'Do what we have to': Toronto Mayor John Tory postpones rooming house proposal vote


Toronto Mayor John Tory, admitting Thursday a city-wide rooming house proposal he supports did not have enough votes to pass, gambled 11 weeks will change that.

After a City Council debate, Tory proposed deferral to a Sept. 30 meeting because, he said, he wants to keep fighting to solve an issue which will not go away.

The proposal to legalize and license multi-tenant housing in Scarborough, North York, East York and most of Etobicoke – where rooming houses have stayed illegal since Toronto’s amalgamation – exposed divides again between suburban councillors and their counterparts downtown.

“We’re going to do what we have to do,” the mayor said before council voted for deferral.

“You don’t need everybody to vote for it.”

Tory, who tried speaking to most of council before the debate, suggested the plan would not be overhauled but “slightly modified” by going through a list of ideas councillors introduced as possible ways to improve the framework.

Some councillors are “more inclined to be supportive” because they know the issue needs to be addressed, he added.

Some members of the mayor’s inner circle had heard from house owners in their wards and seemed to doubt an acceptable compromise was possible.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, a North York councillor, said repeated defeats for legalization are a message that rooming house supporters should just stop trying. “The suburbs don’t want this, and maybe we should just respect that and move on,” he said.

Gary Crawford, a Scarborough councillor and Tory’s budget chief, said he was hopeful a resolution was possible, but said constituents see the proposal as a threat to "single-family residential" neighbourhoods.

“Fair or not, there is fear out there,” Crawford said.