What a new Toronto city council might look like

Long a thorn in the side of Toronto’s Progressive Conservative leader, John Tory, pot came to dominate debate at city council last month. And one of the most divisive issues on the agenda concerned the fate of rooming houses — housing geared toward a particular set of marginalized and homeless people.

Several weeks before the party’s defeat in Ontario’s recent provincial election, Tory pledged to move to legalize short-term rooming houses in Toronto. When the campaign officially ended, Tory re-entered office at the same time as a broader, much more ambitious plan aimed at introducing five-year, citywide licensing.

What exactly would be involved? And how is it different from Tory’s earlier iteration? This weekend, five days before the policy will come to a vote, the Washington Post interviewed Tory to find out more. His comments are lightly edited for length and clarity.

Washington Post: You made a promise to reform Toronto’s housing crisis. How would this approach actually fix it?

John Tory: The regulation is the easy part. We’re not going to solve this alone. But as a great example of municipal and provincial government working together, we’ve got a wonderful system at the provincial level. They’ve got a whole suite of licensing services that are designed to protect residents, manage the overflow of services and to provide stability for tenants.

I’m talking about new tools we can use, but this can’t all be done by the government.

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