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Toronto Coun. Jaye Robinson dies at 61

Toronto Coun. Jaye Robinson has died, her office said in a statement Friday.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Councillor Jaye Robinson passed away last night in the presence of her family,” the statement said. 

Robinson has represented the ward of Don Valley West since 2010.

“She was deeply dedicated to the residents of Ward 15, a strong voice on city council, and a beloved mentor to her team. We are honoured to have had the opportunity to work with her,” her office said.

Robinson announced in 2019 that she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and would be taking time away from work at City Hall. She returned to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, no cause of death has been announced. She was 61 years old.

She leaves behind her husband, three sons and a cocker spaniel, according to her website.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said Toronto flags would fly at half-mast, and condolence books would be set up in Robinson’s memory at North York Civic Centre on Saturday and at City Hall on Tuesday. There will be a presentation in her honour at city council’s meeting on Wednesday, Chow said.

“As council members and as a mayor, we miss her work. We miss her passion in serving her communities and her dedication to supporting the arts and culture of this city,” Chow told reporters, flanked by several of her council colleagues.

“She’s done phenomenal work and she is just really loved.”

During her tenure as a councillor, Robinson served on the executive committees led by former mayors Rob Ford and John Tory. She also served terms as chair of both the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the public works committee, as well as on the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario, and for a time headed Vision Zero, the city’s initiative to eliminate road deaths.

Most recently, she led a team of councillors responsible for the city’s preparations to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026.

Before running for office, Robinson worked for the city for more than 20 years as a senior manager in economic development, according to her profile on the city’s website. She worked on initiatives including Nuit Blanche, Summerlicious and Winterlicious.

Councillors, former colleagues share condolences

Toronto councillors, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and others who worked with Robinson reacted with sadness to the news of her death.

Former Mayor John Tory said Robinson was a “principled representative.”

She “fought for the things she believed in and more importantly fought hard for the people she represented at City Hall,” Tory said in a statement posted to X, former known as Twitter.

Tory said she battled her diagnosis with “grace and determination.”

“She has been taken away from us too soon. It is never too late to say thank you for a life well lived and great public service career,” he said.

“On behalf of our community, I wish my most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Councillor Jaye Robinson, and to the residents of Don Valley West,” Coun. Josh Matlow said on X.

“We will always be grateful for her service, and passion, for our city. I will miss her.”

A woman speaks at a podium for Vision Zero.
While working as a councillor, Robinson served for a time as chair of both the TTC and the public works committee, and also headed Vision Zero, the city’s initiative to eliminate road deaths. (CBC)

Coun. Paul Ainslie sent prayers and condolences to Robinson’s family and friends, calling her a “strong advocate for her community.”

Coun. Brad Bradford said Robinson was a “dear colleague” from whom he learned a lot.

“We spent a lot of time speaking on the phone over the past year. She represented her constituents fiercely to the very end, and her voice will be missed at Council and across our city,” Bradford said on X.

Ford said he was devastated by the news.

“She was a dedicated public servant who I was fortunate to work with at City Hall and who was devoted to the people she served in Don Valley West,” Ford said. “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones as they grieve this terrible loss.”

Former Toronto councillor and current MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam said Robinson cared “so much for her community.” 

“Her dedication to public service was clear in every meeting and interaction. She was passionate about building up a Toronto for everyone and will be dearly missed,” Wong-Tam said.

Fire Chief Matthew Pegg expressed “deepest condolences” on behalf of Toronto Fire Services.

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