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After the Supreme Court: Making 25 Wards Work for You


I shared my thoughts on the ramifications of the Supreme Court's ruling on CityNews.


I didn’t write about this right away because it seemed that only a small group was continuing to follow this news, and that most readers would prefer to move on. After all, three years have elapsed while this case worked its way through our court system. However, this decision has major ramifications for our democracy and what my fellow Councillors and I have to do to make sure residents feel a strong connection to their local government, so let’s dive into it.


I believe that this is the most important ruling the Supreme Court has made for any municipality in Canada. To give a quick recap, the City of Toronto asked the Court to review whether or not it was constitutionally sound for a Provincial Government to dramatically alter a municipal electoral map three months into an election period, when almost 500 candidates were already registered.


It’s important to note here that the City wasn’t asking the Supreme Court to determine the number of wards our city should have. We believe strongly that the conversation about ward sizes needs to be solely between the municipality and its residents. In 2018, the 47-ward map had already received Provincial blessing. The question was specifically, should the Province be able to rip that blessing away halfway through an election period.

This was a very tight ruling at 5-4. Five justices took the question of constitutionality very literally. Very simply speaking, they determined that municipalities are creatures of their provinces and that constitutionally, Ontario had the right to act. The four dissenting justices, on the other hand, saw the complexity of the question and its ramifications for democracy across our country. Here are some comments from the dissenting justices in the Supreme Court ruling that particularly struck me:


“A stable election period is crucial to electoral fairness and meaningful political discourse. As such, state interference with individual and collective political expression in the context of an election strikes at the heart of the democratic values that freedom of expression seeks to protect, including participation in social and political decision-making…


The limitation on s. 2(b) rights in this case was the timing of the legislative changes. Ontario offered no explanation, let alone a pressing and substantial one, for why the changes were made in the middle of an ongoing election. In the absence of any evidence or explanation for the timing of the Act, no pressing and substantial objective exists for this limitation and it cannot, therefore, be justified in a free and democratic society.”

(Per Abella J. (Karakatsanis, Martin and Kasirer JJ. concurring))

For those of us who are deeply disappointed with the Court’s ruling, we can only hope that the infamy of the Ontario Government’s actions will deter future provincial governments from disrupting democracy mid-election. Going forward, there are big changes that need to happen to maintain a fair election process in a city with such large wards. I’ve already written about some of these measures in detail, like the need for ranked ballots and campaign finance reform that prioritizes small, local contributions over big donors. These changes are absolutely necessary if we want to give first-time candidates a shot at election, particularly women and racialized candidates who face greater barriers to entering politics.

At Council this past June, I urged my fellow Councillors to consider pursuing campaign finance reform.


Some of these changes could have already happened through the Mayor’s Special Committee on Governance that I joined at the beginning of the term. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the political will from the Committee Chair, Councillor Holyday, or the Mayor’s office to enact changes that would level the election playing field. I will continue to pursue these changes in the name of fairness and democracy for as long as it takes. What I want to focus on now is making sure your voice continues to be heard after you’ve cast your ballot. There’s a lot of work that my fellow Councillors and I need to do to make sure residents feel just as engaged with their local government in the 25-ward model. The connection between yourself and your local elected representative is crucial, and making those connections got harder in 2018 when our wards doubled in size. Learning all of the ongoing issues in new neighbourhoods, connecting with residents, and keeping citywide commitments is a new kind of juggling act for Councillors, made even more challenging by the pandemic. The Supreme Court decision means that we must redouble our efforts to master it. Initiatives like participatory budgeting are a great way to give residents direct power over the decisions made in their communities, and it’s something I want to see my fellow Councillors embrace. With development affecting every corner of our city, residents should get to decide how the community benefit money is spent in their neighbourhood.

My team and I facilitated a participatory budgeting process with the Henry Farm neighbourhood this past summer.


