Is Toronto City Council Too Large: Toronto vs New York vs Vancouver vs LA vs Chicago

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There has been much debate in recent weeks about the size of Toronto City Council.  Currently there are 47 elected councilors in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and newly elected Ontario Premier (and former Toronto City Councillor) Doug Ford announced he is reducing that number to 25.

You can make solid arguments on both sides of this issue:

Reasons To Keep Toronto City Council at 47

Reasons To Reduce Toronto City Council Size to 25

  • The cost of a Toronto City Councilor is about CDN $1.25M per year (including salary, staff, benefits, travel costs, support costs…)
    • Even though this is a small percentage is it a very large real dollar number
  • It is very difficult to get nearly 50 people to agree on anything so cutting half the Council should make things move faster

How Does The Size of Toronto City Council Compare To Other Major Cities?

We wanted to know how Toronto City Council compares to LA, New York, London and others, so we looked it up.   You can see in the table below that reducing the size of Toronto City Council to 25 would still make it in Vancouver’s scale somewhere in the middle of the pack.

CITY POPULATION
(in millions)
COUNCILORS ELECTED OFFICIALS RESIDENTS PER COUNCILOR
Los Angeles 19.00 15 1,267,000
London 9.50 25 380,000
Toronto – Proposed 6.50 25 260,000
Vancouver 2.50 10 250,000
New York 8.50 50 170,000
Houston 2.50 16 156,000
Toronto – Current 6.50 47 138,000
Chicago 2.75 50 55,000
Montreal 1.75 64 27,000
Paris 2.25 354 6,000

NOTES:

  1. Population is rounded to the nearest 250K people
  2. Residents Per Councilor is rounded to the nearest 1,000
  3. Paris has a very odd council composition.  Paris has 20 wards “…in which voters elect a district council (conseil d’arrondissement). No district elects fewer than 10 district members or more than 40 district members; there are 354 district council members in total.” SOURCE

Whats Wrong With Reducing the Size of the GTA Council?

As someone that no longer lives in Ontario but did grow up just outside Toronto and visits it often, it appears that the two real issue with the cutting the GTA council size are:

  1. It is happening too fast:
    1. This change was announced just a few weeks ago but applies to the October 2018 Ontario Municipal Election.
    2. Many candidates have already paid substantial money for the election campaigns (signage, staff, office rental, advertising, computers…)
  2. It appears politically motivated
    1. Apparently Ontario Premier (and former Toronto City Councillor) Doug Ford does not get along with Toronto Mayor John Torry

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