Infrastructure Roads Toronto Walking

Deadly by design: The East Mall and Burnhamthorpe Road

Roadside memorial to a three year old boy at The East Mall and  Montebello Gardens,
near Burnhamthorpe Road, Etobicoke

On Tuesday, August 11, just after 11AM, a father and his two children were attempting to cross The East Mall north of Burnhamthorpe Road. They were crossing from the west side of the minor arterial street, where there is the main entrance to a long term care home, to the corner of Montebello Gardens, a short residential street on the east side.

As the three pedestrians were crossing, an 81-year-old woman driving a black SUV turned left from Montebello Gardens to go south on The East Mall, crashing directly into the family.

All three pedestrians were rushed to hospital. A three-year-old boy was soon pronounced dead, while a seven-year-old girl was taken to a trauma centre. The driver remained on scene. It is not certain if charges will be laid.

The three-year-old’s death came only a day after the Toronto Star’s Ben Spurr reported that 2020 has been the safest year for pedestrians and cyclists since at least 2007. There were 63 collisions resulting in serious injury or death in the period from January 1 through July 1, down from an average of 99. The decline can be explained by considerably reduced traffic since COVID-19 lockdowns began in mid March, and by fewer pedestrians on city streets.

As traffic picks up with the loosening of restrictions and as people go out for strolls and exercise for physical and mental health, the need for improved road safety and a commitment for real Vision Zero implementation, especially in Toronto’s suburbs, remains crucial. The area near where the young boy was killed last week just shows how much further we need to go.

TTC bus stop on The East Mall, north of Keene Avenue

I visited The East Mall on a sunny Friday afternoon. I took the 111 East Mall bus from Kipling Station to Keane Avenue, the first stop north of Burnhamthorpe Road. The bus stop has a nice, clean shelter and a large concrete pad, but no where safe to cross the street. On the other side, there is a southbound stop for buses heading towards Cloverdale Mall and the subway, and Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute, a high school specializing in programs for mature students and adult learners.

The intersection of The East Mall and Keene Avenue, looking north. Burnhamthorpe CI is behind the southbound bus stop A sign warns drivers of a winding road, with an advisory speed of 30 km/h.

A signalized pedestrian crossover exists further north, in front of West Glen Junior Public School, but the next TTC stop, at Capri Road, is at yet another unsignalized intersection. The distance between Burnhamthorpe Road to the south, and the pedestrian crossover is over 550 metres, and neither designated crossing is visible from Keene Avenue nor Montebello Gardens due to the winding nature of The East Mall.

This part of Toronto has seen plenty of tragedy this year. The Eatonville Care Centre was one of several long term care homes where the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed due to deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 amidst poor working and sanitary conditions documented by CAF medical staff. Forty-two residents died during that outbreak.

Eatonville Care Centre, with the roadside memorial in the background

The presence of a long term care home, a library branch at the southeast corner of The East Mall and Burnhamthorpe Road, two nearby schools, and a large Loblaws supermarket and pharmacy on the southwest corner should have made this area a priority for improved, safer road infrastructure. Speeds along The East Mall are much higher than the posted 40 km/h limit, while the winding, roadway limits both drivers’ and pedestrians’ fields of vision. There should be no excuse for such long distances between safe pedestrian crossings, especially with the vulnerable populations living in this area.

Though the driver who killed the three-year-old boy was carelessly turning from a side street, and not speeding along The East Mall, another tragedy is inevitable without significant changes. Meanwhile, The East Mall is similarly laid out south of Burnhamthorpe, where there are older rental towers and townhomes and new condominium towers going in, yet nothing is done to calm traffic along a winding, busy street.

Though the intersection of The East Mall and Burnhamthorpe Road is signalized, it is also a dangerous intersection to cross. Burnhampthorpe Road widens to four westbound lanes leading towards Highway 427, while wide turning radii make it easy for motorists to turn right at all four corners. Drivers, rushing on and off Highway 427 take little notice or care for pedestrians, as I experienced trying to cross the street.

