ACORN: 34% of Toronto City Council donors are involved in real estate development

According to a new analysis from ACORN Canada, more than a third of Toronto City Council campaign donations came from contributors with ties to the real estate development business.

ACORN Canada, a national organisation of low- and moderate-income families, discovered that of the more than $4 million in donations made to winning candidates in the most recent City Council election, 34% ($1,374,725) came from people having personal or professional ties to the development business.

People associated to firms, industries, and businesses with financial interests in the development, construction, and sale of assets and buildings are among these donors.

According to the report, everyone of the 24 members of Toronto City Council elected in 2018 received money from the development business, but some had far higher percentage of development-related donations than others.

A total of $1,288,650 was donated to Mayor John Tory’s campaign. According to the research, 38 percent of this came from those with ties to the development industry.

Ana Bailäo, Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee, had an even higher ratio, with developer-connected donors accounting for 42 percent of her campaign donations. But it was Councillor James Pasternak’s donations that had the largest percentage, with 59 percent coming from those with ties to development.

“We do not believe any other industry is as invested in donating to municipal elections, nor in helping to elect or trying to influence who is elected to council and then regulates planning and development in the city,” said the report. “Developers continue to play a large role in Federal, Provincial and Municipal politics,” the report reads. “This is largely due to inadequate election financing laws that in the long term allow developers to pave over local planning rules and prioritize development industry profit over community input and control. The more pro-developer local city councillors are, the more difficult it is for the public and community to succeed in pushing their priorities.”

ACORN seeks to influence a change in campaign donation policy, but argues that will be insufficient.

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