From Flemo to… Bridle Path?

Visualizing 2018 municipal voting results in Toronto’s Don Valley East ward by voting location

COVID-19 has affected us all in different ways. Many are facing financial challenges. Many are risking their health to prevent catastrophe. Many yet are quarantined at home and getting used to a new lifestyle.

Some in the last category are staying sane by focusing on the silver lining — spending more quality time with loved ones, constructing home workout programs, trying new recipes and online courses. Others are keeping their eyes peeled for the daily political press conferences, and monitoring what’s left of their savings portfolios. Some are driven closer to the edge of madness as they learn about a moderately successful governorship campaign run by a polygamist, exotic animal breeding, schedule II controlled substance abusing, murderous country musician in the enigmatic state of Oklahoma. Some yet (me) have gone so insane that they are analyzing hyper-local municipal election data from 2018 and blogging about it, sans qualification, probably more than a year after the latest acceptable date to do so.

I was exploring some data sets made public by the City of Toronto, and was surprised to find election results data by polling location (what the city dubs “subdivision”), and a file with physical addresses of voting location for the subdivision. I mapped the results of the (1) City Councillor and (2) TDSB (public school board) Trustee elections for my home ward on a map, and found the visual to be interesting enough to share (with those that live or grew up in Don Valley East like I did anyway).

Fact 1: Unlike federal and provincial politics, municipal politics don’t require partisan allegiances — i.e., all candidates are effectively independents. Don Valley East is and has largely historically been a Liberal riding, both federally and provincially. Its elected (and re-elected) City Councillor, however, is considered the Council’s “staunchest conservative”.

Fact 2: Don Valley East in home to one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city (i.e., Flemingdon Park — south part of the map below) and one of the wealthiest (Banbury-Don Mills — west part of the map below, and juuust east of the Bridle Path neighbourhood). As can be expected, there is a clear divide between their political preferences.

2018 City Councillor Election Results for Don Valley East

Purple: polling locations where incumbent Denzil Minnan-Wong had most votes (won); Orange: polling locations where David Caplan had most votes (lost)

It’s mention-worthy that David Caplan had a long successful career in Ontario provincial politics with the Liberal party before losing to Denzil Minnan-Wong in the municipal election. (Caplan’s mother was also successful politician, serving as a cabinet minister federally and provincially.)

2018 TDSB Trustee Election Results for Don Valley East

Brown: polling locations where Trixie Doyle had most votes (won)

There were seven candidates in a fragmented race for the Trustee position. The winner was elected with 24% of the total vote.

It’s interesting to see visually the voting behaviour by neighbourhood. Flemingdon Park, the most populated neighborhood in the ward, seems to have unique political preference. Without considering the specifics of the candidates and their campaign platforms, I am willing to bet that what Flemo needs from its elected officials is not in fact unique within Don Valley East. For example, the Parma Court neighbourhood and adjacent areas, in yellow triangle above, share many attributes with Flemingdon Park. They are both densely populated, have large immigrant populations, and lower incomes, to name a few similarities. I wonder, then, to effectively represent the high-need areas in the southern part of the ward, if it would serve future candidates well to heed the well-aged message of esteemed poet D-Brown: embrace coordination.