Advocacy update: #BuildtheGrid in this unpredictable election landscape
Cycle Toronto was concerned to hear that the Ontario Government’s Bill 5 would cut in half the number of seats on Toronto City Council ahead of the October 22 municipal election. Our members work closely with hard-working councillors in many wards to make Toronto's streets safer and more welcoming for our diverse population, no matter how they get around. Toronto's "Draw the Lines" process provided an excellent opportunity to update our ward boundaries with input from residents in our rapidly growing city. Moving from 47 to 25 Council seats (equivalent to provincial ridings) means it may be that much harder to get a councillor’s attention to address a gap in the cycling network or a dangerous intersection.
Democratic representation is critical for the work that community members want to undertake with their City councillors to make Toronto's streets safer, our communities more liveable, and our quality of life the envy of cities aroundthe world. We were pleased to see our City Council take steps to oppose this move and stand up for democracy in Toronto. There are a number of court challenges in play which could change the nature or the date of our election and Council will hold a special meeting on August 20 to consider legal options.
August 15 update
On August 14, Ontario's Progressive Conservative government passed the Better Local Government Act, also known as Bill 5, which reduces the numbers of council seats from the proposed 47 to 25.
Bill 5 will likely be the subject of multiple court challenges, even as our October 22 election date looms. Under Bill 5, nominations for the mayoral seat are now closed while candidates have until September 14 to register (or re-register) to run for a council seat.
Mayor John Tory and a majority of Toronto councillors are disputing the change. On August 20, Council will hold an emergency meeting to decide whether, and how to, make a court challenge.
What does this mean for our advocacy work?
During this period of uncertainty, Cycle Toronto is continuing to engage with political candidates, residents, and our member-advocates to navigate this changing electoral landscape. While it may be not be possible for engaged citizens to hold all-candidates’ debates until after the September 14 deadline, we encourage our member-advocates to engage with declared candidates on the issue of building a safe cycling city for all.