Update November 28, 2020: I have added the list of 51 temporary portable toilets that the city has or will be adding to its parks this winter as part of an effort to encourage Torontonians to get outside for winter walks. Many of these locations are along the major ravine paths, including the Don and Humber Rivers. Most location descriptions were easy to locate, though others were quite vague. I did the best I could with the information given. I also added the toilet locations at Tommy Thompson Park, which is operated by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
There remain some critical gaps, including the absence of Guild Park in Scarborough and along the waterfront between Humber Bay Shores and Marie Curtis Park, but on the whole, this is a positive development. The city also announced new winter maintenance of additional park paths, though ideally, this service would be extended along the entire ravine network.
As of Monday, November 23, Toronto and Peel Region will be in another lockdown. Non-essential businesses and services will close or be open only for take-out and curbside pickup. Gyms, patios, and salons will all be closed. Though we may not be able to socialize with friends and extended family, we can still go for walks, runs, and bike rides to maintain our physical and mental heath.
But with indoor dining prohibited since October in Toronto, and most malls closing down, finding a washroom has become much more difficult. Many outdoor park washrooms are not winterized, so they must close as well. For many of us, having access to open and accessible washrooms is a necessary when leaving the home for long periods of time.
Though winterized public washrooms can be found across the city, there are a few areas left unserved, including the Etobicoke waterfront between Humber Bay Shores and Long Branch, the eastern Scarborough waterfront parks, including Guild Park and the Port Union/Rouge Beach area, and northwestern Etobicoke. Ideally, every Torontonian should live within walking distance of a four-season park.
Even with the impending lockdown, there are some other washrooms that will remain available when necessary. GO Transit has kept washrooms at its stations accessible even during the Spring 2020 lockdown. On the Lakeshore Line, stations are open seven days a week, including Guildwood and Rouge Hill. Many supermarkets have public washrooms as well.
I hope that there will be improved four-season access to public washrooms this year, and every year going forward. Simple outdoor activity, including long walks, are one of the safest and easiest things we can do to keep ourselves happy and busy.
I will update the map as more washroom facilities open.
On Saturday April 11, during the Easter long weekend, the City of Toronto announced that a team of over 350 police officers and bylaw enforcement officers would shift from an education-based campaign of verbal and written warnings to people congregating and using closed amenities in parks to a zero-tolerance ticketing campaign. Tickets for violating orders — intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 — include a fine of up $1,000.
In the press release, the city listed twenty parks specifically targeted for enforcement. Though most are located in the old City of Toronto and along Lake Ontario, there are several others located in Toronto’s inner suburbs.
The list of parks include several along Toronto’s waterfront, including Humber Bay Park, Woodbine Beach, and Bluffers Park. It also includes several small downtown parks adjacent to recent high rise residential development, including Corktown Common, College Park, and Allan Gardens. Large suburban parks known for family gatherings and picnics, such as Earl Bales, G. Ross Lord, and Sunnybrook Parks are also on the list.
These parks are illustrated in the map below.
Though many of us are at home, working remotely or waiting for schools and workplaces to reopen, those employed in essential industries and services do not have a choice. For the rest of us not required to self-isolate, an occasional walk or bicycle ride is good for our mental and physical well-being. It may be necessary to pick up food and prescriptions.
For those of us without yards and quiet residential neighbourhoods, going outside means either navigating narrow and occasionally crowded sidewalks, or going to nearby small and busy parks, especially those without access to a car. In my experience so far, the vast majority of people are respecting the calls for physical distancing.
Closing parking lots and amenities such as playgrounds and picnic facilities makes sense. Where possible, we shouldn’t be straying far from home while physically distancing, and we should be keeping close to those we’re living with. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people live in apartments in Mimico and Humber Bay Shores; they shouldn’t be crowded out of their own backyard by others seeking a stroll along the waterfront.
But downtown and in the Yonge-Eglinton area, quiet open spaces close to home may be hard to come by. Sidewalks are narrow, construction barriers such as scaffolding make physical distancing especially difficult, and along Eglinton Avenue, Crosstown LRT construction has made getting around on foot especially challenging, with pedestrians often restricted to narrow passages.
