Premier Doug Ford’s move to cut the number of wards in Toronto from 47 to 25 not only took attention away from much bigger problems during the elections but could continue to make it more difficult for councillors get things done.
Fewer representatives on city council means fewer ears to respond to residents voicing concerns in the community, both those that have existed for years and others that are just emerging.
After the old Wards 29 and 30 were merged, voters in Toronto-Danforth had to choose between Mary Fragedakis and Paula Fletcher, who ultimately won. Fletcher says she met voters who were upset about having to pick between them. The two incumbent councillors had been allies and worked together for many years.
Some argue that Ford’s reduction of council will result in more people paying attention to what’s happening in their community. But that means more voices will be raised, and that could soon result in more complaints when all the voices are not heard and work doesn’t get done sooner.
Fletcher says one of her biggest concerns is finding more staff who can handle the tasks being demanded by the community. This is a whole new commitment that takes attention away from the problems.
The relationship between residents and staff would be much better if people felt they were being given priority. That can happen when leaders and staff listen to them and implement solutions much more quickly and efficiently. That appears to be the opposite of the new system.
East York is a great community. There’s always work to be done to make it better for everyone. Road safety and affordable housing are just two of many things on Fletcher’s list. She also mentions working on more childcare, since the new Ward 14 is a family-friendly area.
Other things happened this year that still require attention. Take the Danforth shooting in the summer. Locals were injured and businesses were affected. Many are still trying to recover from the situation.
It’s a tragedy that will mark the Danforth’s history for a long time. It requires full attention. How can the healing process be expedited by people facing an increased workload?
Councillors will have to adjust to the new system while realizing that this is a critical time for East York to come together to make the healing process work.