My firm belief in hearing from the community is also why I held over two dozen Park Pop-Ups across our ward this summer, and a number of virtual town halls over the past year on topics that ranged from vaccine rollout to rooming houses. I will keep working on new ways to connect with residents in every corner of our ward, from the 401 up to Steeles, Bayview across to Victoria Park. Many Torontonians didn’t get the Supreme Court ruling they wanted, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the Council they deserve. It’s my job as your Councillor to make sure your voice is heard. I take this job very seriously, and will keep fighting for healthy changes to our democracy for as long as it takes.

 

How would you like to be engaged with between elections?

What are your ideas to improve our local democracy?


 

Planning & Growth Update RapidTO The TTC and City of Toronto are developing a RapidTO: Bus & Streetcar Priority plan to deliver safe, efficient and equitable bus and streetcar service improvements through transit priority solutions over the next ten years. Transit priority can make bus and streetcar service more reliable, reduce delays and shorten travel times on congested roadways. The first step in the RapidTO plan is to consult with residents and learn what improvements are needed the most, and where they would be most effective. The first public meeting is for people in North York (that’s us), and will take place virtually on WebEx Monday, October 18, 2021, from 6:30 - 8:00 PM. If you are interested in participating and want to learn more, or have specific questions you want to ask, you can register by clicking here: RapidTO: Bus & Streetcar Priority – Virtual Public Meeting #1 (North York) Tyndale Green Community Consultation Meeting Next week is the Community Consultation Meeting for Tyndale Green and its not too late to register to attend. Details and the link to register are below:Tuesday, October 19th, 2021, from 6:30PM-8:30PM. Register by clicking here: 3377 Bayview Avenue- Community Consultation Meeting Our Plan Toronto The City of Toronto is reviewing our Official Plan, which is Toronto’s road map for land use. It sets out our long-term vision, shared values, and policies that help guide decision-making on land development, economic growth, the environment, and more. It’s important to keep the Official Plan up to date to accommodate growth. Toronto is expected to grow by a minimum of 700,000 people and more than 450,000 jobs by 2051. You can join a meeting on October 20, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (register at this link) or from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (register at this link) for a city-wide conversation on how we can plan to address the most pressing challenges facing our city over the next 30 years. Please register prior to the event, and watch this short video for an introduction to Our Plan Toronto.

 

If you have questions about any of the above, please contact me at Scott.Prada-Simons@Toronto.ca or (416) 338-2665.

 

Vaccine Clinics at Oriole Community Centre Flemingdon Health Centre will be operating a Covid-19 vaccination clinic at Oriole Community Centre on the following dates:

  • Wednesdays: October 20 & 27 from 12 to 3 PM

  • Thursdays: October 21 & 28 from 11 AM to 3 PM

No appointment is required and approximately 50 doses of Pfizer and 14 doses of Moderna will be available at each clinic date. Anyone living, working or going to school in Toronto and born in 2009 or earlier is eligible for a first or second dose. NOTE: Our E-Blast last week included information on flu shot clinics at Oriole CC. Currently, only COVID-19 vaccines are available at Oriole CC. Flemingdon Health Centre hopes to be able to provide flu shots later this month or next month when they become available, but currently they are facing shipment delays. Vaccine Passports Proof of vaccination is now in effect for select non-essential settings in Ontario. If you need to print or download your proof of immunization, you can do so by visiting covid19.ontariohealth.ca or calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. For more information on the vaccine passport, visit the link below:

 

Shelley Carroll

Councillor for Don Valley North

416-338-2650

100 Queen St. W, Suite A3




 

Community Events & Notices


Watch out for Coyotes

My team has received reports of coyote sightings across Don Valley North. Coyotes generally do not pose a danger to people, but can pose a danger for pets. They are active during the day and at night, particularly dusk and dawn We are approaching the season when coyote sightings are more common, so it's important to be safe and know what to do when you see a coyote. To report a coyote sighting, call 416-338-7297 or email animalservices@toronto.ca. For more information on coyotes, visit the website below:

 

Survey: Ruddington Park Playground Enhancements

The City of Toronto is improving Ruddington Park by updating the playground, installing new seating, a shade structure, fitness and Tai Chi equipment. We need your help to design these improvements. The survey will be available until Monday, October 18. Fill it out by clicking the link below:

 

RapidTO Consultation

The TTC and City of Toronto are developing a RapidTO: Bus & Streetcar Priority plan to deliver safe, efficient and equitable bus and streetcar service improvements through transit priority solutions over the next ten years. Transit priority can make bus and streetcar service more reliable, reduce delays and shorten travel times on congested roadways. RapidTO: Bus & Streetcar Priority will be developed and delivered through a three-phased consultation process:

  • Phase 1 (October to December 2021) seeks your feedback on bus and streetcar transit priorities.

