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Believe it or not, Torontos council is helping it close in on world city status, Australian urbanist says

City council can seem dysfunctional but an urbanist on a fact-finding mission from Sydney, Australia says having one local government for all 2.7 million Torontonians has helped Toronto close in on “world city” status.Tim Williams, on a break from a flurry of meetings with the city’s chief planner, Toronto Region Board of Trade representatives, academics and others, says Sydney — like Toronto a second-tier city on the cusp of global “top table” status — should envy the existence of a single 45-member council.“The great challenge for us is that Sydney doesn’t have metropolitan-scale governance,” Williams, chief executive of think tank The Committee for Sydney, in an interview at the Board of Trade’s downtown office.“We have no single council for Sydney. There are 5 million people, 41 councils, and amalgamation will bring that down to 30 (councils) in about a year.”That leaves the Australian megacity at a disadvantage coping with side-effects of success including sky-high housing costs and population growth outpacing public transit, he said, noting Toronto has boosted transit investment in recent years after a long period of neglect similar to Sydney’s.Article Continued BelowA report released this month by Committee for Sydney boiled down rankings by dozens of organizations to identify six cities — London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore — leading the world according to measurements of economic activity, livability, high-tech vibrancy, post-secondary strength and more.Sydney and Toronto were judged to be in the next pack, as “nearly established contender world cities”, along with Amsterdam, Beijing, Chicago, Los Angeles, Madrid, San Francisco, Shanghai and Washington, D.C.Williams, a native of Wales and former special adviser on communities and local government to the U.K. government, is visiting rival contender cities for ideas on how to help Sydney break into the top pack and how to manage the downsides of that transition.

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