Etobicoke-York Community Council loses High Park
July 3, 2018
High Park is going downtown.
In a narrow 19-17 vote at the June 26 Toronto council meeting, the communities between the Humber River, Lake Ontario, Parkside Drive, Bloor Street West and the CNR/CPR tracks have now joined the Toronto and East York Community Council.
The communities were previously part of the Etobicoke-York Community Council.
For Sarah Doucette, the councillor for Ward 13 (Parkdale-High Park), the shift from west to east was a matter of local character and culture.
Currently, Ward 13 residents deal with the Etobicoke-York Community Council for local issues such as fence exemptions, local development and minor traffic rule changes. But Doucette made it clear that her constituents weren’t happy with the arrangement.
“Residents often believe that we are in the downtown community council, as apparently was the case before 2004,” she told city council.
“They want to know why the Humber River isn’t the boundary of the community council as it was. Their concerns are things like being with a similar ward to the east of us, where the street widths and parking rules are the same.”
City staff had brought forward a map of the four community councils that offered as little change as possible. The current 44-ward map is being expanded to include 47 wards, which will come into effect with the upcoming fall election.
But because those wards shifted boundaries, some change was inevitable.
A portion of the current Ward 14 (Parkdale-High Park) that is in the Toronto and East York Community Council would join with the new Ward 17 --and suddenly find itself in Etobicoke-York.
Some councillors didn’t see why that would be a problem.
“For me, High Park and Swansea are really a part of the west end,” said Ward 5 Councillor John Campbell (Etobicoke-Lakeshore).
“When I look at what happens on Bloor Street from Keele to the west, that matters to the people in Etobicoke.”
Campbell and others also suggested that including one more ward to the notoriously busy Toronto and East York Community Council would add to an already heavy workload.
Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks (Parkdale-High Park), who supported the change, said it had nothing to do with workload.
“Community councils were never created as a result of a workload problem,” he said.
“There was considerable fight and fury when the City of Toronto was amalgamated by the provincial government, and community councils were created to try and retain the character of the old municipalities,” he said.
“The problem for Councillor Doucette in her ward, and the ward she’ll be running for, is that these are people who came from the former City of Toronto.”
The eastward shift of High Park was the only change that Toronto council approved for the planned new community council boundaries.