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SPPG Task Force to Improve Deliberation and Decision Making at Toronto City Hall

By many accounts, Toronto City Council is a mess. Council meetings go on for days, filled with obscure agenda items that would never reach the floor in other cities. Complex policies and plans are amended on the fly with little or no consideration, research, or debate. Such dysfunction has real impacts on how our city is governed. It increases indecision. It creates unnecessary delays. It demoralizes public servants and discourages civic engagement.

With this in mind, the School of Public Policy and Governance has assembled a City Hall Task Force, comprised of distinguished politicians, public servants, academics, journalists, and citizen advocates, to make recommendations to improve the quality of deliberation and decision making at Toronto City Hall.

The goal of the Task Force is to propose reforms that City Council can act on quickly, without any major legislative or regulatory changes, under powers afforded by the City of Toronto Act and other relevant statutes. Members of the Task Force will solicit feedback, collate research, balance important perspectives, and make recommendations to improve core decision-making processes and procedures at City Hall.

The Task Force’s deliberations will take place over three meetings hosted by SPPG during the 2016-17 academic calendar — in November, January, and March — culminating in a final report released in April 2017. Full event details, including registration information, as well as background and summary materials will be posted below once available.

Update-March 2017: The Task Force has added a fourth meeting, to be convened in April. As a result, the final report will be released in late Spring.

Members of the Task Force

  • Adrienne Batra, former Press Secretary to Mayor Rob Ford
  • Shirley Hoy, former City Manager
  • Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction
  • John Parker, former City Councillor and Deputy Speaker
  • Joe Pennachetti, former City Manager
  • David Soknacki, former City Councillor
  • Zack Taylor, Assistant Professor, Western University
  • Ange Valentini, former Chief of Staff to Councillor Adam Vaughan
  • Bianca Wylie, Head, Open Data Institute Toronto

Events and Registration

The fourth and final meeting will be held Tuesday, April 18, 2017, from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m., at the School of Public Policy and Governance, in room CG-160 (main floor) of the Canadiana Gallery (link to map). Click here to register. Members of the public are welcome to attend, but the meeting will not be set up for audience interaction.

Reports and Background Materials

Meeting #1 – November 16, 2016, 10am-1pm
Agenda (PDF)
Minutes (PDF)
Presentation – Setup – What can Council do on its own (PDF)
Presentation – Setup – Issues for debate (PDF)
Audio – Full Session (MP3)
Audio – 1 – Official Welcome (MP3)
Audio – 2 – Opening Remarks (MP3)
Audio – 3 – Introductions (MP3)
Audio – 4 – Setup – What can Council do on its own (MP3)
Audio – 5 – Setup – Issues for debate (MP3)
Audio – 6 – Open Discussion – Problems & Priorities (MP3)
Audio – 7 – Closing Remarks (MP3)

Meeting #2 – January 27, 2017, 1pm-4pm
Agenda (PDF)
Minutes (PDF)
Presentation – Setup – Where we are (PDF)
Presentation – Proposal: A Mayor’s Budget (PDF)
Audio – Full Session (M4A)

Meeting #3 – March 31, 2017, 1pm-4pm
Agenda (PDF)
Minutes (PDF)
Presentation Slides (PDF)
Audio – Full Session (M4A)

Meeting #4 – April 18, 2017, 1pm-4pm
Background and summary materials for April meeting will be posted here when available.

Organizers and Contact Details:
The Task Force is co-organized by Prof. Gabriel Eidelman ( and Brian F. Kelcey (, principal of State of the City Inc.