City Council Of The Future

from thesmartlocal.com

Councillor Cado: Part One (of Two)

CHERYL LYON – “Yeah, my little black body slid into this world just as that big pine tree crashed down on our house. My Momma’s sad to this day that she never heard my first cry – that’s how loud was the cracking of that 100 foot tree − and the kitchen roof caving in!”

“Guess that’s why you went into politics, eh, Cado? Always have a place to make your voice heard there,” joked one of the other Councillors.

Everyone, including Cado, laughed; then the Clerk signaled time to return to the city’s Council Chamber. Councillor Cado hoped the good humour would last through the remaining half of today’s long, contentious agenda. At least he’d be able to get a good night’s sleep afterward, not like the old days when Councillors were part-time and only met evenings, sometimes past midnight. But both the growing size of municipalities, and the Province’s granting them more powers in 2026 for their roles in responding to the climate crisis, had rapidly increased local elected representatives’ workload. Hence, longer meetings.

As Cado took his seat in the Council circular chamber, memories of his mother floated up. Chioma and her partner Beth had started a small community farm back in 2025. It had evolved into a demonstration site for LAMAP – the Local Agriculture Mitigation and Adaptation Policy, a Province-wide effort to strengthen local food security through the continuing ravages of climate change. Global efforts to keep planetary temperature increase below 1.5⁰C by 2030 had failed. Now, two years on, it had increased by 1.9⁰C and was still rising.

Many LAMAP innovations became established practices in area farms. Cado’s Momma often quipped that the best innovation of all, though, had been Cado’s birth because he became such a champion of farm and food security. His name came from Chioma’s term of endearment for him – “Cado”- a shortening of the word “avocado,” first successfully grown in Ontario on her farm the same month he was born. The name had stuck.

MUNICIPAL BOUNDARY REORGANIZATION

The City and 6 Township Councils had been re-organized after a national, indigenous-led initiative succeeded in legislation mandating local governance and planning be based on an ecological, whole system approach in light of the persisting climate crisis. This new Peterborough Watershed Council consisted of one representative from each Township and 6 City representatives. It replaced both City and County Council. 

On the regional Peterborough Watershed Council, Cado represented the renamed Township of West Drumlins – a name reflective of the geography of that area. All municipal governance boundaries of former colonial times had been redrawn to reflect and respect local features of the land. Local First Nations had long ago restored their communities’ names to their original language. Few straight lines remained on local maps. Of course, this had meant redrawing a lot of Ontario maps – a boon for Fleming College’s GIS grads.

“Well, here we go,” thought Cado, taking a deep breath and turning his attention to Item 17 on the agenda: the future of a 300-unit condo complex built in 2027. The condos had become fully occupied with residents whom locals called “metro migrants” – those fleeing the unbearable summer heat waves of Toronto. Even cottages to purchase became rarer as owners converted them into permanent dwellings or even business locations serving the increasing rural population around the City. Then, Provincial and Federal legislation banned new cottage construction as they had finally realized the imperative of protecting remaining biodiversity for the sake of life itself on the planet.

The condos in question tonight had gradually emptied as owners slowly moved back to improving Toronto air quality. That city was closer to achieving its mandated emission targets and stricter inside air standards set in the last decade. The condos’ maintenance had been neglected to the point of being unsafe, and the building’s owners were untraceable. Under new municipal Climate Emergency powers, Council had implemented a demolition order. But the sheer amount, and old, non-conforming kinds of materials used to build it, meant costly upgrading (yet again) of the local recycling facilities and landfill sites.

And then there was the decision about what to do with the freed up land in a city where any piece of useable land was a rare commodity. The debate divided, as usual, around using it for housing, commercial or biodiversity/green space.

Cado took a deep drink of water as the first delegation to speak stepped up to the mic.

To be continued…

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