Despite seeing the lowest voter turnout yet, this year’s municipal election had a few noteworthy outcomes. It saw turnover in nine city councillor roles, including Amber Morley, who beat out city council veteran Mark Grimes for the Etobicoke Lakeshore seat, and Ausma Malik, who replaced Joe Cressy for the Spadina-Fort York seat. Malik is also the first hijab-wearing Muslim to secure a seat on Toronto’s City Council and to be elected to public office in Canada.
Although 16 councillors are incumbent, the fresh faces have come in strong, and will hopefully bring some new solutions to the chronic problems facing Toronto. From housing to transit and more, here’s what to expect from the nine new councillor-elects.
Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1 — Etobicoke North)
Admittedly, Vincent Crisanti is a not-so-new face on the council, although he’s not considered an incumbent. He has two terms as the Ward 1 councillor under his belt, before he lost his seat in 2018 to Micheal Ford. This election, he came back in a big way, securing 41.07% of the votes in his ward.
The pillars of Crisanti’s previous terms were transit, job creation, and community safety, and he’s planning to continue to prioritize those issues. In addition, he’s focussed on:
- Improving city infrastructure and encouraging investments into road resurfacing and sidewalk work.
- Pushing for improvements in the public realm, including improvements to public parks and community centres.
- Setting an agreement for an LRT extension in motion, which would see the train route extended from Humber College to a new GO Station at Belfield and Highway 27.
Amber Morley (Ward 3 — Etobicoke-Lakeshore)
This may be Amber Morley’s first term as city councillor, but she’s not new to the game. She has served as an advocate, organizer, and political staffer to two Etobicoke city councillors, and ran for a seat herself in 2018, coming in a close second to the incumbent, Mark Grimes. This year, she snagged the seat from the city council veteran with 46.44% of the votes.
For the next four years, Morley has a long list of plans geared at housing affordability, creating safe streets and accessible transportation, and improving public amenities, including community spaces, social services, parks, and transit options. For housing specifically, Morley has plans to:
- Push for a set standard of affordable units in all new housing developments, and lend support to new cooperative housing initiatives.
- Ensure a comprehensive community consultation process precedes new major development projects.
- Create a mix of housing options, utilizing the City’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiative.
- Utilize city-owned land for affordable housing developments, and work with other levels of government to leverage provincial and federal lands.
- Prevent Toronto Housing buildings from being sold so they can continue to be used as affordable housing stock.
- Commit to a Vacant Home Tax to discourage speculative buyers.
Alejandra Bravo (Ward 9 — Davenport)
Alejandra Bravo is a long-term resident of Davenport and a community advocate with roots in the non-profit sector. Her platform has hinged on addressing the affordability crisis, improving local transit, building community, and making policy and funding choices that consider “the needs of the many.”
This election, Bravo took home 70.72% of the votes in her ward, and in her new post, she hopes to make housing accessible and affordable for all, by investing in actionable solutions.
- Taking action to end exclusionary zoning, waive City permits and fees to support new affordable housing, and create a dedicated planning team to expedite permits and approvals.
- Ensuring City-owned land is used to build new mixed-income affordable housing communities.
- Building new affordable homes through inclusionary zoning, while supporting non-profit development models.
- Fighting for stronger protections from renovictions and unfair rent increases.
- Advocating for a local bylaw for maximum allowable temperature in all apartments, and working with tenants’ groups for better renter protections.
- Creating more family-sized units, and advocating for more public communal meeting spaces and green spaces.
Ausma Malik (Ward 10 — Spadina-Fort York)
Ausma Malik stems from a background of advocacy and activism, and these qualities certainly informed her campaign. Her platform centred on the idea of creating a “Toronto for all”; a city that prioritizes caring communities and inclusive civic spaces.
Malik came in strong this election, with a long list of to-dos geared at reforming housing, transit, parks and public spaces, safety, and access to the democratic process. She secured 36.55% of the votes in her ward, paving the way for her platform pillars to be realized in the four years to come. To create housing “for all” in Toronto, Malik plans to:
- End exclusionary zoning to get more higher-density housing built across the city, and support sustainable infill construction to jump-start the development of more housing supply.
- Utilize city-owned sites for new affordable, rental, and non-profit housing developments, and identify more opportunities to collaborate with non-profit partners and Toronto Community Housing.
- Back the city-wide legalization of rooming houses, middle housing, and high-density housing close to public transit.
- Support retrofit and renovation projects that can go hand-in-hand with sustainable housing creation, and work with new construction projects to achieve a net-zero goal.
- Enforce short-term rental regulations and return “ghost hotel” inventory to the housing market.
- Increase the Vacant Home Tax to discourage speculative buyers.
- Expand rent supplements and the rent bank, and put more resources towards the RentSafeTO program.
- Back rent control measures and advocate for the end of vacancy decontrol.
- Prioritize the construction of co-ops and non-profit housing, clear the repair backlog at Toronto Community Housing, and put more resources behind Toronto’s Multi-Unit Rental Acquisition Program.
- Harmonize residential property taxes -- which currently tax apartments at a higher rate.
