News / Toronto

Proposal could increase councillors at Toronto City Hall to 58

Toronto City Hall.

Flickr/CC-By-2.0/Bobolink

Toronto City Hall.

Toronto’s population is growing fast and, as the city changes, so must our 44-ward electoral map, a city-sponsored study has found.

The city has a “voter parity” problem, with some wards playing home to many more people than others. A report issued Tuesday makes five recommendations for how that problem could be fixed by redrawing the wards.

The proposals range from reducing the number of city councillors to 38 to increasing the number of councillors to 58.

Maintains many of the existing wards, changing only some wards that are way out of balance. The result is 47 wards.

  • PRO: Since there’s very little change, residents and local groups do not have to adapt to boundary changes and councillors’ institutional knowledge of their wards is maintained, according to the report.
  • CON: This option has the widest variance in the number of people per ward than the other options, which means there is less voter parity.Keeps the same number of wards and councillors as we have today. New wards are formed where the population is growing, wards are removed or made smaller in areas where the population is staying the same or declining.
  • PRO: The number of councillors doesn’t change and there’s very little variance in the population of wards.
  • CON: As the population increases, each councillor will have more people to serve. In 2026 this option would have about 70,000 residents per ward, compared to about 61,000 in 2014.

Adds 14 new wards, bringing the number of councillors to 58. New wards are added in growing areas: Downtown, Willowdale, Scarborough and South Etobicoke.

  • PRO: Councillors have fewer residents to represent, potentially giving them more time to focus on issues.
  • CON: Would result in a very large council, adding to city expenses.

With 38 wards, this is the largest number of people per ward supported by the review committee.

  • PRO: Fewer councillors could mean lower costs, and the population of the wards is very close to equal.
  • CON: Each councillor has more people to represent.

Forty-one wards are created using physical boundaries, such as rivers and highways.

  • PRO: The wards are geographically coherent and viable from a voter parity perspective, which means there is relatively low variance in the populations of the wards.
  • CON: No drawbacks were outlined in the report. This option falls between the large and small ward options, giving Toronto three fewer wards than it has now.

But where does Rob Ford stand?

Rob Ford tried — and failed — to get council to consider cutting the number of wards in half.

That was two years ago, and he’s not given up yet.

Ford told Metro Tuesday he wants council to have only 25 wards, which would be the same as the city’s 25 federal ridings.

“I’ll put that on the table. I’ll move that,” the councillor said. “That’s the right thing to do.”

The Ward Boundary Review studied the option, but found there was little to no support from the public for wards that large. By 2026, each ward would have about 123,000 residents.

Plus, federal ward boundaries don’t have the population equally distributed, the review group found.

If he’s unable to push the federal boundaries through as an option, Ford will vote for the largest wards recommended by the study committee — reducing the number of councillors to 38.

“Right now, we’re dysfunctional. You see council meetings going on with 44 people,” he said. “The fewer the councillors the better. That’s all we hope for.”

The “small ward” option with 58 councillors, “would be crazy,” Ford said.

“Nothing will get done,” he said. “A stop sign (discussion) would go on for two days.”

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