An Uber/Lyft driver in a red Nissan sedan and a Land Rover SUV driver turn left from The East Mall to Burnhamthorpe Road towards Highway 427 after the advance green signal disappears and the walk signal turns on, with me starting my crossing

While motorists are treated to generous geometries and easy turns, pedestrians are only an afterthought, despite the library, supermarket, offices, and several bus stops used by TTC and Mississauga bus routes. Meanwhile, a new townhouse complex on the northwest corner will add even more pedestrians to this area.

The intersection of Burnhamthorpe and The East Mall encourages high speeds, with pedestrians only an afterthought

This part of Etobicoke is simply unforgiving of pedestrians and cyclists — it is one of only a few parts of the city where no ActiveTO measures have been introduced and where the local councillor, Stephen Holyday, has demonstrated consistent opposition to safe and effective active transportation measures. Holyday describes himself as taking “a tough stance against congestion-causing initiatives” such as bike lanes and the King Street Transit Pilot. He was only one of two councillors to vote against the ActiveTO bike plan in May.

If we value lives, support healthy lifestyles, and are deeply committed to Vision Zero, central Etobicoke will need to see big changes.

Ontario Toronto Travels

Signs of the times in Northwestern Toronto

Un-plated rental cars stored in the Woodbine Centre parking lot

In a distant corner of Woodbine Centre’s parking lot, dozens of late model cars and trucks sit with their licence plates removed. These are all rental cars, left idle due to the collapse of demand during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Friday, Hertz — the United States’ second-largest car rental company — filed for bankruptcy. Hertz’s brands include Dollar and Thrifty.

Woodbine Centre, a once-vibrant mall in northwest Toronto is a short drive from Toronto-Pearson International Airport, making it an ideal place to store the suddenly surplus fleets. Though in the 1980s and 1990s, Woodbine boasted cinemas, two-full line department stores, Zellers, and dozens of national chain stores, it has lost most of its cachet, with both Sears and Zellers gone, and Hudson’s Bay barely hanging on. Its parking lot was typically half-empty in recent years.

Though the demand for rental cars, especially at the airport, have dried up, many neighbourhood car rental branches remain open, offering attractive rates for daily and weekly rentals. I have taken advantage of the low prices right now (often as cheap as $25 a day on a multi-day rental) to run errands, go for short drives, conduct some field research for future articles and projects, and visit nearby provincial parks and regional forests for physically-distant nature hikes. I am also able to help family members by delivering groceries and medications. With the surplus of available cars, upgrades from the intermediate or standard car booking can be expected. (I was given a Mercedes-Benz E-class a few weeks ago, though I had booked a standard sedan.)

Though we live downtown, my partner and I prefer to shop at a Chinese grocery store in Scarborough, which is calmer, better organized, and better stocked than our local stores (flour, rice, and meat are plentiful). Having a car makes it easy to carry a large load, reducing the number of grocery trips required.

Across the street from Woodbine Centre, in another parking lot, there is another sign of the times: an overflow lot for Humber College has been transformed into a drive-through COVID-19 assessment centre. At 12:30 on Monday, May 25, the centre, which is normally open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, was already full, and not accepting any more patients who were looking to be tested.

While Premier Doug Ford urged anyone worried about having COVID-19 or being in contact with anyone with it last Sunday, it’s not surprising to see the huge demand. While the change in eligibility is good news, it is troubling that actually getting tested may take so long.

Full COVID-19 assessment centre in North Etobicoke

Election Maps Politics Toronto

Mapping the council races in Etobicoke Wards 1 and 2

In 2018, Etobicoke went three for three in returning hard-line conservative councillors to City Hall. In Ward 3, Mark Grimes was re-elected despite several controversies, with Mayor John Tory’s help. In Ward 1 and Ward 2, councillors with famous names were re-elected, cementing local political legacies. While the results in Ward 1 Etobicoke North were predictable, the results in Ward 2 Etobicoke Centre were disappointing.

Under the previous 44 wards and the approved 47-ward model, Etobicoke had six seats on Toronto City Council. With the 25 wards forced on the city when Bill 5 came into law, they were reduced to three.