  • Phase 2 (early 2022) will report on the Phase 1 results and provide a preliminary schedule for Phase 3.

  • Phase 3 (2022 to 2031) will include roadway-specific studies and rolling implementations that take into account the unique needs of each community.

How to Participate in Phase 1:

  1. Review the consultation materials or watch a video on RapidTO.

  2. Register for one of five virtual public meetings held between October 18 to 29, 2021. Each meeting will include a presentation of the consultation materials followed by a Question & Answer period.

  3. Complete the online survey.

The comment deadline ends on November 28, 2021, at 11:59 PM. Find more information at the link below:

 

Not Down the Drain

Do you know what can and can’t go down your drain? Putting the wrong things down your pipes can cause basement flooding; pollute streams, rivers and the Lake; and clog City pipes resulting in expensive repairs. Please don't put grease, wipes and dental floss down the drain. Find out more at the link below:

 

Community Environment Days

Do your part to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Drop off items for reuse, recycling and safe disposal at Community Environment Days. The City of Toronto is hosting weekly events at Drop-Off Depots on Sundays until October 31. At the events, you will be to drive to different stations to drop off unwanted items for donation and to dispose of batteries, old paint and other household hazardous waste. Free bagged compost will be available with a limit of two bags per vehicle while supplies last. I also wanted to remind everyone that you are able to drop off household hazardous waste at the City's drop-off depots on days other than Community Environment Days. Check out the City's handy map of all drop-off depot locations and hours for more information. A list of event dates and more information about Community Environment Days is available at the link below:

 

East Don Parkland Construction: Tree Removal Notice

Check out my video on the East Don Parkland sewer work and creek improvements.


The City of Toronto is carrying out a number of improvements in the East Don Parkland and East Don River (located at 1240 Sheppard Ave E) to improve sewer capacity and renew aging infrastructure. Construction is ongoing and will continue until 2025. The City of Toronto is preparing to start work to replace an undersized sewer, remove the concrete weir, and carry out channel improvements. Ahead of this construction work, trees located within the worksite will be cleared starting mid-October, 2021 and require approximately 4 weeks to complete. Residents will continue to be able to access this park around the worksite. For more information, view the full Construction Notice. To stay up-to-date on this project, visit my website below:

 

Basement Flooding Protection Program on Brian Drive and Other Local Roads

The City of Toronto is modifying and upgrading the storm and sanitary sewer system on several local roads in Don Valley North in order to reduce surface and basement flooding. This work also involves replacing the City-owned portion of substandard water services and sewer service laterals, and replacing the watermain in some locations. Work is planned on the following streets:

  • Bowhill Crescent

  • Brian Drive

  • Clematis Road

  • Clipper Road

  • Consumers Road

  • Endsleigh Crescent

  • Flintwood Court

  • Hazelnut Crescent

  • Kamloops Drive

  • Margaret Avenue

  • Patrick Boulevard

  • Pindar Crescent

  • Pleasant View Drive

  • Pondsview Drive

  • Snapdragon Drive

  • Wilkinson Drive

  • William Sylvester Drive

For more information, view the full Construction Notice at the link below

 

TTC: Upcoming Closures

Subway Closures:

  • Line 1: Finch to Eglinton nightly early closures October 12 to 14

  • Line 1: Lawrence to St Clair full weekend closure October 16 and 17

  • Line 1: Finch to Eglinton nightly early closures October 18 to 21

  • Line 1: Finch to St Clair full weekend closure October 23 and 24

  • Line 1: Finch to Eglinton nightly early closures October 25 to 28

For more information, visit the link below


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