Toronto City Council

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Toronto City Council
Term limits
New session started
December 1, 2014
John Tory
since December 1, 2014
Frances Nunziata
since December 1, 2010
Shelley Carroll
since December 1, 2014
Seats 45
Length of term
4 years
Authority City of Toronto Act, 2006
Salary $177,499 (Mayor)

$105,397 (Councillor)
Last election
October 27, 2014
(45 seats)
Next election
October 29, 2018
(45 seats)
Meeting place
Toronto City Council chambers.jpg
Council Chamber
Toronto City Hall
Toronto, Ontario
Toronto City Hall

The Toronto City Council is the governing body of the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Members represent wards throughout the city, and are known as councillors. For ease of electoral division, wards are based upon the city's federal electoral districts as of the year 2000. While the federal districts have been redistributed since then, the ward boundaries remain the same. The city council has 45 members: 44 ward councillors plus the mayor. The city posts agendas for council and committee meetings.[1] The salary for the mayor is $177,499 for 2014. The salary for a city councillor is $105,397 for 2014.


There are seven standing committees of council:

  • government management,
  • public works and infrastructure,
  • economic development,
  • parks and the environment,
  • community services and recreation,
  • licensing and standards, and
  • planning and growth management.

There are three internal business committees:

  • audit,
  • nominating and
  • striking.

The Executive Committee is composed of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, chairs of the seven standing committees and four other members appointed by City Council. Sub-committees of the executive committee include the:

  • budget committee,
  • affordable housing committee and
  • the employee and labour relations committee.

Community councils[edit]

In addition to the standing committees, all members of Toronto city council serve on a community council. The city is divided into four community councils, each of which makes recommendations on local matters to the full city council. Although they are named "councils" they are really geographic standing committees of council with no final authority. The four community councils, and their meeting locations, are as follows:


The inaugural meeting of the newly elected Toronto City Council in January 1911.

Original ward system[edit]

City of Toronto Boundaries and Original Five Wards, 1834

Toronto was divided into a group of wards, each named after a Christian saint. In 1834, the City had five wards and the number of wards would expand to nine by 1891. While out of use for over a century, these ward names continue to appear in neighbourhood names and subway stations and, until the 1990s, provincial electoral districts.[2] The old wards and their boundaries in their final form, used from 1871 to 1891, were:

20th century structure[edit]

Toronto ward system for the January 1, 1910 election, incorporating the recent annexations of Bracondale, and the City of Toronto West Junction in 1909.

In the June 1891 the city moved to a six ward system, with each ward known by a number.[3] Over the next three decades three new wards were added, one each in the north, east, and west, as new areas were annexed to the city of Toronto. This basic ward map remained in place until 1969. Overtime it became considerably unbalanced with the downtown wards having far fewer voters than those on the outskirts. In each ward the two candidates who received the most votes were elected. When a higher level of municipal government, Metro Toronto, was introduced in 1953, to co-orindate services between the city of Toronto and its suburbs, this system was adapted so that the top vote getter of the two elected councillors from each ward was also a member of Metro Council.

Until 1955 municipal elections were held annually, either on New Year's Day or on the first Monday in December. In 1955 council moved to two-year terms, and in 1982 three-year terms were introduced. Along with the other municipalities of Ontario, Toronto moved to a four-year municipal term in 2006.

From 1904 until 1969 there was a four person Board of Control in addition to city council. The Board was elected at large across the city, and its members had considerably more power than the city councillors. In 1969 the Board of Control was abolished and the four controllers were replaced by four new councillors from two new wards. The ward map was rebalanced to give more equitable representation.

In 1985 the system of electing Metro councillors was changed so that two separate ballots were held in each ward, one for the city the other for Metro. In the next election a separate set of wards was established for Metro councillors. Each Metro ward consisted of two city wards, each electing only one councillor.

With the amalgamation of the city of Toronto with the suburban municipalities of Metro in 1997, the councils of the six former cities were abolished. The new council for the "megacity" kept the ward map of Metro Toronto, but doubled the number of councillors by adopting the system of electing two councillors from each ward. East York had only one ward and was thus greatly underrepresented. Former East York mayor Michael Prue lobbied successfully for a third councillor to be elected from that ward, and this was implemented mid-term.

