Mayor Rob Ford will once again have a chance to cut council in half Thursday.
Although it’s doubtful a majority of councillors would vote with Ford to cut the number of council seats, they’ll have to decide what to do with a petition from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition that demands they reduce the number of councillors from 44 to 25 in time for next year’s election.
The city clerk recommended council either vote to cut the number of council wards to match the new 25 federal ridings in Toronto as the petition requests or to fight the coalition at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
Last month, council voted to start a ward boundary review but rejected a proposal by Ford to direct the review to specifically look at cutting council. Ford campaigned in the 2010 election on cutting council in half.
Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Matthew McGuire said the group is prepared to fight the city at the OMB and pointed to a similar case in London, Ont., where the city ended up losing the fight.
“We think this is the right thing to do,” McGuire said. “City council has two choices on Thursday. They can do the right thing and implement these new ward boundaries … or they can say ‘No’ and by doing that, they will essentially be voting to spend a million dollars fighting against democracy.”
Councillor Paul Ainslie tried unsuccessfully to get council to quickly reject the petition Wednesday night and authorize the city solicitor to defend any legal challenge of council’s position.
The motion Ainslie tried to get council to approve also instructed the city solicitor to ask the OMB to adjourn the case until the city finished the ward boundary review council approved.
During last month’s council meeting, Ford argued cutting council was “what the people of this great city want” and making council larger would be “an absolute nightmare.”
“I don’t think that’s what the taxpayers want,” Ford said at the time.