HOW TO REPRESENT A MEGA WARD

Sep 22, 2022

After four years of giant Toronto wards, it’s time to make sure residents are heard

Unanswered calls, burnt-out councillors, increased development demands, and growing disillusionment in government must prompt immediate changes to how City Council offices are operated, said candidate Siri Agrell.

“At almost every door, the residents of Parkdale-High Park are telling me they’ve raised a concern and haven’t heard back from anyone so they’ve given up,” said Agrell. “This is not okay. I’m not the kind of person who is going to shrug my shoulders and say the job is just too hard. If councillors can’t keep up with the demands of the 100,000 residents they now represent, then something needs to change so they can.”

Since the ward boundaries were redrawn by Premier Doug Ford in 2018, most Toronto City Councillors represent more than 100,000 residents. The impact this has had on councillors has been well documented, but Agrell says her campaign has also revealed the profound effect new ward boundaries are also having on residents.

With no sign that the wards will be made smaller, Agrell says the following changes are required at City Hall to ensure that local representation improves:

  • With 311 being the most common place for resident concerns, data should be reported out by ward on a monthly basis, so issues can be understood in real time and patterns of problems can be identified and solved.
  • Council offices should be provided with a standardized relationship management tool so that resident concerns are not lost or ignored.
  • Councillors who have high levels of development applications or executive roles should be provided with additional resources so they can stay on top of resident issues.
  • Salaries and office budgets should increase to reflect the complexity and commitment of the job.
  • Term limits should be introduced to ensure residents are represented by councillors who reflect the city’s demographic and priorities.

Agrell has set goals for Parkdale-High Park if elected, including making her ward the place with the best representation, with guaranteed response times and a personal commitment to term limits.

“After four years, we can’t just say the job is too hard. We need to elect councillors who will actually fix problems and effectively make the case for a new way of doing things,” said Agrell.  “That’s what I’ve done my entire career and I look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council to make sure the people of Toronto get the support and attention they need locally.”