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Matlow vs. Mihevic: When council friends become foes

Toronto’s municipal election is fast approaching and, with the new ward boundaries imposed by the provincial government, city council is going to look very different after October 22.

With the number of seats reduced almost by half, veteran councillors are battling it out and crossing enemy lines to try and win votes from each other’s former wards.

“Initially it felt like I was walking into someone else’s house and sitting in their living room. It felt awkward to be candid with you,” said Josh Matlow.

Matlow has served on city council for eight years and won the last election in Ward 22 by a landslide. So did his opponent, Joe Mihevc, who has been a councillor for 27 years, most recently representing Ward 21.

“Truly it has been an emotional roller-coaster,” Mihvec told CityNews. “At the beginning there was a feeling that there was two campaigns: one in your old area where there’s lots of love and lots of affection for the local councillor, and then the other side where your name recognition is very limited.”

Both Mihevc and Matlow are vying to represent the newly-formed Ward 12 of Toronto-St. Paul’s, which largely merges their two former wards. Each has a lot of signs in their former wards, but you can spot a few on each other’s turf.

Both politicians are progressive, left-leaning councillors and largely share the same values – even if they don’t fully realize it.

“I’ve been outspoken about transit in a way where I’ve been advocating for the relief line and against the one-stop Scarborough subway and Joe has supported the Scarborough subway,” said Matlow. “That’s a substantive policy difference.”

But that’s a claim Mihevc is quick to refute.

“It would be an inaccurate representation to say I supported the Scarborough subway. I would have done a lot more work on the crowded nature of the Yonge Street subway rather than focus on the Scarborough subway.”

But the pair do both have difference stances on a pilot project that allows residents in some neighbourhoods to raise their own chickens.

“He’s a big supporter of backyard chickens,” said Matlow. “To be very candid with you, that’s not an issue that I’ve been hearing from anyone that that’s important to them and that’s not something that I will work on.”

“Yes, I do support backyard hens,” confirmed Mihevc. “I think they are part of the urban foodie movement. It’s about farmer’s markets, it’s about community gardens.”

Incumbent Mayor John Tory has thrown his support behind Mihevc. Tory named Mihevic the city’s Poverty Reduction Advocate just over a year ago.