Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory learned of the move to dramatically reduce the size of Toronto City Council via twitter last night when rumours started circulating that the Ford government was making drastic changes to the framework of the provinces’ largest municipality.
The Ford government is set to introduce legislation in the coming weeks called, ‘The Better Local Government Act’. It would slash the size of Toronto City Hall dramatically, reducing the numbers from 47 to 25 city councilors.
Mayor Tory spoke with reporters immediately following Doug Ford’s announcement in Toronto this morning.
“What I can’t support is this being done in the middle of an election period. You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game without any consultation at all.” said Mayor John Tory this morning. “The taxpayers of this city deserve to be actively engaged in consultation. It is not right, it is not fair”.
The Ford Government announced that upcoming legislation would reduce the size of Toronto City Council “To align with current federal and provincial boundaries and restore municipal decision-making on how York, Peel, Niagara and Muskoka Regions select their regional chairs.”
MPP Mike Schreiner said that Ford’s overnight rule change is an affront to the people of Toronto.
“The Premier did not campaign on overhauling the structure of municipal government. This is an abuse of power and a slap in the face to the people of Toronto, who deserve to be consulted.” said MPP Mike Shreiner, MPP for Guelph, and the first ever Green MPP elected to the Onario Legislature.
“Premier Ford and the Progressive Conservatives did not campaign on this. A decision as consequential as this deserves to be put through extensive consultation so that the people can speak.” he said.
“We ran on a commitment to restore accountability and trust, to reduce the size and cost of government, including an end to the culture of waste and mismanagement,” Premier Ford said. “Because one thing every politician at every level and in every region needs to remember, is that we all share the same boss. We all work for the people.”
“Doug Ford did not campaign on a promise to meddle in municipal elections. Sounds like he’s cooked something up in the backrooms for fewer people to have more power, fewer checks and balances and less accountability.” said Andrea Horwath, leader of the official opposition.
Ford said that ‘The Better Local Government Act’ is intended to institute a series of reforms to municipal governments in the City of Toronto as well as the York, Peel, Niagara and Muskoka regions.
According to the Ontario gov’t, the proposed reforms include:
Align the City of Toronto’s municipal wards and the number of councillors with the number and configuration of the current 25 provincial and federal electoral districts
Allow for the redistribution of Toronto-area school board trustees to align with the proposed new ward boundaries, while maintaining the existing number of trustees
Extend the nomination deadline for some council candidates and school board trustees from July 27 to September 14, 2018, with additional regulations to help previously nominated candidates transition to the new riding ward boundaries.
Amend the Municipal Act and the Municipal Elections Act to reverse changes, introduced in 2016, that mandate the election of new regional chairs in York, Peel, Niagara and Muskoka Regions and return the system that was in place prior to 2016. Other regional chair elections will remain unchanged.
These changes would be in effect for the upcoming October 22, 2018 municipal elections and the election date would remain unchanged. Changes to Toronto’s municipal election timelines would only apply to city council and school board trustee elections and would only apply for the current election cycle. Reducing the size of Toronto City Council is estimated to save Toronto taxpayers more than $25.5 million over four years.
“What you see time and time again is that the municipal level of government is often closest to the day-to-day lives of most people,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark today. “This is another example of the province getting out of the way and making local government work harder, smarter and more efficiently to make life better for everyone.”
Watch the press conference in video below – which starts at 34:16.