Toronto mayoral election: Which city wards played a pivotal role in Olivia Chow’s victory?

Toronto mayoral election: Which city wards played a pivotal role in Olivia Chow’s victory?

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Olivia Chow will soon hold the reins at city hall, thanks to her campaign’s success downtown and in Scarborough, a tract of suburban Toronto long out of reach to progressive mayoral candidates.

“It’s a remarkable stitching together of a progressive coalition,” said Matti Siemiatycki, director of U of T’s Infrastructure Institute, who called it a “big change” from the recent past, which saw centrists and right-leaning contenders lay claim to the inner suburbs.

“In the last number of elections, no one has been able to change that dynamic.”

On Chow’s second attempt at the mayor’s chair after coming in third in 2014, the former councillor and NDP MP won with 37.2 per cent of the vote amongst a crowded slate of candidates.

Ana Bailão, former deputy mayor and Davenport councillor, placed second with 32.5 per cent support, while former police chief Mark Saunders came a distant third, garnering 8.6 per cent of the vote.

Turnout was about 40 per cent of eligible voters, a big jump over 29 per cent in last fall’s civic election.

Chow won 14 of Toronto’s 25 wards, faring best in the south-central core of the city, where she collected 50 per cent or higher in Toronto-Danforth, Toronto Centre and Parkdale—High Park.

She also won five of Scarborough’s six wards, though by smaller margins, apart from Scarborough North, where Chow received more than 47 per cent of the vote, doubling second-place Ana Bailão.

Jamaal Myers, a freshman city councillor who represents Scarborough North, endorsed Chow’s run.

He attributes her success in his stomping grounds to residents’ fatigue with the “status quo of low taxes and low services and low investment.”

But Chow also had personal appeal, added Myers.

“I think a lot of people just really identified with Olivia’s story. They saw themselves or their parents in her story. Coming here as an immigrant, being at St. James Town. A lot of people resonated with that,” Myers, a lawyer born to Jamaican parents, told the Star.

Chow, who made improving transit in Scarborough a priority in her platform, opened her first campaign office there in mid-May.

Elsewhere in the city, competition was fierce.

As of Tuesday, less than 50 votes separated Bailão and Chow across four wards, including Willowdale in North York, which Chow took by only 49 votes.

In Scarborough—Rouge Park, the city’s easternmost ward, Bailão won by only 39 votes. On the west side, she won Humber River—Black Creek by a mere two ballots.

Though she lost the ward she previously represented, Bailão, who received a late endorsement from former mayor John Tory, fared best in neighbouring Eglinton-Lawrence, where she received 46 per cent of the vote, almost double Chow’s result.

And the incoming mayor struggled in other suburban areas on the city’s west side, particularly York Centre — where Bailão won 41.5 per cent to Chow’s 24 per cent — and Etobicoke Centre, where Bailão garnered 44.7 per cent and Chow came out with 21.2 per cent.

Toronto’s city clerk, John Elvidge, will certify the election’s official results no later than Wednesday.

Chow is expected to assume office two weeks later.

With a file from David Rider

Ben Mussett is a Toronto-based general assignment reporter for the Star. Reach him via email: [email protected]

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