A majority of Toronto councillors have signed a letter outlining concerns with new abilities the Ford government is preparing to grant to Toronto strong mayor John Tory to further bulk up his powers.
In a defiant letter, 15 of the city’s 25 councillors said Toronto “should be governed by majority rule” and that any changes should come from local representatives, not the province.
Councillors and opposition parties have expressed concern about Bill 39, which is making its way through the Ontario legislature. If passed, it is set to give the mayor the ability to pass decisions with support from just one-third of council if they are in-line with provincial priorities.
Proposed regulations posted by the province defined those interests as “building 1.5 million new residential units by 2031” and “the construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support accelerated supply and availability of housing including, but not limited to, transit, roads, utilities, and servicing.”
Many around Toronto’s council table have pushed back against the legislation, which could allow Tory to make key decisions without the support of a majority.
They have raised concern about the speed and timing of the legislation, which has not been debated at a Toronto council meeting.
In a public letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, 15 councillors said, “Toronto City Council has not had an opportunity to debate or consult with residents on this fundamental change in our governance.”
They said they were “concerned” they had not had the chance to offer input on the bill, “or to weigh in on the impacts on the checks and balances of power that would result from the loss of majority rule at Toronto City Council.”
Tory’s office issued a statement in response.
“I respect councillors making their views known on this issue — as they do on many other issues,” Tory said, promising a city staff report on the legislation.
“I’ve been clear that my leadership style and overall approach, consistently demonstrated over eight years, will not change.”