Toronto will get four new wards while boundaries will change elsewhere in the 2018 election, after the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) rejected a challenge from two councillors.
The verdict, delivered just before the end of the year, means the city will be able to make the changes in time for next October's municipal election, officials confirm. However, officials did note the OMB decision could be appealed on a question of law, and if that appeal was granted it would likely delay the ward changes.
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The proposed changes create three new wards in the downtown core and one in the Willowdale area. Elsewhere, Ward 18, currently represented by Coun. Ana Bailao, will disappear and other wards will be reshaped. Only seven wards won't change.
City council approved the changes in November of 2016. The aim of the changes is to keep up with growing populations and maintain an average ward size of 61,000 people.
"The 47-ward structure does not achieve 'perfect' voter parity for each election cycle. However, none of the alternative options achieve perfect voter parity either," the OMB decision states.
But councillors Giorgio Mammoliti and Justin Di Ciano challenged the decision.
Di Ciano wanted a 25-ward system that lines up with federal riding boundaries.
Mammoliti argued the city hasn't done enough public consultations about the changes — despite the fact that changing the boundaries was a four-year process. The board harshly shut that argument down.
"The Board rejects the relief sought by Mr. Mammoliti which is, in essence, 'do nothing'," the report said.
Several members of the public and the Lakeshore Planning Council Corp. public also appealed the changes for various reasons.
The city countered with the experts who recommended the new boundaries.
Mayor John Tory issued a statement on the changes noting he would prefer 44 wards, the same system he voted for in 2016.
However: "my job as mayor remains the same — to work with every member of city council to move this city forward," he said in the statement.