Bill to cut number of Toronto city councillors passes final reading at Queen’s Park
A bill to cut the size of Toronto city council almost by half has passed its last legislative hurdle before it is set to be signed into law.
The Better Local Government Act passed third reading 71-39 Tuesday afternoon. The vote carried on party lines with present Progressive Conservative members voting in favour of the bill and present NDP, Liberal and Green members voting against.
Premier Doug Ford announced at the end of July that his government would move to reduce the number of council seats in the city to 25 from 47 while leaving council makeups in other major urban centres untouched.
Ford said trimming council ranks would streamline the decision-making process and save Toronto taxpayers $25 million in councillor and staff salaries over four years.
Passage of the bill comes on the same day an Ontario court scheduled a hearing for Aug. 31 to hear an application from Rocco Achampong, a Toronto lawyer and city council candidate who is seeking to suspend the cuts from happening in this year’s municipal election.
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“When you change the boundaries, when you change the geography, you change the consideration. There is a material change of circumstances,” he told Global News Monday evening, saying he doesn’t object to the act itself but rather the timing.
“Obviously I can’t take that lying down as a citizen in a free and democratic society. I am availing myself of the processes and the procedures available to me to seek recourse and relief.”
Under the law, the Toronto election nomination deadline would be extended to Sept. 14. The changes wouldn’t impact mayoral races and the mayor’s powers wouldn’t be changed.
The changes would eliminate elected chair positions in the regions of Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka. Chairs in Durham, Halton and Waterloo would continue to be selected as normal.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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