Ward 1 — Etobicoke North

Prior to the new ward boundaries coming into effect, old Ward 1 was represented by Vincent Crisanti. Ward 1 sits in the far northwestern part of Toronto, bounded by Steeles Avenue and Highway 427, as well as the West Humber River to the south and the East Humber River. Its boundaries would not have changed in the 47-ward model.

Crisanti was first elected in 2010, defeating incumbent centrist Suzan Hall. Crisanti was a reliable ally during the first few years of Rob Ford’s disastrous mayoralty. Despite this, he was named one of Tory’s four deputy mayors after the 2014 election. This lasted until September 2017 when Crisanti publicly backed Doug Ford’s plan to run against Tory again for mayor.

Ward 2 was the domain of the Ford family. Rob Ford was first elected there in 2000, and had made a name for himself both for his constituency work and for his outspoken behaviour at City Hall. Ford was on the lone side of many 44-1 votes while David Miller was mayor. He ran for mayor in 2010 and won after Miller decided against a third term; his brother, Doug, was elected in Rob’s place in Ward 2. Doug never had Rob’s personal touch. Instead his time as councillor was focused on enabling Rob’s self-destructive behaviour, creating distractions, and coming up with waterfront land schemes that helped to erode Rob Ford’s authority on council, two years before the crack scandal broke. Doug even declared that his under-served ward had too many libraries and expressed his eagerness to close them, starting a fight with Margaret Atwood.

Early in 2014, his work done, Doug Ford was ready to bow out. Rob and Doug’s 20-year-old nephew, Michael Stirpe, changed his last name to Ford, and registered to run in his uncles’ place. But in September 2014, Rob abandoned his bid for re-election for mayor due to his poor health and Doug ran instead. Michael withdrew in September 2014 to run for the local Toronto District School Board trustee position so Rob could run in his old ward. Rob won in Ward 2 easily, getting 58.8 percent of the vote, while Doug came in second place in the mayoral race.

Toronto would continue to be haunted by Doug Ford.

After Rob Ford’s death in March 2016, Michael Ford ran in a summer by-election, getting 70 percent of the vote, though only 9391 voters bothered to turn out. It was looking like Michael Ford would easily win again in 2018.

But then Doug Ford engineered a takeover of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, won the June 2018 provincial election, and wrecked local democracy in Toronto by imposing cuts to city council to just 25 wards. Despite his loyalty, Vincent Crisanti was just one more victim.

Michael Ford was re-elected easily in the new combined Ward 1 with 42.3 percent of the vote, compared to Crisanti’s 34.3 percent. Other candidates such as Naiima Farah and Carol Royer spoke to the need for political change in a ward where three-quarters of the population are visible minorities. The Toronto Star endorsed Royer, a local entrepreneur and community activist, but she placed fifth, with just over 2 percent of the vote. Farah came in third, but got just 9 percent of the vote.

Crisanti placed first in his old ward, getting 41 percent of the vote there while Michael Ford got 35 percent. In former Ward 2, Ford got over 50 percent of the vote compared to Crisanti’s 29 percent. Michael Ford had the support of his uncle; there were also over 2,000 more votes in the southern half of the ward. The result was not at all surprising.

Farah placed first in two polls: Poll 055 on Dixon Road, and Poll 060, a highrise apartment near Eglinton Avenue and Martin Grove Road. Poll 055 is the home of many new immigrants, including a large Somali-Canadian community. Yet again, it was a shame that new voices, especially persons of colour, were shut out of this municipal election.

2018 Election - W1.jpg
Poll-level results in Ward 1, Etobicoke North

Ward 2 — Etobicoke Centre

Bill 5 also resulted in the amalgamation of former Wards 3 and 4.

Ward 3 was represented by Stephen Holyday, the son of former Etobicoke mayor, Toronto councillor ,and one-time Ontario PC MPP Doug Holyday. The younger Holyday was first elected in 2014 and has been a reliable ally of John Tory, named one of Tory’s deputy mayors after Crisanti was stripped of the title in 2017. Along with Denzil Minnan-Wong, Holyday is one of council’s staunchest conservatives, as well as its most hostile to cyclists.

