Toronto voters may get a rare chance to replace 10 councillors
Provincial ambitions and resignations leave room for fresh faces
There could be 10 brand new city councillors elected this fall in Toronto.
The potentially dramatic shift — any number of things could change this equation in the months leading up to election day — would see several long-time councillors move to Queen's Park. Meanwhile, the new councillors, who won't have the nearly-insurmountable task of toppling an incumbent, will get a big say on the city's future direction.
Here's a breakdown of the seats that may be opening to fresh faces and why.
Several veteran councillors are running in June's provincial election, or are hoping to:
- Coun. Shelley Carroll (Ward 33 — Don Valley East) is running for the Liberals, along with Coun. Chin Lee (Ward 41 — Scarborough-Rouge River)
- Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 — Don Valley East) is running for the PCs and Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7 — York West) is seeking a seat in Brampton under the PC banner.
'I would hope they will be effective voices for us at Queen's Park.' - Mayor John Tory
Speculation has swirled at city hall about other councillors who may run provincially, including Budget Chief Gary Crawford. Crawford has now ruled that out. If councillors fail in their provincial bid on June 7, they will have time to get back into the Toronto race.
Toronto's election season opens on May 1, the first day candidates can declare their intention. The nomination period then closes on July 27, with the final vote set for Oct. 22.
Three councillors have stated their intention to leave council.
- Coun. Mary Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 — Beaches-East York), a strong supporter of term limits, says she won't run again.
- Coun. Lucy Troisi (Ward 28 — Toronto Centre-Rosedale) and Coun. Jim Hart (Ward 44 — Scarborough East) both vowed to not run in the fall election when they were appointed by city council to fill vacant seats.
Brand new seats
Three more brand new seats will open up this election season thanks to a redrawn electoral map that actually creates four new wards in the downtown core and Willowdale, but eliminates one. Established councillors Ana Bailao and Cesar Palacio are expected to square off in one of the redrawn wards, but the others will likely feature new candidates.
Several councillors have also suggested some of their colleagues will announce plans to retire this year, but nobody has announced firm plans.
Why does this matter?
Mayor John Tory recently told reporters that he's learned not to expect any personal loyalty in politics, but he does hope having councillors installed at Queen's Park will give the city more say there.
"I would hope they will be effective voices for us at Queen's Park advocating for the things that we need help with," Tory said.
But the bigger changes could happen at city hall.
Carroll, who attended her final council meeting this week and also resigned from the police services board, has said she hopes the openings may lead to a more diverse city council than the one that exists now.
Others are hoping for a political shift.
Council has opted to punt the tough decisions contained in the city manager's long-term financial plan to the next crop of councillors. Whoever takes over will have to decide whether to cut back on services to keep taxes low, maintain current service levels and find some new revenue or adopt a broader city building plan that will require bringing far more revenue — likely through taxes.
Meanwhile, Coun. John Filion says he hopes a surprise vote to defer debate on the high-profile Transform Yonge plan will go to a new council with different priorities.
"Hopefully we will have a more progressive council," he said.
Whether or not that happens is squarely up to voters.