Candidate seeks injunction to delay Ontario’s plans to slash Toronto city council

A lawyer vying for a spot on Toronto city council is taking legal action to delay Ontario’s plans to redraw the city’s political map. 

Rocco Achampong, a candidate for Ward 13 (Eglinton-Lawrence), applied for an injunction at the Toronto division of Ontario Superior Court at noon on Tuesday — looking to suspend legislation put forward by the Progressive Conservative government “until it can be heard on the merits.” 

The PCs on Friday moved to redraw Toronto’s ward boundaries, cutting the number of councillors nearly in half, from 47 to 25, less than 90 days before the Oct. 22 municipal election. The Better Local Government Act would see municipal ward boundaries mirror those of provincial ridings.

If successful, the injunction would see Toronto’s election proceed according to the established boundaries.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, himself a former council member, says it will make city hall more efficient. 

The move has drawn both ire and praise. Achampong says he was blindsided by the change.

“I thought that was a bit wild and a tad lacking in process since we have administrative procedures that governments go through to effect change, namely consultations and stakeholder inputs being sought,” he said.

“That was not done here and it seemed unilateral.” 

Achampong says his problem isn’t necessarily with Ford’s decision — he doesn’t entirely disagree that council could be run more efficiently — but rather with its suddenness.

Ward 13 is the redrawn version of what was Ward 15, where Coun. Josh Colle is the incumbent. Colle announced last week he would not run again, and on the same day, his father and former city councillor, MPP Mike Colle, signalled his plans to run in the same race.

“Some people are for it, some people are against it, but they are surprised that it happened in such a chaotic way. It strikes at the sense of fairness,” he said.

The city is named as a respondent in the application in order, he said, to force it to take a position on whether to take the province to court. 

“It strikes me as slightly lacking that a lone citizen of Toronto is taking on the government of Ontario and the city council has yet to get up and take a firm position,” he said. 

His move comes one day after the council conveyed its opposition to Ford’s plan and asked its solicitor to examine his bill’s validity and constitutionality.

The solicitor is expected to report back on Aug. 20. 

A spokesperson for the Ford government says the province plans to move ahead with its legislation.

The city did not immediately return calls for comment. 

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