Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow released her list of council appointments Thursday, key roles that offer a glimpse into how she intends to implement her agenda during her tenure at city hall.
In a public letter addressed to council, Chow said her appointments are intended to reflect her commitment to a “deeply collaborative style of leadership and a renewed purpose to deliver the kind of change that the people demand.”
Chow’s appointments, which will be adopted at a special city council meeting this afternoon, will see a number of progressive councillors in influential positions. After winning June’s mayoral byelection, Chow took over a city government helmed mainly by political allies of former mayor John Tory.
Among the most notable appointments, Coun. Ausma Malik will serve as Chow’s statutory deputy mayor, a position that comes with certain roles and responsibilities assigned through the municipal code. Malik was elected in 2022 and has been one of the most vocal opponents of the province’s controversial plan for the development of Ontario Place, which is in her ward of Spadina–Fort York.
Coun. Jennifer McKelvie, who previously served as former mayor John Tory’s statutory deputy and stepped in to temporarily lead the city after his resignation in February, will remain as a deputy mayor representing the interests of Scarborough.
McKelvie has also been tapped for a number of other of important roles, including as chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and as a board member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), where she will push for more robust funding partnerships with other levels of government, Chow said.
Meanwhile, first-term councillor Amber Morley will be deputy mayor representing Etobicoke and long-time councillor Mike Colle will serve as deputy mayor representing north Toronto. Colle will also join the board of the FCM.
All four deputy mayors will also sit on Chow’s executive committee, the city’s most powerful committee that sets key priorities and discusses big-ticket items.
Budget issues loom
Coun. Shelley Carroll will be chair of the Budget Committee. The city hall veteran steps into the role as Toronto faces major fiscal headwinds, including a nearly $1.5 billion budget shortfall and projected deficits of billions of dollars in funding for state of good repair projects. Chow has said publicly that the city is “broke” and that fixing its finances is a top priority.
The committee was previously headed by former councillor Gary Crawford, a Tory ally who resigned his seat last month during an unsuccessful run in the Scarborough–Guildwood provincial byelection.
York South–Weston councillor Frances Nunziata, who was first elected in 2000, will stay on as speaker, a role she has held since 2010. The speaker chairs council meetings and is responsible for maintaining the rules of council chambers.
Veteran Parkdale–High Park councillor Gord Perks will lead the city’s influential Planning and Housing Committee. In her letter, Chow said “building and investing in affordable housing is a top priority” at city hall and council “will need a renewed focus on this critical file.”
Coun. Brad Bradford, a rival of Chow’s during the mayoral byelection who was highly critical of her housing proposals, will be vice-chair of the committee. Bradford is a former city planner who could bring “unparalleled knowledge of the planning process to unlock fast, transparent and accountable housing approvals,” Chow said in her letter.
Coun. Jamaal Myers will stay on as chair the TTC while Coun. Josh Matlow, also a candidate in June’s mayoral byelection, will be a member of the TTC board. Matlow, who had a tumultuous relationship with Tory and was largely cut out of committee roles during the former mayor’s tenure, will also sit on the executive and planning committees.
New police board appointment
In terms of improving public safety, a key theme of the mayoral campaign, Chow has appointed Coun. Jon Burnside to join the Toronto Police Services Board. Burnside is a former police officer with a “deep commitment to effective and transformative community policing,” Chow wrote.
Morley, who defeated longtime former councillor Mark Grimes in the 2022 municipal election, will also join the police services board.
Some other notable appointments include:
- Coun. Dianne Saxe will be Chow’s point person on environmental files. Saxes is the former environmental commissioner for Ontario, a position that was dissolved by Premier Doug Ford’s government.
- Coun. Jaye Robinson will lead a team of councillors responsible for ensuring that the city is successful in hosting FIFA 2023, and that the project is “delivered on time and on budget.”
“We have many real and immediate challenges ahead of us — from making life more affordable, to turning around our housing crisis, delivering better public services, providing fast, affordable and reliable transit to all corners of the city, and managing our increasingly perilous fiscal situation,” Chow wrote in her letter.
“I’m proud of this new Toronto Team. A team that reflects the city it serves. One team deeply, and single-mindedly focused on the people’s priorities and building a city that is more affordable, safe, and caring — where everyone belongs.”
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