Sudbury city councillor wants a closer look at de-amalgamation

A city councillor in Greater Sudbury says he is putting forward a motion to have a closer look at de-amalgamation.
Sudbury city councillor Michael Vagnini says he is going to put forward a motion to look at de-amalgamating Greater Sudbury. (Google Maps)

A city councillor in Greater Sudbury says he is putting forward a motion  to have a closer look at de-amalgamation.

In 2001, eight areas were consolidated to create Greater Sudbury. Ward 2 councillor Michael Vagnini says he often gets calls from constituents who say the current system isn't working.

"In theory, we had at the time 1,835 people that were working for the city, the seven cities, and now we're at 2,400. So we've had an increase of employees of 30 per cent," he said.

Michael Vagnini represents Ward 2 in Greater Sudbury. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

"We went from 68 councillors, mayors and deputy mayors down to 13. So the voice of the people has diminished in amalgamation and I think we are in a time right now where we have to really look and see what we can do make this a lot more effective."

Vagnini says next month, he's going to put a motion forward to have a closer look at the issue.

"We're working on something just to see what it would cost to possibly look at de-amalgamation," he said.

"Is it logistically possible? Financially feasible? That's something that we have to explore to find out."

Could de-amalgamation be an option?

Laurentian University economist David Robinson says amalgamation was pushed on the city and says it hasn't worked. He says de-amalgamation could work, if the citizens and politicians could agree to move forward on it.

"My view is to start rethinking our municipalities as voluntary organizations and let them form, let each small area decide if they want to be part of a larger group and what they want to be part of a larger group for," he said.

"So for instance, if you're running a municipal ice rink and you're willing to pay for it, you can do that. City council shouldn't tell you what to do. But you shouldn't expect people in the other part of the city to pay for your ice rink."

However, Bob Segsworth, a professor emeritus at Laurentian University, says the cost to split the city up would be too high.

Bob Segsworth is a professor emeritus at Laurentian University. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

"I think it would be a rougher road than it was in some ways to amalgamate because again, once you established costs, particularly human resource costs for the entire community and then you want to say 'well, we can now have variability and so we can pay people who work say in the old Rayside-Balfour less than we pay people who work for the city of Sudbury," he said.

"I think that would be a real problem."

Is it too late?

Erik Oja has lived on McCharles Lake in Naughton for 65 years. He says while he doesn't necessarily support the current structure of the city, de-amalgamation may not be the best option.

"It probably can't be changed now because once the government sets their pace along any specific thing, it's always that pace will be held," he said.

Erik Oja has lived in Naughton for 65 years. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

"Then as far as my thought is, if we go back to the old system, we in Walden will have lost much of our equipment, much of good manpower, and to go backwards is not always the best thing."

Greater Sudbury mayor Brian Bigger says work is being done to ensure all areas of the city run smoothly.

"You know, one thing I can tell you for the outlying areas is that our council and previous councils have been very aware of the challenges in delivering services and how people feel about the services that are being delivered," he said.

"Things like community improvement programs that we've implemented and enhanced in this term that seek to create jobs and improve the town centres like Capreol and Chelmsford, the outer areas, are getting attention from our council."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.