This system was only used for the first megacity election. In 2000 a new ward map was devised based on the federal ridings (electoral districts) that covered Toronto. Each riding was split in half to create the current system of 44 wards.

Political history[edit]

Despite some attempts to bring political parties to Toronto municipal politics, organized parties have had limited influence. Over its history city council has thus been divided into unofficial factions. Upon the formation of the city, the first division was between the Tory Family Compact and reformers under the leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie. Mackenzie was elected as the city's first mayor, but after the defeat of the Upper Canada Rebellion, the reformers were marginalized. For the next century the Tories dominated Toronto municipal politics, as they did the other levels in "Tory Toronto". The Tories were associated with staunch Protestantism, shown through membership in the Orange Order, and support for the Lord's Day Act.

In the 1930s various forms of left wing opposition arose to the Tory dominated council. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was founded in 1932 and the pro-labour social democratic party found support in various working class areas of Toronto and several of its members were elected to city council. Unaffiliated anti-poverty activists like May Birchard also were elected to council in this era. An important faction in Toronto politics in the 1930s and 1940s were the communists. There was considerable communist support in the downtown areas covered by Ward 4 and Ward 5, especially in the heavily Jewish areas of Kensington Market and the Garment District around Spadina Avenue and further west along College and up to Christie Pits including what is now Little Italy. The peak of communist influence was in the 1946 election where leader Stewart Smith was elected to the Board of Control and three other communists won seats on city council. With the beginning of the Cold War and staunch opposition from the other political groups, the communist presence quickly disappeared. The last communist alderman lost his seat in 1950.

The first part of the 20th century was also the era of the newspaper slates. Each of the daily newspapers would endorse a full slate of candidates for office. The two most influential were the right wing Toronto Telegram and the more left leaning Toronto Daily Star. In the early parts of the century, the duelling papers ran the communications portion of the campaign of the candidates they supported, using yellow journalism to extol those they supported and denigrate those they opposed. The newspaper slates did not have a unified ideology. Rather all the papers claimed to be seeking a balanced council, making sure that groups such as labour and Roman Catholics had representation on council. Beyond these few exceptions, the slates of all the papers were largely made up of male, white, Conservative, Orangemen. Many candidates also appeared on the slates of multiple newspapers.[4] With the exception of James Simpson, who became Toronto's first socialist mayor in 1935, the city's mayors were Tories in the first half of the 20th century.

The character of Toronto politics began to change in the 1950s and 1960s as the Anglo Tory lock on power faded in the increasingly diverse city. In 1952 Allan Lamport became the first Liberal elected mayor in over 40 years. In 1954 Nathan Phillips, a long-serving Jewish alderman, was elected mayor, though he was himself a staunch Tory. His religion was an important issue in the election, in which his opponent proclaimed himself to be running as "Leslie Saunders, Protestant". In 1966 former CCF Member of Provincial Parliament William Dennison was elected mayor.

In the late 1960s and 1970s a new division arose on city council between two groups that became known as the "Reformers" and the "Old Guard". Both groups crossed party lines and were divided by their approach to urban issues. The Reform faction arose in opposition to the urban renewal schemes that had been in favour in the previous decades. The two key battles were over the proposal for the Spadina Expressway and the replacement of the Trefann Court neighbourhood with a housing project. The Reformers opposed the destruction of existing neighbourhoods and followed the urban theories of recent Toronto arrival Jane Jacobs. The Old Guard supported new highways and housing projects, in part because of their close ties to the development industry. The debate between the two groups became the central issue of the 1969 municipal election with mayoral candidate Margaret Campbell running on an explicitly reform platform. Campbell lost the mayoralty, but on city council six veteran members of the Old Guard were defeated. In 1972 Reform leader David Crombie was elected mayor, and he was succeeded by one of the most radical reformers, John Sewell.

