of our proposed panels stands on its own merit, featuring high-quality research papers that will be of immediate interest to Canadian political scientists. However, we also hope that the two panels will both demonstrate and provoke a renewed interdisciplinary exchange on questions of politics and authority in Canadian cities.
The Canadian urban “environment,” broadly understood, has been subject to a wide range of regulatory processes and institutions through time. From early municipal regulations concerning animals and local nuisances to the regulation of urban utilities such as sewage treatment and electricity provision, Canadian urban policy issues have been regulated and overseen by complex networks of municipal, provincial, and federal authorities, as well as private entities. This interdisciplinary panel will feature four research papers that seek to explain the urban regulatory domain as it relates to the construction and operation of urban political authority in Canada.
**Lunch will be available. / Un goûter sera offert.**