In October 2014 I was a candidate to become City Counsillor in the City of Toronto. I run in Ward 31 (Beaches – East York against the incumbent Janet Davis. I came second with a big difference in vote. Here is my platform and some of the issues that I and my team were focused.
Platform for Ward 31
Taxes are always a hot button issue. We all understand about contributing for the greater good to society and community. However in today’s reality, the perception is that we pay too much already. This sentiment is felt across the city and very acutely in Ward 31 where I’ve been told repeatedly, that we are not getting fair value for our MONEY!!!
To that end, I promise to support measures at City Hall to reduce any proposed tax increases. Continue measures of contracting our City services, to reduce the tax burden on all taxpayers. Implement performance bonds on all medium and large scale projects to protect the tax payer. Eliminate the Municipal Land transfer Tax. Invite CUPE to bid on services that have already been contracted out when the tender is up again. These are but a few measures that citizens have imparted to me along the campaign trail.
A more effective transit system is an equally important component to alleviating gridlock. Many incumbents are just recently jumping on expanding transit. It seems that a vision for the future is only possible when issues become critical. Avoiding problems becoming critical doesn’t seem to be in the consciousness of Councillors who’ve been comfortable in their jobs. Ward 31 seems to have had such short-sighted representation.
I believe we have to have immediate action to resolve critical shortages to our transit infrastructure. Subways are my preference as it allows surface traffic to continue unimpeded. The Eglinton subway needs to be underground the whole way to Kennedy Station. The Sheppard Subway must connect with the Scarborough Town Centre. Both east and west downtown relief lines are necessary and have my support. They’re many who’ll never get out of their vehicles but if a more efficient transit system were in place, a large number would take advantage of it.
In my consultations with the community, many have mentioned replacing street cars with electrified buses/trams. They explain that if an accident occurs in front of a street car you’re stopped and then you accumulate a convoy of street cars behind the first. Buses can go around such obstacles. I agree with the phasing out of street cars from surface streets in favour of electrified buses/trams or diesel electric hybrid buses.
Street car routes that have dedicated TTC traffic only, must be looked at separately from the ones that occupy city streets with vehicles. As new investments in track and passenger cars have been made recently, it behoves us to act prudently here. Critical work needs to be the focus now!!
As we’ll be dealing with the critical expansion of the TTC immediately, as Councillor I promise to initiate a process where expansion of transit is a continuing process. As an example, once both the Sheppard and Eglinton lines are completed there should be expansion from Kennedy to Markham & Eglinton and then further to Morningside and Kingston Rd. Sheppard should be extended to the Zoo.
As our city grows, transit needs will always have to be developed for citizens. Transit should always grow with the population. Unfortunately it seems some Councillors think they’ve already solved the problem with Metrolinx. As the track records of incumbents go, are you prepared to wait till transit becomes critical again before action is taken? I’ll always be proactive and include Ward 31’s input in any future planning of expanded TTC services.
WHERE IS COUNCILOR DAVIS ON TRANSIT?
One of the biggest issues I face at the door and at every business, is how am I going to afford these new and approved hydro rates? Within 3 years, hydro rates will rise by 150%. Couple that with increased gas, natural gas and food prices, the pocket book is getting stretched far too thin.
Many small businesses are so squeezed by energy costs that they anticipate closing their doors in the next little while. Is this the kind of community we should be striving for? If Toronto is getting a bad deal from the Province, maybe it’s time we changed the way we receive energy. Maybe we should look to Quebec, New York State, Michigan and Manitoba for our future energy needs. If at present we are restricted to only deal with Hydro1, we’ll have to suck it up. However in future we can pressure Queens Park by going elsewhere for our energy after our deal runs out with the province.
Reducing hydro rates and finding solutions to such increases is something I’m committed to. Even if we have to respectfully fight Queens Park to make this happen.
WHERE IS COUNCILLOR DAVIS ON THIS ISSUES AND WHAT PLANS OF ACTION DOES SHE HAVE TO HELP REDUCE YOUR ENERGY BILL?
Our quality of life, community and economy all benefit from being able to move people, goods and services faster. Having efficient and innovative infrastructure allows for a win win win situation for all involved. We can get to work, play and home faster if we create reasonable solutions to balance the economy along with the community.
