Olivia Chow, the newly elected mayor of Toronto, has announced that her priority upon taking office will be to address the issue of affordable housing. In an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Chow expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve and her eagerness to get started. She plans to be sworn in two weeks after her election victory, and her immediate focus will be on approving proposed affordable housing plans. Chow also mentioned her intention to collaborate with the deputy mayor and other councillors to expedite the process.
Before Chow can begin implementing her agenda, the official election results must be certified. City clerk John D. Elvidge confirmed that she is scheduled to take office on July 12, pending the certification process. However, the certification of the results is necessary before her tenure as mayor can officially commence.
Chow faces several challenges as she assumes office, including a nearly $ 1 billion budget shortfall caused by the pandemic. Reduced transit revenue and increased shelter costs have contributed to this fiscal deficit. Additionally, she must address concerns related to housing unaffordability and public safety.
The 66-year-old veteran politician, who is also the first racialized person to be elected as Toronto’s mayor, emphasized the importance of having a city government that reflects the diversity of its residents. Throughout her campaign, Chow campaigned on a left-leaning platform, promising to introduce measures such as a “luxury home tax,” an expanded land transfer tax, and an increase in the vacant home tax. However, she did not disclose specific details on how much property taxes would need to be raised to fund these commitments, which drew criticism from her opponents.
Chow’s mayoralty aims to be people-centred, focusing on restoring core services. Her victory in the mayoral byelection was close, with former deputy mayor Ana Bailão finishing as a close second. Josh Matlow, considered a top mayoral candidate throughout the campaign, expressed his willingness to support Chow in any way he could. Despite finishing fourth in the election, Matlow will continue to serve as a city councillor.
Premier Doug Ford had previously expressed concern about Chow’s potential election. Still, after her victory, he congratulated her and emphasized their commitment to making Toronto a place where businesses, families, and workers can thrive. Chow acknowledged that she and Ford might have different approaches but highlighted their shared goal of increasing housing availability.
In summary, Olivia Chow’s election as Toronto’s mayor signifies a focus on addressing affordable housing as her top priority. With plans to be sworn in two weeks after her victory, Chow aims to collaborate with city officials to expedite the approval of affordable housing plans. Despite facing budgetary challenges and criticism regarding property tax increases, she seeks to bring about change by restoring core services and ensuring that the city government represents its diverse population.