It’s not often that candidates for City Council are given the opportunity to run without an incumbent in the ward. This year there are nine wards with seats ripe for the picking. This post is the fourth in a series on the candidates in these contested wards, and the key issues in the neighbourhoods they seek to represent.
Ward 27 Toronto Centre–Rosedale
This ward encompasses much of the downtown core, east of Bay Street to Jarvis and from Queen up to the Moore Park Ravine and includes the Church-Wellesley Village, Rosedale, Yorkville, Moore Park, and Downtown neighbourhoods.
Kyle Rae has represented Ward 27 for the past 19 years. During his time on council, Rae oversaw intense development in the ward, focused on issues affecting Toronto’s gay community, and spearheaded the creation of Yonge-Dundas Square. He became increasingly frustrated with the way council makes decisions, telling the Star’s Christopher Hume, “I’ll miss people, but I won’t miss council.”
There are a whopping 15 candidates campaigning for the Ward 27 seat. (In recognition of the area’s young demographic, VoteTO organized an all-candidates debate at Fly night club in June where the contestants played games such as The Price is Right and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, with questions designed to suit the ward as well as the city.) Here are the contenders:
As the former aide to mayoral hopeful George Smitherman, and endorsed by outgoing Rae, Ken Chan knows how politics works. Starting out as a police officer from 1999 to 2003, Chan moved into politics to serve as the Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs in the office of the Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. In his campaign launch speech he applauded the pioneering of Yonge-Dundas Square as an events space and expects more imagination in the future creation of public spaces in the city.
Chris Tindal may be recognizable to some as the poster boy for the Green Party. He ran for a seat in Parliament in 2006, as well as the 2008 by-election. His career as a multimedia consultant helps explains Tindal’s focus on open communication quality customer service. One of the key issues on his platform points to fixing customer service issues within the TTC.
Church-Wellesley Village BIA co-founder Kristyn Wong-Tam has business background as a sales manager at the real estate firm Coldwell Banker Canada and a franchise owner of the Timothy’s World Coffee at 500 Church. Wong-Tam also held a seat on the Mayor’s Economic Competitiveness Advisory Committee and helped produce the Agenda for Prosperity in 2008. Her main policy points reflect her initiatives at promoting civic engagement and community-led planning.
Another businessman in the race for this Ward’s seat is Simon Wookey, the VP of business development at Seniority Investments Ltd. implementing new green technologies. Wookey is also a longtime member of the Bloor-Yorkdale BIA and ran in Davenport (Ward 18) in 2006, coming in second place behind Adam Giambrone. His motto of “Toronto Together” represents his platform of open access to information such as the City’s budget books and an inclusive consultation process for all new developments.
Civil litigation lawyer Joel Dick has done pro-bono work for the Child Advocacy Project, has been a case worker at Downtown Legal Services, and is also a board member of Next Generation Energy Alternatives. He supports many international and local charities, and ran for a TDSB seat in 2006.
Enza Anderson has become a household name since a photo of her kissing then-mayor Mel Lastman in drag ran on the front page of the Toronto Sun in 1995. Since then she has been involved in cultural activities throughout the city including being the 2008 Pride Parade marshal, and writing a society column for Metro. In 2000, Anderson ran for mayor and came in third behind Mel Lastman and Tooker Gomberg, garnering 13,595 votes. Anderson says that her gender shouldn’t matter in her race for council. “It’s about what you can do, not what you are,” she told Torontoist. Anderson wants to see term limits for council (which can perhaps be interpreted as an ode to the outgoing councillor).
Susan Gapka is a familiar face in this ward’s political history. Gapka ran against Rae 2006, and came in fifth place. She has been a leader in social justice campaigns, particularly on behalf of the trans-gender community. Along with the Toronto Police, Gapka set up the city’s first LGBT Community Consultative Committee. One of her key platform issues is the need for safe and affordable community housing.
Robert Maynell‘s experience with social housing on the property management committee at 20 St. Lawrence, with the Ontario March of Dimes Non-Profit Housing Corporation, member of the advisory board of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and a previous director of Citizens for Safe Cycling in Ottawa shows that he has a diverse understanding of some of the things that make a city tick. Maynell has also been a contributor to the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Quill and Quire, and Canadian Journal of Political Science.
Perry Misall has served as an appointed member of the East York Preservation Society, as well as on the Moss Park neighbourhood association where he fought to install a new children’s playground, lighting and splash pad. He wants to see better care of the parks in the ward, including signs posted that display the last inspection date and ways that citizens can follow up with their concerns.
Ella Rebanks is not only a mother and community member, she has worked on many political campaigns, was the assistant to a Toronto MP, and has worked at a number of investment firms throughout the city.
Also running for this highly contested seat on council are Steve Jacobs, Paul Spence, and last minute entrants Jonas Jemstone and Ben Bergen.
- Dick supports Transit City, as well as the proposed open-fare payment system the TTC is looking to roll-out.
- Anderson is looking to improve transit in all respects, including more subways and streetcars as well as repair to existing stations.
- Chan wants to put pressure on the Ontario government to contribute their fair share to the operation and development. costs of the TTC and would like to revamp the commission’s governance structure and implement a more inclusive board with citizen appointees.
- Tindal understands the frustration felt by commuters watching packed buses pass them by, and wants to see more accountability, better on-time arrival, and a cleaner, more technology-friendly TTC.
The ongoing construction of high-rises continues to be a divisive issue within the ward.
- Wong-Tam strongly believes that communities should have a say in the buildings and initiatives that are planned for their neighbourhoods. This is why she’s been organizing a residents association to counter the plans for a 25-storey development that would tear down heritage buildings.
- Dick is proposing what he calls a Neighbourhood Matching Plan, similar to Seattle, where projects created by residents associations could appeal to the City to fund half the project, while community fundraising funds the other half.
Infrastructure + Urban Design
Being a downtown ward, walkability and congestion are concerns apparent to both residents and visitors to the area. Evan Dean, a candidate who has since dropped out, floated a proposal to make Yonge Street a pedestrian mall. He wanted to see Yonge closed off on weekends in the summer to make it even more of a destination.
- Wookey mentions that the narrowing of Jarvis Street shouldn’t be considered until the fate of the Gardiner is determined.
- Anderson calls for enhanced Waterfront revitalization and more recreation facilities in the already dense downtown core to enhance livability.
- Tindal wants to see development that is respectful of community character, heritage while also increasing Toronto’s Green Development Standard.
In a ward with this many candidates, the ballot question may revolve around who has demonstrated the most ability to make an impact in the community. Spacing would like to see more mention of how these candidates plan on dealing with bike lanes in the downtown core and how they can make the congested downtown streets more welcoming to pedestrians. While almost every candidate talks about the importance of maintaining rental properties and heritage sites in the midst of a building boom, few explain exactly how they plan to ensure smart development in the ward. It’s an issue of particular importance to renters, who comprise 63% of the area’s constituents.
Photo by Sam Javanrouh