We’ve seen that GRIDLOCK is overtaking this city exponentially. Toronto has advanced beyond Los Angeles in gridlock and it’s not isolated to the downtown core or all the highways. It’s in the suburbs of the city and on most of the arterial road ways. We can resolve gridlock but it’s going to take political will with investment. Investing dedicated future capital in existing and new roads is an important component but not the only one to resolving this dilemma.
Building developments and road construction are a major contributor to congestion on the roads. All the lane restrictions from these projects have caused Rush Hour to become Rush Hours. Development and road maintenance must continue but we must have a more practical plan for their deployment. If our excellent road repair/resurfacing companies don’t have the capacity to deliver more timely and equitable service to the city, we should appeal to Queen’s Park to allow out of province labour to come in and assist in reducing the backlog of road construction that has plagued our City for years.
A very Ward 31 concept to help alleviate the congestion on O’Connor Dr. may be to develop a Contra Flow Lane of traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours. It’s possible to have 1 lane of eastbound traffic allowed to go west bound for the morning rush hour and vice versa for the evening. Some lane rejigging will have to occur as it did and does on Jarvis. I believe it will help move people, goods and service through this area more efficiently and at little cost to our city.
Where large enough boulevards exist in Ward 31, it’s reasonable to use that space to indent the boulevard for any transit stops that limit the flow of traffic.
Street light synchronization is being developed and I support its implementation as quickly as possible.
A layperson’s view of the highway network in Toronto and the GTA would conclude that for the size of our City, we are severely under highwayed. We don’t have adequate bypass highways that go around or through our City. I propose that we look at options that are outside of the box. Some jurisdictions in the US and the rest of the world restrict tractor trailer rigs on some highways or during rush hours to help ease congestion.
Another option could be from Europe. A great engineering project is the Oresund Link. It connects Scandinavia from Malmo Sweden to mainland Europe through Copenhagen Denmark across the Oresund strait. Is the solution to this problem in whole or in part in this marvel of engineering? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Øresund_Bridge) Could we use this existing technology to produce something in Lake Ontario?
WHERE IS COUNCILOR DAVIS ON ROADS?
COMMUNITY & SAFETY
Our first responders are brave souls who put their lives on the line for our safety and rule of law society. They’re one of the foundation pieces of our community. We pay a fair price for their skills and generally we support and supply them with the material as well as the human resources required to service our city.
In Ward 31 I was asked, if the crime rate continues to decline every year, why do we need as many or more police officers? My response was as follows, is it because of our police levels being where they are that crime levels have continued to decline? If we remove front line officers, will crime go up??
It’s not disrespectful to ask questions of the budgets of our first responders, to see what funds can be saved. It’s disrespectful to cut their budgets and continually ask them to do more. I commit to implementing better intergovernmental cooperation to support existing levels of our first responders and to reclaim for Ward 31 the loss of those first responder resources, cut from last year’s city budget. Their removal is completely unacceptable to me and to all of Ward 31.
THE PRESENT WARD 31 REPRESENTATION WASN’T ABLE TO RETAIN THOSE FIRST RESPONDER RESOURCES.
HEALTH & SENIORS
Our population is aging and it’s incumbent on us to be proactive with our seniors. They all helped this city grow in size, elegance and stature. It’s important to me to respect and repay our seniors for all they’ve done for the city. At present there is only a patchwork of NGO’s, city and provincial programs regarding Home Care.
I propose to unite these patch work of programs to create the synergies of one dynamic and dignified Home Care operation. An operation that will be the envy of any publicly supported Home Care Program anywhere in the country.
WHAT IS COUNCILLOR DAVIS DOING TO HELP OUR SENIORS LIVE IN DIGNITY?
It’s not funny when people are in need and can’t access the services required. It’s not funny when neighbours are voicing their concerns about illegal unlicensed daycares in their community and their concerns are falling on deaf ears. Especially when the resources to solve this problem are within reach but a lack of will and execution continually cause the lack of daycare spaces to perpetuate without end.
As your newly elected Councillor, I will create more quality daycare spaces. I will connect the need with the solution. In many areas of Ward 31, there are large, vacant retail and commercial spaces. These spaces are within reasonable distance of where the needs for these spaces are.
I will connect the private sector providers, community organizations and any other profit as well as non profit organizations with the business community, to work out short, medium and long term solutions for quality child care. In working with all stakeholders, we can have quality child care close to where the need is.
