November 28, 2018 7:00 am
Updated: December 4, 2018 1:03 am

Toronto staff recommend slashing board, committee appointments as smaller council prepares for term

WATCH ABOVE: A report ordered by Mayor John Tory has come out with several recommendations for how the 26-member Toronto city council will govern. So far it means less participation on boards and committees, and a change in boundaries for community councils. Matthew Bingley reports.

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As a smaller Toronto city council prepares to begin its four-year term next week, municipal staff say the number of committees and council appointments needs to be slashed to accommodate the new 25-ward system.

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In the Oct. 22 election, Mayor John Tory and 25 councillors were elected under the new ward structure. The City of Toronto was set to elect 47 councillors, but Premier Doug Ford announced at the end of July — hours before nominations were set to close — that his government would move to reduce the number of council seats to 25 through the Better Local Government Act.

READ MORE: With Toronto city council slashed to 25 wards, attention turns to governing

With the number of wards nearly shrinking by half, there were many instances of two wards joining to become one. The ward sizes have dramatically increased with wards now having at least 100,000 people each.

In a report released on Wednesday, staff said the City of Toronto’s governance structure needs to be “recalibrated” so agencies, boards and committees can function effectively. Without changes, staff said governing “would be challenged to remain effective and sustainable.”

“[The Act] will place increased demands on council members’ time to carry out both their legislative and constituency duties. City councillors now serve wards of significantly larger geographic size and up to double the number of constituents,” the report said.

TORONTO ELECTION 2018: 13 incumbents defeated as council shrinks to 25 wards

“Without changes to the governance structure, council members would … experience difficulty attending all required meetings, potentially causing quorum issues (the required number of representatives for a meeting to proceed) and impairing the ability of committees and boards to function effectively.”

Currently there are 97 positions to be filled on 14 council committees as well as 170 positions on city and external boards for council members.

If the report is approved by council when it meets on Dec. 5, the number of council committees would be cut to nine. It also recommends reducing the number of council appointments to several boards, including positions overseeing Toronto Community Housing, TTC, Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Zoo.

READ MORE: Toronto election results 2018

Shortly after the election, councillors and newly elected representatives raised concerns about staffing levels to respond to constituent inquiries, increasing office space to accommodate more staff.

Those concerns weren’t addressed in the report, but could be raised when council meets for the first time on Tuesday for a ceremonial meeting that will also see a speaker and deputy speaker elected.

City staff also proposed creating a special governance committee to re-evaluate the interim recommended structure and address any other related issues.

Council will meet to review the recommendations and report the following day. A week later, it will meet again to vote on appointing council members to agencies, boards and committees.

Map of Toronto’s 25 new wards

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