The Reformers won the major battles and reshaped the development of the city, but they still faced significant opposition from the right as new issues became central. Developers and business owners objected to the curbs on development. The right also capitalized on concerns about law and order and taxes. The right wing returned to power in 1980 when Art Eggleton was elected mayor and city council also shifted to the right that decade. The basic pattern of right wing and left wing factions has continued to the present. Since the 1990s the left has dominated as the Old City of Toronto shifted to the left, but amalgamation in 1997 added many suburban areas with more right-leaning voters. The left, composed of the New Democrats and some left-leaning Liberals, is the largest faction at city hall. They are opposed by the right, which consists of Conservatives and right-wing Liberals.

Changes for 2006–2010 Council[edit]

Changes were made to the council in 2007:

Current city council[edit]

Current council term began on December 1, 2014 and members were sworn in December 2.

Councilor Ward Community Council Federal Electoral District Notes
Tory, JohnJohn Tory Mayor -
Crisanti, VincentVincent Crisanti 1 Etobicoke and York Etobicoke North
Ford, RobRob Ford 2 Etobicoke and York Etobicoke North Former Mayor of Toronto (2010-2014)
Holyday, StephenStephen Holyday 3 Etobicoke and York Etobicoke Centre
Campbell, JohnJohn Campbell 4 Etobicoke and York Etobicoke Centre
Di Ciano, JustinJustin Di Ciano 5 Etobicoke and York Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Grimes, MarkMark Grimes 6 Etobicoke and York Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Mammoliti, GiorgioGiorgio Mammoliti 7 Etobicoke and York York West
Perruzza, AnthonyAnthony Perruzza 8 North York York West
Augimeri, MariaMaria Augimeri 9 North York York Centre
Pasternak, JamesJames Pasternak 10 North York York Centre
Nunziata, FrancesFrances Nunziata 11 Etobicoke and York York South—Weston
Di Giorgio, FrankFrank Di Giorgio 12 Etobicoke and York York South—Weston Executive Committee At-Large Member
Doucette, SarahSarah Doucette 13 Central Toronto and East York Parkdale—High Park
Perks, GordGord Perks 14 Central Toronto and East York Parkdale—High Park
Colle, JoshJosh Colle 15 North York Eglinton—Lawrence Chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission
Carmichael Greb, ChristinChristin Carmichael Greb 16 North York Eglinton—Lawrence
Palacio, CesarCesar Palacio 17 Central Toronto and East York Davenport
Bailão, AnaAna Bailão 18 Central Toronto and East York Davenport Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee
Layton, MikeMike Layton 19 Central Toronto and East York Trinity—Spadina
Cressy, JoeJoe Cressy 20 Central Toronto and East York Trinity—Spadina
Mihevc, JoeJoe Mihevc 21 Central Toronto and East York St. Paul's
Matlow, JoshJosh Matlow 22 Central Toronto and East York St. Paul's
Filion, JohnJohn Filion 23 North York Willowdale
Shiner, DavidDavid Shiner 24 North York Willowdale
Robinson, JayeJaye Robinson 25 North York Don Valley West
Burnside, JonJon Burnside 26 North York Don Valley West
Wong-Tam, KristynKristyn Wong-Tam 27 Central Toronto and East York Toronto Centre—Rosedale
McConnell, PamPam McConnell 28 Central Toronto and East York Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Fragedakis, MaryMary Fragedakis 29 Central Toronto and East York Toronto—Danforth
Fletcher, PaulaPaula Fletcher 30 Central Toronto and East York Toronto—Danforth
Davis, JanetJanet Davis 31 Central Toronto and East York Beaches—East York
McMahon, Mary-MargaretMary-Margaret McMahon 32 Central Toronto and East York Beaches—East York
Carroll, ShelleyShelley Carroll 33 North York Don Valley East
Minnan-Wong, DenzilDenzil Minnan-Wong 34 North York Don Valley East Deputy Mayor of Toronto, Exec
Berardinetti, MichelleMichelle Berardinetti 35 Scarborough Scarborough Southwest
Crawford, GaryGary Crawford 36 Scarborough Scarborough Southwest Chair of the Budget Committee
Thompson, MichaelMichael Thompson 37 Scarborough Scarborough Centre
De Baeremaeker, GlennGlenn De Baeremaeker 38 Scarborough Scarborough Centre
Karygiannis, JimJim Karygiannis 39 Scarborough Scarborough—Agincourt
Kelly, NormNorm Kelly 40 Scarborough Scarborough—Agincourt
Lee, ChinChin Lee 41 Scarborough Scarborough—Rouge River
Cho, RaymondRaymond Cho 42 Scarborough Scarborough—Rouge River
Ainslie, PaulPaul Ainslie 43 Scarborough Scarborough East
Moeser, RonRon Moeser 44 Scarborough Scarborough East