- Create a one-stop application process for all affordable housing units through Housing Connections.
- Create a housing plan that prioritizes housing the homeless, building supporting housing in areas that will allow users to stay connected with their community, and expanding short-term capacity in shelters and respites to reduce overcrowding.
Dianne Saxe (Ward 11 — University-Rosedale)
Dianne Saxe is a respected environmental and energy lawyer, with a background in non-partisan advocacy. In addition, she was the last independent Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.
Saxe -- who secured 35.37% of the votes in her ward -- self-admittedly has “deep roots and wide networks in and around Ward 11,” and her campaign platform this election has left no stone unturned. Her platform has included plans to address and reform housing, public infrastructure and safety, policing, homelessness, climate, small businesses, and budgeting. For housing specifically, Saxe has plans to:
- Build the city "in and up and mitigating urban sprawl with more middle housing in all residential zones
- Enforce maintenance standards to improve conditions for tenants.
- Increase protection for tenants displaced during construction.
- Support modular housing, tiny homes, basement apartments, and garden suites, and legalize rooming houses.
- Reform zoning rules that block affordable housing.
- Expand subsidized housing and housing benefits.
- Fund a revolving loan fund for non-profit housing providers.
- Regulate short-term rentals.
- Enforce a Vacant Home Tax to reduce speculators.
- Explore social impact bonds to fund supportive housing.
- Work with the provincial and federal governments to secure funding for housing.
Chris Moise (Ward 13 — Toronto Centre)
In addition to past careers as a hospital healthcare worker and police officer, Chris Moise has spent six years as Ward 13’s public school trustee. He has also served as vice-chair of the Toronto District School Board, so he’s no stranger to leadership.
This election, Moise received 48.48% of the votes in his ward, putting his vote count at 10,457 -- more than 6,500 votes over his closest competitor. Given that his ward covers the heart of Downtown Toronto -- notorious for its unforgiving rental market and peak home prices -- a big part of his platform has to do with housing.
- Encouraging the construction of all housing types -- multiplexes, high-rises, and public, market, and transitional housing -- to make Toronto a safe space for all.
- Addressing the interconnected nature of the housing, mental health, and addiction crises.
- Working with post-secondary institutions to help housing accessibility for students on and around campus.
- Encouraging the creation and use of public spaces where people can gather and enjoy the benefits of community.
Jon Burnside (Ward 16 — Don Valley East)
Jon Burnside is a former member of the Toronto Police Service, and another candidate to return to City Council after losing his seat -- he served as Councillor for Ward 26 -- in 2018. During his council hiatus, Burnside has been working as Toronto’s Manager of Strategic Initiatives.
Going into this year’s election, Burnside was endorsed by Mayor John Tory and secured 44.68% of the votes in his ward. His campaign platform focussed on improving public safety, engaging the community, and fighting inappropriate development.
- Promoting the increase of development fees in some communities “where further intensification would be harmful.”
- Pushing for more mid-rise development as a way to build more housing.
- Increasing the number of officers in the Toronto Police Service’s community policing program and stepping up patrols in local neighbourhoods.
Lily Cheng (Ward 18 — Willowdale)
Lily Cheng is a community-building advocate, with several grassroots organizations -- such as NeighbourLink North York, of which she serves as executive director, and Moms of North York, which she founded -- under her belt.
Throughout her campaign, Cheng has stayed true to her grassroots causes, and after winning a seat on City Council with 41.72% of votes, she plans to tackle larger municipal problems with a similar grassroots approach. For housing, this will involve:
- Holding roundtables with neighbourhood groups, agencies, and organizations serving Willowdale, and building a strong office team to build processes and infrastructure to better serve the community.
- Engaging the Tamarack Institute to build a Neighbourhood Strategy.
- Opening up a narrative about the impact of Toronto’s homeless and homeless shelters on communities in order to better understand the issues at play and develop solutions.
- Advocating for smaller-scale supportive housing and mixed-income and modular housing, and supporting the regulation of rooming houses.
- Improve the community consultation process so that it considers non-English speaking members of the community and better addresses public safety and the destruction of the green space.
Jamaal Myers (Ward 23 — Scarborough North)
Myers’ rise to City Councillor-elect was not a usual one. Following the sudden death of Cynthia Lai -- Lai had been running for re-election and was endorsed by Mayor Tory -- Myers ended up securing the seat with 51.09% of votes in his ward.
Myers put community, public transit, and affordable housing at the forefront of his campaign. His goals for his term include:
- Legalizing and regulating rooming houses, and building 40,000 affordable rental homes in Toronto by 2030.
- Updating outdated zoning bylaws that limit neighbourhood zoning to single-family homes and prevent affordable housing options from being built.
- Increasing street safety by creating clear pedestrian crossings to prevent pedestrian deaths in Scarborough.
- Opposing TTC service cuts, supporting bus lanes in Scarborough to help with traffic, and lowering TTC fares.
- Making TTC free for seniors and students, and allowing for free transfers between TTC buses and Go Transit in Scarborough when the Scarborough LRT closes in 2023.