Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Electoral riding commission threatens to split Toronto's LGBT Village in Two....

The Commission looking into redistributing 338 ridings for the federal House of Commons for the next election (up from the current 308) has released its proposals.

They include adding 15 seats to Ontario's current count of 106. Most of the new ridings will be in the 905 around Toronto to take into account the growing populations in those areas. The City of Toronto gets 2 extra seats, including a new seat around Rosedale called 'Mount Pleasant,' which has a southerly border that runs right down Wellesley Street, slashing Toronto's downtown LGBT village in half. If adopted, voters in the village north of Wellesley but south of Bloor would be voting with Rosedale all the way up to Eglinton. Those south of Wellesley would vote in a smaller version of 'Toronto Centre.'

I think it's wrong to cut Toronto's gay village in two like this. Please see an email I sent below to the Commission today and the preliminary response:

From: Matt Guerin
Sent: August-28-12 4:56 PM
To: Commission office - ONTARIO -
Subject: concerns about new riding map for Toronto Centre/Mount Pleasant ridings

Dear Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario,

I am writing to express my concerns as a resident of the current riding of Toronto Centre and a member of the LGBT community.

As you may know, the current Toronto Centre riding contains the largest concentration of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) citizens than any other riding in Canada. The centre of this community is the Church & Wellesley neighbourhood in the heart of the current riding. What's become popularly known as 'The Village' stretches from Church & Wellesley north up to approximately Bloor Street, and extends south to approximately Carlton Street. Heading west, one could say Bay Street or University Avenue is the unofficial westerly border of the 'Village', while Sherbourne is likely the unofficial easterly border of the community.

Of course, many LGBT people live in Toronto outside of these boundaries, including myself. I'm an owner of a condo on Shuter Street near Church Street.

But without a doubt, the heart and centre of Toronto's LGBT is the Church & Wellesley intersection. I think if you did any sort of research into this issue, you'd find most Torontonians would agree with this.

That's why I was dismayed to see your new riding boundary proposals for Ontario, which include creating the new riding of Mount Pleasant, carved out of mostly the northern half of the current riding of Toronto Centre. The new riding of Toronto Centre instead runs south of Bloor, east of Sherbourne, and south of Wellesley Street to Queen's Park. Mount Pleasant runs mostly north of this same new line.

In putting part of the southerly border between these two new ridings right down Wellesley Street, you have in fact proposed to cut Toronto's LGBT community, aka 'The Village' right in half. By any reasonable standard, this line seems arbitrary. It would unnecessarily divide up Toronto's LGBT village into two, diluting the voting power of the community into two ridings. I fail to see what the renters in apartment buildings or coops or condo owners who live near Church and Dundonald or Gloucester or Isabella or Jarvis have in common with the millionaires who live in mansions in Rosedale or other rich neighbourhoods north of St. Clair East.
In fact, with this new configuration, voters in the small sliver bordered by Wellesley/Sherbourne/Bloor East/Queen's Park Crescent will be forever overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of wealthier, heterosexual voters who will make up the vast majority of this new riding of Mount Pleasant.

Furthermore, the voting power of the LGBT community now contained within the new riding of Toronto Centre will also be diluted by the majority to the south. However, I would at least agree that the income and other demographics of the new Toronto Centre riding are more in sync. In fact, I would argue that the small sliver of the gay village you are now proposing to include in Mount Pleasant has much more in common with the new proposed Toronto Centre riding.

I believe it is a mistake to put the border of these two new ridings down Wellesley Street and effectively divide one of Toronto's most vibrant and important communities in half. I would suggest that a better dividing line would be right down Bloor Street, leaving those communities of similar income and interest together in the new Toronto Centre riding to the south.

I worry the proposed border down Wellesley Street looks like a deliberate attempt to water down Toronto's downtown gay vote. I strongly urge your Commission to reconsider this border and place it north instead to run directly down Bloor Street between the two new ridings.

Matt Guerin


From: Commission office - ONTARIO ontario@rfed-rcf.ca
To: Matt Guerin
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 5:11:52 PM
Subject: RE: concerns about new riding map for Toronto Centre/Mount Pleasant ridings

Good afternoon.

Thank you for your email of today's date. I will bring it to the attention of the members of the Commission.

Beverly Hayter
Commission Secretary.

Toll free: 1-855-747-7224
Fax: 1-855-747-7225