Children and parents will benefit from the additional spaces and convenience they provide. Profit and non profit organizations will benefit from the added capacity. Landlords of these vacant spaces will be happy that these vacancies are now occupied. Residents in communities where illegal unlicensed daycares are close by will be more than satisfied that these facilities are where they should be.
The present representation for Ward 31 has had access to a host of City resources in the community for 12 years. The present representation has been a member of or has had access to Business and Community Associations to resolve this issue for the last 12 years.
WHERE IS COUNCILLOR DAVIS AND WHAT IS SHE DOING TO RESOLVE THIS COMMUNITY ISSUE?
The province made many reforms in the 1990’s to amend the amount of MPP’s in the legislature. They streamlined the provincial ridings to the number of federal jurisdictions at that time. This reduced the number of MPP’s at Queens Park. Many would say and have said that transition hasn’t hurt the province at all. As well the province has allowed a couple more northern ridings provincially to account for equity within the province.
Is this a tact that we should take at City Hall? I’m not opposed to this but more has to be known about the process and structure of a 22, plus the Mayor equals 23, member council. Will the Mayor have more authority to drive parts of the City agenda he or she was elected? What powers will the Mayor, the executive and councillors have in dealing with each other and the City staff? Knowing this, will help to make a more appropriate and informed decision for the city and the Wards.
The environment transcends many sectors of policy and the economy. Part of my Environmental Strategy I’ve articulated in my transit plan. By creating a more efficient transit system, by reducing congestion, (less vehicles idling) and having more electrified transit vehicles, less pollution will be expelled into the atmosphere reducing our carbon footprint.
Bike lanes are becoming more popular. More and more people are biking for a variety of reasons. I support expanding the bike lane infrastructure where we can do so reasonably and where it meets the standard of use.
In Ward 31, The Taylor Massey Creek and Don Valley green spaces are very important natural ecosystems. We Torontonians are very fortunate to have such wilderness and green spaces within our city limits. People who live in concrete and asphalt jungles always lament having lost green spaces to development. It’s not uncommon for such people to seek out green spaces for relaxation and we have many such places within our city’s boarders.
To preserve, enhance and modernize such wonders that we have within arm’s reach, I commit to strengthening the existing Taylor Massey Project program to clean and maintain the park.
There are other conservation projects in the city that can assist in cleaning the Creeks water as it enters the Don Valley. One such project is the one at Bluffer’s Park that cleans storm water as it enters Lake Ontario. The same process from Bluffer’s Park can be implemented throughout the creek system to preserve the green space and assist in cleaning up pollutants as well as seepage from old landfills in the ecosystem.
I commit to this action because information from the city clearly shows that Taylor Massey Creek is the highest polluting tributary into the Don River. We must act now.
WHERE IS COUNCILOR DAVIS ON OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES?
I promise to lead our community with a progressive and fiscally responsible but conservative program. I promise to be inclusive, practical and have community members be involved in direct decision making within our Ward. If you pay, you must have a say and all Torontonian’s pay!!!
Many of our present Councillors always grouse about our higher levels of government not contributing more to this City. They, including the present councillor of Ward 31, like to detach themselves from any blame and pass the buck of any responsibility up to those levels of government. This has put a sour disposition on those levels of government when dealing with what has been a very dysfunctional City Council. This demands a culture change at City Hall.
I believe that getting our fiscal house in order and making it more accountable to the tax payer; will lead to the other levels of government being more cooperative with the City of Toronto’s issues. I promise to execute this in council and provide leadership to develop true intergovernmental cooperation. With this new cooperation, we can begin to leave the dysfunction behind us and grow this magical city.
The Island Airport is becoming a more important junction for air travel in our city. Air travel at the island is becoming more convenient for the city and our neighbours who are discovering its convenience. Its capacity is limited by its land area, runway size and the 202 slots at present for air craft. Expansion to allow jet activity at the Island Airport doesn’t seem out of step with a growing City and its needs. I promise to work with all parties to create reasonable solutions to the Island airport expansion.
All stake holders will have to be part of the solution. From all 3 levels of government all the way down to the end user and the citizen tax payer. It’s the only way this will work. Strong intergovernmental cooperation has to be a pillar of all solution oriented politics going forward. I’m Championing that position and I invite you to support me in that.
WHERE IS COUNCILOR DAVIS ON THE ISLAND AIRPORT?