John Tory won a third term as mayor of Toronto on Monday as Canada’s largest city faces a severe housing crisis and a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion.
Tory, 68, beat out 30 other mostly unknown candidates to hold on to the mayor’s seat at City Hall. With most polls reporting, he looked set to win at least 62 percent of the vote, up from 63.5 percent in 2018.
“I am deeply grateful for the faith and trust you have placed in me to lead our city again for the next four years,” Tory said during a speech to supporters in a room at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in the city centre.
He thanked his pre-election team and all the candidates who put their names on the ballot in these elections and added that he believes that the voters have given him a strong mandate.
“I’m very hopeful for the future of this city,” Torrey said. “We have unfinished business that I am absolutely determined to complete.”
LISTEN | Tory says he believes Toronto’s best days are ahead of us:
The longtime politician and former CEO of Rogers Communications ran a typical front-runner campaign that included few major commitments and saw him participate in just two debates with a select group of his challengers.
His win comes as he faced criticism of Toronto State under his leadership.
Opponents noted the high cost of housing, outdated infrastructure, overflowing trash cans and shuttered parks. Tory’s main challenger, progressive urbanist Gil Peñalosa, said he was motivated to run after speaking with residents who felt the city was “falling apart”.
You can see the results of the mayoral race at the bottom of this story.
Penalosa seemed on track to pick up around 18 percent of the vote. He said he hopes Tory works to make Toronto a city for everyone.
“I talked to young people who said it’s good, but for boomers.” I talk to boomers and they say it’s good for young people. I talk to people downtown and they say it’s good for the suburbs. “In the suburbs they say it’s good for downtown. Everyone thinks it’s good, but for someone else,” he told supporters at a delegation at a pub in Koreatown.
The city is facing a budget challenge
In the new term of the city council, the Tories will have the option to carry the so-called “strong mayor” powers that were granted to the leaders of Toronto and Ottawa by the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario this year. You can read more about what those powers include here.
Tory has repeatedly emphasized that he prefers to build a consensus with councilors and that he intends to use the new powers sparingly. While Ontario has no political parties at the municipal level, in his eight years at the helm the Tory built a majority bloc of mostly centrist and centre-right allies in city council, rarely losing a vote during his last term.
He spent significant time campaigning with some members of that coalition facing close races, such as Mark Grimes, who ultimately lost in Etobicoke-Lakeshore to progressive Amber Morley. He also sought to expand his influence, endorsing and endorsing candidates in open wards previously held by progressive councillors, although his preferred candidates in wards 4, 9 and 18 failed to win seats.
Tory came to power in the city of almost 2.8 million people after the tumultuous and sometimes chaotic tenure of the late former mayor Rob Ford. His political brand is built on his reputation as a manager who places a premium on stability and gradual change.
Few of his major commitments from 2014 to lead Toronto have come to fruition over two terms, though he has kept a key promise to keep property tax increases at or below the rate of inflation — a policy he has said he will continue (even though inflation is now far higher than she was when he made that promise earlier.)
His central 2014 campaign promise, a 53-kilometre rail line connecting Markham and Mississauga to downtown Toronto, which he called SmartTrack, was hypothetically supposed to be completed this year. Although the SmartTrack plan never came to fruition, Tory helped craft a $28 billion alternative transit plan for Toronto that secured funding from both the provincial and federal governments.
His commitment to fiscal austerity came under fire from some of his opponents during the campaign. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge revenue losses that have come with it, Tory and the council will have to bridge a billion dollar budget hole in the coming year.
In his remarks Monday, Tory said the city will need to find efficiencies in its budget and operating costs. That reality comes as the cost of living continues to rise across the country.
“Whether it is the city government or your household, we will have to face significant economic and financial challenges in the coming months,” he said.
“With my experienced leadership and dedicated council colleagues … we can get through this period of uncertainty and come out stronger on the other side, because that’s what people expect of us.”
Toronto is also facing a housing crisis that is driving many residents, especially young families, out of the city. Last term, Tory backed the legalization of multi-tenant housing, sometimes called apartment buildings, across the city – a bid that ultimately failed to gain enough support among councilors to force a Tory vote. It marked his biggest political defeat during his time as mayor.
As part of his campaign, Tori set up a five-point housing plan which could reform zoning bylaws to allow more duplexes and triplexes, especially on arterial roads served by the TTC, and streamline the development process.
Find the individual election results on the links below:
- Etobicoke | Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Etobicoke Centre, Etobicoke North
- North Toronto | Humber River-Black Creek, York Centre, Willowdale, Don Valley North
- Downtown and Midtown Toronto | Parkdale-High Park, York South-Weston, Eglinton-Lawrence, Toronto-St. Paul’s, Davenport, Spadina-Fort York, University-Rosedale, Toronto Centre, Toronto Danforth, Don Valley West, Don Valley East, Beaches-East York
- Scarborough | Scarborough Southwest, Scarborough Centre, Scarborough-Agincourt, Scarborough-Guildwood, Scarborough North, Scarborough-Rouge Park
You can get live results of the mayoral race below: