Toronto City Council seems like a battle between those that would raise our taxes to the moon and those lacking the courage to address our shared crises like the high cost of housing, long commute times, outdated infrastructure and a 20% poverty rate.
Our city is one of the richest and fastest growing in the world, and yet we fail to take action, leaving tough decisions and bills to future generations. I’m frustrated by our city being dominated by developers, lobbyists and the 30-year councillors who do their bidding, stymying progress.
I’m positive that with energetic and courageous leadership we can end this mediocrity. I will raise expectations for how to communicate and engage our citizens so that we can force council to do a better job with our taxes and build a Toronto that is affordable for all of us.
As Your Neighbour, I Share Your Frustration About:
- Overpriced Housing
- Lack of Affordable Childcare
- Poor Management of Tax Dollars
- Gun Violence
- Slow Transit & Infrastructure Development
- Long Commutes
- Few Jobs in our Neighbourhoods
- Inaction on Climate Change & Flooding
- Slashing Essential Services
Leaving Debt for Our Children
Throughout the the campaign I will address my plans for these and other issues, and look forward to a lively conversation with voters.
The cost of living in Toronto has climbed much faster than average incomes, making it difficult for people to join the middle class and maintain a decent quality of life. While some people are paying cash for penthouses, many more struggle to pay their mortgage or rent, and 20% of Torontonians live in poverty. Childcare can cost even more than housing and is out of reach for many families, keeping them locked out of the workforce and further hampering their ability to get ahead. 60% of renters and 40% of owners in the GTA are seriously considering leaving the area due to the lack of affordability.
This is untenable. It is also not a new problem, nor an accident. The obscene cost of living in Toronto is a direct result of the decisions made by our councilors. Council, for example, makes it easy to own homes for people who can afford the high down payments, driving up the cost of living for everyone else. I have the courage to fight for:
- Keeping property taxes manageable for the average family, less than the average of our neighbouring municipalities
- Reducing property taxes on small businesses
- A 4 year freeze on TTC fare increases
- Fostering job growth in our community by developing TTC property
- Fighting real estate speculation, prioritizing affordable housing over the profits of a few
- Increasing the stock of housing of affordable, rental and family-sized housing units
- Increasing funding for childcare, daycare and after-school programs
- Providing subsidies to parents for not-for-profit, private and family-based caregivers that comply with standards
- Reducing most water bills by making property owners that cause flooding pay more
Reducing hydro bills by improving energy efficiency standards in buildings
Toronto is the safest city in North America, but it doesn’t seem that way lately. In an era of falling crime, gun violence has defied that trend, bringing fear and tragedy to Toronto-Danforth. Shocking numbers of people are getting killed in traffic. And people and their pocketbooks are suffering, and even dying, from extreme weather due to climate change and more frequent flooding.
Much of this is due to poor policy choices by a City Council that lacks the courage to face our problems head on. I have the courage to fight for:
- A federal ban on personal ownership of handguns, assault weapons and ammunition - unless you’re a trained security professional or a licensed hunter, you can rent and leave guns at shooting galleries
- A federal gun buyback program and increased penalties for gun possession and trafficking
- Stymying gang recruitment by shifting funding from unsuccessful police programs to effective community development, including after-school and recreational programs
- Creating economic opportunity and reducing isolation in priority neighbourhoods by prioritizing childcare, transit and affordable housing development
Adding speed and safety measures (ie speed bumps) whenever fixing residential streets
- Improving the quality of infrastructure and signage for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians - lives and funds are saved through better design rather than expecting people to do the right thing
- Sending violators of traffic laws to improvement classes - as the city grows and commuting becomes multi-modal, commuters need a new understanding of how to share the streets
- Pushing Ontario for mandatory jail time for people responsible for hit and runs
Investing in flood protection infrastructure by implementing a Stormwater Charge (as in Mississauga), where those whose properties cause flooding pay more - Torontonians are on the hook for billions of dollars of damage, and people nearly died recently, due to preventable flooding caused by inaction by City Council
Our planet is literally on fire, and yet we’ve know about climate change and what need to do for decades already. Cities are especially poised to be able significantly reduce carbon. Toronto City Council developed a comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation Strategy...but has not funded it.
