Becoming a Community Representative
Being a Community Representative is a rewarding experience. It is an opportunity for you to work alongside your neighbours and TCHC staff to build vibrant communities. Review this page for information about the process of becoming a community representative.
What is my local engagement model?
The first step is to understand whether your community has selected the Community Representative local engagement model or the Building/Townhouse Committee local engagement model.
To view a list of the local engagement models selected for each community, review the List of Communities - TES Model Chosen (PDF).
How do I become a Community Representative?
Who qualifies as a candidate?
A candidate for a Community Representative must be:
- A tenant, co-tenant or dependent of a tenant in the building or townhouse community where he/she is running.
- Registered on the TCHC household lease and seconded by another tenant who lives in the same building/townhouse community where the candidate is running.
- 16 years of age or older by the time the nomination form is submitted, or to nominate a candidate.
- In good standing as a tenant in order to be a candidate.
If you are a permanent full-time staff of TCHC, resident key persons, rooming house representatives and have a family member living in the same household, neither of you can participate.
What it means to have a tenancy in good standing
A tenancy in good standing means:
- The tenant has no arrears on their lease with TCHC or, if there are arrears, they have a signed agreement with TCHC to repay the arrears and are in compliance with the agreement.
- TCHC is not taking any legal action against the tenancy.
- There have been no reported acts by the tenant, their household or guests, on or in relation to TCHC property, that constitute a serious violation of a federal, provincial or municipal law.
- There have been no reported anti-social behaviours, which constitute an ongoing disturbance caused by the tenant, their household or guests that interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the unit or complex for its reasonable uses by the landlord or tenants and which has not been resolved through tenancy management.
How do I become a Community Representative candidate?
- Submit a nomination form by the deadline when the time comes.
- You can nominate yourself, but your nomination needs to be seconded by another tenant in the building/ townhouse community where you are running.
- Each nomination must be signed by you, the candidate, which indicates your acceptance.
- You will receive a letter indicating whether or not your nomination was accepted and you are eligible.
How long do Community Representatives serve?
Community Representatives serve a three year term.
What if I change my mind and no longer want to be a candidate?
If you wish to no longer be a Community Representative candidate, you can withdraw your nomination and application by writing to your local Community Services Coordinator (CSC).
What if I have a comment or complaint about the process?
Please submit your comment or complaint in writing by completing a complaint form. You can get a complaint form by contacting your local engagement Community Services Coordinator (CSC). Don’t know who your CSC is? Call the Client Care Centre and an agent will connect you to the right person. Submit your complaint form to your local CSC once complete.
How does TCHC support you in your role?
TCHC staff will support you by:
- Delivering mandatory training and provide learning and capacity building opportunities.
- Removing barriers to participation by providing food and transportation reimbursement, translation and interpretation support, etc.
- Providing tools and resources to carry out roles and responsibilities.
- Assisting with Tenant Action Funds applications.
Campaign information for community representatives
Learn more about running your campaign as a community representative.
What you need to know before you get started on your campaign
Develop a key message
It is good to share the reason why you are interested in being a candidate with your neighbours. What motivates you to run? Is there a particular area that you are passionate about? What would you like to change in your community? It is also good to ask about and listen to the ideas and concerns from community members. What are their priorities? Is there something you could do to try and address those issues?
Follow the Code of Conduct
TCHC will not tolerate negative campaigning strategies. This includes:
- damaging or vandalizing other candidates’ materials
- spreading rumours or mistruths regarding other candidates
- harassing or threatening other candidates or their supporters Violating the Code of Conduct could result in a candidate being removed from the ballot.
What can you do to campaign as a Community Representative?
Creating a flyer
TCHC will provide you with a template of a flyer that you can use.
Distribute copies of the flyer
Your engagement Community Services Coordinator will give you copies of your flyer. It must be letter-sized and single-sided. The maximum number that staff will provide is double the number of units in your community. Copies of the poster will be printed in colour, if requested.
Having friends or neighbours help you with your campaign is always a good idea, as long as you follow proper safety precautions. These include following physical distancing where possible (six feet or two metres) between you and your volunteers, wearing a mask or face covering indoors and frequently washing your hands. Volunteers can help you to distribute flyers or put them on bulletin boards or encourage others to vote for you. All volunteers must follow the Code of Conduct.
TCHC cannot provide you with tenants’ names and unit numbers. However, while campaigning, you can ask your neighbours if they wish to share that information with you so you can keep track of who is supporting you. When a tenant has pledged their support, make a note of their name and unit number. That way you can remind them to vote for you on Election Day. Your volunteers can also remind your supporters to vote.
What you need to know when preparing for all candidate meetings
Communities can have up to six Community Representatives, depending on the community size. There will be two Community Representatives for every 250 households. If there are more than six candidates in your area running for that position, there will be an opportunity to host an all-candidates meeting in the community.
What is the purpose of an all-candidates meeting?
At an all candidates meeting, you can:
- Share your vision. Tell tenants why you are running and give them some ideas you have in mind for change. Be clear and consistent with what you have been advocating for during the campaign. Candidates are encouraged to prepare some remarks ahead of the meeting.
- Learn the issues in the community and know your audience. It is always good to find out about the issues in your community and the feelings people have toward those issues ahead of time. This shows that you are taking the steps to understand your community better. Think about ways you can connect with your audience and find similarities in the concerns they have.
- Be respectful. When interacting with tenants and other candidates, remain calm and collected. Avoid making negative comments.
If other candidates are being disrespectful, the moderator will intervene to make sure the meeting continues in a respectful manner.
Please note: processes for campaigning and election day activities are subject to change, based on safety recommendations from TCHC and Toronto Public Health.
