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 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

The Premier Hotel on Summerland’s Main Street and the taxi were owned by Bill and Lydia Johnston. Today, the building is Sass Fashions in Summerland. H.S. Kenyon, who moved the building to Summerland from Midway, continued with building construction. His family now operates Greyback Construction. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Two former Summerland hotel buildings have been moved over the years

Transport of buildings is part of community’s history

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs is inviting everyone to join them in celebrating Pink Shirt Day safely at home. (Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs)
Pink Shirt Day re-imagined as COVID-19 pandemic continues

The Boys and Girls Clubs are introducing Breakfast in a Box

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Most Read