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Longtime Toronto city councillor Jaye Robinson has died, her office says

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Jaye Robinson – a four-term city councillor who represented Ward 15 – Don Valley West for almost 14 years and also served for a time as chair of the TTC – has died.

Robinson had been ill for a number of years. She passed away last night in the presence of her family, a statement from her office said Friday. She was 61

Robinson announced in 2019 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. While her illness required her to take time away from city hall, she still showed up in virtual meetings, often with tough questions for staff which demonstrated she had read through lengthy background documents.

A former civil servant at city hall herself, she ran for office in 2010 and won a seat.

During her time on council, she served as TTC chair, as well as chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee.

More recently, Robinson served as city council’s lead in preparations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

"She was deeply dedicated to the residents of Ward 15, a strong voice on City Council, and a beloved mentor to her team. We are honoured to have had the opportunity to work with her," her staff said in a statement announcing her passing.

They noted that she was responsible for introducing some of Toronto's "most beloved programs" when she served as director of special events for the city before running for office. Those programs included Summerlicious, Winterlicious, and Nuit Blanche.

"Jaye was a dedicated public servant who leaves a lasting legacy in Toronto, the city she loved," the statement read. "She will be deeply missed by her many friends and colleagues at City Hall."

 

Colleagues remember Robinson as dedicated and passionate

Mayor Olivia Chow extended condolences to Robinson's husband and three sons Friday and said she will be missed.

"She has represented the people of Don Valley West tremendously well," Chow told reporters following a flag-raising for the International Day Against Homophobia at Toronto City Hall. "As council members and as a mayor, we will miss her work. We will miss her passion in serving her communities and her dedication to supporting the arts and culture of the city. She has done phenomenal work and she's just really loved by the residents she represents."

Chow said council has not begun to consider whether there will be an appointment or a byelection to fill the vacancy left on council by Robinson's death.

Other members of council in attendance at the event Friday praised Robinson as a likeable and passionate colleague.

"I think we can all say that Jaye had all the qualities that we like in people. She was honest, she was direct, she was very hardworking and she cared very, very deeply about the community of Don Valley," Coun. Jennifer McKelvie said. "And I had the real privilege to serve with her when I was first elected on the TTC board, and she was the chair and she was a great chair. She's a great role model. She will leave a mark on women in politics for a very, very long time and I was very privileged to work alongside her and to learn from her."

Coun. Paula Fletcher called her "a fierce champion for her community" and praised "her commitment and dedication to Toronto's green spaces, Toronto's ravines" as well as the Don River.

Robinson's former council colleagues also offered condolences, and remembered her as a hard-working and dedicated member of council.

"I’m devastated to hear the news of Jaye’s passing," Premier Doug Ford wrote in a message on X. "She was a dedicated public servant who I was fortunate to work with at city hall and who was devoted to the people she served in Don Valley West. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones as they grieve this terrible loss."

Former councillor Joe Mihevc praised Robinson as someone who "reached across the aisle" and worked with people who she didn't always agree with. He said she was working on various files right up until a couple of weeks ago, despite a sometimes difficult five-year battle with cancer.

"The fact that she continued to work right through that journey up until the end – she was on at council meetings virtually right up until a couple of weeks ago – and that is a mark of her fortitude," Mihevc said.

Speaking with CP24, former mayor John Tory recalled that Robinson's illness was "very hard on her" but she nonetheless "fought with such grace and determination" all the way through.

Tory, who worked with Robinson for many years, said the two shared a passion for trying to keep taxes low as they built the city and praised her for her dedication to the environment.

Tory also remembered Robinson as "a very feisty representative" for her constituents.

"They knew that Jaye Robinson was in their corner. And you know, she took people on at city council sometimes in a way that, you know, caused them certainly to be on their guard, but she was a very, very determined representative," Tory said. "She will be very much missed, because even though people went some rounds with Jaye Robinson and probably lost as often as they won, you couldn't not like her. I mean, she was a likeable person. And she fought hard and she loved her family."

Chow said flags at city hall and civic centres will be flown at half-mast Friday in honour of Robinson.

The city said members of the public will be able to write messages in books of condolence which will be placed at the North York Civic Centre starting on Saturday, May 18 at noon, and at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday, May 21. The books will be available until the end of the day of Robinson's funeral. 

Condolences to Robinson’s family can also be emailed to condolences@toronto.ca.

Robinson's staff said a celebration of life will be held in her honour at a later date.  Funeral arrangements will be shared on the city’s website when available.

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