‘Unconscionable’: Nenshi slams Ford move to slash size of Toronto city council

Mayor Naheed Nenshi blasted a move by Ontario’s new premier to dramatically slash the size of Toronto’s city council just months before the fall municipal election, calling it “unconscionable”.

“I stand with Mayor Tory on this and say that is a direct affront on democracy. That is tinpot dictator stuff,” Nenshi said Friday morning.

“I would strongly suggest and support (Toronto) Mayor Tory in saying we’ve got to find a legal answer to what the limits of provincial authority are here. It’s not just for Toronto, it’s for all of us.”

Doug Ford says his Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation to cut the number of seats from 47 to 25, aligning city wards with federal ridings.

Ford, a failed Toronto mayoral candidate and single-term city councillor, said he has wanted to make the change since his days at city hall.

“I promised to reduce the size and cost of government and end their culture of waste and mismanagement in government,” he said. “This is something I fought for at City Hall, something I continue to believe in today.”

Having fewer city councillors “will dramatically improve the decision-making process,” and save Toronto taxpayers $25 million over four years, Ford said.

Nenshi said while he also harbours some concerns about the size and structure of Toronto’s council, he said Ontario’s premier is wrong to take action months after candidates had already begun campaigning.

“I’ve been super critical of a (47-member) council where you have shadow parties and been super happy we don’t have that here,” Nenshi said. “But you don’t do that on nomination day, and you don’t do that after you’ve just run an election where you’ve never mentioned this.”

Calgary’s city council has 14 councillors to represent a total of 1.26 million people, resulting in each council member representing an average of more than 90,000 residents.

Toronto recently increased the number of wards in that city from 44 to 47, each with an average population of 61,000 residents.

Ford’s proposed plan would increase the average ward size to 109,000 residents.

Full article: Calgary Herald