More than a dozen Toronto councillors, representing a majority of the city council, have signed an open letter to the Ontario government expressing concern about legislation giving the mayor more powers.
In the letter to Premier Doug Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark, 15 councilors asked them to reconsider approving Draft Law 39 or Law of Better Municipal Governance 2022.
They said their main concern is how the bill would end majority rule in the city council. Bill 39, which is making its way in Queen’s Park, would allow Mayor John Tory to propose and amend bylaws considered provincial priorities with just over a third of council support.
“Bill 39 is moving quickly through the Ontario Legislature and is expected to pass this week, but the Toronto City Council has not had the opportunity to discuss or consult with residents about this fundamental change in our governance,” the officials wrote. councillors.
“We are writing to you today because we are concerned that we have not had an opportunity to weigh in on the governance of our city or to weigh the impacts on the checks and balances of power that would result from the loss of majority rule in Toronto City Hall.”
Council members who signed the letter include Gord Perks, Josh Matlow, Anthony Perruzza, Mike Colle, Paula Fletcher, Jaye Robinson, Shelley Carroll and Michael Thompson.
First-time councilors Amber Morley, Ausma Malik, Alejandra Bravo, Dianne Saxe, Chris Moise, Lily Cheng and Jamaal Myers also signed the letter.
Carroll, Morley and Cheng sit on Tory’s hand-picked executive committee. Meanwhile, Thompson served as Tory deputy mayor in the last council term.
Councilors told the province that a motion was passed in July asking the government to consult with the city if it plans to give the mayor more powers.
“We are committed to the relationship with the Province of Ontario as outlined in Part I of the City of Toronto Act of 2006: a relationship that is based on ‘mutual respect, consultation and cooperation,'” they wrote. councillors.
“The Toronto City Council must be governed by majority rule, and any change in Toronto’s governance must be the decision of the City Council and local residents.”
Councilman Perks sent a separate letter to Tory last week asking him to call a special council meeting to discuss Bill 39, saying it is necessary so he and others can have their say before it passes.
“I respect council members who make their views known on this issue, as they do on many other issues. There will be a City staff report coming to City Council in a week to provide details on Provincial Bills 3 and 39. I look forward to an informed and respectful discussion at that time,” Tory said in a statement Tuesday.
The mayor added that he will continue to work collaboratively with councilors to get things done.
“Even with provincial changes scheduled to pass in Queen’s Park this week, my determination to always try to reach a consensus in Council on the issues facing our city remains steadfast,” Tory said.
During her opening remarks at last month’s council meeting, Tory said that any action she takes under the mayor’s strong legislation would be public and that she would only use the controversial veto on housing and transit issues of importance to the entire city.
Bill 39 will give more authority to the chief city magistrate on top of the powers the province already granted in the fall.
Last week, Tory used those powers to appoint a new city manager.
– with files from Katherine DeClerq of CTV News Toronto