Listen to the audio version of this story:
Toronto’s mayor John Tory cruised to his third term in Monday’s municipal elections after securing 62 per cent of the vote in a landslide victory, in which he defeated 30 other candidates including urbanist Gil Penalosa who acquired 17.85 per cent of the vote and Chloe-Marie Brown with 6.31 per cent.
Tory is now set to become the city’s longest serving mayor since Art Eggleton who was in office from 1980 to 1991, but also said — for the second time in a row — that this will be his last term as mayor of Toronto.
About 200 Tory supporters donned tuxedos and fancy dresses, and filled the Imperial Room at the Fairmont Royal York, drinks in hand, Monday night to hear his victory speech.
“We have come so far over the last eight years but we have unfinished business that I am absolutely determined to see through,” said Tory in his speech. “We have made so much progress on getting transit and housing built and growing our economy and now we have a strong mandate to continue with that progress.”
Tory’s campaign mainly built on work he has already done in the past eight years with a focus on getting housing built faster — particularly affordable housing — through his five-point plan which engages the provincial government, completing transit projects with a $28-billion plan, and prioritizing the economic recovery of the city from the COVID-19 pandemic through supporting small businesses and attracting new investors. He also listed Vision Zero, the plan to see a future with no fatalities or serious injuries on the roads, as one of his commitments in his third term. So far in 2022, the Toronto Police Service lists 40 road fatalities — 21 pedestrians and four cyclists.
“I think it is favourable to have some continuity and somebody who is also willing to do more,” said Kema Joseph, consultant on government relations at Crestview Strategy, and former outreach and stakeholder relations advisor to Tory in his previous term.
“As a taxpayer in the city, I’m very happy to hear him talk about engaging other levels of government and having them participate financially in the well-being of Toronto,” said James Reed, secretary treasurer of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association.
Tory has also publicly stated his support for the strong mayor powers recently granted by the provincial government to expedite his housing plans. He intends to use them to create a streamlined Development and Growth Division to bring all the stakeholders “around one table so you don’t have the water department holding up the transportation department who’s holding up the buildings department,” Tory told The Green Line.
The former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party also publicly stated he would not hesitate to use the strong mayor powers if council starts making unreasonable amendments to his transit plan.
“The biggest criticism for the city and a lot of cities in Canada is the infrastructure. We say we are going to build stuff and we do build stuff but it is not at a pace that is adequate for an international city,” said Olivier Vander Zaag, director of regulatory affairs for Music Canada who worked with Tory in his 2018 campaign.
“It’s big dollars and hard to do…I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s an embarrassment internationally but having gone to places like New York or Berlin or London, these are older cities with more difficult infrastructure and they have found a way to do transit.”
With more than 1.89 million eligible voters in Toronto, less than 30 per cent cast their ballots on Oct. 24, marking a record low voter turnout for the city, according to unofficial estimates calculated from election results on the city’s website. In Toronto’s 2018 municipal elections, voter turnout was 41 per cent.
The official voter turnout number will be available by the end of November.