TORY TELLS SHRUNKEN COUNCIL CITY NEEDS TO
Mayor John Tory addressed a slimmed-down city council for the first time on Tuesday, facing two rows of councillors and a row of empty seats, urging them to think bigger, even though the new council is far smaller than planned.
“We’re having this great moment on the world stage right now, where we’re considered a cool, welcoming, respectful, caring place to be,” Tory told the city’s 25 councillors, grouped in the first and second rows of desks in chambers at city hall for the first time since being elected on Oct. 22. The third row of desks was empty, the result of legislation passed this summer by the province — led by Premier Doug Ford, a former city councillor — that reduced the number of wards in the city to 25 from a planned 47. That legislation is still being challenged in the courts. Tory said Toronto needs to be “thinking bigger,” and making progress on issues like affordable housing and transit.
“It means being prepared to make ourselves a bit uncomfortable on some issues so that we can make up for the fact we as a city have not kept up in a number of key areas,” Tory said, pointing to problems like crowded subways and congested roads. “No one should be frazzled and stressed before they get to work, and then spend the day dreading the trip home. It’s not productive or livable. We can do better. And we will.”
Tory, who has promised no tax increase greater than inflation, pointed out that revenue from land transfer taxes is no longer growing and interest rates are rising.
“All of which suggest that we won’t simply be able to do things exactly as we have in the past,” Tory said.
The number of Toronto city councillors was reduced to 25 from a planned 47 by the province, leaving the third row of desks in the council chamber empty at Tuesday’s meeting.
Bob Goulet performs a smudging ceremony and drumming ritual for the councillors being sworn in. Here he smudges newly minted Councillor Mike Ford. Toronto's new council held their first meeting at city hall Dec. 4.