Pam McConnell, a long-time Toronto City Councillor and a committed champion of social justice and urban causes, died today at the age of 71. 

Prior to becoming a well-liked and highly respected fixture at City Hall—serving Ward 28 since 1994—McConnell worked as a teacher, and later a school trustee, helping establish crucial early childhood learning programming that serves the Regent Park community to this day. As a Councillor, McConnell was known for her determined support of social equity and the arts, leading the City's poverty reduction strategy since 2015, after fighting against racial profiling in policing as a member of the Toronto Police Services Board. 

Serving as a Deputy Mayor under John Tory, McConnell drew on decades of experience—including seven terms at City Council. Among fellow Councillors, McConnell was known for her ability to cross political divides and build consensus in polarized times. "I don't think there's any question whatsoever that Toronto is a better place for Pam McConnell," Tory said today, addressing City Council. In a prepared statement, Tory also hailed the "empathy, passion and common sense she brought to her role. She will be missed immensely." 

In one of her last public appearances, McConnell celebrated the opening of Toronto's new Berczy Park, joining a crowd of hundreds in the warm June evening. Stripping off a respiratory device to address the audience, McConnell was full of energy as she spoke, drawing the loudest applause—and cheers—of the evening. Despite suffering from a longstanding lung condition, McConnell continued to express a heartfelt and tireless enthusiasm for improving the city she served. "No one walks by without smiling," McConnell enthused, gesturing to the new fountain. 

Pam McConnell at Berczy Park, image by Marcus Mitanis Pam McConnell at Berczy Park, image by Marcus Mitanis

According to the City, "flags at City Hall, Metro Hall and the Toronto civic centres will be lowered to half-mast in Deputy Mayor McConnell's honour. They will remain lowered until the end of the day of her funeral. Books of condolence will be available at Toronto City Hall beginning tomorrow for staff and members of the public to express their condolences. An online book of condolence will also be available at http://cityoftorontocondolences.ca beginning tomorrow."

Funeral service arrangements will be announced in the coming days.