Ward 4 was represented by John Campbell, a former chair of the Toronto District School Board. While a conservative, Campbell has been a more reasoned voice on city council than his fellow Etobicoke colleagues. For this reason, Campbell was endorsed by the Toronto Star.

Also running were progressive candidate Erica Kelly, previously the NDP candidate in the provincial election, and Angelo Carnevale, who had the support of Doug Ford and Kinga Suma, the controversial Ford-backed PC MPP.

Several polls previously located in old Ward 4 shifted to new Ward 1, while five polls in old Ward 2 shifted to Etobicoke Centre. This gave a slight advantage to Holyday, who did not lose any of his former ward.

It was a close race, but Holyday won with 38.6 percent of the vote, while Campbell got 35.5 percent. Just 1186 votes separated the two incumbent candidates. Holyday was the first choice in all but two polls in former Ward 3 (two polls opted for Erica Kelly), while in former Ward 4, Holyday placed first in nine polls, Campbell placed first in just 28 election-day polls, but did well in the advance polls.

Carnevale, who placed third with 15.1 percent, came first in just one poll, in an area previously represented by the Ford family. But Carnevale, who registered to run against Campbell in the old 47-ward model, helped to take support from Campbell, getting 20 percent of the vote in Campbell’s old turf versus 11 percent in former Ward 3. That, and the fact that there were nearly 3000 more voters in old Ward 3 than in old Ward 4, help to explain how Holyday was returned to city hall.

Last week, Stephen Holyday was one of four suburban councillors named to the new striking committee that makes recommendations for council appointments to important committees, boards, and commissions. It’s quite clear that John Tory will be continuing an austerity agenda while shutting out urban councillors and progressives from decision making. Stephen Holyday will be an important part of that during the next four years.

2018 Election - W2.jpgPoll-level results in Ward 2, Etobicoke Centre

Ward 1 – Etobicoke North
Candidate Votes Percentage
Vincent Crisanti 8,654 34.3
Peter D’Gama 253 1.0
Naiima Farah 2,262 9.0
Michael Ford 10,648 42.3
Michelle Garcia 439 1.7
Christopher Noor 214 0.9
Shirish Patel 1,945 7.7
Carol Royer 642 2.6
Ward 2 – Etobicoke Centre
Candidate Total Votes Percentage
Bill Boersma 258 0.7
John Campbell 13441 35.5
Angelo Carnevale 5735 15.1
Stephen Holyday 14627 38.6
Erica Kelly 3854 10.2
Election Maps Politics Toronto

Mapping the council race in Ward 3 – Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Etobicoke-Lakeshore represents the southern third of Etobicoke, stretching from Dundas Street in the north to Lake Ontario in the south, encompassing the historic villages of Islington, Long Branch, New Toronto, and Mimico, as well as sprawling industrial areas and post-war subdivisions. It also includes the rapidly growing high-rise communities of Humber Bay Shores and Six Points.

In 2014, Etobicoke-Lakeshore elected two city councillors, veteran Mark Grimes in Ward 6, south of the Gardiner Expressway, and a new councilor, Justin Di Ciano, in the north half. The pair are friends and were close allies on council prior to the 2018 election.

For many years, Ward 5, located north of the Gardiner Expressway, was represented by Peter Milczyn. Milczyn, an architect by training, was a thoughtful centrist on Toronto City Council. In Spring 2014, Milczyn, a Liberal, was elected to the provincial legislature. James Maloney (elected as a Liberal MP in the 2015 federal election) was appointed by council as a caretaker representative until the Fall 2014 election, which was won by Justin Di Ciano.

Di Ciano, a real estate executive, won Ward 5 with 54.1 percent of of the vote in 2014 and placed first in all but two polls. Nobody knew it at the time, but the 2014 election was the start of Justin Di Ciano’s problems.