What you need to know for Election Day
Here is useful information for election day. Please note that you are not allowed to campaign in your building or near the polling station on Election Day. No one is allowed to linger in the polling station. Once you have submitted your vote, you must leave the polling station. Only polling station staff and authorized volunteers are allowed.
What voters need to know for Election Day
- Each voter must present identification at the time of registering at the polling station.
- All tenants over the age of 16 are eligible to vote.
- Tenants may only vote once and can only vote in their designated polling station.
- Voters will get a blank ballot initialed by the Poll Captain. Once they receive their blank ballot, they must go behind the voting screen, mark their ballot, fold it and place it in the ballot box.
What happens once voting ends on Election Day?
All voters may return to the polling station once voting closes for a public ballot count and announcement of the results. Two tenant volunteers will participate in the public counting of the ballots. When all observers arrive, the ballot box will be opened for the public count to begin. All votes are recorded on a public tally sheet and results are documented in a poster template and posted in the community. The results will also be communicated to all tenants. The tenant volunteer must sign-off on the results in a form attached with the ballot box. Results will also be posted in the building and communicated to all tenants.
What happens if there is a tie?
If there appears to be a tie after counting all the ballots, votes will be recounted. If there is still a tie, the Poll Captain will declare a tie and pack up the poll. The Poll Captain then will ask the candidates if they want to either negotiate a winner or flip a coin. If candidates cannot agree on either option, then a by-election will be held. Candidates will have to sign a note indicating they agree to a by-election. The by-election will only be held for the candidates who are tied.
If a tenant is unable to vote, can someone else vote on their behalf?
Yes. This process is called proxy voting. Proxy voting is a form of voting whereby you may delegate your voting power to someone else to vote on the candidate of your choice on your behalf. In order to do so, a voter must present a completed Proxy Voting Consent Form to the Poll Captain. It is the Poll Captain’s responsibility to check to see if the form is signed, the voter is on the voters’ list and the proxy voter is also on the voters’ list and has not presented a previous proxy.
What if a tenant can’t leave their home to vote?
A physical polling station will be set up in each community on Election Day. However, if a tenant is not able to leave their unit, does not feel comfortable assigning their vote to a proxy or does not feel comfortable voting at the polling station, they can contact their local engagement Community Services Coordinator to discuss other options.
Accommodation during tenant election activities
It is important that tenants participate in the elections process so that the engagement system reflects the priorities and views of as many tenants as possible. Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is committed to making sure all tenants have equitable access to the Tenant Elections process, and we understand that some accommodations may be needed for tenants to participate fully in election activities. Tenants are asked to contact their engagement Community Services Coordinator (CSC) to request accommodations or if they have questions about potential accommodations.
On request, TCHC will provide interpretation services, including American Sign Language, for any elections-related activities and will translate any written materials. Requests must be made a minimum of 10 days before any event.
Tenants who are not able to vote at the polling station on their scheduled election day, whether due to absence from the building or self-isolation in their unit, can request proxy voting. A proxy vote is a ballot cast by one person on behalf of another. You will pick one specific person (must be another tenant who lives in your building) and transfer voting responsibility to them. If you are interested in proxy voting, contact your local engagement Community Services Coordinator. They will work with you to fill out the official Proxy Voting form.
Please note: A tenant who wishes to vote, by proxy or not, must pre-register with their CSC.
All in-person elections activities will be held in physically accessible venues. This includes the actual building and layout of any spaces used. Accessibility in the built environment requirements cover ramps to raised common areas, clear entry and exit paths that are at least two metres (six feet) wide, and more.
Accommodation for tenants with visual impairments
Each polling station will only use ballots that have candidates' names in large print font and are printed on larger paper.
Tenants can also request for a polling station official to help them throughout the voting process (also known as assisted voting).
On voting day, tenants who have already preregistered will come to the polling station and go through a COVID-19 screening process. When signing in to vote, the tenant will request assisted voting accommodation, and then a polling station official will safely work one-on-one with the tenant (now known as a voter) to go through the voting process.
The polling station official will tell the voter that they will assist them by reading out the candidates' names and then marking the ballot after the voter has verbally selected their preferred choice. After the voter has identified themselves (name and address) and consented to a recording of the interaction being made, the polling station official will start.
After the ballot has been physically marked on behalf of the voter, the polling station official will fold the ballot, and then place it in the ballot box.
A recording will be made of the whole interaction, and will be kept on file for five to seven years under the TCHC Records Management policy.
Please contact your local engagement Community Services Coordinator for more information about accommodations or to pre-register to vote.
Read more about Accommodations during the voting process (PDF).
Building-Townhouse Committee Information
Being part of your community’s Building/Townhouse Committee is a rewarding experience and an opportunity for you to work alongside your neighbours and TCHC staff to build vibrant communities.
How do we form a Building/Townhouse Committee?
If your community chose the Building/Townhouse Committee model, watch for communications on when the open call meeting will take place in your community. Attend the meeting for your community and sign up to be a part of the committee. If you are unable to attend, contact your local Community Services Coordinator (CSC) to find out what you missed and how to sign up.
Who qualifies to be on a Building/Townhouse Committee?
A member of the Building/Townhouse Committee must be:
- A tenant, co-tenant or dependent of a tenant in the building or townhouse community where he/she lives and be registered on the TCHC household lease.
- 16 years of age or older by the time they sign up to be a member of the committee.
How is our community represented at the Tenant Community Action Table?
Each committee will select two members to represent their community and sit at the Tenant Community Action Table.
What if I change my mind and no longer want to be on the committee?
Committees are established for a three-year term. If you wish to withdraw your membership, you can do so by writing at any point in time to your local Community Services Coordinator (CSC).
Refer to the Community Representative section above for more information.
Community Representative Nomination Form
Visit the Community Representative Nomination page to learn more about the process and to complete a nomination form.