Rob Ford proposes 16 new seats on City Council

Mayor Rob Ford was in Winnipeg this week, and commented that “The thing I liked about it, they only had 16 councillors down there and a little, small council chamber,”

Well, that might be because Winnipeg is roughly a quarter of the size of Toronto.


Ford talks a lot about “customer service” and how important it is for politicians to be available and accessible to their constituents.  In that context, Winnipeg actually has a larger City Council than we do – per capita:

Winnipeg: 663,617 residents with “only” 16 City Councillors
Councillors per 100,000 residents: 2.3

Toronto: 2.6 million residents with 44 City Councillors
Councillors per 100,000 residents: 1.7

So in order for Toronto Council to reach Winnipeg’s level of customer service and representation, we would need sixty Councillors.


While I don’t tend to agree with the mayor on many policy issues, I’m with him 100% on this one.  Toronto’s residents are under-represented and that has a terrible impact on customer service.  Let’s at least try and catch up to Winnipeg’s standards.

(For more information about Councillor/Resident ratios and how we can improve political representation, check out the “Break it Down” section in the Fourth Wall booklet.)



10 responses to “Rob Ford proposes 16 new seats on City Council

  1. Hey, 16 is smaller than 44. Stop trying to confuse people with facts and logic. Folks, what we need is subways.

  2. On all the City of Toronto news releases it claims that Toronto is home to 2.8 million people “Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people”.

  3. What’s interesting is that all the examples of other cities given have political parties. If we increase council above a certain size, it would seem based on things like theories of group dynamics, that we would inevitably be forced to have parties as well, or have council devolve into permanent chaos. (Yes, you can argue that it already has…) That would seem to be an important question to consider in the *real* discussion of council’s size.

  4. Geez, good thing he hasn’t visited Grand Rapids. (although I hear they get by just fine without subways)

  5. Lets look at the 905 as a model of efficiency. If Toronto had as many politicians as the Town of Ajax (population 110,000), we would have 1 Super Mayor, 44 Mayors, 88 Metro Councillors, and 176 local Councillors.

  6. Meslin you are often an advocate for direct democracy why would you not want to allow the people to choose if they want more politicians, less politicians or the current number, instead of pushing for more?

  7. I get that you’re having fun here – but this is nitpicky and inaccurate – he just said he liked Winnipeg’s small council, he didn’t PROPOSE anything. Waste of time when there are more important and real things to discuss.

  8. There are two main ways to face a problem. In this case, the problem is the city debt, which has an annual interest payment of around 500 Million dollars, or fully 5% of the city’s 9 Billion dollar budget. Instead of being able to spend this money on road repairs and keeping community centers and libraries open, this 500 million dollars is being used to pay interest on the debt. The two ways a problem can be faced are REACITVELY and PROACTIVELY.

    REACTIVE problem solving, which is what city councillors are trained to do through customary reaction to budget threats, means retreating from spending by cutting budgets (such as the above), trying to reduce the size of City Council and its support staff, and adding more taxes to the long list of taxes already being paid, both forthright and hidden, by Torontonians. This approach scrapes together enough money to pay the budget costs every year but does nothing to end the debt that is debilitating the city’s ability to provide good service. When it is successful, the city council is able to brag that it has balanced the budget…often after much hand-wringing to find the funds needed to do so.

    PROACTIVE problem solving means finding a way to pay off the debt without reducing services (such as cutting the number of councillors, etc.) or otherwise burdening tax payers, while maintaining the budget, and even increasing it to cover the costs of lost or dwindled city services. The most effective way to do this is by switching from monetary capitalism to human capitalism. In a similar vein to the way in which Dave Meslin’s Professional Visitor was able to provide a service and at the same time benefit himself, human capitalism acknowledges the human being as the city’s most valuable resource and learns to harness our desires and abilities as capital to pay down real monetary debt, while at the same time adding benefits rather than removing them, and avoiding new taxation rather than adding to it.

    No one single activity in PROACTIVE problem solving will resolve the city’s problems. It’s a multi-faceted solution; but all of its facets have a commonality: the citizenry has to be on board as a team of resolution-driven players, and the citizens have to be brought into the action as a formal cause in the process. Since a solution of this nature requires participation, it’s incumbent on the city fathers (and mothers, sons and daughters for us politically correct Meslin readers) to keep the fun in the process. After all, Dave loved what he did as a professional visitor.

    Because City Council is a REACTIVE institution rather than a PROACTIVE one on the issue of debt resolution, it is absolutely unable to offer this kind of solution, and thus it stands to reason that Rob Ford has his eye on any kind of cuts that will release more funds to cover budget costs. Ford is not a bad Mayor; in fact in his abilities to curb spending by a formerly out-of-control spendthrift council he’s doing a terrific job. But if what we want to do is Pay Off our debilitating debt, the usual REACTIVE approach the Mayor has adopted is in a reverse direction away from a productive resolution; and, as the idea of cutting back the number of city councillors and other services shows, it diminishes what existing city services we still enjoy –such as direct access to a councilor’s ear– even farther to Torontonians.

    Over the time he’s been Mayor, not only has the city not even scratched a nick in the city’s existing debt load, we’ve actually increased it by another Billion dollars. This will be over 2 Billion dollars additional debt before the end of his first term of office.

    But be very clear about what I’m stating here. The additional 2 Billion dollars of necessary spending is not at issue. The real issue is that the city must borrow those funds because we have no way of raising them currently other than a taxation solution; and after they are borrowed, infrastructure maintenance will be lessened to pay the interest payments from the city’s budget money through those additional taxes WITHOUT REDUCING and eventually paying off the loan principal. When the debt load amount reaches the same level as Toronto’s annual budget total (currently 9 billion dollars), the city will be in a position where its income is completely equal to its debt load, and bankruptcy suddenly becomes a real threat. At current cost increases, this may occur a mere 3 or 4 Billion dollars from now, or in less than 4 years at the present rate of non-payment.

  9. Los Angeles has a population above 5,000,000 and 15 Councillors.. you do the math

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