Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory meet inside the Premier’s office at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Monday, July 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

Ontario Premier Doug Ford to slash size of Toronto city council nearly by half

A published report suggests the Ontario government is poised to reduce Toronto city council to just over half its current size.

Ontario’s new premier plans to significantly reduce the number of Toronto city councillors just months before the fall municipal election, a move he says will boost government efficiency and cut waste.

Doug Ford says his government will introduce legislation to cut the number of seats from 47 to 25, aligning city wards with federal ridings.

The deadline for candidates to register for the municipal election was Friday afternoon but the government said it will extend that to September.

Ford says having fewer city councillors “will dramatically improve the decision-making process at Toronto City Hall” and save taxpayers $25 million.

Asked why he didn’t campaign on the plan or hold public consultations on it, Ford said he heard from thousands of people while canvassing this spring that they want a smaller government.

“There isn’t too many people that I know that wouldn’t want to trade in a bunch of politicians for $25 million,” Ford said. “People don’t care about politicians, they care about getting things done.”

Ford’s move was pre-emptively panned by Toronto Mayor John Tory, who said in a news conference earlier Friday morning that the process around the plan is “absolutely not right.” The mayor said he’ll propose a referendum on the issue.

“This is a gigantic decision about the future of Toronto,” Tory said. “What we don’t need and what I just can’t support is change being rammed down our throats without a single second of public consultation.”

Some councillors echoed Tory’s opposition to the provincial plan and said they hoped the mayor would push back.

Related: Doug Ford under attack in final Ontario leaders debate

Related: Ontario elects Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party

Calling Ford’s plan “an affront to our democracy,” Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam urged the mayor to challenge it in the courts.

“I think the mayor needs to defend our city and our democracy and that’s what I’m looking for from him,” she said.

Coun. John Campbell said slashing council nearly in half would reduce oversight of municipal boards and commissions.

“If you reduce councillors to 25, all of a sudden you lose that connection with the electorate and in the end the public is the loser, and they’re going to feel it right away,” he said.

Others expressed support for a smaller municipal government, arguing it would cut costs and help council reach decisions faster.

“The only thing we do upstairs in that chamber is everybody gets up and just wants to talk. When you have 25 people there’s more cohesion, you’ll move faster on things. That’s why I’m supportive of this,” Coun. Jim Karygiannis said.

Ford also said he will cancel planned elections for regional chair positions in more than two Greater Toronto Area communities, including Peel Region and York Region.

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown, whose resignation this winter paved the way for Ford to take over the party, is running for the Peel seat, while former Liberal cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is a candidate in York.

— with files from Alanna Rizza.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bad weather delays next Prince Rupert/Haida Gwaii ferry

Stormy weather will delay the next ferry sailing from Prince Rupert to… Continue reading

Social media strains over Prince Rupert’s boil water notice

Resident forms Community for Clean Water, and Jennifer Rice responds acting mayor’s comments

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

Shutter Shack being held hostage by landlords, protesters say

Victoria-based landlords to supervise removal of equipment from their Prince Rupert commercial unit

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

This Week Show – Episode 118

Highlights from this week in Prince Rupert

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Student rangers sought for Terrace

Young adults interested in student ranger program have until Feb. 24 to apply

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read