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November 1st, 2012 · No Comments

The Annex, Seaton Village could be out of Trinity-Spadina riding

By Andrew Schopp

The federal electoral district of Trinity-Spadina could be cut down to size, with the Annex and Seaton Village being removed from the riding and rezoned as part of the St. Paul’s riding, if the proposed changes by Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario go through.

The current boundaries of this part of Trinity-Spadina are the CP rail line, just north of Dupont St.; Ossington Ave. to the west; and Avenue Rd. to the east. The area that would become part of St. Paul’s comprises everything north of Bloor St., with Avenue Rd. remaining the eastern boundary, and the western boundary shifting to Dovercourt Rd. The intersection of Bloor St. W. and Ossington Ave. would become the northwest boundary of Trinity-Spadina.

The boundaries of federal electoral districts are reevaluated every 10 years, after the census is conducted. Both the number of districts and their boundaries are reassessed to reflect population shifts and growth.

According to Olivia Chow, MP for Trinity-Spadina, the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries threatens to break up tight-knit communities.

“The change of boundaries, it will rip the University of Toronto neighborhoods apart,” said Chow, in a telephone interview.

“There are a large number of University of Toronto students and professors that live in the Annex and Seaton Village. That whole area has always worked together with the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, Huron-Sussex Residents’ Association, and the Annex [Residents’ Association]. They’ve always worked together in a lot of U of T development issues, neighbourhood development issues, and Business Improvement Areas.”

The condo-boom in Trinity-Spadina has meant a massive influx in the riding’s population. According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 census information, Trinity-Spadina’s population has grown a whopping 25.5 per cent in just five years. This translates to 29,372 new constituents in the riding.

By comparison, neighbouring Toronto Centre has only grown 7.3 per cent. In fact, no riding in the city comes close to the growth seen in Trinity-Spadina; in a distant second place is Willowdale, with 8.6 per cent.

The proposed changes would see Toronto Centre absorbing the most eastern strip of Trinity-Spadina—from University Ave. to Yonge St, and from Dundas St. W. down to the lake—if the changes are made. A sliver of Trinity-Spadina, the area from College St. down to Dundas St. and from University Ave. over to Yonge St. would be rezoned as part of a newly created Mount Pleasant riding.

“Population shifts and increases, efforts to honour existing municipal boundaries whenever possible, and the establishment of 15 new electoral districts have required substantial adjustment to Ontario’s electoral map,” said the Honourable Mr. Justice George Valin, chair of the commission, in a press release.

The proposal leaves Toronto with two additional ridings, increasing the total number to 25.

“It has always been an integrated community, so to rip the Annex part out and divide it on Bloor Street, it makes no sense whatsoever,” said Chow.
Although Chow agrees that the condo boom calls for re-distribution, she said that tearing up established Toronto communities is not the answer.

“I agree a re-distribution is necessary, but the growth really is not in the Annex part, it’s the condos,” she said.

“If you look at Yonge Street, Bay Street, and the waterfront, the growth area is really down south, so why would you want to disturb an old, established
neighbourhood in order to accommodate new condos? It makes no sense.”

The boundary changes are at this stage only a proposal and are still open for input from local residents.

Chow will be bringing together the residents’ associations that have worked together in the ward for the last 30 years to discuss the proposed boundaries.
Most concerning to Chow is that the University of Toronto neighbourhood will be split in half by the boundary changes.

“It’s mostly the University of Toronto neighbourhoods that are being chopped up into pieces and there’s no sense of identity anymore … It’s up to the local residents, it’s better that they speak up, and trust me I’ve heard from a lot of them,” she said.

While Trinity-Spadina has been an NDP riding since 2006, St. Paul’s, represented by Carolyn Bennett, has been Liberal since 1993.

When asked what effect she thought the redistribution would have on her support in the area, Chow said, “That’s the least of my concerns.”

The redistribution of electoral districts is a 10-step process. Currently the Ontario Commission is on step four, which is the release of the proposed changes. Between July and November public hearings must take place. In March 2013 MPs are able to file objections to the changes, and the entire process is expected to be completed by September 2013.

The changes will take effect in a general election called at least seven months after the new boundaries are established. While the next election is planned for October 2015, the earliest that the new boundaries would take effect would be for a general election called in April 2014.

Torontonians will have their chance to comment on the proposal at two separate meetings. The first is on Wednesday, November 14 at 10 a.m at North York Civic Centre (5100 Yonge St.), and the second takes place on Thursday November 15 at 11:30 a.m. at Metro Hall (55 John St.).

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