These help to explain the problems at College Park, Eglinton Park, and Allan Gardens. Furthermore, Allan Gardens is close to several shelters and social services such as Seaton House, and has long been a place for marginalized residents to socialize and linger.
This was the argument made by two associate professors of epidemiology at Ryerson University, who sent an open letter to Mayor John Tory and the city’s medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, arguing for more road space for pedestrians and cyclists.
While most people are urged to stay home as much as possible during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are those who must carry on. These include health care workers, staff at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses, and others who can not work from home. There are also those who continue to require transit to undertake essential errands, such as medical appointments.
Thankfully, most transit systems have carried on. Through GO Transit has experienced an 80% drop in ridership since the beginning of March, it continues to operate all rail lines and most bus routes, providing fewer trips, but maintaining the same span of service hours. The TTC discontinued most express routes, but it maintains a grid of frequent bus and streetcar services.
However, the TTC and Brampton Transit continue to struggle with crowding on certain routes. Brampton Transit — which has resorted to an “enhanced Saturday service” level –will only carry half a bus’s seated capacity to enforce social distancing, which has resulted in “closed-door” situations where buses won’t stop for waiting passengers. As a result, several routes are now discontinued during peak periods so that buses are sent to address crowding elsewhere. Brampton Transit serves many shipping warehouses, including two Amazon fulfillment centres, which remain busy during this time.
Routes 117 and 119 are industrial services, connecting warehouses and food service plants. These industries — like the infamous Fiera Foods plants served by Route 119 — rely on low-paid, often temporary workers, with early morning starts. Certain warehouses and many food-service plants also have very early starts to the day. It would be tough for workers to accommodate the TTC’s request to travel at later times. Routes 96, 102, and 165 also extend into major industrial areas. Route 123 serves the Metro supermarket chain’s distribution centres on Dundas Street and The West Mall.
Many of these routes run through Toronto’s neighbourhood improvement areas, which are identified by the city as those requiring additional investment due to issues such as poor access to services and higher concentrations of low-income families. In addition, routes 41, 96, 119, and 165 serve the Humber River Regional Hospital, one of Toronto’s largest health care facilities, while the 96 Wilson also directly serves Etobicoke General Hospital.
Though it would be best for private essential employers to stagger shifts during this unprecedented time, there may be a need for the TTC to redirect some resources towards these parts of the city.
On February 26, 1920, Ontario’s provincial highway network was born. That year, 16 highways were established across southern Ontario, between the Ottawa and Detroit Rivers. These highways, previously maintained by townships and counties, connected the province’s largest cities and provided important links to Quebec and the United States.
In 1925, these highways were assigned numbers 2 through 17, in rough order from west to east. There was no Highway 13; instead, the Port Hope-Peterborough Highway was assigned Route 12A. Highway 2, alternatively known as the Trans-Provincial Highway, extended from Windsor to the west to the Quebec border in the east, continuing eastwards as Quebec Highway 2. (That province renumbered its entire highway system in the 1960s and 1970s.) Meanwhile, Highway 15, connecting Kingston and Ottawa, took a deviating “S” shaped route via Perth. Highway 7 only went as far east as Brampton. While the province used triangular highway markers at the time, in 1930, they were renamed “King’s Highways” and assigned crowned highway shields still in use today.
The map below illustrates the highway system at the time.
Several of Ontario’s first highways no longer exist. Highway 12A was later renumbered to Highway 28; that first section was later downloaded to Northumberland and Peterborough Counties. The first section of Highway 14, which originally ran between Foxboro and Picton via Belleville, was later integrated with the longer and more important Highway 62. The short stub of Highway 14 between Foxboro and Marmora was also downloaded in the 1990s.
Four years ago, I wrote about GO Transit’s problematic fare structure. Though GO Transit claims to charge passengers based upon a fare-by-distance structure, fares for travelling short distances were disproportionately high compared to long-distance rides from outer suburban stations. In 2015, I also found significant fare differences between corridors, with Kitchener Line passengers paying the most per distance traveled.