Meanwhile, in Ward 6, incumbent councillor Mark Grimes was re-elected in 2014 with 43.6 percent of the vote. Grimes was challenged by community leader Russ Ford (who got 34.1 percent of the vote) and former Toronto Police spokesperson Tony Vella (who got 10.5 percent of the vote). Russ Ford had a strong campaign, but Grimes’ incumbency, and John Tory’s late endorsement and robocalls, gave the sitting councillor the advantage.

During the last term of council, both Di Ciano and Grimes came under increasing scrutiny by the press and the Ontario Provincial Police. Both councillors backed a controversial residential development adjoining GO Transit’s Willowbrook yards and maintenance centre despite Metrolinx’s objections.

Under mayors Ford and Tory, Mark Grimes was the appointed chair of Exhibition Place, the board that controls the city-owned waterfront land where the Canadian National Exhibition is held. The CNE, a separate entity, is a tenant of Exhibition Place. Other important tenants include a hotel, two convention centres (Beanfield Centre and Enercare Centre), Medieval Times, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Three MLSE teams — the Toronto Argonauts, Toronto FC, and the Marlies play at Exhibition Place, while the Raptors (also a MLSE property) have their training centre on the lands. Exhibition Place is also the home of Muzik, a controversial nightclub supported by Grimes and fellow councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.

Workers represented by the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) had been locked out by Exhibition Place for months. Last week, IATSE members, who provide technical and staging work for all Exhibition Place events and venues, agreed to a long-overdue contract from the city and are finally going back to work. The union had to take concessions, and claims the lockout was a “union-busting attempt.”

Councillor Di Ciano was found to have close ties to that development’s proponent, Dunpar Homes. Meanwhile, Councillor Grimes got into trouble for improperly promoting specific condominium developments in his ward, including the defunct “On the GO Condos” at Mimico Station.

Di Ciano also became notable as council’s most vocal opponent of ranked ballots, getting city council to vote against adopting them in future elections. Di Ciano also strongly opposed the new 47 ward boundaries, decided after years of planning and consultation; he became a major cheerleader for Doug Ford’s Bill 5.

In the end, though, Councillor Di Ciano decided not to run for re-election. His executive assistant, Mary Campbell, registered in Ward 5 instead. Also running in Ward 5 was Pamela Gough, a long-time local Toronto District School Board trustee. As a school trustee, Gough was especially concerned with traffic and road safety.

In Ward 6, challengers to Mark Grimes included Amber Morley and Iain Davis. Morley, like Russ Ford, worked at the LAMP Community Heath Centre and in Ward 4 Councillor John Campbell’s office. Iain Davis is the son of former TDSB chair Bruce Davis; he ran on a centre-right platform.

With the 25 wards confirmed, Grimes, Morley, Gough, and Davis re-registered in Ward 3. Mary Campbell withdrew her nomination, perhaps to avoid a vote split with Grimes.

The Toronto Star, Progress Toronto and the Toronto and District Labour Council backed Morley. Not only did Morley offer the most progressive platform, she also had the best chance of defeating Grimes. It would have been great to see another younger woman of colour elected to a council that is disproportionately white and male.

But yet again, Mayor Tory endorsed Grimes and robocalled on his behalf, citing Grimes’ “determination and experience”. It didn’t matter that Grimes was called out by Toronto’s integrity commissioner or that he was under OPP investigation. It was clear that Tory wanted Grimes back on council.


Poll-level map of the council race results for Ward 3Thanks partly to Tory’s support, Grimes won, with 40.9 percent of the vote. Morley came in second with 27.2 percent and Gough placed third, with 18.1 percent. Grimes placed first in both former Wards 5 and 6, though with a larger percentage of the vote in the old Ward 5, south of the Gardiner Expressway.

Morley did the best in the southern most part of Ward 3, south of the GO Transit railway in New Toronto and Mimico. She also did well in Humber Bay Shores and the Six Points area. Grimes did best in Alderwood and in polls in the exclusive Palace Pier condos at the mouth of the Humber River. Pamela Gough placed first in six polls, all near the Bloor Street and Royal York Road intersection.

