About the Ward

Bordered by Steeles Avenue to the north, Bayview Avenue to the east, Highway 401 to the south, and the Don River and Bathurst Street to the west, Willowdale is home to over 118,800 residents with an average age of 38.5, slightly below that of the city. The average household income is $87,416, lower than the city-wide average. Willowdale is one of the most diverse wards in the city—67 percent of residents identify as visible minorities, and 61 percent are immigrants, primarily from Iran, China, the Philippines, and South Korea. Outgoing councillor John Filion has served on city council since 1997.

Where the Candidates Stand

There are four candidates running for the seat vacated by Fillion, including his former city hall aide, Markus O’Brien Fehr, who has been endorsed by both Filion and Mayor John Tory.

Lily Cheng, the executive director of NeighbourLink North York, a Christian community development organization, and founder of the North York Moms Facebook group, is also running again. In 2018, Cheng came in second place, behind Fillion, with 20 percent of the votes.

The matrix below provides a head-to-head comparison of where council candidates stand. The Local combed through city council records to review all the decisions made over the last four years and identified a dozen votes that are the most telling on key issues: homelessness, transportation, housing, policing, taxes, and the environment. We then sent the challengers a survey asking them how they would have voted on those same 12 motions.

Only O’Brien Fehr responded to The Local’s survey request.

Here Are the Takeaways

  • O’Brien Fehr took mostly progressive positions compared to Tory, despite being endorsed by him. He supports a judicial inquiry into encampment clearings, and would consider a personal vehicle tax.
  • However, O’Brien Fehr did not vote in support of raising property taxes by an additional 2 percent, saying that “with inflation having surged in the past year – a 2% increase would depend greatly on the current baseline. I would support 2%+ over the rate adopted in 2022 – but not 2%+ over current rate of inflation.”
  • Like Tory, O’Brien Fehr voted against cutting the police budget to pay rent supplements. He also supported raising the police budget to combat gun violence.

Clarification: October 14 – Lily Cheng’s biography has been updated to include a direct quote describing her stance on supportive housing units being built at 175 Cummer Avenue.

Information in Candidate Tracker was compiled and written by The Local’s team of journalists and fact checkers. City council candidates were emailed a questionnaire asking for information about their history, experience, and plans. They were also surveyed about their stances on twelve key votes that took place in the 2018-22 council term. Not all candidates were reachable or responded. The Local also conducted its own research to independently source and verify information about each city council and school trustee candidate. If you’re a candidate whose information is not here, please email us at elections@thelocal.to. Last updated: October 15, 2022.

Contributors: Inori Roy, Ann Marie Elpa, Nikky Manfredi, Danielle Orr, H.G. Watson, Emma Buchanan, Dhriti Gupta, Zeahaa Rehman, Neville Park, Nicholas Hune-Brown, Tai Huynh, Craig Madho, Steve Combes, and Lia Mattacchione.