Long-time Toronto councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong not seeking re-election this fall

Another long-time Toronto councillor has decided to not seek re-election this fall.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of City Council since 1998, announced the news in a July 13 note to Ward 16 residents, Mayor John Tory, and fellow councillors.

“While a difficult decision in many ways, I believe it is time for me to move on to the next stage of my life,” Minnan-Wong, who has served as Deputy Mayor since 2014, wrote.

A well-known fiscal conservative, the Don Valley East representative was elected for the first time four years before Toronto’s six boroughs were amalgamated into one city.

“I was first elected in 1994 and since then there have been many changes in the city. But in that election and each one since, I have been elected on a platform of Keeping Taxes Down,” he said.

“This concept was important then. It is important now. And while we have to adjust to changing times and needs, we must choose our priorities responsibly so that Toronto citizens aren’t burdened by ever higher taxes.”

Minnan-Wong said despite winning eight times over 28 years, he never forgot the people of his former Ward 34, which became Ward 16 in 2018 after the province reduced Toronto City Council from 44 seats to 25.

“Always my inspiration, I knew they wanted responsible government. A council that respected their tax dollars, and worked to provide quality municipal services,” he said.

In his letter, the North York councillor, who is the chair of the Civic Appointments Committee and Striking committees and Collective Bargaining Subcommittee and vice-chair of the Executive Committee, pointed to some of his accomplishments during his tenure.

They include establishing the position of City Auditor General, contracting out garbage pickup west of Yonge Street and negotiating “historic labour agreements without a strike.”

Also a member of the city’s Infrastructure Committee, the TTC and Toronto Hydro board, Minnan-Wong also said he and his team were “able to identify wasteful spending like the purchase of $12,000 umbrellas at the Waterfront. And we stopped Google from taking over Toronto’s Waterfront.”

Further, Minnan-Wong mentioned his efforts to save the Gardiner Expressway, develop Toronto’s first congestion management plan, implement the first separated bike lanes in the south downtown, and save the Bixi bike program.

“As a TTC Commissioner I played a leadership role in the introduction of electric buses to the TTC fleet,” he said, adding locally he’s especially proud of the extension of the East Don Trail and the approval of the Don Mills Community Centre, which is Toronto’s largest community centre.

“I am also pleased that we are working as a community within the ward to address road safety issues in logical ways,” he said.

As a Toronto councillor, Minnan-Wong said he always “tried to represent the homeowner and tenant alike.”

“In this regard, I remain a proud and unapologetic defender of property owners’ rights. The next Council needs to listen and show a greater sensitivity toward property owners and their communities,” he said, adding moving forward he hopes council will invest more in roads, pay more attention to parks, tackle graffiti issues, and not allow rooming houses in residential neighbourhoods “without proper, thorough, and authentic consultation.”

Other long-serving councillors who have decided to not seek re-election this year include John Filion (Ward 18, Willowdale) and Ana Bailão (Ward 9, Davenport).

Three other incumbent councillors also vacated their seats in recent months.

Former Toronto Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy left his job as the Spadina–Fort York councillor in April to pursue a new career at George Brown College. Cressy announced he would not be seeking re-election back in October 2021.

Ward 13 Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam also resigned earlier this year to run for the provincial New Democratic Party in Toronto Centre, which she won in last month’s election.

The Etobicoke North seat previously held by Michael Ford is also open as he was elected as the MPP for York South-Weston.

Candidates have until August 19 to sign up to run for Toronto mayor or city councillor. The city’s 2022 municipal election will be held on October 24.