Toronto

Ford suffers defeat over shrinking board sizes

Mayor Rob Ford suffered his first significant defeat in council after his push to shrink the size of several city boards, agencies and cultural organizations came to an unsuccessful end Tuesday.

Confusion reigns as wording mistake dramatically broadens amendment's reach

Mayor Rob Ford suffered his first significant defeat in council Tuesday after his push to shrink the size of several city boards, agencies and cultural organizations came to an unsuccessful end.

Ford and his executive committee had submitted a motion to council that called for the reduction of the size of some city boards to nine members. The boards, which include the Toronto Zoo, the St. Lawrence Centre and the Library, currently range in size from 18 to 11 members.

The executive committee's motion also called for cutting the number of councillors on on those boards. The Library Board, for example, would go from having four councillors to one, while the proposal calls for only two councillors to sit on the Zoo board as opposed to the current six.

But an amendment introduced Tuesday by Coun. Adam Vaughan, a vocal Ford critic, set minimum sizes for all municipal boards, commissions and corporations at 11 members, including at least three city councillors.

His amendment passed 24-19.

"He tried to strip power from councillors, but more importantly tried to strip power from people in this city. He tried to limit their ability to participate in ... boards and commissions," Vaughan said.

"We've broadened that now, we've included more people and we've made sure that different parts of the city get represented in the vital agencies, boards and commissions of this city."

Item to be debated again to fix error

The amendment was supposed to only affect the boards targeted by Ford and his executive committee. But its wording inadvertently included all city agencies, including arena boards and dozens of business improvement areas.

The amendment would have to be reopened and debated to fix the glitch. But Ford ally Coun. Giorgio Mammolitti shot down any possibility of opening the debate to amend the mistake to exclude the scores of community boards.

"Many of us actually like the idea that this is happening by mistake," said Mammolitti on Tuesday. He said the move means suburban councillors sitting on downtwon boards, "which is wonderful."