This is a pathetic lack of leadership in an era of extreme weather and increasing flooding that causes damage and even death. We have the policy tools available to create economic opportunity while addressing the risks of climate change - we just need the courage to fight for:
- Fully funding and implementing the approved Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
- Reducing billions of dollars of damage by funding flood protection infrastructure - implementing a Stormwater Charge (as in Mississauga), where those whose properties cause flooding pay more
- Incentivizing residents to install green roofs and rain gardens to reduce flooding and water bills
- Hiring local workers to implement energy efficiency retrofits in older apartment buildings
- Raising energy efficiency standards on new builds
- Building public transit and bike lane networks, giving people options that reduce pollution and commune times
Requiring public parking spaces under new developments to make room on our streets for pedestrians and bicycles
In the 21st century, residents have higher expectations for the quantity and quality of communication with their representatives. With busy lives, 24 hour news cycles, varied work schedules and long commute times, I need to engage with you in a timeliness and format that works best for you.
As your councillor, I will hire and manage a team that is technically savvy. We will raise the bar for how, and how often, my team provides information and communicates with voters, ensuring frequent two-way dialogue about the issues and their effects on our community. My team will:
- Make interactions and problem-solving quicker and easier for residents by employing modern technology
- Be knowledgeable of the concerns of residents, the bylaws and the resources available to help people
- Be friendly and service-oriented
- Work in multiple languages, as much as possible
Employ modern communications technology (and time tested media!)
- Regular newsletters in mailboxes
- Various social media channels and groups
- Text messages
Increase opportunities for real two-way dialogue, through:
- Regular in-person townhalls
- Frequent online live Q&A sessions
Make sure you are informed and engaged with the issues, by:
- Giving you advanced notice of council’s legislative agenda
- Describing the many sides of the issues that council will be voting on
- Detailing the position I am leaning toward
- Providing opportunity for feedback
- Updating you in the progress being made
City Hall has made a mess of our taxpayer finances over the past 8 years. This year’s Long-Term Financial Plan report said that if the city doesn’t change course, in just five years it will have a huge $1.42 billion budget gap. Deficits are illegal, so that would mean the city would have to slash a whopping 10% of its services or rapidly and significantly raise taxes. It is bewildering that Council has continuously slashed important services and yet is in this financial crunch, including mounting debt and, this year, its first deficit in many years.
What has been Council’s reaction to this financial crisis? First, they delayed the report for a whole year. Then, when it was released this spring, John Tory’s Executive they would not discuss it, and other councillors were quiet. This is abdication of moral duty, and a failure of leadership, especially in a city that is booming and flush with wealth.
As your councillor, I will be frank with you about the state of city finances, and the difficult choices that will have to be made. We have limited funding that needs to be spent where it will have maximum impact. I will push for public discussions regarding new sources of revenue and eliminating wasteful spending, rather than leaving the mess for our children. I will work with councillors to make smarter choices. I have the courage to fight for:
Keeping property taxes manageable for the average family, and no greater than the average of our neighbouring municipalities
- Reduce taxes on small businesses that create jobs
- Shift away from reliance on Land Transfer Tax, which is too dependent on fluctuating high real estate values and caused a deficit this year
- Finding efficiencies in the police budget (over 10% of the entire budget and growing rapidly!) and shifting the funds to programs that prevent violent crime and reduce cost of living for residents
- Shifting all funds from the Ford Tax to transit projects that will reduce commute times - the Scarborough One-Stop Subway is a waste of $5 billion dollars that would be better spent on projects that get many more people of Scarborough and Toronto moving
- Implement new revenue mechanisms - tolling 905 drivers, increasing parking rates for non-residential spots
- Reducing lobbying and backroom deals at City Hall that have skyrocketed the past 8 years and resulted in wasteful projects - council and the budget should be focused on people, not developers and corporations
- Capitalize on funds from the federal housing strategy
- Fight for 2% of the climate tax funds to pay for energy efficiency projects that will reduce utility bills for residents
- Fight for closing federal tax loopholes that reduce $3 billion of annual revenue that cities could draw on
- Raise the hotel tax and include AirBnb rentals
- Raise property taxes on luxury homes assessed at above $3 million
Let’s have a conversation about our shared concerns and priorities:
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