In 2015, the Downsview Advocate featured an article illustrating the lack of accessibility to provincial voting locations in the area. Unfortunately, years later and with an election this summer, the issue remains unresolved. While Elections Ontario has recently completed an outreach effort to deal with accessibility to polling stations, with regards to ramps and other similar issues affecting people with disabilities, it did not properly address the low number of voting locations in the riding.
The west part of Downsview is now a riding called Humber River–Black Creek (formerly known as York West – the name was changed by Elections Ontario, although the boundaries have remained the same). This area had the second lowest provincial election turnout across Ontario.
Humber River–Black Creek has one of the province’s highest tenant populations and to account for this during municipal and federal elections, larger buildings have polling stations in their lobbies. As expected, tenant turnout in municipal and federal elections is much higher than provincial elections in relative terms. Elections Ontario knows this. Humber River–Black Creek only has 45 polling stations as compared to the neighbouring ridings of York Centre and York South–Weston which have 66 and 65 polling stations respectively. These ridings have almost 50% more places for residents to vote as compared to Humber River–Black Creek.
When this was brought to the attention of Elections Ontario in 2015, there was no response. Now, a few years later, with an election around the corner, it would be timely to see a response. Voters deserve ease of access to voting stations, and Humber River–Black Creek deserves the same standard as neighbouring ridings. This is unacceptable and those responsible in Elections Ontario need to take immediate action.
To see the 2015 article on low voter turnout, visit: http://www.downsviewadvocate.ca/2015/02/arent-people-downsview-voting/