Executive Committee considers the item in late October, and Council will likely decide ward boundaries in November.
After much study and several rounds of public and stakeholder consultation, the Toronto Ward Boundary Review Team—made up of outside consultants hired by the City of Toronto—released their recommendations on May 16, 2016 for new ward boundaries that would take effect in time for the 2018 municipal election. Torontoist has explained the need for new ward boundaries in the past: Toronto’s ward boundaries have not changed since 2000, or four elections ago, and that was based on census data from a decade earlier. With high population growth downtown and in central North York, some wards are grossly overpopulated compared to the city average. Councillors in these wards are overworked not only because they serve more constituents, but they must also respond to rapid neighbourhood change in the communities they represent.
The ward boundary review seeks to address these inequities; the team’s recommended solution was a new 47-ward Council. The consultants felt that this was the best solution to achieve voter parity; each ward would have an average population of 61,000, with a variance of no more than 15 per cent. The recommended 47-ward option would see three new wards created downtown and one new ward in North York, while removing one ward from the west end and revising the boundaries of most others. These ward boundaries are to last for four election cycles, from 2018 until after 2030, when the ward boundaries will be revised again.
But at the May 24 meeting of the City of Toronto Executive Committee, made up of Mayor John Tory and his Council allies, the Toronto Ward Boundary Review Team was asked to evaluate two additional ward boundary options, both of which would not increase the number of city councillors from the current 44. This delayed the Council decision on new ward boundaries to November. At that Executive Committee meeting, Tory said that he’s “not in favour of adding politicians here,” preferring additional staff resources to aid overworked councillors.
The two options developed by the Toronto Ward Boundary Review Team, in addition to the 47-ward option, are:
- A revised option for 44 wards based on refinements suggested during public and stakeholder consultations in 2015; this would result in each ward having an average population of 70,000.
- New wards based upon the new 25 federal riding boundaries first used in the 2015 general election; this would result in 26 wards as one additional ward would be allocated to the downtown core to address continued population growth there. Each ward would have an average population of 112,500.
The interactive map below illustrates the three options, along with the existing 44 wards. The geographic files are provided courtesy of the Toronto Ward Boundary Review Team.
The review team is currently completing its latest round of public consultations. The final report will be presented for consideration at the Executive Committee meeting on October 26 and voted on by Council in November.
The team held four public consultation sessions across Toronto from September 14 to 20 to gain public feedback on the new options presented.
The September 14 consultation at Metro Hall was attended by just over 30 citizens. The facilitator introduced the review team in attendance, gave a quick summary of the progress to date, discussed the three options on the table, and talked about the next steps before the report goes to the Executive Committee and to Council. Attendees were seated at round tables and asked to discuss concerns with each of the options presented. Most attendees expressed their support for the originally-recommended 47-ward option, but most detailed feedback from the tables related to specifics over where boundaries were located, such as splitting Regent Park or the Church-Wellesley Village, as the 47-ward option does. There was no vocal support for the 26-ward option, and it was clear that the experts hired by the City were most supportive of the 47-ward solution.
The online survey remains open for public response until Friday, September 23.