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How City Hall Works Adam Chaleff-Freuenthaler

Toronto’s local government is responsible for a lot. Everything from firefighting and public transit to garbage collection and community centers. It has a $9 billion budget to do it all in. That money comes mostly from property taxes, user fees and grants from governments. To decide how local government should be run and how that money should be spent, Toronto is divided into 44 sections or wards. Which ward do you live in? Do you know who your councilor is?

When an election is held (every four years) citizens are entitled to vote for a city councilor candidate in the ward they live in, as well as for a mayoral candidate. When all the voting is done, there are 45 people who make up City Council. After the election, the mayor gets to pick people he or she chooses to chair or help lead the committees of city council. These seven committees are divided up to figure out the different responsibilities of the city government; For example, one committee focuses on roads while another focuses on parks and environment. There are seven committees. Each committee makes recommendations to City Council so council has an easier time debating how to deal with a particular issue.

The handpicked chair for each of the seven committees, plus four councilors picked by the whole of city council, plus the mayor and deputy mayor (who is also picked by the mayor) are the members of the Executive Committee. In total that committee has 13 members. They are responsible for all budget and labor issues, as well as strategic policy areas (in other words: almost all of the really important things go to this committee). Since Executive Committee is made up of the most influential city councilors, usually whatever Executive Committee decides to do is supported by City Council.

For everything City Council does, it takes 23 “yes” votes to succeed – and the mayor’s vote only counts for one vote. Since there are no official political parties in city government, it’s hard to know how each councilor is going to vote on any given issue. There might be a normally conservative councilor who really likes the arts.

Right now, City Council basically breaks down into three groups. There’s a group of mostly left-wing councilors that very often support the mayor’s agenda (16 councilors), there’s a smaller group of right-wing councilors who almost always oppose what the mayor wants (13) and there’s a group in the middle that will sometimes vote for what the mayor wants and sometimes won’t (15). Usually the group in the middle will mostly side with the current mayor, David Miller, so Miller rarely loses votes.

For a vote favoring arts funding, the way to win it is to get the support of the 16 councilors who usually side with the mayor and at least seven of the 15 councilors who reside in the middle of City Hall’s political spectrum.

Toronto Wards and Councillors

Ward 1 Etobicoke North Councillor Suzan Hall

Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Karen Stintz

Ward 31 Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis

Ward 2 Etobicoke North Councillor Rob Ford

Ward 17 Davenport Councillor Cesar Palacio

Ward 32 Beaches-East York Councillor Sandra Bussin

Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre Councillor Doug Holyday

Ward 18 Davenport Councillor Adam Giambrone

Ward 33 Don Valley East Councillor Shelley Carroll

Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby

Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina Councillor Joe Pantalone

Ward 34 Don Valley East Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong

Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn

Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan

Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest Councillor A.A. (Adrian) Heaps

Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Mark Grimes

Ward 21 St. Paul's Councillor Joe Mihevc

Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest Councillor Brian Ashton

Ward 7 York West Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti

Ward 22 St. Paul's Councillor Michael Walker

Ward 37 Scarborough Centre Councillor Michael Thompson

Ward 8 York West Councillor Anthony Perruzza

Ward 23 Willowdale Councillor John Filion

Ward 38 Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker

Ward 9 York Centre Councillor Maria Augimeri

Ward 24 Willowdale Councillor David Shiner

Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt Councillor Mike Del Grande

Ward 10 York Centre Councillor Mike Feldman

Ward 25 Don Valley West Councillor Cliff Jenkins

Ward 40 Scarborough Agincourt Councillor Norm Kelly

Ward 11 York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata

Ward 26 Don Valley West Councillor John Parker

Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River Councillor Chin Lee

Ward 12 York South-Weston Councillor Frank Di Giorgio

Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Kyle Rae

Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River Councillor Raymond Cho

Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Bill Saundercook

Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Pam McConnell

Ward 43 Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie

Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks

Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth Councillor Case Ootes

Ward 44 Scarborough East Councillor Ron Moeser

Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Howard Moscoe

Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher


A guide on City Hall  

A guide on how to Toronto City Council works brought to you by the Beautiful City Billboard Fee Alliance and the Toronto Youth Cabinet