Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory meet inside the Premier’s office at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Monday, July 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

Ontario Premier Doug Ford to slash size of Toronto city council nearly by half

A published report suggests the Ontario government is poised to reduce Toronto city council to just over half its current size.

Ontario’s new premier plans to significantly reduce the number of Toronto city councillors just months before the fall municipal election, a move he says will boost government efficiency and cut waste.

Doug Ford says his government will introduce legislation to cut the number of seats from 47 to 25, aligning city wards with federal ridings.

The deadline for candidates to register for the municipal election was Friday afternoon but the government said it will extend that to September.

Ford says having fewer city councillors “will dramatically improve the decision-making process at Toronto City Hall” and save taxpayers $25 million.

Asked why he didn’t campaign on the plan or hold public consultations on it, Ford said he heard from thousands of people while canvassing this spring that they want a smaller government.

“There isn’t too many people that I know that wouldn’t want to trade in a bunch of politicians for $25 million,” Ford said. “People don’t care about politicians, they care about getting things done.”

Ford’s move was pre-emptively panned by Toronto Mayor John Tory, who said in a news conference earlier Friday morning that the process around the plan is “absolutely not right.” The mayor said he’ll propose a referendum on the issue.

“This is a gigantic decision about the future of Toronto,” Tory said. “What we don’t need and what I just can’t support is change being rammed down our throats without a single second of public consultation.”

Some councillors echoed Tory’s opposition to the provincial plan and said they hoped the mayor would push back.

Related: Doug Ford under attack in final Ontario leaders debate

Related: Ontario elects Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party

Calling Ford’s plan “an affront to our democracy,” Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam urged the mayor to challenge it in the courts.

“I think the mayor needs to defend our city and our democracy and that’s what I’m looking for from him,” she said.

Coun. John Campbell said slashing council nearly in half would reduce oversight of municipal boards and commissions.

“If you reduce councillors to 25, all of a sudden you lose that connection with the electorate and in the end the public is the loser, and they’re going to feel it right away,” he said.

Others expressed support for a smaller municipal government, arguing it would cut costs and help council reach decisions faster.

“The only thing we do upstairs in that chamber is everybody gets up and just wants to talk. When you have 25 people there’s more cohesion, you’ll move faster on things. That’s why I’m supportive of this,” Coun. Jim Karygiannis said.

Ford also said he will cancel planned elections for regional chair positions in more than two Greater Toronto Area communities, including Peel Region and York Region.

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown, whose resignation this winter paved the way for Ford to take over the party, is running for the Peel seat, while former Liberal cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is a candidate in York.

— with files from Alanna Rizza.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Chemainus Theatre’s Outside Mullingar an Irish romantic comedy for the ages

A love story with all the charm and romance of Ireland wrapped… Continue reading

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Explosion at homeless camp causes brush fire on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews haul hundreds of metres of hose down ravine

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

Most Read