On November 15, 2018, less than a month after the election, the OPP charged Di Ciano and Grimes with campaign finance violations. It is alleged that Grimes and Di Ciano benefited from research and polling work paid for by Dunpar during the 2014 election. If convicted, Di Ciano and Grimes could face a fine up to $25,000, and could also be forced from office or barred from running in future municipal elections.

What’s puzzling is why Tory endorsed Grimes, whose reputation was well known among City Hall watchers. Perhaps it had something to do with the Exhibition Place lockout. Or maybe Tory just wanted a reliable right-wing vote on a smaller council.

Meanwhile, I hope Amber Morley considers another run. She was a great candidate and was able to prove her determination. With name recognition from her first run, she has a strong chance to finally take out Mark Grimes in 2022.

Ward 3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore
Candidate Total votes Percentage
Svitlana Burlakova 1218 3.0
Iain Davis 2722 6.7
Pamela Gough 7301 18.1
Mark Grimes 16527 40.9
Robert Gunnyon 167 0.4
Michael Julihen 320 0.8
Loomans Michael 199 0.5
Amber Morley 10985 27.2
Peggy Moulder 575 1.4
Patrizia Nigro 394 1.0

The controversial Judson Street zoning change


Earlier this year, Etobicoke Councillor Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) pushed for a zoning change to several industrial properties on Judson Street, adjacent to GO Transit’s Willowbrook Yards. Local residents had enough with a concrete batching operation and Dunpar Homes applied to build a townhouse development on the site.

City staff recommended against the rezoning, which would allow townhouses to go up on land previously zoned as industrial. Metrolinx, GO Transit’s parent organization, also spoke out against the re-zoning, warning that it could impact its expansion plans, including GO RER/SmartTrack. But Councillor Di Ciano, Mayor John Tory, and most of the mayor’s allies voted against those concerns and supported the redevelopment.

Now Metrolinx is appealing the council decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, and the City will be forced to hire external expert advice, as it went against its staff recommendations.

You can read the Torontoist post here, where I explain the situation in more detail.


Election Maps Politics Toronto

Mapping the Ward 2 by-election

Ward 2 By-election
Poll results of the 2016 council race in Ward 2

On Monday, July 25, residents of Ward 2 (Etobicoke North) went to the polls to elect a new councillor to replace the late Rob Ford, who was elected as councillor in the 2014 general election after a disastrous four years as mayor.

After Rob Ford’s death in March 2016, it was widely expected that the Ford family would field a candidate; it would either be former Ward 2 councillor Doug Ford or Rob and Doug’s nephew Michael Ford (née Stirpe).

Michael Ford, then 20 years old, ran for councillor in the 2014 general election. He withdrew in September 2014 to run for the local Toronto District School Board trustee position, so that Rob Ford could run for councillor instead, abandoning his bid for re-election as Mayor of Toronto due to his poor health. Doug Ford, who originally wasn’t going to run again for municipal office, ran for mayor in Rob’s place, coming in a strong second to John Tory. I mapped those results in a previous post. 

Right away, Michael Ford was the clear favourite to win the by-election. The Ford name is famous in north Etobicoke; Doug Ford Senior was a Progressive Conservative MPP from 1995 to 1999; Rob Ford represented Ward 2 from 2000 through 2010 before running for mayor, and winning against George Smitherman. But Michael Ford, only 22, claimed to be his own person; his brief tenure on the TDSB board has been without the buffoonery or intolerance that Rob and Doug exhibited; Michael attended the 2016 Pride Parade in 2016, something the other Fords made a point of avoiding. But Michael Ford campaigned on a platform of “customer service” — the same philosophy that made Rob Ford popular in his ward.

There were eleven candidates running against Michael Ford. They included:

  • Entrepreneur Justin Canning, a right-of-centre candidate who made a point of saying that Michael isn’t like Rob and Doug Ford when quoted in the Toronto Star;
  • Christopher Strain, a New Democrat who managed Russ Ford’s campaign for councillor in Ward 6 in the 2014 election;
  • Chloe-Marie Brown, a volunteer and City Hall intern who sought to represent her community and bring attention to the needs of lower income residents of North Etobicoke.

