Long-time city councillor and deputy mayor Pam McConnell has died. She was 71.
In city council on Friday, Mayor John Tory announced her passing and said she would be “deeply missed.”
Council adjourned early after learning of the news.
“Pam was a friend, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother,” Tory said in a statement (full statement below). “She was also a woman who proudly served her city and the people of Toronto for more than 35 years.”
He said all official flags would be lowered at Toronto City Hall and civic centres in McConnell’s honour, and the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square would be dimmed on Friday night.
McConnell had had an undisclosed lung disease for some time. On Thursday, Tory told the media she was “gravely ill” and getting the best care available.
McConnell began her political career in 1982 as a school trustee — a position she held for 12 years. She became a city councillor in 1994 and represented Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale.
McConnell also sat on the board of several BIAs including Cabbagetown, Waterfront and St. Lawrence Market.
Her last public appearance was in June at the opening of Berczy Park, in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood.
Over her many years as a city councillor she also helped with the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront – including the development of the West Don Lands and East Bayfront neighbourhoods – and was a member of the Children and Youth Action Committee.
In 2013, McConnell became front page news when then mayor Rob Ford almost knocked her over during a heated session at city council. McConnell said she suffered whiplash and had had to visit the chiropractor following the incident. Ford later apologized for the incident and said it was a complete accident.
Mayor John Tory’s full statement on McConnell’s passing:
“It is with great sadness that I learned this afternoon of the death of Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell.
Pam was a friend, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. She was also a woman who proudly served her city and the people of Toronto for more than 35 years.
Toronto is a better and fairer city thanks to Pam’s service and advocacy.
She was a strong defender for Toronto. During her time as City Councillor and Deputy Mayor, she was responsible for leading Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. She oversaw the revitalization of Regent Park and her legacy will be leaving behind a flourishing community. She was working on transforming St. Lawrence Market, the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and turning the West Don Lands and East Bayfront neighbourhoods into vibrant communities.
Pam has a long history with the City of Toronto. Her initial work as a Councillor centred around children. She oversaw the opening of the Wellesley Community Centre, the first community centre in Toronto since amalgamation. She also represented Toronto at the Board of Directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities where she encouraged and supported women seeking municipal office. She served as the Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board where she worked to bring community policing back to the City’s neighbourhoods. She also served as a school trustee where she was well known as an advocate for children living in poverty.
She will be missed by her Council colleagues, City staff and the community she served with integrity and passion. She always worked to find common ground and consensus among her colleagues.
My thoughts are with Pam’s husband Jim and their two daughters, as well as her four grandchildren, many friends, residents and colleagues.”