Toronto

Toronto city council mulls ward changes to cope with population growth

Toronto city councillors will spend the coming months debating whether to add to or reduce their ranks after uneven population growth has prompted calls to rework the ward system.

Councillors to debate five options, including adding to or reducing the number of wards

Toronto's city council will explore five options for ward reform in order to keep up with the city's uneven population growth. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Toronto city councillors will spend the coming months debating whether to add to or reduce their ranks after uneven population growth has prompted calls to rework the ward system.

There's been a growing disparity in the population rates across the city's 44 wards in recent years. Heavy condominium development downtown and in Willowdale, near Yonge and Finch, is pushing population rates close to 90,000 in some wards.

In others, the number of residents is about half that figure.

To cope with the imbalance, city council has been asked to consider five options to reorganize the wards, including maintaining the status quo, increasing the number of wards to between 47 and 58, or even reducing the number of wards to 38.

Coun. Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) says having one councillor represent tens of thousands of residents is unfair. 

"Look at the Jays' game crowd," Carroll said. "That's one councillor that's representing all of those people. Do you want that, or do you want to change it? Say no, and an Olympic stadium full of people could have one councillor representing them."

Carroll says reducing the number of wards isn't ideal.

"There is a certain amount of attrition in every election, so we can afford to not be so personal about this," she said.

After amalgamation in 1998, 56 councillors represented 28 wards.

Coun. John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre) says that an increase isn't necessary. More residents in a ward doesn't necessarily translate into more work for councillors, he said.

"Residents of towers rarely interact with their councillor," he said. "Most interaction we have I would say are residents calling about property issues. They are homeowners."

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