Mayor John Tory said a meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss Toronto’s legal response to the province’s act to cut the size of city council will not draw on the issue of gun violence as Premier Doug Ford has requested.

Tory wrote an open letter on Friday afternoon in response to a letter issued by Ford in the morning. Ford urged the mayor to add the issue of gun violence to the agenda for next week’s meeting.

“As you (Ford) would remember from your time on city council, special meetings are confined to the issue for which they are called, so as to ensure their efficiency, accountability and transparency on behalf of the people of Toronto,” Tory wrote.

The mayor said while city council welcomes the province’s announced funding to help Toronto’s “serious and on-going effort to combat gun violence,” Monday is not the time to discuss the matter.

Ford wrote city council can talk about Bill 5 – a bill that will see the number of city councillors in Toronto reduced to 25 from 47 – “all they want.”

“I implore you, along with Toronto city council to address this critical issue (gun violence) at your meeting on August 20th and add funding for guns and gangs to the city council agenda. The people of Toronto, and by extension Ontario, need and deserve to feel safe in the city and our great province,” Ford wrote.

In Ford’s letter to Tory, the premier defended the bill.

“I'm very pleased that Toronto city council will now be able to conduct business for the citizens of Toronto more efficiently and effectively while saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars,” Ford wrote.

Speaking to reporters at an unrelated event on Friday, Ford was unwavering on the legislation.

“At the end of the day we made the decision to make the government run more efficiently in the city of Toronto. The mayor knows it’s a lot easier to deal with 25 people than 47 people,” he said.

“I’ve known John for 25 years. We may disagree on some things (but) John’s a good guy. We have a few bumps in the road but we’re going to work together to make this city better and this province better.”

In his letter, Ford went on to highlight the $25 million in funding that the province recently promised to give Toronto to help address the rising gun violence and asked the city, which already funds the Toronto Police Service’s $1 billion budget, to match the provincial funding.

“I submit to you that the citizens of Toronto cannot wait for funding to help fight guns and gangs. Already in 2018, Toronto is on pace to have the deadliest gun-related homicide rate in years. This is unacceptable, and requires immediate action from all levels of government without reservation,” his letter added.

The city has taken a number of steps to address the spike in gun violence in Toronto, including approving the implementation of ShotSpotter, an audio-sensing gunshot detection service, and investing in more CCTV cameras across the city.

In Tory’s letter, he said city officials are looking forward to receiving confirmation and details on the province’s funding to help combat gun violence as he works towards ensuring the city can match it.

“If elected for a second term as Mayor, I have committed to ensuring that this matching investment is approved by my council colleagues for future years through our budget process,” he said.”

“In July, I led city council in enhancing and expanding the gun violence reduction plan that includes $2.7 million in increased Toronto Police Service shift times to help immediately deploy more resources to our streets. We also applied for $32.6 million for community-based prevention initiatives over five years through the National Crime Prevention Strategy Fund and asked the federal government to ban the sale and possession of handguns in the city of Toronto and to consider tougher sentencing and bail provision for gun offenders.”

The Toronto Police Service has deployed an additional 200 front-line officers to work during the overnight hours this summer.

A municipal election is scheduled to take place on Oct. 22.

Premier Doug Ford's letter to Mayor John Tory


Mayor John Tory's letter to Premier Doug Ford