Voter turnout was low, as they often are for municipal by-elections. Only 9391 residents voted in 2016, less than half the 19,793 votes for councillor that were cast in 2014. And to no one’s surprise, Michael Ford won, with 70.0%of the vote. Justin Canning came in a very distant second, with 20.4%, Chris Strain had only 3.8% of the vote, Chloe-Marie Brown only got 1.6%.

Michael Ford came in first place in all by two polls by wide margins, as shown in the map above. Only two polls, 020 and 024, chose Justin Canning. Poll 020 represents two condo towers on Islington Avenue at Dixon Road, while Poll 024 represents a seniors’ residence on Lawrence Avenue. Both polls voted for Rob Ford for council in 2014, but for John Tory for mayor over Doug Ford.

Even though I am willing to give Michael Ford a chance to prove himself as city councillor (and we will see how different he truly is from his uncles), the low voter turnout and the inevitability of Ford’s win still troubles me. Perhaps the low turnout was partly due to the assumption that Ford would win this by-election; holding it in the middle of summer wouldn’t have helped either. But there was a solid choice of alternative, qualified candidates that deserved voters’ consideration. Ward 2 deserved a real contest, not another coronation.


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.

Election Maps

Mapping the 2014 Toronto election: Wards 5 and 6

Wards 5 and 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, were both interesting races in the 2014 municipal election, but for different reasons. In Ward 5, there was no incumbent city councillor seeking re-election. Peter Milczyn, the long-time councillor for the area, was elected as the area’s MPP in the June 2014 provincial election. James Maloney was appointed as a caretaker councillor to serve Ward 5 until one was elected in the October election; Maloney promised that he wouldn’t stand for election in 2014.

Meanwhile, in Ward 6, Russ Ford and Tony Vella were both serious challengers to incumbent Mark Grimes. In the 2010-2014 term, Grimes was a conservative councillor that rarely made a mark. Grimes voted with Ford on most of the important decisions at council meetings. Despite not having much power, Rob Ford gave him the nickname, “the midnight mayor” and seems to have been one of the Ford Brothers’ closest friends on council.

In the mayoral race, John Tory came in first in both wards. He took 51.2% of the vote in Ward 5 and was selected by 41.1% of the electorate in Ward 6. Doug Ford came in second place in both polls, taking 32.3% of the vote in Ward 5, and a much closer 37.4% in Ward 6;  Olivia Chow came in a distant third place, winning only one poll, in Ward 6.

2014 Election - WARD 5 MayorPoll results of the mayoral race in Ward 5

2014 Election - WARD 6 MayorPoll results of the mayoral race in Ward 6

Despite the Toronto Star calling Ward 5 one of “15 races to watch,” it wasn’t. Local businessman Justin Di Ciano won 54.1% of the vote and all but two polls. I didn’t count Poll 040 as only two votes for councillor were cast; Poll 030, a Ukrainian seniors’ home, chose fourth-place candidate Walter Melnyk. In 2010, Di Ciano ran against Peter Milczyn, losing to the incumbent by only 109 votes. Clearly, Di Ciano had the name recognition and organization to succeed in 2014.

2014 Election - WARD 5 CllrPoll results of the council race in Ward 5

Ward 6 was a little bit more interesting. Russ Ford, the executive director of the LAMP Community Health Centre, (a local health, recreational and social service agency and a former city staffer) made his first run for council. (He is not related to Rob or Doug Ford, or for that matter, former Long Branch reeve Len Ford, whom a waterfront park there is named for). Russ Ford ran a strong campaign on a progressive platform, winning the endorsement of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, NOW Magazine, and the Toronto Star.

Unfortunately, Russ Ford lost to Mark Grimes, 43.6% to 34.1%, a difference of just over 1500 votes. Tony Vella, a former spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, also put his name forward as a candidate. Despite his local ties and name recognition, he was only able to get 10.5% of the vote.