Since my original post, some changes were made to the GO Transit fare system:
In 2016, a tiered fare increase was applied, with the lowest fares frozen (for example, Union Station to Mimico, Bloor, or Danforth), with fare increases between 40 and 60 cents per ride dependent on distance traveled. Those fare increases applied to Presto fares, though with a discount (11.15% less than the cash fare).
In January 2018, a $1.50 fare discount was introduced for Presto card users transferring between TTC and GO. However, the Ford government announced it would no longer subsidize the TTC-GO fare discount, threatening its continuation.
In April 2019, GO fares for trips less than 10 kilometres were reduced, with the minimum cash fare going from $5.30 to $4.40, with the minimum Presto fares reduced from $4.71 to $3.70. A passenger headed from Union Station to Exhibition Place could choose to take a local TTC streetcar fare ($3.10 with a Presto Card) or the direct GO train ride (just 60 cents more). At the same time, the cash fares for trips longer than 10 kilometres were increased by 4%, while Presto fares were increased by 3%.
The good news is the eventual reduction of short-distance fares have gone a long way towards flattening the fare/distance curve.
There were also some major service changes over the last four years. Two new GO stations were opened: Downsview Park (which offers a direct connection to the new TTC subway extension to York University and Vaughan), and Gormley, a station built next to Highway 404 on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Additional trains were added to Kitchener, new peak-period trains to and from Niagara Falls were introduced, evening trains added on the Kitchener Line, and this month, weekend trains were introduced on the Stouffville Line. But connecting bus routes to Cambridge, Bolton, and between Milton and Oakville were eliminated, with other bus trips cancelled across the system.
TTC stops have improved with the addition of route numbers, but this bus stop is deceiving
In the last few years, the TTC has made significant improvements in its maps, signage, and wayfinding standards. It also introduced new streetcar and subway fleets, retrofitted elevators into older stations (all but one streetcar line and a majority of subway stations are now fully accessible), and opened a new subway extension. Though overcrowding, bunching, and weekend closures continue to be aggravations, it is important to recognize where the TTC has improved.
Specific changes to TTC wayfinding include a new simplified system map, better signage at subway stations, introducing standard signage for diversions, scheduled closures and construction notifications, and revising the classic TTC bus stop.
However, two recent changes represent an unfortunate departure from these improvements.
2014 was a watershed year for municipal voter turnout in Toronto. After a disastrous four years of Rob Ford as mayor, 54.7 percent of all eligible voters went to the polls, electing John Tory. That was the highest voter turnout in decades, even higher than 1997, when Torontonians elected Mel Lastman to lead a newly amalgamated City of Toronto. In 2010, when Rob Ford was elected mayor, turnout was 50.4 percent, compared to 39.3 percent in 2006 and 38.3 percent in 2000.
Four years ago, the mayoral race was especially competitive. Progressive Olivia Chow was the initial front-runner against Ford, but Tory (who previously ran for mayor in 2003) pulled ahead as Chow’s campaign floundered. Late in the campaign, Rob Ford dropped out due to health concerns, so his brother Doug took his place. Among the three frontrunners, Tory got 40.3 percent of the vote, while Doug Ford took 33.7 percent. Chow only got 23.1 percent. Voters also elected seven new councillors that year, and returned Rob Ford to Ward 2.
After two elections in which over half the number of eligible voters took part, in 2018 voter turnout fell to just 40.9 percent. This was hardly surprising. John Tory cruised to victory despite a challenge by former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, while a sudden reduction in the number of wards confused voters and crushed the hopes of many council hopefuls and their supporters.
Though 769,000 electors voted in this mess of an election, voter turnout varied across the city. In Ward 23, Scarborough North, only 34.1 percent of eligible voters turned out to the polls. In Ward 7, Humber River-Black Creek, just 34.6 percent of electors voted. Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, had the third worst turnout, with just 34.8 percent.
Areas with the highest voter turnout were Midtown and east end Toronto. Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth had the highest turnout, where 49.2 percent of electors cast a vote. It was followed by Ward 15 and Ward 12 (both of which had 48.5 percent turnout) and Ward 19, where 48.4 percent of electors went to the polls.
