From Scarborough East to Etobicoke North, voters across Toronto flocked to polling stations Monday in the highest turnout the city has seen in its 12-year amalgamated history.
The final figures on how each ward voted in the mayoral race aren't out yet. But a quick glance at preliminary ward-by-ward turnout numbers obtained by The Globe and Mail gives a taste of Toronto's municipal revolution.
Etobicoke was out in full force to put its native son in the mayor's chair, with turnout topping 50 per cent even in wards that were virtually uncontested - such as that of councillor Doug Holyday. The ward Gloria Lindsay Luby almost lost to John Campbell had 58.8 per cent of voters turn up, and Etobicoke North, which had the lowest turnout in the city (33 per cent) in the 2006 election, had 46 per cent of eligible voters show up.
By far the highest participation, however, was in battleground wards where the electorate overturned incumbents - or tried to. Almost 62 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in Sandra Bussin's Beaches ward, which she lost by a landslide to political neophyte Mary-Margaret McMahon after a rancorous campaign in which multiple challengers eventually dropped out to help defeat the former council Speaker.
Don Valley West, which John Parker almost lost to rising star Mohamed Dhanani, had a 61.3-per- cent turnout. And 59.6 per cent of Parkdale-High Park voters turned up to turf entrenched incumbent Bill Saundercook in favour of Sarah Doucette. The heated three-way battle between Jane Pitfield, Jennifer Wood and Mary Fragedakis in Toronto-Danforth drew 59.5 per cent of voters.
Turnout was lowest in the city's northern fringe: Willowdale's Ward 23 got only 42 per cent, while Ward 41, in Scarborough-Rouge River, had 43 per cent
All these percentages are based on voter lists as of Oct. 18. Those could have changed by election day, when people can add their names to the voting list if they aren't already included. But the numbers give an indication of what drew normally apathetic Torontonians to the polls Monday.
While a motivating mayoral race tends to drive turnout across the city, "differences in turnout at the ward level is especially influenced by the nature of the ward council race," said Ryerson University politics professor Myer Siemiatycki. "Where you get a race that is either really close or where there is a real fire to send a message of either getting rid of an incumbent or electing a star new candidate, that really drives voter turnout."
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