Councillor Filion’s ward has 100,000 people
City average is 58,000
So he wants city wide ward boundary review
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 3)
John Filion wants the city to redraw ward boundaries so the population is more evenly distributed for council representation.
And if it doesn’t happen soon, he’s looking at taking matters into his own hands.
A few years ago the Willowdale rep asked for a staff report on redrawing the 44 ward boundaries, but it never materialized. He expects a report this council term.
Filion has taken up the cause again because his ward is so densely populated.
His office represents 88,840 residents, according to city stats projections to 2009.
Filion said the current number is closer to 100,000 people. The city median is 58,776 residents per ward, so Filion represents almost double the average. Ward 23 is bounded roughly by Steeles Avenue, Bayview Avenue, Highway 401 and Bathurst Street. “I end up doing the work of two councillors with the same resources as one office,” said Filion, who represents a very politically active and development-heavy ward.
In the meantime, Filion is hoping council will give him a larger office expense budget to handle the load. Filion said council has limited time to deal with redrawing ward boundaries before the 2014 election.
“If something doesn’t happen by next year, I will have to force the issue,” Filion said of a ward boundary adjustment. “I would do (a) petition, which would take it out of council’s hands.”
Under the City of Toronto Act, a petition of 500 or more electors asking the municipal government to adjust ward boundaries would require the city to act. If it didn’t within 90 days, the issue could be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, which could order council to re-divide the wards.
York-Centre Councillor James Pasternak’s Ward 10 neighbours Filion’s and he expects if boundaries are redrawn it would mean his ward would absorb more residents.
“I think it makes sense that Ward 10 would take some of the residents,” said Pasternak, who represents about 62,836 residents. “I am squeezed between Ward 10 with the highest population and Wards 8 and 9 with the fewest residents.”
Pasternak is concerned though that any additional residents that come his way if boundaries are changed include additional resources.
“We are currently underserviced in Ward 10 so any transfer of residents, it must be accompanied with solutions for capital assets,” Pasternak said. “Ward 10 has been left behind.
“We sit at the bottom of the list for community space.”
Neither Pasternak nor Filion were aware of a timeline for any staff report on changing ward boundaries.