Wards 12, 14, 15, and 19 had interesting and competitive council races. In Ward 14, the race featured two progressive incumbents, while Ward 19 was one of just two races in which an established city councillor was not running for re-election. Wards 12 and 15 also had competitive races. However, in Ward 4, Gord Perks won re-election easily.
Yet Ward 23 had an open council race in which no incumbent was running. And Ward 7 was one of the most interesting and important races of 2018; this is where Giorgio Mammoliti was finally defeated after years of campaign violations, buffoonery, and embarrassments.
Voter turnout has consistently been low in Toronto’s northwest and northeast corners. In 2014, Ward 8 and Ward 41 (which made up parts of new Wards 7 and 23) had the lowest numbers of electors casting a vote. Turnout was highest in more affluent neighbourhoods, especially in places like Midtown Toronto, the Kingsway neighbourhood in Etobicoke, and in Toronto’s East End. What surprised me mostly was the poor turnout in Ward 10 in 2018.
The difference in voter turnout across the city is more apparent at the neighbourhood level. With the poll-level results available through Toronto’s Open Data Catalogue, I allocated the poll results to each of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods, while adjusting the numbers based on the number of votes cast in the advance polls in each ward. The map below shows voter turnout at the neighbourhood level in 2018.
What is immediately apparent is that voter turnout is highest in many neighbourhoods surrounding Toronto’s downtown core, while turnout is lowest in the former City of York, in northwestern Toronto and parts of Scarborough. Areas of high voter turnout tend to be affluent neighbourhoods with high levels of home ownership. These neighbourhoods include the Kingsway, Lawrence Park, Leaside, Cabbagetown, Rosedale, Forest Hill, Swansea, the Beaches, and Leaside. Many of these areas also have active residents’ associations. With Ryerson professor Myer Siemiatycki, I looked at the results of previous municipal election voter turnouts in a report published by the Maytree Foundation.
Downtown, areas with major condominium developments also have lower turnout, especially in places like the Waterfront, CityPlace, Liberty Village, and the Bay Street corridor. These areas are more likely to have younger residents and many renters. Engaging voters both in downtown condos and those living in the inner suburbs remains a challenge. While voter turnout was much higher in 2014 across the city, the same basic patterns are evident. 2014 voter turnout by neighbourhood (alternate version available here)
At the end of 2014, despite some disappointing results in that year’s municipal election, I was feeling optimistic about 2018. In 2014, there were a number of great candidates running for city council, and I expected many would try again in 2018. After council finally approved the recommended 47 ward model for the 2018 election, I was excited. Downtown, which was badly underrepresented under the 44 ward model, would get three additional wards. Vacancies left by departing councillors, including Mary-Margaret McMahon and John Filion, would further improve the chance for fresh new voices to join city council. At least eight wards across Toronto would not have an incumbent running.
Of course, we all know what happened to that dream.
Downtown tends to elect some of Toronto’s hardest-working and most progressive councillors. They’re hard-working out of necessity: old Ward 27 had the largest population in the city, and all four old downtown wards struggled with pressures caused by massive new development and social concerns, especially as older, affordable housing stock is replaced by new condominiums. (Similar pressures exist in North York Centre and Midtown.)
The last council term
In 2014, four councillors were elected downtown. Mike Layton was re-elected in Ward 19, which ran from Dovercourt Road in the west to Bathurst Street in the east, including Exhibition Place, Fort York, and the Mirvish Village redevelopment site at Bathurst and Bloor. Layton was first elected to council in 2010. Layton is the son of respected long-time councillor and federal NDP leader Jack Layton.
Joe Cressy was elected in old Ward 20, which was located between Bathurst Street and University Avenue, and included the Annex, University of Toronto, the Entertainment District, City Place, and much of the waterfront. The previous elected councillor in Ward 20 was Adam Vaughan, who resigned in 2014 to run in a federal by-election in Spadina-Fort York. He is now the Liberal MP for Spadina-Fort York. A long-time political activist, Cressy is the son of former city councillors Gordon Cressy and Joanne Campbell.
