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

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Most Read