After my first tweets in November sharing early drafts of these maps, Russ Ford replied and shared some interesting information. He claimed that John Tory’s campaign was robo-calling residents in order to support Grimes by the end of the campaign. Tory and Grimes won Ward 6, both doing very well in the new condominium neighbourhood of Humber Bay Shores. Grimes also did well in the Alderwood neighbourhood, which also supported Doug Ford in the mayoral race.

Russ Ford won some polls in New Toronto and Mimico; he did best in Polls 042 and 045, the same polls where Doug Ford won by the highest margin. In fact, every poll that Doug Ford won by at least a 30% margin, Russ Ford also came in first place. Russ Ford insisted that this was no mistake; that the same voters who were motivated to vote for Rob or Doug Ford were supportive of Russ Ford and his commitment to the community.

2014 Election - WARD 6 Cllr
Poll results of the council race in Ward 6

Maps Toronto

Mapping the 2014 Toronto election: Wards 3 and 4

Ward 3 and Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre, were both interesting races to watch. Neither ward had an incumbent councillor running for re-election. Mayoral candidates Doug Ford and John Tory were both very competitive in each ward. Tory came first in Ward 3, while Ford came first in Ward 4; both wards showed clear geographic splits in their choice for mayor. Olivia Chow came in a very distant third in both wards. Ward 4 was interesting for another reason; though Rob and Doug Ford have taken turns representing Ward 2, they both live in Ward 4.

The incumbent in Ward 3, Peter Leon, was a caretaker councillor, appointed by council in 2013. When appointed, Leon promised that he would not run for election. The incumbent in Ward 4, Gloria Lindsay Luby, a moderate councillor and a Ford family foe, did not stand for re-election in 2014.

Poll results of the mayoral race in Ward 3

As already noted in a few suburban wards (such as Ward 10 and Ward 15), there’s a clear distinction between areas where Tory did well and where Ford was the most popular mayoral candidate.

In Ward 3, Doug Ford did best in polls in the north and northwest part of the ward, particularly in the high-rise residential towers and townhouse complexes that line Highway 427. Wealthier neighbourhoods such as Princess-Rosethorn and Markland Wood generally voted for Tory.

Ward4_MayorPoll results of the mayoral race in Ward 4

The same patterns can be found in Ward 4. Polls in affluent Edenbridge-Humber Valley neighbourhood voted for John Tory by wide margins, with one notable exception: Poll 028, Rob Ford’s home poll. Interestingly, mayoral candidate Doug Ford lost his own poll (Poll 027), he was the only top mayoral candidate to do so. Most polls north of Eglinton Avenue voted for Doug Ford by wide margins. Condominium towers, seniors’ residences, and high-end rental buildings (including Polls 015, 019, 020, 021, 022, 038) opted for Tory, while Ford did well in other rental highrises (such as Polls 003, 016, 023, 024, 036).

Election Maps

Mapping the 2014 Toronto election: Wards 1 and 2

2014 Election - WARD 1 MayorPoll results of the mayoral race in Ward 12014 Election - WARD 2 MayorPoll results of the mayoral race in Ward 2

On this beautiful sunny Friday afternoon, let’s have a quick look at the results of the 2014 Toronto municipal election in Wards 1 and 2, Etobicoke North. Ward 2 is the Ford’s home turf (Rob Ford and Doug Ford now live in Ward 4, but their mother’s home, the venue for many “Ford Fest” backyard parties is located here, as is the family business, Deco Labels and Tags.

Rob Ford represented Ward 2 on city council for ten years before running for mayor in 2010.  In that election, Rob Ford’s brother Doug ran for Rob’s old council seat, and won handily. After being diagnosed with cancer in September of 2014, after a scandal-prone term of office, Rob and Doug traded places. Doug, who did not intend to run for office, took Rob’s place as mayoral candidate. On October 27, 2014, Rob Ford, once again, was elected city councillor for Ward 2. A close ally was re-elected in Ward 1.

Despite disappointing electoral results in Wards 1 and 2, there is hope for the future in northwest Toronto.