Kristyn Wong-Tam was re-elected in Ward 27, which included Rosedale, Yorkville, the Church-Wellesley Village, Ryerson University, and Moss Park. A local business owner and an advocate for both LGBTQ and Asian-Canadian community issues, Wong-Tam was first elected in 2010.
Pam McConnell was re-elected in Ward 28, which included Cabbagetown, Regent Park, the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood, much of the Financial District, and the Distillery District. She was first elected as a Metro councillor in 1994. She is credited for many local improvements, including the Regent Park redevelopment and the revitalized Berczy Park. Sadly, McConnell died in 2017. She was replaced by council appointee Lucy Troisi in a controversial vote.
The promise of new representation
At the beginning of 2018, with three new wards, each of the seven downtown races were starting to shape up.
Mike Layton planned to run for re-election in Ward 19, whose boundaries were similar to the ward he was first elected to in 2010. Joe Cressy planned to run in new Ward 24, and Kristyn Wong-Tam planned to run in Ward 22. Despite her promise not to run for election after her appointment, Lucy Troisi registered to run in Ward 23, against former Liberal provincial cabinet minister and 2010 mayoral candidate George Smitherman. Also running in Ward 23 were Megan Willson, an entrepreneur and community organizer; Khuram Aftab, a local convenience store owner; and Walied Khogali Ali, a progressive community activist in Regent Park and St. Jamestown.
Ward 20 had an especially crowded field of candidates, with eleven council hopefuls. Among the most prominent was local TDSB trustee Ausma Malik, a rising political star. Malik, like other Muslim women and men, faced targeted attacks during the 2014 municipal election. Her win was one of a few bright spots in a nasty campaign season. Malik was backed by many progressives, including Layton and Cressy.
Other high-profile candidates included businessman, transit advocate, and naval reserve officer Kevin Vuong; lawyer April Engelberg; former television journalist and Conservative Karlene Nation; disgruntled restaurateur Al Carbone; second-time candidate Dean Maher, founder of two local neighbourhood associations; and Sabrina Zuniga, federal Conservative candidate for Spadina-Fort York in the 2015 election. Late to register was Han Dong, a local Liberal MPP defeated in the June provincial election. Dong’s entry into the race was supported by former councillor and Liberal MP Adam Vaughan.
Candidates in Ward 21, which encompassed Corktown, the Distillery District, and St. Lawrence Market, included Jennifer Hollett, a former broadcaster and provincial NDP candidate in University-Rosedale; and Suzanne Kavanagh, past president of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and advocate for local public spaces, including Toronto’s waterfront.
In Ward 25, which included the Yorkville and Church-Wellesley neighbourhoods, there were several well-known candidates, featuring several activists within the local LGBTQ movement. These included Chris Moise, a local Toronto District School Board trustee; Niki Ward, director of the 519 Community Centre; and Ryan Lester, a director of development with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, and former director at Egale Canada.
Downtown voters were spoiled by choice, and there were many worthy and qualified candidates.
But then, of course, Doug Ford seized control of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and won the provincial election in June. One of his first acts was to unilaterally cut Toronto City Council to just 25 wards, with the promise to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to get it past any legal challenge.
Seven downtown wards were reduced to just three. Councillor Joe Cressy decided to run in Spadina Fort-York, while Mike Layton registered in University-Rosedale. Kristyn Wong-Tam ran in Toronto Centre, along with appointed councillor Lucy Troisi.
Many allied progressive candidates, including Ausma Malik and Jennifer Hollett, withdrew their candidacies. Chris Moise decided to run for re-election as TDSB trustee, which he won. Other candidates who withdrew included Han Dong,
There were 14 candidates running in Ward 10, Fort York-Spadina, including Joe Cressy, April Engelberg, and Kevin Vuong. Cressy won with 55.8 percent of the vote, with Engelberg coming in second place with 11.6 percent and and Vuong with 10.5 percent. Cressy placed first in all but seven polls, most of which were condominium buildings in the Harbourfront and Liberty Village neighbourhoods. The top three candidates all supported the King Street Pilot, while Al Carbone got a mere 1.8 percent of the vote.