Office of the Mayor[edit]

The office of the Mayor is located on the second floor at City Hall. The general public and media can access it via stairs. Office staff and the Mayor can reach the office by elevator from the ground floor or the garage.

The current (outgoing) staff of the office consists of:

  • Chief of Staff (acting Chief of Staff and Director of Stakeholder and Council Relations)
    • Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff (Vacant)
  • Director of Operations and Logistics (Vacant)
  • Special Assistants
  • Policy Advisor and Council Relations (1 position vacant)
  • Senior Policy Advisor
  • Executive Assistant to the Mayor (vacant)

As of May 30, 2013, the positions of Deputy Chief of Staff, Press Secretary and Deputy Press Secretary no longer exists. Staffing roles and hiring is directed by the Mayor and not by Council or City of Toronto.

Currently the Mayor's office has a staff of 9:

  • On November 19, 2013, 9 of 20 staffers transferred to the office of the Deputy Mayor, including Chief of Staff Earl Provost and Director of Policy Shelia Paxton.[5] Due to budget restrictions, Director of Operations and Logistics David Price and Deputy Chief of Staff Sunny Petrujkic were dropped from the office.[6][7]

The incoming Tory administration has been announced and will replace the current staff on December 1:[8]

  • Chief of Staff
  • Principal Secretary

Executive Committee[edit]

The Executive Committee is an advisory body with chaired by the mayor and members appointed by the Mayor.[9]

The Executive Committee makes recommendations to city council[9] on:

  • strategic policy and priorities
  • governance policy and structure
  • financial planning and budgeting
  • fiscal policy (revenue and tax policies)
  • intergovernmental and international relations
  • Council operations
  • Human resources and labour relations

Current members of the Committee:

  • Gary Crawford
  • Vincent Crisanti
  • Frank Di Giorgio
  • Rob Ford - formerly Chair
  • Norman Kelly - Acting Chair
  • Peter Leon
  • Giorgio Mammoliti
  • Denzil Minnan-Wong
  • Cesar Palacio
  • Anthony Perruzza
  • David Shiner
  • Michael Thompson

The committee also existed in the old City of Toronto since 1969 and before that as the Board of Control, as well as in former cities of North York and Etobicoke.


Vacancies in a council seat may be filled in one of two ways, either by the holding of a by-election or through direct appointment of an interim councillor chosen by the council in an internal vote. Normally the council is allowed to decide which process to follow in each individual case; however, if the vacancy occurs after March 31 in the year of a regularly scheduled municipal election, then the vacancy must be filled by direct appointment as provincial law prohibits the holding of a by-election in the final six months of a council term.

The process often results in public debate, however. The by-election process is widely seen as more democratic, while the appointment process is seen as less expensive for the city to undertake.

When the appointment process is followed, people who are interested in the appointment are asked to submit their names to the local community council for the area where the vacant seat is located; the community council then evaluates and interviews the applicants, and submits a recommendation to the full city council for a final vote. Normally, a condition of the application process is that the appointed interim councillor does not run as a candidate in the next regular election, so that he or she does not gain an unfair incumbency advantage. There have, nonetheless, been instances in which appointed interim councillors have tested the rule; most recently, Paul Ainslie did so in 2006 by running for re-election in a different ward than the one where he had been appointed.[10]

Three vacancies have occurred during the current council term. Doug Holyday resigned from council in 2013 after winning election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in a byelection, and was succeeded by Peter Leon;[11] Adam Vaughan resigned from council in 2014 to contest a federal byelection for the House of Commons, and was succeeded by Ceta Ramkhalawansingh;[12] and Peter Milczyn resigned in 2014 after winning election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2014 election, and was succeeded by James Maloney.

Political families[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]