Council to add three new members with ward boundary change
Approved option will see number of wards grow from 44 to 47.
Nov. 9, 2016
By Jennifer Pagliaro
Council will grow by three members after council approved new ward boundaries on Wednesday.
Despite last minute attempts on the chamber floor to redraw some of the lines in Scarborough and a push for fewer politicians at city hall, council overwhelmingly adopted recommendations from consultants in a 28-to-13 vote.
The 47-ward option approved was the consultant’s recommendation to balance uneven populations in the current 44-ward system.
The consultants wrote that increase in wards and redrawing of lines would not only achieve voter parity - where each ballot cast and each vote made by elected officials matters equally - but minimizes change and “manages to keep many communities of interest together.”
“We are a growing city,” said Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park), noting there are already strains on councillors to respond to constituents, attend meetings and keep up with city business.
“I don’t believe a councillor can represent their residents the way we should be if they have 100,000 residents.”
Mayor John Tory, who has repeatedly said he would not support any new members on council, voted against the 47-ward option, preferring 44 wards.
His executive earlier backed the 47-ward option, the first time they have broken with the mayor on any big issue.
The changes to keep ward sizes consistent - between 51,850 and 70,150 people by 2026 - are planned to be in place for the 2018 election.
The boundaries will be subject to any appeals at the Ontario Municipal Board, the quasi-judicial provincial body that deals with land use, planning and other disputes.
A bylaw must be passed by Dec. 31, 2017 for the boundaries to be changed before the 2018 vote.
Because of dense residential growth concentrated in the downtown core, many of the ward changes occur there, with wards to cover smaller areas to achieve more balanced population sizes.
The redrawn lines could make for challenging election campaigns in some wards where incumbent councillors would be pitted against one another.
Most significantly, the changes collapse three wards representing the Davenport and Parkdale neighbourhoods currently represented by Councillors Cesar Palacio, Ana Bailao and Gord Perks into two wards.
Palacio voted against the 47-ward option.
Bailao and Perks voted in favour.
The new boundaries leave seven wards untouched and also create a new ward in North York.
The consultants refined an earlier version of the 47-ward option that had split some communities such as Regent Park and the Village. Those neighbourhoods are reunited in the revised map.
It also resolves concerns some Beach residents had about being included in a ward with Scarborough residents. The 47-ward option approved Wednesday maintain a longstanding boundary at Victoria Park Ave.
Other councillors tried to push for a 26-ward option that would mimic federal boundaries, saying few representatives would better serve the city.
“I do not believe that adding more members to our governing body will help us make any better decisions. I think actually it does the opposite,” said the newest councilor, Michael Ford (Ward 2 Etobicoke North). He said it’s really up to individual councillors and whether they’re up to doing the job.
“I think with less, we’ll definitely be more efficient and effective, how we move stuff through this council.”Three Scarborough councillors - Chin Lee, Paul Ainslie and Norm Kelly - tried to amend some boundaries in areas they currently represent. Ainslie said it was only “tweaking” and would not unbalance ward populations significantly.