Ontarians set to vote in municipal elections as polls open across the province

Voting is underway in municipalities across Ontario as voters cast their ballot in local races.

It’s municipal election day in the province as polls in Toronto and other major cities opened at 10 a.m. and are set to close at 8 p.m., with variation in some regions.

Residents in many jurisdictions also had the option to vote online or in advance polls.

The last provincewide municipal vote was held in 2018.

Some high-profile mayoral incumbents like Toronto’s John Tory and Brampton’s Patrick Brown are seeking to hold on to elected office.

Other races will see a change at the mayoral level, like in Ottawa, where outgoing Mayor Jim Watson is not seeking re-election.

There are 14 candidates in the running in Ottawa, with city councillor Catherine McKenney, former journalist Mark Sutcliffe, and former provincial cabinet minister and former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli among the top contenders.

The province recently granted “strong mayor” powers to Toronto and Ottawa with the goal of building housing more quickly, but Sutcliffe and McKenney have both said they are not interested in veto power over council.

Some local elections could also see public figures embark on the next chapter of their political lives.

Andrea Horwarth, who led the provincial New Democrats through four elections, is making a bid for mayor of Hamilton, where she was first elected to city council in 1997. She stepped down as leader of the provincial party this year.

Another provincial party leader who stepped down following Ontario’s June election is also running for mayor in a Greater Toronto Area city.

Steven Del Duca is on the ballot in Vaughan after he resigned as Liberal leader when he failed to win party status or his own legislative seat.

Figures from the Association of Municipalities said there are 6,306 candidates running for a total of 2,860 council seats across the province.

Thirty-one per cent of candidates in the running are female, up from the 27 per cent who ran in 2018.

Acclamations were up 15 per cent from four years ago, with 548 people automatically elected to council, mayor and reeve positions because they were running unopposed.

Online and phone voting is also more prevalent this time around, with 217 municipalities using those options in some form, up from 175 in 2018.

Voter turnout in 2018 was 38.3 per cent, the lowest among municipal election turnouts recorded since 1982.

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