The recent and untimely death of Councillor Pam McConnell brought forth an outpouring of tributes. Many remembered her service to the community and the great things a determined councillor can achieve in a Toronto ward. Ms. McConnell may have represented Rosedale but she consistently voted to defend her poorest constituents, not the richest. She also fought hard to improve the public domain rather than work for private interests.
We can view Ms. McConnell’s recent voting record through a handy grid compiled by Toronto blogger Matt Elliott. The Google Docs spreadsheet itemizes how each Toronto councillor voted on important topics over the past few years. As part of the grid, Mr. Elliott also keeps a scorecard on how each councillor’s overall votes align with those of our right-leaning Mayor John Tory – recently described by some wags as ‘Rob Ford in sheep’s clothing’.
Ms. McConnell it turns out, voted with the Mayor only 41.5% of the time. In contrast, our own Councillor Nunziata voted with the Mayor a remarkable 92.5% of the time; more than anyone else on council. That’s loyalty but at what cost to the people in York South-Weston?
Mr. Elliott’s scorecard can be found at this link.
Last year, it was announced that up to 15 new homeless shelters would be built in wards throughout Toronto. One of them, a temporary shelter located at 731 Runnymede, just south of St. Clair Avenue West was proposed with a lease of 10 years with two 5-year extension options. Much effort has been put into ensuring that the shelter was to be state of the art after addressing many community concerns.
Early this morning, Ms Nunziata came up with a way of killing the shelter by cleverly proposing that the shelter site be leased for only 5 years at a time, effectively rendering the proposal dead given the uncertainties of the short time frame.
For some time now, Ms. Nunziata has been taking credit for chopping the proposed 100 bed shelter down to 50 but was shamed into voting for the temporary shelter’s 10-year lease when Mayor Tory gave the councillor and her allies a strongly worded lesson in compassion. Ms. Nunziata also managed to accuse city staff of misleading the council about the project but was forced to withdraw her comments by the mayor.
Her allies on the motion were Cesar Palacio and one of our many deputy mayors, Denzil Minnan Wong. No doubt it helps that Mayor Tory has the power to strip these councillors of their privileged positions on council.
Watch the whole process unfold here:
and part 2 here (Mayor Tory’s speech is in this one):
Perhaps Mayor Tory isn’t the worst mayor ever…. We’ll see.
Frances Nunziata is looking to form a Pedestrian and Cycling Safety Committee “whose mission will be to help plan and promote safe and enjoyable ways for pedestrians and cyclists to travel throughout the ward.”
Her office is looking for a few good people to help give input on safety and planning, and the first meetings will be in May. You can contact her, if you’re interested, through her website. I hope to see you there!
Weston native born politician, George Smitherman has announced he will run for council in next year’s civic election. While he will not run in York South-Weston, he plans to take a shot at one of the three new wards created after a boundary review and council vote last November. The condo boom of the past few years, has seen population growth in the downtown core and Smitherman hopes to end up with a home and seat there.
While a progressive councillor for Ward 11 might have been a big change from the current incumbent, all is not lost. Many vital decisions at council have been won or lost by only a few votes. Mayor John Tory opposed adding three extra wards. Why? Possibly because the new wards are downtown and could add three progressive voices and votes which might improve the tone and dare I say humanity of Council decisions. As an added bonus, Smitherman has close ties with the Liberal Party of Canada along with Immigration Minister and York South Weston MP Ahmed Hussen so no doubt there will be a strong link to the federal government.
Here begins the speculation that the long term plan is to knock John Tory off his mayoral perch in 2022.
Etobicoke York Council meets about once a month to deal with local issues. Local councillors discuss matters of local concern and adopt, defer or reject motions which are sent to the full council for adoption and enactment. Today’s decisions that may be of interest to our readers are:
Toronto Building recommends that the City Council give consideration to the demolition application for 8 Oak Street and decide to:
Approve the application to demolish the two storey industrial building without entering into a beautification agreement with the City and the appropriate City officials be authorized and directed to take the necessary action to give effect thereto.
Update: The minutes don’t give details of the amendment yet, however, InsideToronto says that Councillor Nunziata asked for a heritage report on the building that will be delivered at the April EYC meeting.
The late Rob Ford always chafed at the number of councillors at City Hall and thought it was an unmanageable (and expensive) number. He thought that Toronto should have the same number of councillors as federal ridings; i.e. one councillor per riding instead of the current two. From what I gather, the current number of councillors (44) may actually be increasing slightly as a result of population increases and needed boundary changes. By way of context, between the baseline year of 2011 and 2030, Toronto’s population is predicted to rise by 500,000 and the extra people won’t be evenly distributed.
The subject of ward boundary changes is a complex one. Dedicated citizens may take some time to absorb this document giving the background to proposed changes and asking for input. Quite simply, as wards’ populations change, the numbers of people represented by one councillor are increasingly out of whack. For example, the number of people living in the downtown core is increasing rapidly as more condos are built there.
It’s beyond most citizens’ abilities (mine anyway) to absorb all the variables as there are so many factors to juggle. Nevertheless, citizen input is being requested and then the boundary review folks will make their recommendations to council for a vote.
Before then, four public meetings are being held across the City in September, from 7pm-9pm:
The Toronto Star has published an in-depth look at corporate election influence across the city. The article has details on every ward in the city.
Some of the ‘notable’ contributors in Ward 11 donate liberally to other councillors’ campaigns and have (as in the case of Robert Deluce of Porter Airlines and Tridel’s Stephen Upton) actually exceeded the legal donation limits. Surprisingly, there are no consequences for wealthy business owners who do this.
The Star agrees that donation limits should be lowered.