Unicity

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"Unicity" may also mean uniqueness. For the cryptographic meaning, see Unicity distance.

The term Unicity refers to reforms in the structure of the metropolitan government of Winnipeg in 1972. Unicity, an ambitious experiment[1] in local government reform, established the City of Winnipeg as one unified city. Until that point, the greater Winnipeg area had been composed of several municipalities under a single metropolitan government, in a "two-tier" system.

The City of Winnipeg Act incorporated the rural municipalities of Charleswood, Fort Garry, North Kildonan, and Old Kildonan, the Town of Tuxedo, the cities of East Kildonan, West Kildonan, St. Vital, Transcona, St. Boniface, and St. James-Assiniboia, the City of Winnipeg, and the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg into one city. The Unicity system replaced the two-tier metropolitan system established in 1960.

The Unicity reforms were originally proposed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) government elected in 1969. The NDP's goals included greater citizen participation in government,[2] "financial equity, the elimination of conflict and stalemate between the Metro and municipal levels, greater efficiency in the delivery of services, and a greater degree of involvement by the public at large in local politics".[3] However, the Unicity reforms as actually enacted were far from those laid out in the NDP's original "White Paper" on the subject (Proposals for Urban Reorganization in the Greater Winnipeg Area, December 1970).

While the Unicity experiment has been widely regarded as a failure in that it did not achieve many of its lofty goals,[4] it did have some success in equalizing property tax rates across the city, eliminating the suburban "property tax havens" which had coupled low tax rates with a high level of services provided by the city[5] at the cost of higher tax rates overall.

A government review in 1986 concluded "that the Unicity structure, with its many suburban councillors and large tax base, facilitated the building of suburban infrastructure, to the detriment of inner-city investment."[6] This may have been inevitable, since the incorporation of so many large suburban areas into Unicity naturally increased the political clout of the suburbs at the expense of the old city. Since Unicity, almost all growth in Winnipeg has occurred in the distant suburbs, and the population of the inner city has declined. Like Detroit, St. Louis, and many other North American cities, Winnipeg is increasingly suffering from a "doughnut effect", and continues to decline in economic importance relative to other cities in Canada and North America.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Winnipeg experiments in metropolitan government have been nothing if not ambitious." Stuart Proudfoot, in Making Cities Work, ed. David Morley, Stuart Proudfoot, Thomas Burns; 1980. ISBN 0-85664-924-4, ISBN 978-0-85664-924-0. Page 178.
  2. ^ "Thus a key goal was to reduce citizen alienation through electoral distribution and political decentralization..." Brownstone and Plunkett, "Metropolitan Winnipeg: politics and reform of local government". University of California Press: 1983. Quoted in Mary Louise McAllister, Governing Ourselves? The Politics of Canadian Communities. UBC Press: 2005. ISBN 0-7748-1063-7, ISBN 978-0-7748-1063-0. Page 104.
  3. ^ Stuart Proudfoot, Making Cities Work, ed. David Morley, Stuart Proudfoot, Thomas Burns; 1980. ISBN 0-85664-924-4, ISBN 978-0-85664-924-0. Page 178.
  4. ^ Lloyd Axworthy, "The Perils of Reform: The Winnipeg 'Unicity' Experience". In Making Cities Work, ed. David Morley, Stuart Proudfoot, Thomas Burns; 1980. ISBN 0-85664-924-4, ISBN 978-0-85664-924-0.
  5. ^ Mary Louise McAllister, Governing Ourselves? The Politics of Canadian Communities. UBC Press: 2005. ISBN 0-7748-1063-7, ISBN 978-0-7748-1063-0. Page 104.
  6. ^ Andrew Sancton, Governing Canada's City-Regions: Adapting Form to Function. IRPP. ISBN 0-88645-156-6. Sancton is summarizing the City of Winnipeg Act Review Committee's Final Report 1986.