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It’s the first week without John Tory as mayor and a city in limbo. How long till we have a new mayor? Don’t hold your breath


It’s the first week without John Tory as mayor and a city in limbo. How long till we have a new mayor? Don’t hold your breath

Saturday marked the city’s first day in municipal limbo after former mayor John Tory officially stepped down Friday. “Toronto has been my cause,” Tory said at a final news conference at city hall Friday afternoon. “It breaks my heart to leave. But leaving was the right thing to do, as hard as it might be.”

Tory’s unexpected resignation follows a Star investigation that revealed an extended relationship between the 68-year-old married politician and one of his much-younger staffers.

After a chaotic week at city hall that saw surprise news conferences, lengthy budget discussions, impassioned demonstrations and an early-morning egging, Toronto is in a state of unknowing. Torontonians now wait with bated breath for the city’s next era under fresh leadership. But the big question is when?

Here’s what’s in store before a new mayor takes the helm:

Who’s in charge in the meantime?

Deputy mayor and councillor for Scarborough—Rouge Park, Jennifer McKelvie, began to oversee operations of the mayor’s office as of 5 p.m. Friday, after two days of transitional meetings with Tory and city staff.

She will essentially serve as the chief executive of the city “until a new mayor is elected by residents,” McKelvie said in a statement on Thursday, but she won’t be running for mayor in the upcoming byelection. “Representing the residents of my ward, and ensuring a smooth, stable transition until a new mayor is elected, requires my full attention,” her statement read.

McKelvie will lead and set the order of business at council meetings, but will not have access to the “strong-mayor” powers bestowed upon the leaders of Toronto and Ottawa by Premier Doug Ford last fall. She can’t veto council decisions or pass bylaws on certain items with only one-third support from council, since she was not actually elected as mayor.

Until a new mayor is selected to serve until October 2026, McKelvie plans to focus on city priorities like transit, housing and community safety and the delivery of day-to-day services.

When is the byelection?

A byelection will be held this spring or summer, though an official date hasn’t yet been set.

The mayor’s office will be declared vacant at the next city council meeting on March 29, unless councillors call an earlier meeting to get the ball rolling. They’ll pass a bylaw authorizing the byelection to fill the vacancy. One business day later, according to a statement from the city, people can start registering their candidacies at city hall. Nominations will close between 30 and 60 days later, and the byelection will be held 45 days after that.

If the city council meeting remains scheduled for March 29, the city could have a byelection as soon as June 12 or as late as July 12.


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Current city councillors Brad Bradford (Ward 19, Beaches — East York) and Josh Matlow (Ward 12, Toronto—St. Paul’s) could be vying for the promotion to mayor, alongside former councillors like Ana Bailão (previously Ward 9, Davenport) and Mike Layton (previously Ward 11, University—Rosedale).

Outside of municipal government, contenders could include former police chief Mark Saunders, Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood) and New Democrat MPP Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park).

Urbanist Gil Penalosa, who finished a distant second to Tory in the 2022 election, is also planning a campaign.

Myer Siemiatycki, a politics professor emeritus at Toronto Metropolitan University, previously told the Star he expects the byelection will produce higher voter turnout than a general election, partly because there won’t be “competing confusion or noise from concurrent ward councillor or school trustee races.”

How much will it cost?

McKelvie told reporters Friday afternoon that the upcoming byelection will be the largest ever held in Canada. The city manager estimated it will cost between $10 million and $20 million. An email from the city indicated the cost will be covered by “a reserve that council has established for elections and byelections.”

The next mayor will have to grapple with a $1.5-billion gap in the 2022 and 2023 city budgets, a shortfall for which Tory was unable to secure firm federal and provincial commitments to cover.

How long till we have a new mayor?

Considering nominations are expected to close 30 to 60 days after the March 29 council meeting, and the byelection is to be held 45 days after that, Toronto could elect a new mayor as soon as 114 days or as late as 144 days from Saturday. If a special meeting is held before March 29, however, a new mayor could start sooner than that estimated window.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he’ll remain neutral during the byelection, but voiced concern about the possibility of a new, left-leaning municipal leader.

“If a lefty mayor gets in there, God help the people of Toronto,” Ford said last Wednesday in Brampton. Still, he said he wouldn’t repeal the “strong-mayor” powers he previously granted Tory, meant to expedite matters of “provincial priority” like housing construction and transit expansion.

With files from David Rider, Ben Spurr, Alyshah Hasham, Aisling Murphy, Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie.

Dhriti Gupta is a Toronto-based general assignment reporter for the Star. Reach her via email:

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