Election Maps Politics Toronto

Exploring the downtown federal election races: New ridings, new candidates

Note: On October 2, I wrote a follow-up to this post, including a few new maps, some additional insights. All three races  — Toronto Centre, University-Rosedale, and Spadina-Fort York, remain interesting and close Liberal-NDP battles. 

As I mentioned on this blog previously, describing the “Drawing the Lines” ward boundary review now underway, there are new federal electoral district boundaries for the upcoming Fall 2015 election. Toronto will have 25 Members of Parliament (MPs) after the next election; Downtown Toronto and North York both get an additional seat and Scarborough gets half a seat (it currently shares a electoral district with Pickering).

As a downtown resident, I wanted to explore how the new electoral map might look like in the next election, and see whether the New Democratic Party (NDP) would have a chance at picking up one of those three downtown seats, as both Toronto Centre and Trinity-Spadina are currently represented by high-profile Liberals.

(An aside: my politics have long leaned left and towards the New Democrats; though I am not my any means a strict or loyal partisan. I have friends who are loyal Liberals,  New Democrats, and Greens; my own voting decision depends on the race – in the 2011 general election, I voted Liberal, as I lived in York Centre, a riding held by NHL Hall of Famer, lawyer and great Liberal Ken Dryden, who sadly lost to Conservative Mark Adler. I soon moved to Davenport, joking that I had traded Dryden for [newly elected NDP MP Andrew] Cash. Brampton West Liberal MP Colleen Beaumier earned my very first vote when I was 18 years old, but I have since voted NDP provincially and federally in most other elections.)

2011 General Election

In the 2011 general election, in which Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority government (and Jack Layton led the NDP to its greatest federal victory, winning 103 seats and official opposition status), both Toronto Centre and Trinity-Spadina re-elected their popular incumbents – Olivia Chow in Toronto Centre, former Toronto city councillor and Layton’s spouse, and Bob Rae, former New Democrat and Premier of Ontario, later a Liberal MP and leadership candidate. Chow won with 54.5% of the vote in Trinity-Spadina; Rae won with 41.0% of the vote in Toronto Centre.

As you can see in the map below, Chow placed first to most polls in in Toronto Centre, except for a few polls near the Waterfront (the Conservatives came in first in the Harbour Square condo complex), in the east Annex closest to Yorkville and a few condominium and seniors’ residences buildings elsewhere. Christine Innes, running for the Liberals, came in a distant second with 23.4% of the vote.

In Toronto Centre, Liberal Bob Rae won with 41.0% of the vote; the NDP’s Susan Wallace took a respectable 30.2%, while Conservative Kevin Moore took 22.6% of the vote. In Toronto Centre, the Conservatives took several polls in the wealthiest parts of the riding; the “old money” Rosedale neighbourhood and several polls in Bloor-Yorkville, home of many of the most expensive condominium high-rises in Canada. The Liberals did well in polls throughout the riding (in Rosedale, Yorkville, Cabbagetown and St. Lawrence), while the NDP came in first most polls in Church-Wellesley, St. Jamestown, Moss Park, and Regent Park.

2011 Fed Election - Downtown (1)Results by poll in the 2011 federal election in Trinty-Spadina and Toronto Centre


The beauty of the expressway and Toronto’s accidental gateway

IMG_8568-001Highway 427 looking south from Burnhamthorpe Road

On a recent walk with a group of friends and acquaintances, I had the opportunity to explore a bit of Etobicoke. We walked from Kipling Station to a pub near the West Mall and Burnhamthorpe Road, passing by an abandoned dead mall, cutting through another mall, Cloverdale, with its sad, emptying Target that was just a few weeks before closing (along with the rest of Target’s ill-fated Canadian stores).

Honeydale was built in the early 1970s, a rather small mall anchored by a Woolco and a grocery store. The grocery store became a No Frills, while Woolco was acquired by Wal-Mart in 1994. Most Woolco stores were converted to Wal-Marts, but the US-based giant soon expanded or built replacement stores to its own specifications, leaving behind many vacancies in older malls and plazas. With the loss of Wal-Mart, the mall survived only because the only entrance to the busy No Frills store was within the mall. Once No Frills closed, Honeydale lost its purpose and shut down. Like the Canadian Tire property down the street (the oddly named Kip District development), I expect that the mall, Toronto’s only bona-fide dead mall, will soon be razed and that condos will eventually take its place.

Unlike Honeydale, Cloverdale, a somewhat larger mall that boasts few vacancies, will most likely survive Target’s retreat from Canada.

Honeydale Mall
The vacant Honeydale Mall

But the most interesting takeaway, in my opinion, is reflected in a photograph I took on the Burnhamthorpe Road bridge over Highway 427, the first photo in this post.

There is a complicated beauty to freeways; corridors that we usually experience either at speeds of over 100 kilometres an hour, or stuck behind other cars and trucks in frustrating traffic jams. But from a perch over top, such as on an overpass, one can appreciate the landscape. And see the gateway to Toronto, guarded by tall towers on either side.

Sheraz Khan wrote about this “accidental city gate” in Spacing Toronto in November 2013. He wrote that “…the road to Toronto tells a story about our city. Through the concrete, the wires, the bricks and tangled roads, gleams our new gate. It is a structure that begins to (perhaps accidentally) emphasize Toronto’s wishes of grandeur.”

Coming from the airport down Highway 427, arriving in Toronto for the first (or the 500th) time, by car or by bus, one can experience this unplanned, and apt, entry to the city. A city of concrete, glass and steel, a city that is continually growing to accommodate its many newcomers. A city as defined by its suburbs as its downtown.

Maps Toronto

Mapping Toronto’s Rental Complaints

MLS - Draft 2

Over at Torontoist, I took a look the City of Toronto’s data on complaints made to Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) on multi-residential apartment buildings. All properties with at least 25 notices or orders that are either open, or issued and closed within the last two years are mapped; the ten properties with the highest number of offenses are highlighted and listed.

Many ML&S investigations are the results of neighbours’ complaints of improper waste disposal, graffiti, long grass, unkempt grounds, or fence disputes; these complaints are distributed all over the city. These are usually quickly solved, resulting in only one or a handful of orders issued. However, troubled buildings might have dozens, even hundreds of violations, ranging from poor groundskeeping, to poor interior lighting, to more cringe-worthy deficiencies such as failures to guard against pest infestations, leaking pipes, damaged and stained ceilings and walls, and unsanitary waste collection and storage. Failure to comply with enforcement officers’ orders can result in prosecution.

Most of the properties that I mapped are found in the inner suburbs, or in the Church-Wellesley, St. Jamestown, Midtown and Parkdale neighbourhoods of the old City of Toronto, where many older rental towers are located. A disproportionate number of problematic residential properties can be found in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (previously known as priority neighbourhoods) —25 of the 40 properties with at least 100 ML&S notices or orders are in NIAs. Of the 10 worst buildings, five are large, private rental buildings, the other five are owned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.

You can search the ML&S database by address for yourself here. It’s not a bad resource if you’re in the rental market and looking at perspective apartments.