Poll results in Ward 10
The new Ward 11 was a very different ward from the one in which Mike Layton had run in 2010 and 2014. Only a fraction of old Ward 19 was included in University-Rosedale, which includes neighbourhoods such as the Annex, Yorkville and Rosedale, areas previously represented by Councillors Cressy and Wong-Tam. Layton was challenged by Niki Ward and by latecomer candidate Joyce Rowlands, an occupational health nurse, writer, and policy consultant, and the daughter of former City of Toronto mayor June Rowlands.
Despite the change in ward boundaries, Layton won easily with 69.6 percent of the vote, while Rowlands placed second with 13.2 percent, and Ward in third with 9.1 percent. Layton came first in every poll, but Rowlands did best in Rosedale, almost winning Polls 027 and 029. This was the same area in which Wong-Tam had the least support in 2014.
Poll results in Ward 11
The new Ward 13, Toronto Centre, had much more of former Ward 28 than Councillor Wong-Tam’s old Ward 27. The Rosedale and Yorkville sections of Ward 27 became part of new Ward 11. While Ward 13 is geographically smaller than old Ward 27 (the only instance of this happening under the 25-ward model), it still has a larger population, and has many different challenges than the old ward, as it now includes St. Jamestown, where hundreds remain displaced after a fire, and Regent Park, which is still undergoing redevelopment.
Wong-Tam won with 50.3 percent of the vote, with other high-profile candidates doing quite poorly. George Smitherman got just 15.2 percent of the vote, while Lucy Troisi, the Ward 28 incumbent, got just 8.6 percent. Wong-Tam placed first in all but seven polls, while Troisi didn’t place first anywhere. It’s clear by the poll results map below that Wong-Tam’s support was lowest in St. Jamestown and in the Regent Park neighbourhoods while strongest in old Ward 27 and the area south of Queen Street.
This speaks to the challenges for many councillors elected to new, larger wards. At least Kristyn Wong-Tam is one of Toronto’s most effective and hardest-working councillors, so Ward 13 is in good hands.
Poll results in Ward 13
Downtown Toronto is fortunate to have experienced, dedicated, and hard-working councillors, but concentrating all the work in just three wards is unfortunate. Not only is the population of central Toronto growing faster than most other parts of the city, it has additional needs: an increasing share of the city’s employment that requires additional infrastructure such as a Relief Line Subway, and pressing social needs especially as new development downtown squeezes out affordable rental housing and the institutions that support marginalized people.
I also think of all the great people running for council who never got a fair shot at running for council. Though re-electing Councillors Cressy, Layton, and Wong-Tam is the best result especially considering the circumstances, I was excited by many of the new voices who put their names forward in good faith earlier in 2018. Hopefully, they remain active in the community and get a fair chance in the future.
In the penultimate post in my series examining the results of the 25 council races in the October 2018 municipal election here in Toronto, I take a look at the results in Ward 4, Parkdale-High Park and Ward 9, Davenport in Toronto’s west end.
Neither of the two ward-level results were surprising. Ward 4 returned progressive councillor Gord Perks to City Hall, while in Ward 9, there wasn’t much of a contest: centrist Ana Bailão was easily re-elected.
At the start of 2018, once the 47 ward boundaries were confirmed, it looked as though Bailão was going to be in one of the most interesting council races. The west end of the old City of Toronto — old Wards 14, 17, and 18 — had low population growth compared to many other parts of the city, including northeast Scarborough, North York Centre, Humber Bay Shores, and Downtown. These new ward boundaries were designed to improve representation as the old 44 wards were based on federal ridings drawn in the 1990s. Even with three new wards, the west end would lose a seat on council. The way the boundaries were drawn, it meant that Bailão, elected in Ward 18, would be up against Cesar Palacio, elected in Ward 17.
Differences in 2018 ward populations under the old 44-ward model. Toronto’s west end was one of several areas over-represented by the outdated boundaries.
Under the 47-ward model, it would have been the only race in which two incumbents would have ran against one another and Bailão would have had the advantage.
