Municipal government shapes our cities.
Municipal elections are an important part of shaping where we live. Our cities and towns are where we work, go to school, shop for groceries, raise families, and build communities.
City council’s decisions and policies impact all of these areas. Council controls zoning for residential housing and rent controls, is in charge of maintaining and expanding the transit system, oversees community centres that provide essential programming to for communities, and facilitates our waste disposal.
When we asked the ELN to identify the four most important issues that will define the GTHA over the next five years, you identified housing, transit, equity, and the environment – issues that are significantly impacted by municipal government.
Here are a few resources to help you get caught up:
- For a quick look at municipalities and how they work, check out this video from Student Vote.
- Social planning Toronto also has a great set of infographics about the top issues facing Toronto and how they’re impacted by city council such as poverty, housing, jobs, transit, and childcare available in multiple languages.
- KnowYourVoteTO is a great website put together by the Toronto library that has everything you need to know about the candidates and issues this election.
Flex your democratic muscle with the ELN
Encouraging rising leaders to get involved in shaping their city is the bread and butter of ELN and engaging in the democratic process is one of the important ways we can do this. Throughout October, the ELN will be hosting a series of events and activities to support rising leaders in doing just that.
The ELN will be “popping up” across the region with municipal election pop-ups, handing out the winning “I’m Voting” button design from our contest, some fun swag, and general election information you’ll need to be informed and ready to hit the polls.
You can find us at the following locations:
- Black Community Mayoral Debate
- October 1, 6pm-8pm.
- Tropicana Community Services, 1385 Huntingwood Drive, Scarborough.
- Building a Great City Together
- October 2, 6pm-8pm
- North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto
- Ryerson University
- October 10, 12pm-2pm
- Student Centre, 55 Gould St., Toronto
- Oakville Mayoral Debate
- October 15, 12-2pm
- Sheridan College, Trafalgar Road Campus, 1430 Trafalgar Road, Oakville
- Sheridan College, Mississauga
- Oct. 18 from 12-2pm
- Sheridan College Hazel McCallion Campus, 4180 Duke of York Blvd, Mississauga, ON
- St. James Town Library
- October 18, 5-6pm
- 495 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON
Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances the McMaster University pop-up in Hamilton on October 16 is cancelled.
Blog Series – If I Were Mayor
We’re partnering with youth organizations across Toronto to curate an “If I were mayor” blog post series to showcase the ideas and experiences of young people with youth organizations across Toronto, including For Youth Initiative, Laidlaw Foundation, Toronto Youth Cabinet, Citizen Empowerment Project, and Young Women’s Leadership Network.
Check back here on October 15 to read what they have to say.
ELN Twitter Chat
Make your voice heard at our ELN Twitter chat! Join us on October 17 from 12pm to 1pm to discuss the municipal issues most important to our network.
Register in advance or log in to Twitter on October 17 and follow the hashtag #ELNElectionChats. All the responses will be aggregated and put into a report to be shared with the newly elected municipal officials.
Not exactly sure what this whole municipal election business is about? Here are the answers to some of your burning questions that you might be too afraid to ask.
So who or what exactly am I voting for?
In municipal elections, you’ll be voting in several races, determined by your municipality and ward.
- First you’ll be voting for the mayor, the person who provides leadership to the city council. Although the kids in this CTV profile have a pretty entertaining view of mayoral powers, the mayor plays the role of chief executive officer to city council and is the official representative of the city.
- Next, you’ll be voting for your councillor, the person on council who represents the specific interests of your community or ward. City council is made up of one mayor and multiple councillors who discuss issues, introduce city legislation, and vote to make it happen. If you live within a region with a regional council (Durham, Halton, Peel, or York regions), you also get to vote for a regional councillor in addition to your local councillor.
- The race for school board trustee only happens in some wards. School board trustees are the community’s advocate for public education and make decisions that impact the schools. In Ontario, there are four different types of school boards; English Catholic, English Public, French Catholic, and French public. Visit the Ontario Municipal & School Board Elections website for more information on whether your ward has a school board trustee race, which school board you are eligible to vote for, and who the candidates are.
For more on municipal government in Canada, check out The Canadian Encyclopedia. Need a little help to figure out which Toronto mayoral candidate mirrors your values? Check out the CBC’s vote compass.
Where can I find more information about voting in my municipal election?
Don’t be unprepared when Election Day rolls around on October 22. Before you head to the polls, take a minute to research the candidates and find out where and how to vote. Scroll down for a handy list of links to all of the voting websites for municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Single and lower tier municipalities (towns and cities)
Upper tier municipalities (regions)
How else can I get involved?
Voting isn’t the only way you can get involved in your local municipality. You can also make your voice heard by volunteering for a local candidate, contacting your councillor to share your views on an issue, participate in a city consultation, or run for city council yourself!
So there you have it, the mystery of municipal politics revealed. Mark your calendar for October 22 and help shape where you live.