Ontario municipal elections 2022: How to vote and key races to watch

Voters line up outside a polling station to cast their ballots in Toronto’s municipal elections on October 22, 2018.Chris Young / The Canadian Press

On Monday, voters in all of Ontario’s 444 municipalities go to the polls to elect their local leaders (mayors or Reeves, aldermen and regional councillors) and school boards.

Who can vote?

Ontarians must be Canadian citizens and at least 18 years of age to vote. To qualify as a “resident voter,” you must reside in the community where you wish to vote, whether or not you own or rent. If you own or rent property in another municipality, you and your spouse may be able to vote there as well. But within a commune you can only vote in the commune in which you live. Persons serving a prison sentence cannot vote. Individuals convicted of “corrupt practices” under the Local Elections Act, which include bribery and tampering with election results, can also be barred from voting.

Voters can cast school trustee ballots for the local school board for which they are listed as a supporter by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Ontario has four different types of school boards: English public and English “separate” or Roman Catholic, and French public and French Roman Catholic.

What do you need to vote?

You must be on the electoral roll to vote, but you can stand for election yourself. You will be asked to produce an ID showing both your name and address. The list of accepted documents includes driver’s licenses, credit card statements, and utility bills.

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When and how can you vote?

In most places, including Toronto, you can vote with a pencil and paper ballot at polling stations near you on Election Day. But more and more Ontario municipalities are now offering online or phone voting. And many, like Barrie, an hour north of Toronto, have done away with in-person voting altogether. Polling stations are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters should check their municipality’s website for detailed information.

What is the turnout in municipal elections in Ontario?

Toronto’s 2018 local elections came in a tense atmosphere after then-new Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford cut the city’s council seats by almost half mid-campaign. But in a race that incumbent mayor John Tory was widely expected to win this year, beating former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, turnout was just 41 percent. That was a sharp drop from 60 percent in 2014, when Mr Tory defeated fellow campaigners Mr Ford and former councilwoman Olivia Chow. This time Mr Tory meets cyclist and pedestrian advocate Gil Penalosa while running for a third term.

Voter turnout in suburban communities outside of Toronto is typically lower, with only 27 percent of Mississauga voters, for example, in 2018. And turnout appears to be falling at many levels. In June’s Ontario provincial election, it hit a record low of 46 percent. In BC, just 36.3 percent of eligible voters in Vancouver cast their ballots in the Oct. 15 municipal election. But the Ottawa primary, where the resignation of Mayor Jim Watson has sparked intense racing, beats the totals in recent years.

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Which major races should you watch?

In Brampton, west of Toronto, incumbent Mayor Patrick Brown, a former Progressive Conservative leader who was forced to resign over a sexual misconduct scandal he denies, faced a fierce challenge from Nikki Kaur, an attorney who who unsuccessfully ran for the federal Conservatives in a Hamilton equestrian election in 2019 and has served in an executive capacity at Brampton Township. With the help of Nick Kouvalis, a strategist and pollster for Mr Ford in the recent provincial election, Ms Kaur has sought to capitalize on a series of controversies haunting Mr Brown. (The federal Conservative Party rejected Mr. Brown’s bid for the leadership position this summer, citing alleged campaign irregularities, which he has denied.)

The two provincial leaders of the provincial parties, who resigned after losing to Mr Ford in the provincial elections in June, are also standing for election at the municipal level this autumn. Former NDP leader Andrea Horwath, a former Hamilton councilwoman, is seeking the mayoral seat there against stiff competition from Keanin Loomis, a former head of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, and Bob Bratina, a former mayor and Liberal MP. Former Liberal provincial leader Steven Del Duca is seeking mayor in Vaughan, where he faces challengers including councilwoman Sandra Yeung Racco.

Ottawa’s vigorous race for mayor has three recognized frontrunners: two-year councilwoman Catherine McKenney, former mayor and provincial Liberal cabinet minister Bob Chiarelli, and broadcaster and entrepreneur Mark Sutcliffe.

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