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Majority approve of Chow's job as mayor a year after taking office: poll

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow speaks to reporters in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow speaks to reporters in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A new poll suggests that Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow enjoys stable support a year after taking office.

The new Liaison Strategies poll shows Olivia Chow would be re-elected if a mayoral election were held today, beating her nearest rival by almost 20 points.

It also found that Chow enjoys a 59 per cent approval rating city-wide, down from the 73 per cent approval rating she held shortly after taking office last summer, but up slightly from a low of 52 per cent in April and May.  

"I think the number one thing that happened was the budget, and we saw a very steep drop off when the budget was introduced," Liaison Strategies Principal David Valentin told CP24. "And of course, no one likes new taxes, right. It's a big hike, and I think though some people recognize that the city was in a raw financial situation, at the same time Torontonians are facing a cost of living crisis. And so it's hard to square the two things together sometimes if you're looking at what needs to happen in the city versus what's happening in your own financial situation."

The poll, conducted for the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC), surveyed 858 Toronto residents from July 7-8 using interactive voice response technology. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.35 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Chow’s first year in office saw a number of challenges, including a fiscal crisis which prompted a 9.5 per cent tax bump — the highest since amalgamation.

There were also divisive and sometimes violent protests which went on for months over the Israel-Hamas war, and the city stumbled on a couple of important programs, like Café TO and the vacant homes tax.

However the mayor also had some important wins, including the negotiation of a new deal with the provincial government, which will save Toronto billions of dollars over the next decade, mostly from the upload of the DVP and Gardiner Expressway back to Queen's Park.

The deal at the same time avoided reopening a contentious council decision about rebuilding the eastern stretch of the Gardiner.

A threatened TTC strike also never came to pass, thanks to an eleventh-hour deal.

"What we're seeing now, you know we're further away from the budget. The mayor was able to avoid a TTC strike. We heard a lot about this potential strike, and then, of course, it did not happen," Valentin said. "And so I think all of that is contributing to a rebound and we're seeing her really in the 59 per cent range now for the first time in a long time."

Chow's strongest support is downtown, where she has a 64 per cent approval rating, followed by North York where it stands at 63 per cent and Scarborough, where it sits at 55 per cent. Chow's support is weakest in Etobicoke, where more people (53 per cent) actually disapprove of the job she is doing as mayor, compared to just 41 per cent who approve.

Citywide, 32 per cent disapprove of the job Chow is doing as mayor, while nine per cent aren't sure, the poll found.


Concern growing about crime

In terms of issues, Chow gets strong support when it comes to her handling of transit (74 per cent) and the relationship with other levels of government (67 per cent). However, she gets weak marks from respondents when it comes to handling traffic congestion (31 per cent) and crime (42 per cent).

The issues which matter most to Torontonians remain affordable housing and crime.

While concern about affordable housing has decreased slightly from 36 per cent in February to 30 per cent now, concern about crime has increased from 17 per cent in cent to 25 per cent.

More people also now believe that the city should cut spending rather than raise taxes. Support for both was around the same (28 per cent and 30 per cent respectively) in June 2023. However 45 per cent now say that the city should cut spending while just 21 per cent think it should raise taxes.

Other findings from the poll include weaker approval of the job council is doing. Some 49 per cent of Toronto residents now say they approve of the job council is doing, compared to 57 per cent in August 2023.

While the number of people who feel like the city is going in the wrong direction has stayed fairly consistent since Chow took over (39 per cent in June 2023, compared to 42 per cent now), the number of respondents who feel it is heading in the right direction has grown.

Some 52 per cent now think the city is moving in the right direction, compared to just 32 per cent in June 2023. Top Stories

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