Toronto Mayor John Tory said on Wednesday he would support getting “strong mayors” powers from the province, a move Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford is reportedly considering.
The Toronto Star reported late Tuesday that Ford is considering legislation that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa stronger powers as part of an effort to build more new homes in those cities.
“The powers of a strong mayor are something I’ve said I’d support — I talked about it before the last election,” Tory said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“I understand this is something the county is investigating to get more homes built as soon as possible.”
“We need to pick up the pace,” says Tory
The details of what exactly these additional powers would entail remain vague. A “strong mayor” system is typically characterized by the centralization of executive power to the mayor, who controls the appointments of department heads, oversees budgets, and is sometimes given a veto in certain circumstances.
The system is common in the United States, with the role of mayors resembling a CEO operating jointly with but also independently of the municipality.
Speaking to reporters ahead of this morning’s council meeting, Tory said he has had no formal talks with Ford about expanding the powers of the mayor’s office, but that the topic of finding ways to accelerate housing construction is “increased.” the passing” came at the couple’s most recent meeting. meeting in June.
“Anything we can do to, for example, get more homes built — to get more homes built faster — that’s what I’m interested in. Because we have a big problem here,” Tory said.
“We need to accelerate the speed at which we get things done.”
When asked how a strong mayoral system would translate into faster decision-making and planning, Tory said it’s too early to speculate, as he hasn’t seen any details about what the additional powers might look like.
Councilors want more information from the province
Right now, the Toronto mayor’s voice is the same as that of a city councillor.
Ford did not talk about introducing a strong mayoral system during this summer’s Ontario election campaign, and such a move would add another layer of complexity to the mayoral race in the upcoming fall municipal elections.
Also, the Ford administration has not amended the Municipal Election Act to address other issues, including a loophole reported by CBC News that allows lobbyists to pay people to campaign for councilors without their knowledge.
During his current term, Tory has controlled the balance of power in the city council, allowing him to pass most of the policies he supports.
On Tuesday, Parkdale Count. Gord Perks asked for information about Ford’s plan that city or mayor personnel may need to be brought to the council floor for debate. This week’s meeting is the last council meeting before the October municipal elections.
“I think it would be inappropriate for us to end our term without having the opportunity to discuss a potentially very, very significant change in the way the city of Toronto is governed,” Perks said.
Perks also supported a Toronto-St. Paul’s Count. Josh Matlow who would see the council ask the county not to pass legislation to extend the existing powers of the mayor’s office.
“Such a move would erode democracy by suppressing advocacy on key issues affecting Toronto residents,” the motion reads.
“Our city’s governance structure should not only be designed for what we want our system to be, but it should also take into account the guardrails needed to protect a healthy local democracy,” it continues.
“In the case of Toronto, we don’t have to look far back into our own history to understand how important the ability to hold the mayor’s power to account is. In fact, it was absolutely necessary.”
The last paragraph is a clear reference to the tumultuous mayoral term of Rob Ford, Doug Ford’s late brother. Rob Ford’s tenure was interrupted by a series of scandals that eventually led to the council stripping him of certain powers, including the power to hire and fire the Deputy Mayor and appoint members of his executive committee.