Palacio, a conservative, was vulnerable in the last few elections, challenged by progressive candidates Alejandra Bravo and Jonah Schein, with Palacio narrowly winning in 2010. With the new boundaries extending south to Bloor Street (the area south of Bloor shifting to join old Ward 14 represented by Gord Perks), Palacio’s base in the north half of his old ward would not have been enough — areas that voted for Bravo in 2014 would have certainly voted for Bailão in a two-candidate race.
After Bill 5 was introduced and confirmed into law, things changed. Sarah Doucette, a progressive councillor representing old Ward 13 (Swansea, Bloor West Village and part of the Junction) withdrew from the race when her ward was joined with Ward 14 (Parkdale and Roncesvalles).
Doucette, who was first elected in 2010, said that she wasn’t interested in serving on a 25 ward council. A councillor well-known for her local community activism, Doucette would have represented a much larger area, and would have run against Gord Perks, someone she describes as a friend. For his part, Perks said that “Doucette deeply embodied the values of decency and community at city council. It’s a crime that we’re losing her.”
Meanwhile, Perks, who was running, still had several opponents in the new larger ward. They included David Ginsberg, owner of several restaurants and a coffee shop near Trinity-Bellwoods Park; Kalsang Dolma, a Parkdale-based artist and community activist; and Evan Tummillo, a property manager who ran against Doucette in 2014. Tummillo was endorsed by the Toronto Sun, while the Toronto Star endorsed Perks.
In neighbouring Ward 9, Cesar Palacio quietly dropped out of the race in late September, only a few days before the new post-Bill 5 nomination deadline. This was a surprise, as he and Bailão had known that they would run against each other for a very long time. Only four other candidates had registered, none of whom enjoyed wide name recognition. Had Palacio withdrawn earlier, it is possible that a progressive candidate would have taken a shot at running against centrist Bailão.
In Ward 4, Perks easily won re-election, taking 44.5 percent of the vote and placing first in all but five polls. Ginsberg placed a respectable second, with 21.6 percent. Ginsberg did best in the affluent Baby Point neighbourhood in former Ward 13, while Dolma did quite well in a few Parkdale polls, placing first in one. Tummillo got just 6.2 percent of the vote, coming first in just one poll, a seniors’ residence on Roncesvalles Avenue.
Poll-level results for Ward 4
Meanwhile, in Ward 9, Ana Bailão got the highest winning margin of any council candidate, taking 83.6 percent of the vote. As the councillor in the old City of Toronto most allied with Mayor John Tory, Bailão has since been named to the executive committee and chair of the new planning and housing committee. Perks, on the other hand, was shut out of Tory’s inner circle.
In this post, I take a look at the council races in Ward 15 Don Valley West and Ward 16 Don Valley East. The new two wards, introduced under Bill 5, encompass most of what used to be Wards 25, 26, and 34.
Ward 25, Toronto’s most affluent under the 44 ward model, was represented by Jaye Robinson, a centre-right councillor. First elected in 2010, she served on both Rob Ford and John Tory’s executive committees. In 2014, she was appointed chair of the powerful Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, whose responsibility includes roads and transportation. Robinson was roundly criticized by road safety advocates (including Walk Toronto, of which I am a co-founder) for a weak “Vision Zero” plan to reduce traffic deaths in Toronto, especially pedestrians and cyclists. 2018 has turned out to be an especially deadly year on Toronto’s streets.
Ward 26 was represented by Jon Burnside, a former Toronto Police officer. In 2014, Burnside defeated incumbent councillor John Parker — the only council race in which a sitting councillor was defeated by a challenger that year. Parker was a Progressive Conservative MPP in Mike Harris’ government, but came to be one of the most effective opponents of the Ford Brothers’ plans for Toronto’s waterfront, and brought a dry wit that was much needed at the time. In the 2014 election, John Tory endorsed Burnside, and Parker was defeated. Burnside had the support of the wealthier Leaside neighbourhood and condo towers off Wynford Drive, while the lower-income Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park neighbourhoods supported Parker or Ishrath Velshi.
Since the 2014 election, Burnside has proven himself as a thoughtful, moderate conservative.
