THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
On Monday night, Torontonians elected the former school board trustee, city councillor, New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament, and well-known community advocate, Olivia Chow, as the next mayor of Toronto on a platform that centred around making Toronto “more affordable, more caring and safer.”
Turnout increased from a woeful 29% in October 2022 to a more reasonable 39%, which is close to the turnout in last year's provincial election. Mayor-elect Chow received 37% of the vote followed closely by former Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão at 32%. The win was hailed by progressives as an end to the last 13 years of right of centre leadership from the mayor’s office, with Progress Toronto cementing itself as the unofficial left of centre party in Toronto’s municipal sphere.
By the numbers
Mayor-elect Chow ran a frontrunners campaign leading from the moment she entered the race. In a surprising turn of events however, Chow only concluded with a 5% win over Ana Bailão. Other candidates included Mark Saunders (8.5%), Anthony Furey (4.9%), Josh Matlow (4.9%), Mitzie Hunter (2.9%), and Brad Bradford (1.2%) scrambling for support and recognition from the 724,638 Torontonians who cast their votes. Possibly the most surprising result was that of Chloe Brown, ignored by the media, left out of all debates, and generally not considered an upper tier candidate who received 2.6% and mobilized supporters.
What happens now?
This week, City Clerk John Elvidge is expected to ratify the results. Mayor-elect Chow will be sworn in as Toronto’s mayor on July 12. City Council is scheduled to meet the following week on July 19.
Between the ratification of the vote and City Council, Olivia Chow will introduce her Mayor’s Office team including key positions of Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Director of Policy, and Director of Communications. This will be followed by the announcement of changes to the Executive Committee including new Deputy Mayors, Budget Chief, and the appointment of new chairs of Economic and Community Development, General Government, Infrastructure and Environment, and Planning and Housing Committees. In addition, we can expect to see changes to the council representatives to key agencies including the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).
The new mayor’s priorities include:
More funding for Toronto
- Increasing funding streams from the provincial and federal governments by working with each government level to secure more funding for Toronto in advance of the 2024 City Budget that will see the following measures implemented to balance Toronto’s books: Raise the Municipal Land Transfer Tax on luxury homes; raise the Vacant Homes Tax from 1% to 3%.
- Reverse service cuts to the TTC
- Ensure cell service for everyone
- Restore workers in TTC stations to be the eyes and ears of the system
- Expand transit options in the city including a new rapid transit route to replace the Scarborough RT via a new busway onto a dedicated corridor from Kennedy Station to Ellesmere
Affordable Housing and Housing Affordability
- Build 25,000 rent-controlled homes on city-owned land
- 7,500 affordable units including at least 2,500 rent-geared-to-income units.
- Doubling the reach of Toronto’s Rent Bank
- Tripling the reach of the Eviction Prevention in the Community Program to help over 3,000 people a year avoid eviction by providing case management, mediation with landlords and more
- Establishing the Toronto’s Renters Action Committee composed of renters, housing providers, advocates, councillors and the mayor
- Create the Secure Affordable Homes Fund—a historic $100 million annual investment to stop renovictions by helping purchase, repair and transfer affordable rental apartment buildings to not-for-profit, community, and Indigenous housing
- Expand the hours of operations to ensure that all libraries are open 7 days a week
One of Mayor-elect Chow’s biggest challenges will be to ensure that the progressive community support that encouraged Olivia Chow to run and voted for her in record numbers across the city remains while the Mayor is forced to seek compromise around the council table to acquire the 13 votes necessary to pass motions—25 councillors and the mayor—without resorting to the use of the strong mayor powers—a pledge repeated throughout the campaign. She will need to solidify her base of support starting with the five current councillors who endorsed her campaign: Alejandra Bravo, Ausma Malik, Jamaal Myers, Amber Morley, and Gord Perks, the six that didn’t endorse anyone. Mayor-elect Chow will then need to look at those who ran against her: Councillors Brad Bradford, Josh Matlow and Anthony Perruzza. And finally, those who supported Ana Bailão’s and Mark Saunders mayoral campaigns.
So, what does this mean for Toronto?
The campaign is over and now the job of governing begins. Stay tuned for a detailed analysis on relevant changes at Toronto City Council and what this means for Toronto, Ontario, and Canada from NATIONAL’s Public Affairs team.