Election Maps Politics Toronto

Mapping the polarized results in Ward 6 – York Centre

Premier Doug Ford’s decision to reduce the number of councillors on Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 resulted in some very disparate new wards. New Ward 6, York Centre, combined two very different wards. On the west side of Allen Road, in old Ward 9, there are large Black and Italian communities, while on the east side of Allen Road, in old Ward 10, the population is largely Jewish, Filipino, and Russian.

James Pasternak represented Ward 10. Previously a TDSB trustee, Pasternak was first elected in 2010 after incumbent councillor Mike Feldman retired. A conservative, Pasternak is best known for supporting a western extension of the Sheppard Subway through his ward and for opposing city funding to Pride while allowing Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to march in the annual parade.

Maria Augimeri, who represented Ward 9, was first elected to North York City Council in 1985 and has since served on the old Metropolitan Toronto council until amalgamation in 1998. Since then, she has represented the Downsview neighbourhood on City of Toronto Council. She was nearly defeated in the 2010 election by conservative Gus Cusimano, but won with a comfortable margin in 2014. Augimeri is a New Democrat; she ran for the provincial NDP in 1987, and she has a progressive voting record on Toronto City Council.

Augimeri sought re-election in Ward 9 under the 47-ward model, but found herself against a high-profile challenger, Louise Russo. Russo was the unintended victim of an organized crime-related shooting in 2004 and has since become an anti-violence advocate. She was Mayor John Tory’s special guest at the inaugural council meeting in 2014 just after he was elected mayor.

Meanwhile Pasternak sought re-election in Ward 10, whose boundaries were identical under the new ward structure. His highest-profile opponent was Edward Zaretsky, an 84-year old resident who’s notable for parking his minivan in front of a pothole in protest earlier in 2018. Zaretsky has been an outspoken critic of Pasternak.

When Bill 5 came into effect after a failed court challenge, old Wards 9 and 10 were combined in Ward 6. A small section of old Ward 9 near Jane Street and Sheppard Avenue moved to Ward 7, while the area north of Sheppard Avenue between Keele and Dufferin Streets was added from old Ward 8.

There were only four candidates running in the new larger ward. Despite their ideological differences, Augimeri and Pasternak both described the new race against each other as “unfortunate” and “respectful.”

2018 Election - W6

In the end, James Pasternak won the local council race with 47.6 percent of the vote compared to Maria Augimeri’s 38.0 percent. Louise Russo got 11.2 percent (but did not place first in any polls), while Edward Zaretsky got just 3.2 percent, but placed first in Poll 14, a seniors residence.

The map above shows the polarized electorate in Ward 6. Augimeri placed first in all 19 polls located in former Ward 9, while Pasternak placed first in all but three of the 34 polls in old Ward 10. In the 19 polls located in old Ward 9, Augimeri got 61.5 percent of the vote, while Pasternak got 18.6 percent and Russo got 18.3 percent. Meanwhile in old Ward 10, Pasternak took 64.3 percent of the vote, followed by Augimeri with 24.4 percent and Russo with 7.3 percent.

Russo likely cut into Augimeri’s support at the polls, but her candidacy was largely squeezed out in a two-incumbent race. What ensured Pasternak’s win most of all was simply an imbalance of population: there were more voters (12,340 election-day votes) in old Ward 10 than in old Ward 9 (8156 election-day votes).

Because of the diverse demographics and geographic configuration of Ward 6, it might be attractive to high-profile candidates looking to run for council in 2022. Who knows what might happen in four years?

Ward 6 – York Centre
Candidate Total Votes Percentage
Maria Augimeri 9223 38.0
James Pasternak 11,559 47.6
Louise Russo 2726 11.2
Edward Zaretsky 771 3.2

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

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