Meanwhile, Ward 34 was represented by Denzil Minnan-Wong, probably city council’s staunchest and most effective conservative.
Minnan-Wong has been a municipal politician since 1994, when he was appointed to North York City Council. Since 1997, he has sat on Toronto City Council. He’s an advocate of contracting out city services, such as waste collection. Though he supported separated bicycle lanes on Sherbourne, Harbord, Richmond and Adelaide Streets, he quickly moved to scrub bike lanes on Jarvis Street downtown and Pharmacy and Birchmount Avenues in Scarborough. He has been especially powerful during the mayoralties of Rob Ford and John Tory, serving as Tory’s deputy mayor.
In June 2018, Minnan-Wong was nominated by local Progressive Conservatives and ran in the June provincial election. He lost narrowly to the Liberal incumbent, Michael Coteau. Unlike council colleagues Shelley Carroll and Chin Lee, Minnan-Wong did not resign his seat to run provincially.
Under the 47 ward model approved by City Council, each of the three incumbents were poised to run in wards similar to the ones they represented. Only one candidate registered to run against Jaye Robinson in new Ward 27 — Kyle Ashley, a former parking enforcement officer who made a name for himself on Twitter ticketing and shaming motorists blocking Toronto’s bike lanes. He ran against Robinson because of a perceived lack of leadership on Vision Zero. In new Ward 33, Burnside faced a few opponents, but was looking to cruise to re-election.
Meanwhile, Minnan-Wong was challenged by former Liberal MPP and provincial minister David Caplan in new Ward 32. After leaving provincial politics, Caplan served as chair of the Infrastructure Lab and vice-chair of Global Public Affairs Toronto. It would be the first time in many years that Minnan-Wong would face a high-profile opponent.
But then the new 25 wards were imposed on the city.
Ward 15, the provincial/federal riding of Don Valley West, is represented by Liberals both provincially and federally: former premier Kathleen Wynne continues to serve the community, while Rob Oliphant is the Liberal MP.
The new ward boundary, severely disadvantaged Burnside: a significant chunk of old Ward 26, including Flemingdon Park, was now part of Don Valley East. A small part of old Ward 22, between Mount Pleasant Road and Bayview Avenue, was added. Meanwhile, Robinson did not lose any of her old ward. Several candidates, including Ashley, dropped out of the new race.
Burnside placed first in former Ward 26, getting 68 percent of the vote there, and won all three polls in former Ward 22, though by a small margin over Robinson. In Thorncliffe Park, however, Tanweer Khan got over 30 percent of the vote and placed first in four polls. Khan, a local business owner, was an organizer against the updated provincial health and sex-ed curriculum. Khan also ran for the nomination for the provincial Progressive Conservatives PC nomination in Don Valley West, but lost. Khan only got 4.0 percent of the vote ward-wide, but it helped Robinson win.
Robinson took 67 percent of the vote in her former ward. She won Ward 15 overall with 49.2 percent of the vote, to Burnside’s 43.8 percent. Though Robinson will not be part of the Tory’s executive committee this term, she was recently appointed Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission.
What bothers me mostly is not the result, but of the geographic isolation of Thorncliffe Park under the new 25 ward model. It is now a geographically isolated corner of a mostly affluent ward. I fear it, and neighbourhoods like it, will be ignored under a much smaller council.
Poll results in Ward 15
David Caplan was no match for Denzil Minnan-Wong. Caplan was able to get over 30 percent of the vote, but he placed first in just five polls. The combination of Minnan-Wong’s name recognition and incumbency, Caplan’s long absence from provincial politics and his involvement in the eHealth boondoggle (he resigned as Minister of Health in 2009 and did not run in the 2011 provincial election) probably also played a part as well. Caplan did best in Flemingdon Park, a low-income neighbourhood with a large immigrant population that was previously part of Ward 26.
Self-described “pragmatist”Stephen Ksiazek, a local business owner who sits on the Don Mills Residents Association, placed third with 7.1 percent of the vote, coming first in one poll.
Minnan-Wong will serve a second term as Tory’s primary deputy mayor, and will once again set an agenda of low taxes and austerity at City Hall.